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The Problem with Vision Erosion

December 18, 2017 — by John Parker

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There are thousands of churches across the United States, and each church has its own story and uniqueness. How is that story being communicated, internally and externally? Does your church communicate who you are?

 

Imagine that you’re redesigning your church. Your main goal is to effectively convey the story of your missions and programs. Your church has some great programs that include providing shoes for children, digging wells to provide clean water, and sponsoring various overseas mission trips. Missions are the heartbeat of your church. You envision that all of the communication and interaction surrounding missions is going to happen in your church’s lobby, café, or other gathering areas.

 

So, you hire an architect. He knows the vision, but his main focus is on the facility—what the walls, floors, and ceilings of the building will look like—not necessarily what will go inside of it. Then, a contractor comes along. He’s going to build out the space, and he’s aware that there may be some items that might go on the walls. At some point in the process, the contractor realizes he’s missing some area. He needs to use another wall for some storage, and needs another space to put an information booth.

 

The project is completed. You’ve got a lobby that has an information booth and shelving to display items from the countries where your church hosts mission trips. It’s a nice lobby—but something’s missing. Your initial vision has completely been eliminated. Why? Because the architect and contractor weren’t in tune with your primary goal: to build out a space that would communicate your church’s main goal of missions and outreach.

 

When I worked for Disney, we found that the story and vision for a particular ride, attraction or land that we developed was so important that we actually had a show producer write the script for the narrative of an area. Even when it came to describing a merchandise shop, the narrative told the story of what that merchandise store was supposed to be and even the backstory of the family that may have owned it. All of these details informed those who were involved to keep true to the story of the space.

 

The reality is, if you don’t have a consistent, cohesive team that is part of the original narrative and walking through the entire build process together, you’re ultimately going to experience some level of VISION EROSION. Designers, architects, and contractors involved in the project will often make decisions and choices without the benefit of being informed, thereby eroding the final product.

 

The problem of vision erosion doesn’t just apply to construction. In almost anything, whether you’re developing a script or in the planning stages of a wedding, those initial discussions you have are important because they set the basis for the larger narrative of what you’re trying to accomplish. There is a huge benefit to having a team that knows your vision from the beginning and can make informed decisions throughout the process that align with those initial goals.

 

Here at Visioneering, we have the great benefit of having continuity and context for all the Design-Build projects we work on. Our entire team knows the story that accompanies your vision, and our designers and contractors work together to craft that vision and build a project that uses your money and time wisely. We believe that every building tells a story, and every space is unique. Our Design-Build process is design-led and centered around highlighting the larger narrative of your organization. Through Design-Build, we can help you develop a different kind of build—one that stewards both your story and your space well— so you can launch your inspired vision into reality.

 

This article is an excerpt from our free resource, DEMOLISHED. Download your copy today at demolishthebuild.com. If you’d like to eliminate vision erosion from your building process today, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

vision erosion

DesignWorship

Want to Catch More Fish? Put Bait on the Hook

October 10, 2017 — by Tim Cool

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If you were driving down a road in your town and saw this building, would you be intrigued?  Would you want to check it out? As you look at that picture, who do you think this building is meant to attract? Who was the primary target to get sucked in by the design and amenities?

bait

If you said MEN… then you would be correct. But not just any man… a mid “thirty-something” man.  And why would a church focus on that age group and gender?  It is actually pretty simple for the leadership at Northside Christian (designed by Visioneering Studios).

For many men, there is too much talk at churches about love, surrender, “feelings,” and a whole host of other words and songs that are just not appealing. Northside Christian wanted to change that, by creating a culture and environment where men feel comfortable enough to not just attend, but to also bring their families. They became intentional about communicating a story and message to the target they wanted to attract.  They made the conscious decision to put “bait on the hook,” as they fulfilled their calling to be fishers of men.

The attractional elements of the physical campus were intended to be appealing to those they were trying to reach…just like the worm, lure, or minnow, are on a fishing hook.  If you go fishing for bass, you would not leave the bait at home.  Yes, it’s possible to catch a fish on a bare hook, but it is less likely, much harder, and far less rewarding.  So why do we think it’s wrong to put “bait” on the hook when we are trying to attract certain demographics? While I am in complete agreement that the Holy Spirit will move in a person’s heart to take action, God also gave us eyes, ears, noses, and other sensory attributes that He uses to influence us.

