Design & Construction

7 Church Building Design Trends for 2018

You won't see the typical trendy, fly-by-night fads that you often see in lists like these. Instead, you'll see an enduring change that will shape the foundation of church building design.

Dave Milam  ·  May 8, 2018

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The beginning of every new year ushers in a parade of predictions from the experts and 2018 is no exception. But this year, you won’t see the typical trendy, fly-by-night fads that you often see in lists like these. Instead, you’ll see an enduring change that will shape the foundation of church building design.

So, whether you are a designer or a church leader, these seven trends will help you navigate the challenge of serving the church in a Post-Christian world.

1. Incarnational Design

I work for a company who carved out her reputation in the marketplace as the church design firm started by designers with “theme-park experience.” I’ll admit, for years our team leveraged the “attractional model” of evangelism to create a niche in the market. And though we still have designers who have worked on projects for Disney, Warner Brothers, and Universal Studios, I’ve noticed that church leaders are not geeking out over architectural evangelism anymore. Instead, leaders want to intentionally maximize their facility to serve their neighborhood and break down barriers in their community.

It’s been a gradual transition, but in 2018, you’ll begin to see a significant shift in the overall philosophy of design. The theme park “attractional model” is dead, and “incarnational design” has become the predominant thinking among church leaders. Churches don’t want to amuse people. They want to see them transformed. So, instead of trying to “wow” their community, churches hope to serve.

Church lobbies are beginning to feel more like co-working environments that are available for locals to pop open their laptop, sip a chai latte and draft a few emails. Fewer frills and more service. You’ll even notice the subtle shift in children’s ministry environments. Most are becoming less “themed” and are taking a more sophisticated form.

In 2018, we won’t build churches, but we’ll help Christ-followers become the church.

2. Expanded Connection Space

In the mid to late 1990’s, lobbies serviced as functional spaces intended to greet guests and herd people through the worship assembly-line as quickly and efficiently as possible. It was almost as if the church was saying, “We’re glad you came, but we need your seat and your parking spot, so please leave…in Jesus name.” As a result, lobbies were designed to be tiny conveyors for quickly moving people in and out (except for that imposing welcome desk built as beacons for first-time guests).

The ministry model has evolved and “community space” has become one of the more pressing needs of the modern church. Leaders realize that it’s easier to get people engaged in a community once they have had the opportunity to connect between services.

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