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Trends in Church Architecture Part 2

Written by Ed Stetzer on . Posted in Ed Stetzer

Larger churches building smaller buildings with community areas are a growing trend.

Following building trends isn’t necessarily a hobby of mine, but it is quite interesting. For instance, micro-housing or tiny houses have become increasingly popular, particularly among millennials, and in urban areas with a high cost of living.

But what about church buildings? Are church building designs changing over time? Are there trends we can identify today?

I think so.

Small is the New Big, for Larger Churches

In the past, people thought about church buildings like television manufacturers today think of TVs—make them as big as possible. If you look around the U.S. today you’ll find some “giga” church buildings—buildings that can accommodate 10,000+. Probably the most well-known giga-church facility is Lakewood Church, which meets in the former Compaq Center where the Houston Rockets NBA team once played.

While you can find other churches that have some rather large facilities like First Baptist Church Jacksonville (FL) and Southeast Christian Church (Louisville, KY), the growing trend—set years ago by churches like Saddleback, Willow Creek, and North Point Community—is to build smaller buildings than you need, not bigger buildings than you need, then to do multiple services of multiple sites, rather than one (or more) big services.

Now, this is not true everywhere, and there are reasons that churches go one way or another, but there does seem to be a trend—fewer churches are building 3, 4, 5000 seat sanctuaries today.

What has influenced church facilities in large churches to trend smaller rather than bigger? There are a lot of reasons that may factor into a church’s decision to build small, but here are two important ones.

It’s easier on the budget to build ...

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