 

Here are 3 ways Northside Christian designed an environment to attract its target demographic:

  1. Know your materials.  With an understanding that men are more attracted to texture than color, Visioneering worked with Northside Christian to incorporate a variety of materials into the design of their campus. From the stone and wood grains to the exposed metal, every material was carefully chosen to make men feel more comfortable on campus.

bait

 

2.  Get creative with your concepts. Northside Christian and Visioneering wanted to tell the story of Northside Christian’s calling to become fishers of men through its design and architecture. To represent this mission, they built a pond for the public in front of their main building… and stocked it with fish!

bait

 

3.  Add amenities. Besides the “fishing hole,” Northside Christian was deliberate in the location of its exterior public spaces.  Even if you are not interested in fishing, there is a place to sit outside by a gentle waterfall to read. The playground is also open to the public, and the outside sitting areas and tables are inviting to anybody just looking for a place to hang out with others.

bait

 

Are you ready to go fishing for your community?  Is your church more interested in “cleaning” fish or catching them?  If it is the later, make sure you have the right bait.

Tim Cool
Chief Solutions Officer
704.507.8672
@tlcool

DesignWorship

Casino Church (Wait, What?)

September 11, 2017 — by Jody Forehand

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On my way out of Phoenix, AZ into San Diego, CA on Wednesday evening, I looked out the window of my American Airlines Airbus 321 and saw a site that looked like a big mega-church. I wondered if it was possibly a project by Visioneering Studios, since we design and build churches across the country. As we cruised by at several hundred miles per hour, I snapped a couple of pictures out the window, hoping to research the site after I got to the hotel in San Diego.

The site was a bit remote, not unlike a lot of other suburban megachurches that often have to go to the outskirts of larger cities to find enough acreage to house their campuses. This building site was right off the main highway for easy access and great visibility (another trait churches look for in selecting a site). It was surrounded by undeveloped desert scrub brush and not much else, but residential rooftops were nearby. Growing churches often seek to get out in front of the suburban expansion coming their way that will one day put them right in the middle of the community. This site had huge parking areas and the design of the building included a covered drop-off, a cylindrical tower “entry” element, and an interesting and creative layout that was reminiscent of churches we’ve designed at Visioneering Studios.

While I was too far away and passing by too fast to see any facade details or logos, I was quite certain it was a church, and I was interested to find out which one it was and if we had designed it. Later that evening, I got to my hotel room and popped open my MacBook. I was able to trace my flight path and find the “mystery” church site. As I scrolled the map east from the airport and zoomed in on the site to find out the name of the church, another name popped up instead… Casino Arizona!

casino

Wow. That was not what I was expecting at all. I was surprised, but shrugged it off and quickly forgot about it as I tried to get to sleep. The next day passed, full of great meetings with a multi-site church about changes to some of their campuses, and then it was time to head home. Leaving San Diego this morning, I connected in Phoenix again, and as the Boeing 757 raced skyward toward Charlotte, I noticed that we were backtracking along the same route I flew in on a couple days prior. I now saw the casino out the window again. This time, I already knew what it was and that’s when I had an unexpected and troubling question pop into my head: What does it say about the churches we work with, and the designs we create, that they can be confused with a casino?

Woah! My initial reaction was negative and surprising, even to myself. I thought, “Have church facilities become ‘secularized’ to the point that they look like ‘sinful’ casinos?” That’s a charge often hurled at mega-churches by smaller, more traditional churches and individuals who look condescendingly at the broad-brush caricature that culture has painted of megachurches and their “excess.”

Having worked with churches for 15 years, I’ve learned that there will always be some bad apples out there that people can point to that fit that mega-church caricature. It’s sad that this is true, but for every bad apple I have seen or heard about, there are hundreds of others that are fulfilling the Great Commission, connecting with their communities, and sending people and resources to the ends of the earth, serving the hopeless and helpless.

