One out of two Americans are members of a church. While that number has declined over the last 20 years, millions of people still make it a point to attend mass at least a few times per year.
Bearing that in mind, as a person that runs a church or is in charge of ensuring that a church’s environment supports parishioner’s comfort, you have your work cut out for you.
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on ancillary cash and want to invest in your sanctuary, our team is here to help you decide how best to do that. Below, we share a handful of places within your church that you should prioritize investment so you can create an unbelievable environment to worship in.
1. Make Lighting a Priority
Darkness is among the top things that can make people feel uncomfortable in a space. So, as you look to prioritize the money you have to spend on improving your sanctuary, have a long think about how well and comfortably lit your worship spaces are.
We like ample, warm lighting that’s recessed in ceilings. Those kinds of lights tend to strike the perfect balance between shadows and exposure. If recessed lighting isn’t a possibility, invest in warm lighting you can affix into floor or protruding ceiling fixtures.
Stay away from white, florescent lighting which can bother people with light sensitivities after long periods of exposure.
2. Ensure Child Care Is a Focal Point
If your congregation does not have access to child care during services, see if your budget allows you to enable that. There are thousands of families that would attend service more often if they had a place to stick their young children during sermons.
By offering child care or a nursery, you may very well expand your congregation instantly. You will also reduce instances where parents are bringing young children into adult services who can be disruptive.
3. Invest in an Outdoor Service Area
Whether it’s re-purposing a recreational field or portions of your parking lot, we recommend investing in outdoor worship spaces that comply with several state’s guidelines on avoiding “super spreader” events during COVID.
Outdoor spaces are not a possibility for all churches given weather implications. If your congregation is blessed enough to be able to worship outdoors, give thanks and take advantage of the opportunity.
4. Integrate Video Technology Into Your Worship Areas
Video technology enables people to worship alongside your church whether or not they’re able to attend in person. Depending on your congregation size, no matter what’s going on in the world, having that ability to record/live stream services is a great way to accommodate people on busy days (Easter for example).
In today’s climate, being able to live stream services is integral to supporting older and immunocompromised people’s ability to worship as many of them won’t be able to congregate for a very long time.
5. A Little Bit of Signage Goes a Long Way
People get so caught up in upgrading their sanctuary in all sorts of creative ways that many forget the basics. The most basic upgrade we can think of is putting up signage.
You’d be surprised by how many people lose their way when trying to find your primary chapel, when looking for where children should be dropped off, etc. Signs can streamline those people’s experiences and can create a more welcoming first day for new parishioners.
6. Rethink Your Auditorium Seating
You don’t have to have money to spend to improve people’s experience in your main chapel. Simply rethinking how your seating is laid out can make your sermons more accessible to those that have come to listen.
How seating is arranged will depend on your chapel’s size. Personally, for small spaces that host large congregations, we like “straight seating” which is just the standard layout of lining up chairs in even columns and rows. Larger spaces might benefit from “fan seating” which resembles orient-style hand fans and boasts more seats in the back and fewer seats as you work your way up to the front.
7. Consider Inclusivity in Your Design
A big part of conducting church services is about making sure that everybody who comes to worship has as good of access as possible to the word of god. To that end, we always let the groups we work with know they should be thinking about parishioners with disabilities and how well their sanctuary supports their needs.
If people are hard of hearing in your congregation, work with AVL companies to get speakers connected in your rooms. The same is true for those that have difficulty seeing and would benefit from having a “signer” whose image is projected on a large screen.
Positive Intention Goes a Long Way With Sanctuary Design
Not every place of worship will have ample cash stores to invest in wholesale church renovations. By leaning on positive intentions though and using those thoughts to prioritize what improvements would drive the most value for your parishioners, we’re confident you can come up with meaningful projects that will help the money you do have to spend stretch.
We hope our guide helps your next set of improvement plans go off without a hitch!
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