To achieve successful church environments, it is
best to look at what I like to describe as the "script"
and the "storytelling."
A "script" is a guideline for developing ministry, which
may also transform the building's design. In this context, design
is not a noun (solid and decorative), as is often the case in
architecture. Rather, it is a verb (active and creative), shaping
an environment, which invites dialogue and participation. And
a scripted environment makes for genial, friendly places where
communities gather for worship, fellowship, and celebration.
Today, successful churches are exploring new architectural scripts.
Church campuses are evolving into recreation and entertainment
environments with worship and support facilities appealing to
the surrounding communities. A good "script" presents
the "church experience" in a way that relates to peoples'
lives and spiritual sensibilities. This implies a need for great
diversity of activities and facilities. The "scripting"
of a church environment might include any of the following: Senior
housing; conference and banquet center; food court and coffee
house; church store; youth recreation center; counseling, prayer,
and crisis center; elementary and secondary schools; sports park;
community theater; worship center and chapel; and memorial garden.
A key ingredient is a social infrastructure, which invites and
induces fellowship in many forms: indoor and outdoor, formal and
informal, expansive yet intimate.
Lately, themed design or "storytelling" has also become
a common component in scripting your design. In the hands of a
talented design team, a sense of place can be created through
a unique environmental theme. Shopping centers, restaurants, theme
parks, to name a few, are creating themed environments, which
attract customers and keep them there longer. Walt Disney encouraged
his design team to "always tell them (the guest) a story
when you entertain, enlighten or feed them." His vision transformed
the theme park into an entirely new form of family entertainment.
Successful churches are not blind to this credo. The careful selection
and combination of design themes can result in a range of powerful
images; and, hence, identity. A dedicated or themed environment
is a powerful tool that has the effect of immersing the guest
into a special place -- what planners like to call PTB's (places
The scripting and storytelling approach to church campus development
offers a better, more dynamic approach to mission and outreach.
The end game is more than just good design, it may promise better
ChurchWorks is a design firm that designs church buildings
that embrace creative ideas for expanded mission and foster friendlier
and more inviting environments. If you have any ideas or questions
you wish addressed in this column, contact David Price at (714)
832-1722, by fax at (714) 832-0738, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.