I’m not one who tries to over-spiritualize every event in my life, and I don’t audibly hear the voice of God speak to me. I often wish I did. But those who hear that still, small voice are often the ones who have changed the world in the most incredible ways through sacrificing their own personal comfort and ending up in places I never even knew existed.

As the plane accelerated upward and eastward leaving the casino behind, inside I felt what may have been the prompting of the Holy Spirit as another emotion and another question suddenly bubbled up. Maybe it was because on my flights this week I brought along Mark Batterson’s new book, “Whisper,” which is about learning to be still and listen for God’s voice in your life, but the new emotion I felt was joy. The new question I asked myself was, “If a casino, whose sole purpose is to take your earthly treasures from you, can use creative architectural design to develop a place people want to go to, why can’t a church ‘redeem’ this type of engaging design and use it as ‘architectural evangelism’?” Externally focused, life-giving churches will use whatever means and methods are necessary, short of sin, to reach others for Christ because they understand and fully embrace the eternal consequences that are at stake.

I long ago realized that arguments between believers about things like pipe organs vs. electric guitars and pews vs. theater seats are all spiritually-neutral, personal preferences. Jesus never sang from a hymnal while wearing a suit and tie and sitting in a pew, as light filtered through the stained-glass windows and someone played “Amazing Grace” on the organ. He also never sang a Chris Tomlin song from words on a screen while wearing shorts and a t-shirt, sitting in a theater seat sipping a latte while haze and moving lights created the ambiance for the shredding, electric guitar solo. Neither method changes the eternal truth of the gospel message, so as long as that truth is being preached and lived out by that church, the rest is just following Paul’s example.

We’re all moved to worship, and drawn to a deeper relationship with Christ in various ways, which is why I believe that Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 that he would “become all things to all people so that in all ways he might save some” is still applicable to these discussions about personal preferences today.

So now I don’t feel bad that I mistook a casino for one of our church projects. I know that this style of facility has been used in amazing ways across the country to reach millions for Christ, and I’m glad to have played some small part in that through my work at Visioneering. I also know that this style of building is not for everyone, and not for all time. Things change. Large mega-campuses may never completely go away, but there’s been a trend in the church market away from these over the last few years toward smaller, community-based, multi-site locations. If I were to fly over one of these smaller church projects we’ve designed, I may mistake it for a great restaurant, or retail shop, or public park, or I may not be able to distinguish it at all, and that’s okay. As long as we are designing churches as engaging spaces that are outward-focused and serve others while reflecting the beauty and creativity of our Creator, I’m good with whatever form that takes.

BuildDesignEnvisionWorship

Behind the Build: Centerpoint Church

June 16, 2017 — by Gino Beltran

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LOCATION: Murrieta, CA
DIVISIONS: ENVISION, DESIGN, BUILD
SERVICES: Master Planning, Architecture, Interior Design, & Construction

Centerpoint Church

 

Last year we were honored to receive the Solomon Award in Best Church Design for Youth and Children’s Spaces with the second phase of construction with Centerpoint Church in Murrieta, California.  Pastor John Hansen and his team invited us to envision a property where families, high schoolers, and junior high schoolers could gather and have a sense of belonging, as a tribe of their own.

The result was a state-of-the-art, 750-seat worship center, and a 15,000 square foot youth and administration venue, housing youth activities, after-school programs, and an indoor/outdoor cafe. We were able to take Pastor John’s concept for the space, and bring it to the next level of purpose, all while working within Centerpoint’s budget.

 

We have a place now that we are able to use for a dynamic explosion of ministry that’s fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

–Pastor John Hansen

At Visioneering Studios, we can’t wait to see how Centerpoint’s campus continues to evolve into a safe and welcoming place for families in the Temescal Valley. Take a further look below Behind the Build of Centerpoint Church:

 

 

Worship

A Container for Community – A Building’s Purpose

June 8, 2017 — by Drew Tilton

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When does a building become more than a pretty facade?

a building's purpose

Note from the editor:  Drew is the new Youth Pastor at my church, Mountain View Church, in San Juan Capistrano, CA.  When I read this from him this past weekend, I felt that it needed to be shared beyond our church’s email list.  His heart for the new facility is exactly the reason why Visioneering Studios does what it does.  It is not just about the building — it’s about what Jesus is doing inside the building, in the community, and in the lives of the people who attend a service or an event.  Although we may not be doing the work for this new facility, we are fans and celebrate the work being done by MVC.  These are the types of servant leaders we love to work with.

