Tuesday, March 18, 2008

America's 7 Most Innovative Churches?

Ministry Today has assembled a list of the seven most innovative church buildings in America, but paradoxically included no photos. Fortunately, Kent Shaffer at churchrelevance.com has kindly scoured the web for them, photos and captions below (one photo for each church, top to bottom) are via his site.

All of these buildings make me cringe.

Ministry Today acknowledges rather pointedly that quality of design was not the standard. And so perhaps there are other things to learn. But none of the 'innovations' these churches desired to incorporate were inherently at odds with design considerations. For all their supposed focus on things like 'accessibility', 'friendliness' and 'connection', the exteriors are monolithic and imposing, the interiors are cavernous and not human-scaled, the decorations are trite, and the materials and finishes (except for advanced electronics) un-innovative. And that auditorium style hasn't changed since 1973. Back in the 80s there was a song that asked 'Why does the devil have all the good music?". This list makes me ask "Why does the devil have all the good buildings?" Perhaps because the church has decided they don't matter.

Top: Northland A Church Distributed (Longwood, FL)Photo Credits: Mark Beeson, G Jackson Lights, and the church website was credited due to "the facility's remarkably advanced multimedia, which includes an extensive laptop-accessible lighting network and 436 dimmers in the sanctuary alone. Along with more than 20 audio zones to balance sound quality, state-of-the-art digital equipment allows virtually all of the church's 80-plus rooms to connect to A/V systems in multiple international locations. Northland hopes to soon fill the sanctuary walls with dozens of live video feeds from people across the globe joining in to worship. "

Living Water Community Church (Bolingbrook, IL)Photo Credit: Wildesign Group Architects via Flickr.Original photos taken by Aspen Group.
"...appears more like a community center than a traditional church. Because Living Water regularly opens its arms to host community events, its main building was designed with multi-functionality in mind. Flexible walls, stackable seating and finishes that allow for multiple ministries to occur within a single space are found throughout. Did we mention there's a two-story indoor play area and an auditorium specifically designed for kids? "

New Beginnings Christian Center (Portland, OR)Photo Credit: Building God’s Way.
"Located in a predominantly industrial neighborhood, the contemporary-looking church is already becoming the meetings grounds for such a juncture. Besides hosting Chamber of Commerce events and community conferences, New Beginnings also houses an independently operated preschool during the week and regularly leases its commercial kitchen to a catering company."

Victory Christian Center (Tulsa, OK)Photo Credits: Daniels and Daniels Construction and the church website. "...includes a mall-size carousel in the children's facility, a Borders-style bookstore—complete with a kids' zone and adjoining cafe—and an 18- by 60-foot screen behind the stage. The creativity behind Victory's expansion design is on display even in the campus' parking lots, which are connected to two giant bridges (one leading to a Wal-Mart) to assist with traffic flow."

Parkway Christian Church (Surprise, AZ)Photo Credit: CCBG Architects. This one I can bear, design-wise--I especially like the yellow color--except that I might mistake it for an auto-parts store since it appears to have no indications of its sacred purpose. "Designed to contrast with its desert surroundings, Parkway's main building uses dynamic colors, architectural compositions and a "fire, water and rock" theme to prompt discussion from first-time visitors and longtime members alike. The facility, which is the first of 15 separate worship structures planned, also includes symbolically exposed 2-by-4s to add to the incomplete feel"

The Vineyard Church (Urbana, IL)Photo Credit: Aspen Group. awarded because " a single building...continues the fellowship theme through a contemporary-style indoor/outdoor cafe (where a five-star chef prepares lunch daily) and into numerous "hang out" venues. In typical Vineyard style, the church also features high-tech A/V capabilities throughout, including a 32,000-watt sound system and tri-level catwalks. "

Cornerstone Christian Fellowship (Chandler, AZ)Photo Credit: Rowland Companies. "Cornerstone's leaders are upfront about reaching young families disgruntled with church, and their new building's design shows it. For the kids: 20-foot trees with mechanical monkeys, lifelike elephants and a play area resembling a Nickelodeon studio. For the adults, it's state-of-the-art tech toys that present the gospel via cutting-edge media. To fit the church's ongoing rapid growth, sanctuary seating can also expand to fit 2,200. "

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I appreciate your documentation. I am currently working on adapting a traditional church building into something more inviting and welcoming to all. This is the first place I have found much information on the topic. Thank you.

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