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Churches and Buildings – Part 3

Finally, here’s another architect/pastor insight on churches and buildings.

Click for PART 1 or for PART 2

This is the obvious one, but probably the way in which architecture can affect ministry the most is simply capacity of space.

This is typcial church-growth stuff, but just a quick re-iteration . . .

There are 3 major areas of space you need to evaluate in your church:

  1. Worship Space (the large-group gathering space where a majority of people come on Sundays)
  2. Support Spaces – see below for explanation
  3. Parking

If any of the above three is at or above 80% of total capacity, you MUST make more room in order to continue to grow. If you’re not counting cars in the parking lot, START THIS SUNDAY!

Today, we’ll start by defining each of the above. Over the next few days, we’ll go into more detail on using each one.

Worship space is obvious. This is the big room your adults and possibly youth and older children meet in on Sundays (or your primary worship time.)

Support Space is the big floater from church-to-church. This will ALWAYS contain Preschool space and Children’s space for those not in the worship service. Depending on your church’s programs, it would also include youth spaces, adult Bible Study (Sunday School) space, midweek activities spaces, etc. Just a quick note — the fewer on-campus PROGRAMS you have, the less support space you will need.

Parking — also obvious, but often overlooked. Unless you run trams to the door, parking across streets, at adjacent properties, or more than about 300 feet from the building should not be counted in the same way as other spaces. I suggest maybe 1 space = 1 space for under 300 feet, 1 space = .67 space for remote parking w/o trams. In most areas of the US, you should figure between 1.8 to 2.8 people per car. I generally use 2.3 people per car as a basic rule-of thumb. There are other factors in parking we will discuss later . . .

As you evaluate each of the Big 3 space requirements . . . you need to make sure they are balanced. If you have a capacity for 1000 in worship, but support spaces only support a church of 600, you will have an empty worship room. If you have enough worship space and support spaces, but insufficient parking, you will have an empty building. If you have a sea of parking and plenty of support space, but need more worship space, your facility will look empty to those driving by (empty parking) and you will be wasting valuable support square footage. Often times churches start a building program to increase capacity of 1 of the Big 3. They then find their growth stinted because thee overall facility becomes unbalanced.

Over the next few posts, we’ll break-down and discuss each of the Big 3 in more detail.

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