 

What is impressive about a cup? It’s a cylinder with the top-end open and the bottom closed. Sure, one can be styled to look ornate, perhaps even to attract some praise. But no matter how beautiful it is, a bottomless one is of little value — a cup exists to hold something. A house is the same. There are certainly incredible mansions and beautiful dwellings, but if one sits empty, is it truly meeting its intended potential? Its purpose, first and foremost, is to serve as a container for what is inside. When a cup is best fulfilling its purpose, it is an afterthought to what it contains.

 

At one time, I was part of a church with a beautiful campus (that’s right, not a building — a campus). In fact, I am not sure I’ve seen one more incredible. Often people visiting would comment, “Oh, what we could do with a campus like this!” or, “If we could just have a building like this one…” I wasn’t always sure why, but often these comments would rub me the wrong way. It wasn’t that they were completely off-base. It was an incredible space that I often took for granted, but somehow, I knew that they were missing it.

 

What was special about that place had never been its outside shell (as incredible as it was). Rather, it was the space it created. Space where people walked me through the best and worst moments of my life (and everything inbetween). Space that fostered a community that produced my best friends, my pastors, my mentors, and my wife. Space where we all worshiped Jesus together. Space that allowed me to cry with, shout at, and be transformed by Him. It was a space where I grew, ministered, experienced breakthrough, experienced freedom, was baptized, was married, where my brother and I baptized my dad, and mourned the loss of my dad. I know that those buildings were made most beautiful by the stories played out inside of them.

 

The Purpose Of Our New Container
As I thought about our new building and the kind of space I desire it to be, I reached a realization.

 

A building that finds its greatest honor in itself, is an empty cup searching for purpose.

 

It is a house that has never been a home. Instead, a building, like all other containers, is meant to find fulfillment in what it holds. Don’t hear me wrong — this building and its design are of the utmost importance. We need a place that is designed with community in mind and Christ at the heart. A space that communicates God’s embrace of the wandering and the weary. A container to hold a community of people striving to love God and love others well. We want it to be a place where we feel comfortable to laugh with friends, cry with family, pray for the hurting, welcome the lost, and worship the Lord our God.

 

I pray that this container is God’s pouring-out-point for his Spirit on every kind of person. A place where our sons and daughters will prophesy, our young people will see visions, our elderly will dream dreams. May it be a cup that does its job so well that it is merely the backdrop to the incredible work that God will do in it. Not just on Sundays, but every day, in new and creative ways.

 

And like no other cup, the contents of this container are intended to overflow. We pray that God will send the love incubated here out across all of our cities. That the freedom found here be sent like shockwaves throughout our lives and the lives of those we encounter. And that His kingdom come and will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

 

A Beautiful Humble Purpose
My hope in communicating the humble purpose of our new space is not to devalue it at all! Rather, I hope that in this we can value it all the more. That we would see beyond the external beauty that it will undoubtedly have, and look more to the internal beauty that it will undoubtedly hold.

 

So as we approach the excitement of our new building, I hope this will shape our enthusiasm and vision for the future. I envision a space that will be the stage for Jesus to declare good news to the poor, deliverance for the captive, sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed.  I pray for a cup that overflows with the beauty of God’s Church. It is in this that we will find that our new house has become our home.

 

Drew Tilton is the Youth Pastor at Mountain View Church in South Orange County, CA. Drew has his Masters degree from Talbot School of Theology and has many years experience in youth ministry. He and his wife Marissa enjoy hanging with good friends, sports, and street dance battles. Get in touch with him at drew@mvc.life

Envision

More Than a Sunday Morning

May 11, 2017 — by Gino Beltran

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On this week’s Influence Podcast, Influence Magazine Senior Editor John Davidson talks with our VP of Development Advisory Services about maximizing your church’s space.

influence magazine

WHY IS THE CHURCH SPACE SO IMPORTANT?
WHAT IS THE LANDSCAPE OF CHURCH ARCHITECTURE TODAY?
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BEST WAYS A CHURCH CAN MAXIMIZE ITS CURRENT SPACE?

