Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Having Church Outside--Community Church, Simi Valley, California

The most innovative feature of Community Church's building plan for a 138 acre site is the decision to have church outdoors--in an outdoor sanctuary, and save the millions of dollars that would have been spent on the building for direct ministry use.

From their website:

"In developing our property we want to reflect the loving/giving nature of God. We want to build an outdoor amphitheatre rather than an auditorium so we can give more to the poor. We want to provide land to Children's Hunger Fund to support and serve children in need locally and internationally. We want to create a park-like atmosphere for our community to enjoy.

Cornerstone Community Church & Eternity Bible College Facilities
Outdoor Sanctuary – 3,000-person capacity
Gym/Multi-Purpose Building – 1,000-person capacity
Chapel/Multi-Purpose Building – 300-person capacity
Administration Building with Library
Classroom Buildings
Maintenance and Restroom Buildings
Children's Hunger Fund Facilities
Administration Building and Learning Center
Warehouse/Packing Buildings
Athletic Fields
3.8 acres of shared-use athletic fields (no night lighting)
Use by local community will be encouraged
Onsite Wastewater Treatment Facility
Creates tertiary-treated recycled water for irrigation
Comparable to other systems used in unincorporated County areas
Onsite Parking Facilities
2,000 parking spaces
Eco-friendly "grass-crete" pavement
Open Space
Approximately 58.8 acres of preserved open space
Only 3% of total site area developed

While year-round church outdoors is only a realistic option for friendly climates (Community Church is located in Simi Valley, California), it's high time for a rethink of vast, expensive spaces used once a week.

I admire Community Church's well-thought out expression of goals for the site, and the innovative solution they found to ensure that what they build is in keeping with what they value.

My church is also blessed with a large site--100 acres--and plans to develop part of it as community park space. We hope to include an outdoor amphitheatre, though our climate won't allow it to be in use year round.



Andy in Germany said...

Oh good, you're posting again...

This is similar to our vision for an oudtoor theatre and atrs centre. An amphitheatre with a canvas roof can be used for more of the year than you'd expect.

One suggestion though- don't waste so much space for parking: I know the US has a car culture, but if churches don't discourage this, no-one will, and it is not loving your neighbour when you knowingly pollute the air they breathe. Also, you'll find that you never have enough parking for cars, because you are encouraging more by building it.

Andy in Germany said...

Another thought: Have you considered the location of a site? If it's next to transit routes or cycleways it may engourage people to not come by car.

And related to this: What about cycle facilities for a church?

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