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Top Church Design Trends for 2020

The dawning of each new year triggers an avalanche of brand new design predictions for the upcoming year. And this year, the list will be undoubtedly accompanied by the exhausted drone of kitschy “20/20 Vision” slogans. But unlike other years, this year will mark a seismic shift in the way the church interacts with and views space.

So, whether you are a designer or a church leader, these ten trends will help you navigate the challenge of serving the church in the new Millennium.

Collaborative Office Design

These days, you can often gauge the church’s leadership culture by the vibe of the office. In most cases, the workspace preferences of the boomer generation are incongruent with the natural habitat of the millennial leader. Millennials tend to crave collaborative environments. As long as they have a comfy couch, fast Wi-Fi, and a cup of coffee, they are set. No cubicle or corner office needed.

As a result, this year, you’ll see an avalanche of open office design with generous collaborative space and a few private nooks to bunker down for work.

LED Walls Replace Projectors

The death of “themed stage design” has given birth to the rise of LED walls to create immersive backdrops for the mainstage. Worship and production pastors across America have been praying for the inevitable demise of their video projectors in hopes of a massive upgrade to an LED wall. And since the panels get more economical each year, you’ll undoubtedly begin to see LED panels taking up permanent residence on your capital expenditures budget.

Repack Instead of Build

Adding new square footage is always an expensive endeavor. And since ministry dollars are usually in short supply, this year, you’ll see churches repack and reconfigure their current square footage instead of building new. Leaders have discovered that a thoughtful redesign and remodel can yield powerful results at half the price.

Outward Focused Design

Have you noticed that large, traditional, enclosed malls are struggling to remain viable these days? Many are even boarding up the doors and closing up shop. It’s kind of sad.

Times have changed for malls in America. With the fading viability of large department stores, malls are attempting to anchor to the community’s cultural centers, civic buildings, municipal parks, and restaurant clusters. Modern retail now has an outward, community-facing presence. And even in the most dreadful weather conditions, these modern outdoor malls continue to rise in popularity.

Like the modern mall, the church isn’t just indoors and inwardly facing anymore. In the coming years, you’ll begin to see more churches become more outwardly focused by creating community amenities on undeveloped acreage. Churches will begin purposefully “anchoring to the community” by building parks, playgrounds, splash pads, and inviting outdoor environments for children and their parents.

Repurposed Libraries & Bookstores

For years, churches staffed in-house bookstores and libraries to resource members with inspiring ceramic figurines, and copies of the pastor’s self-published book. In their prime, these tiny shops were hubs of activity after each service.

But let’s face it, Amazon has killed your church’s bookstore. In fact, most church members purchase resources from their cell phones during the service and have it delivered before they get home. 

These days, leaders are leveraging the bookstore square footage to create additional connecting space for the church.

Student Center Renaissance

Mostly driven by the worship wars, students were once quarantined to the corners of the property to avoid inciting the blue-hairs who loved the organ and despised their loud drums and electric guitars. Twenty-five years ago, the student ministry was the only place you’d hear the modern worship sound. 

But once the uncaged drums reach the mainstage, student ministry no longer maintained the modern worship monopoly, and the need for dedicated student ministry space waned. Student Ministers across the country began scrambling for a new identity, as the ministry model fundamentally changed.

In a scramble to reclaim the next generation, you’ll see a renaissance of dedicated student ministry space in the coming years. Leaders will focus the environment on relational connections that include outdoor development complete with nine square, and Gaga Ball.

Bright and Clean Interiors

Remember when dark greys, palette wood, and cave-like design was in vogue? No more. This year will usher in brighter colors with clean and refreshing whites – even for cafes. The gloomy dark wood style is officially out.

Active Shooter Prevention

With the steady rhythm of church shootings plaguing our headlines, it is becoming more evident that the church must be proactive to avert the horrific possibility and terror of an active shooter. In fact, active shooter readiness is beginning to shape how Visioneering’s architectural team thinks about building design and renovation.

These days, it’s imperative that church leaders conduct a ruthless self-evaluation of the church’s design and plan.

Smart & Sophisticated Kids Environments

Think about it. A child’s attention span changes faster than a NASCAR tire in the pit. Investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to convert your kids’ wing into DisneyWorld may give you a buzz for about a year. But it won’t be long until volunteers start to dread wearing those Ranger costumes every Sunday morning. Since church budgets are tight, you’ll be stuck with an expensive, worn-out design until the next capital campaign rolls around. 

These days, it’s critical to choose an environmental look with a long shelf life and a high level of flexibility. 

In the coming years, you’ll notice church children’s spaces beginning to look more like an interactive kids’ museums or children’s hospitals. They’ll start to have a sophisticated clean, flexible, look as opposed to the higher dimensional static theming of the 90s. In fact, you’ll even notice the increased use of simple, readable fonts instead of playful typefaces like comic sans (which, for the record, should never ever be used…ever…under any circumstances).

Wallpaper Revival

Yes, you read that right. Wallpaper is making a comeback. I’m sure you imagine that hideous wallpaper in grandma’s house next to that dated 1970’s paneling. Or perhaps you still have PTSD from late-night wallpaper extraction sessions when you vowed never to use wallpaper again.

Get that horrible thought out of your mind. With the development of large graphic printers, custom vinyl wall graphics are becoming a norm in the church world. Sometimes these graphics can even be rotated out regularly to keep the space fresh. In the coming year, you’ll also begin to see textured wallpaper and 3D wall surfaces.