These are just a few of the questions John Davidson of Influence Magazine presented to our own Randall Coy this week.

From wells and cathedrals, Development Advisory Services, what environments communicate, and how your neighbors view your church, Randall offers critical advice for any ministry leader considering a church design-build.

CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE CONVERSATION:

LISTEN NOW

Your site, your space, your facility – it’s a representation of who you are to your community. Offer your neighbors more than a Sunday morning experience – create space for them 7 days a week.

Randall Coy

BuildDesignEnvisionWorship

Behind the Build: The Father’s House

April 19, 2017 — by Gino Beltran

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Location: Vacaville, CA
Divisions: Envision, Design, Build
Services: Master Planning, Architecture, Interior Design, Construction

the father's house

In January of 2016, The Father’s House in Northern California celebrated the Grand Opening of Phase 1 of our partnership, which included a brand new auditorium and children’s building. Over the last 19 years, this powerful community has grown from just a few people in a living room to now three campuses, including Napa, East Bay, and the newest — Vacaville.

Pastor Dave Patterson had a vision for the Vacaville location to take people on a mindful journey of God’s presence, no matter where they went on campus. “When we started this project, we had a verse in Exodus 33 that says, ‘God don’t lead us up from here without Your presence.’ Visioneering took that verse from Exodus and created a storyboard that took us from the Wilderness, right into the Promised Land, through the Red Sea with a Cloud of Glory — all of which was represented architecturally. It was quite enjoyable watching that process come to fruition.”

From the flaming “Pillars of Light” to the Children’s Ministry area called “The Passage,” every detail incorporated into the design and architecture of The Father’s House helps tell the story of God leading His people out of Egypt from a life of slavery to a life of freedom. It’s Pastor Dave’s desire that every person stepping on campus would feel the same hope of God’s chosen people in that story of Exodus.

Additionally, for the first time ever in TFH’s 19-year history they have a campus that’s publicly exposed — allowing them not only to thrive and grow in the area, but further their vision of reaching more people who are far from God.

“Since we’ve been in this new auditorium, we’ve seen close to 1,000 people added to this location. We’ve had people come who have never attended church, and we’ve been able to do some nights of worship and events at a brand new level.”

At Visioneering, we can’t wait to continue our partnership with Pastor Dave’s team into Phase 2 of the Vacaville campus, and keep revealing the God-story their community has to offer. Take a further look below Behind the Build of The Father’s House:

 

BuildDesignWorship

2016 Solomon Award: New Campus Construction Design

November 21, 2016 — by Gino Beltran

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We’re honored to receive the 2016 Solomon Award in Traditional and Contemporary Church Building Design for New Campus Construction Design on Grace Place in Berthoud, Colorado.

After renting meeting places for several years, Grace Place was able to purchase several adjacent buildings in the heart of downtown Berthoud, as well as 19 acres of land to develop in the city’s center.  Founder Clay Peck had a vision to not only reach the “burned, bored and bypassed” in his city, but ultimately to create an intentional gathering place that could be utilized by the entire surrounding community. Through this multi-phase project, we were able to help Grace Place develop Trailhead Cafe, an outreach initiative and restaurant venue, as well as Cross Creek Commons — a $10 million development located at the U.S. Route 287 and Highway 56 interchange.

New Campus Construction Design
2016 Solomon Award: Grace Place

Our collaborative design for Cross Creek Commons includes a 26,000-square-foot, 600-seat auditorium with a rooftop deck (and spectacular view of the Rockies), Trailhead Café and bookstore, and a 9,000-square-foot children’s area called The Outpost. Completed construction will also include a 1,200-seat event center, youth facility, community garden and greenhouse, and an outreach facility to be used for food and clothing distribution, and more. The area will also be adorned with ponds, waterfalls, walking trails, and prayer paths.

To read more on this captivating project and partnership, visit Worship Facilities here

We loved this opportunity to work with Clay Peck on cultivating a gathering space for the city of Berthoud. We look forward to seeing all of the ways it will be utilized for years to come! And special thanks to 2 Fold Studio for their finishing touches on the development with way finding, children’s theming and interior signage.