Designing “Divine” Spaces

 Next time you walk into a church building consider some of the following:
• Does the environment seem warm and inviting or cold and impersonal? From the color scheme, decor and lighting to the presence of couches in the foyer for people to socialize, little things can make a big difference.
• Does the main sanctuary use pews or chairs? Pews are more traditional and almost expected by some. But chairs tend to give more flexibility, even making it possible for people during a service to break out into small group circles. Pews can be uncomfortable and appear less personable to the more modern set.
• Is the building used most of the time? Many church buildings exist for two or three days of use per week at the most. What a waste of space!
• Does the fellowship allow those outside of its membership to use the facility? If the church building remains vacant for most of the week, your fellowship could adopt other gatherings as a way to give back to the community or support other Christian ministries.
• Does the building have a prayer room or chapel where intercessors can pray? You can always tell how important corporate prayer is to a fellowship by the number of people that regularly attend weekly
prayer meetings. Another sure sign is the space reserved for prayer gatherings. Does your church have a prayer closet, a prayer chapel or a prayer sanctuary? The smaller the space, usually the smaller the focus.
• Does the building have some unique feature, which helps the fellowship carry out its unique mission to the community? Some church buildings come with basketball gyms, health centers, coffee bars, food
courts, prayer centers, banquet halls, lounges, libraries, youth facilities or other spaces designed to help the fellowship fulfill its unique mission.
• Is there a place for people to go for prayer/counseling during or after services? Many times people make a connection with God during a service and need to find a quiet, private place to pray or talk with a loving lay counselor. Where can these people go in your facility?  Is there someplace more private and less intrusive to the rest of the service than just the alter?
• Is the facility visitor friendly? Some structures seem like a maze and can be confusing. Is the design intuitive? The building should be designed with welcome centers near major entrances to enable visitors
to know where to go?
• Does the facility get in the way or enhance people’s ability to connect one-on-one with God? Does the facility really matter? Many contend the building has little to do with whether or not a fellowship
creates an environment where people can experience God. Others believe the facility plays a role. Some believe the building to be a key component in the entire church ‘experience.’ Just as each fellowship
is different, the church building should be different, reflecting the values and mission of its users. How well your building plays its part can only be seen through the revelation of the Spirit and your experience.

The above was taken from Broken by Design, a meditation that I wrote in 2003 about church architecture and the use of buildings to minister to the surrounding community. Read more…

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