Monday, November 16, 2015

Building the Church

from Visioneering Studios
Worship facilities can be much more to a community than just a building.  A church, or house of worship, can be a vital part of the culture in which it is placed. If you are a church leader, architect, consultant, or a municipal AHJ there is a deeper level of planning and thought that should go into your new worship facility.

Design Intervention, by Mel McGowan, and Why Church Buildings Matter, by Tim Cool, are two excellent resources that outline the importance of these structures, and how they should fit into the community.  When these authors refer to a church building and the importance of these structures they are not referring to big box buildings, or steepled structures that create a real estate "black hole" in the community.  These "black hole" structures are those church buildings that sit empty for most of the time (except for a few hours on Saturdays or Sundays), and are not contributing anything to the community (tax base, services, or otherwise).

Both of these books, compare the church building to the Biblical equivalent of the town well.  The well was the central meeting place for the towns people. The well was a vital part of the culture. Life, and interactions, happened everyday at the well.  Church buildings should be designed in this way.  Church buildings should be structures that people are drawn to, they should be facilities that are open to the public all week, and from these, services should be provided, and community needs met.  The church building should be a vital part of the community in which it is placed.

With these design goals and objectives in mind, the church becomes a 24/7 operation, rather than a 1/1 institution.  These ideas will paint a different fire protection and life safety picture than what is typically thought of when reviewing requirements for a "house of worship".

With this in mind we have created a new ebook resource, Fire Safe Worship Space.  This booklet is written for church leaders and worship facility managers.  The book covers such topics as:
  • why fire protection and life safety matters
  • maintaining safe worship environments
  • considerations for church-based schools
  • things to consider when reviewing building plans