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2024 Top 8 Trends in Church Design

By: Dave Milam & Nathan Elder

Fasten your seatbelts, my creative compatriots. It's time to take a spin through this year’s hottest architectural design trends.

We know…it’s an election year, and you’ve probably had your fill of hyped-up prediction pieces. But before your eyes glaze and your gaze wanders, consider this, after working elbow-to-elbow with hundreds of churches nationwide, the Visioneering team has a pretty decent radar for spotting design techniques that are gaining traction. Trust us, any of these 8 hot design trends could make a real impact on your church in 2024.

architectural design trends

So buckle up; it's about to get aesthetically pleasing.  

Trend 1. Painting Exterior Brick – The Magnolia-fication of America

Ah, the eternal "To paint brick or not to paint brick" question. With a touch of twang, a smidgen of Southern charm, and a whole lot of Magnolia, this trend can dramatically alter a church's exterior aesthetic. Which is why the decision to paint the sacred brick is not one to be taken lightly.

On one hand, it offers a cost-effective way to modernize the look of the facility. If you have multiple buildings, painting the exterior can also usher in a cohesive palette throughout the campus. Often associated with the cozy chic of a farmstead turned art studio, painting brick can often be the right strategic solution when a facility needs a refresh without emptying the coffers.

On the other hand, like all trends, its longevity is a huge question mark. Will it endure as a classic, or will it fade like yesterday's decor darling? Only time will tell.

Trend 2. Next Level Security - Stepping up the Safety Game!

As crazy as this world is, churches are faced with the harsh reality of increasing security measures to keep people safe and protected, especially children. The primary concern for most churches is their kids' ministry spaces.

One of the best solutions for keeping kids safe is to centralize all children's ministries in a secure building section with limited access, entrances and exits. Increasing safety technology, such as keycards and camera systems, is becoming more prevalent as well.

Housing children in the same interior area of the building provides the greatest chance for successful lockdown procedures to function properly in the case of an active shooter.

 In severe weather conditions or an emergency, the escape plan in this type of environment is more intuitive for volunteers to execute and first responders to react accordingly.   

Trend 3. Let There Be Light - Turning Night into a Showstopper!

We’re often shocked by how many church buildings are dark at night. These days, with a flip of a switch, you can instantly transform the entire outdoor landscape of your space. Many churches have already seen the light, strategically infusing lighting into the overall design of their facilities to create the perfect atmosphere.

LED lighting provides endless options, from color choices to textures, making spaces stand out like never before. In addition, by highlighting critical areas around the campus, lighting becomes a beacon for people passing by to catch a glimpse of what a church is all about.

Trend 4. Adult Education Environments – Not Your Grandma's Sunday School

Remember the days of your granny faithfully attending her weekly lecture-style Sunday school classes? That old-school model saw churches constructing massive buildings for adult education.

Then came the trendy wave of home-based small groups. Oh, the chaos! The untamed herds of tots running wild while the adults attempted wholesome fellowship over a cacophony of crying and clatter. We all pretended that it actually worked.

Fast forward to the here and now. There's been a revival of the on-campus small group setup, but with a twist. Say adios to plain-Jane classrooms. Churches today are building learning spaces brimming with comfy living room settings. This new-wave design trend blends the traditional and the modern, providing the perfect backdrop for adult education and building strong connections. 

Trend 5. The Layered Lobby - Extending Beyond the Building

Have you ever wondered why big box stores strategically place a gaggle of last-minute products near every register? The truth is, it's a brilliant marketing ploy to persuade unexpecting customers to spend one more buck before leaving the store.

In the same way, churches are beginning to create a "layered lobby" sequence to engage people before heading out to the parking lot. Unlike retail, the goal is for people to relationally connect, not spend more money.

When you invest in outdoor development surrounding your facilities (a second lobby experience), such as plaza/green space, outdoor furniture, and playground equipment, you are potentially extending the time of stay for every guest and creating intentional interactions. Porches and plazas are a church's way of saying, "Stay awhile. Let's chat. We've got time, and we've got space." Instead of the church being transactional, it becomes relational. 

Two additional benefits of creating a "layered lobby:" it becomes visible to the community and is one of the least expensive areas to build with the most upside.  

Trend 6. Beyond the Gray - Breaking Monotone Mold 

Grey has quickly became the new "beige," but that was 10 years ago. Listen, we get it. Grey is the Swiss Army knife of colors. It pairs with anything, hides stains like a champ, and makes your collection of Welcome Center knick-knacks look like it was curated rather than haphazardly accumulated. But let's dial the grey craze down a few's been on the decline for the past few years, in case you missed the memo. 

Most importantly, remember that even the best tones deserve a co-star. So, let's not get 50 shades of complacent. Mix it up! Throw in a splash of color. Break the monotony. Be the color rebel you know you want to be. Your lobby, and your Instagram feed, will thank you. 

Trend 7. Supergraphics, Environmental Graphics & Wayfinding – Showing the Way with Style

This year, it’s all about transforming a space into a masterpiece without turning it into a construction site. Get ready to embrace environmental design, the superhero of interior transformations! This game-changing trend lets you revamp your space with the power of supergraphics, eye-catching environmental graphics, and intuitive wayfinding.

The best part? No demolition required. In just a handful of months, you can perform a 'No Demo Reno' and give your space the love it deserves. So, quit waiting for that massive budget and start giving your environment that much-needed pop!

Trend 8. Church Office Makeover - A Balanced Approach Everyone will Love

Then there's the age-old office design debate - secluded boomer-style offices versus the vibrant chaos of open spaces. With all the tugs and pulls, it's no wonder our leaders are left scratching their heads over the perfect path to tread.

In 2024, we’re seeing a more balanced office approach. That's why at Visioneering Studios, we don't do one-size-fits-all office designs. Instead, we use our "Ten Office Districts" toolkit to tailor office designs to the church's mission, culture, and physical space. The goal? To create a dynamic, balanced workspace with at least one office district that everyone will love. 

And there you have it, future trendsetters. We've come full circle on our architectural jaunt. Welcome to the brave new world of 2024, a time when innovation shakes hands with imagination. It might be a wild ride, but one thing is for sure…Our buildings are going to be simply stunning, and transform lives in the process.