We talk frequently about the importance of a church’s vision for ministry. You need to begin with your mission and dream big, but you don’t always have to—or need to—build big. In this post, we examine and explain why a recent trend in smaller church building worship spaces might be a better option for your new church design.
Today’s Trend toward Smaller Worship Spaces
In the late twentieth century, church design focused on “bigger is better.” Worship centers in new church buildings held 2,000, 4,000 or more people. But today, many church leaders are no longer choosing large worship spaces. We’re building few 2,500-seat auditoriums these days. A church design with 1,000 or so seats is today’s sweet spot for balancing a church’s budget, ministry, and space.
Cost-savings after construction is one reason for the growing number of smaller worship spaces. Maintaining your church building after the first five years can cost between $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot per year. When your church design is larger, you should expect more expenses and upkeep for your church building in future years, which can impact your budget and your ministry opportunities in your community.
Avoiding that Empty Church Building Feeling
That uncomfortable feeling of walking into a half-empty worship space on Sunday morning is another reason to build small. If you have 500 people in your church community but then build a new worship center that seats 1,500 to accommodate the future, the larger worship space will feel empty and can challenge energy and momentum for growth. When guests see so many empty seats, they might wonder if your church is shrinking instead of growing—they might go elsewhere.
Considering the impact of a large worship space on services beyond Sunday morning, like special events, is also important and another reason why many of today’s church leaders incorporate a smaller worship venue in their church design. Once upon a time, for example, weddings were big, elaborate affairs, but weddings today are trending toward smaller and more intimate spaces. If a wedding plans for 200 or maybe 300 people but you have a 1,200-seat worship space, the large worship space won’t be full.
Creative Church Design Options with Multiple-Worship Venues
Multiple-worship spaces are one solution to consider for your church design. Rather than seating everyone in one large auditorium, two smaller worship venues increase flexibility. For example, you may have two worship services at the same time—traditional and contemporary. You may also have, on the same campus, one worship service in English and another in Spanish. With linked worship spaces in the same building, the pastor can preach to everyone—in person in one space and on the screen in another. We can provide many creative options for multiple smaller worship venues in the same space with your church design.
In fact, there are many ways a church design can meet the needs of a church’s vision for ministry. It’s one reason why we host multiple free i3 webinars every year. These webinars let us share the latest trends with church leaders like you. To stay informed, sign up today!