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Top Design Trends of 2021

The beginning of every new year ushers in a proud parade of predictions from all-knowing design professionals. But this year, you won't see the typical trendy, fly-by-night fads you often see in lists like these. Instead, you'll see a seismic shift toward the fundamentals of design that stood the test of time and survived the fires of Covid.
North Central Student Center

1. Ruthless Evaluation of Facilities.

Church staffing experts have warned us that 2020 has unleashed a tsunami of Lead Pastor resumes into the job search pool. As a result, 2021 will be a year of leadership transition for thousands of churches across America. The leadership deck is about to be shuffled.

As a result, church leaders will be evaluating their buildings with a fresh and critical perspective in the coming year.

2. Outdoor Renaissance.

After a year of quarantine screen time, Covid-19 has produced a national renaissance of outdoor play. Public parks that were once empty are now filled with family picnics and people throwing a frisbee. Churches hoping to fuel ministry beyond the walls are beginning to leverage dormant land to create engaging outdoor community environments and parks. In fact, with just a little intentionality, the Church can easily become the best backyard on the block.

3. Easy to Clean Kids Play.

One of the most noticeable church design changes will be with the kids’ play environments. For years, three-story playscapes with colorful tube-slides and ball pits were the dream of every children’s pastor across the country. But those days are over. Moms and dads will now cautiously restrain their kiddos from those colorful COVID-infected, Petri dish playscapes.

You will begin to see unique and creative play environments that are easier to keep clean and sanitize in the future.

4. Church Buildings On Sale.

The first two quarters of 2021 will likely bring an apocalypse of small business closings. The once vibrant local Main Streets have fallen victim to the deadly Amazon/Corona cocktail. However, church plants looking for buildings or campuses looking to expand will now have several options. Local theaters and workout facilities have been among the hardest hit and will be some of the first to go.

5. Commercial Cash Cows.

And yet, sensing the market volatility, church leaders across the country are beginning to seriously explore ways to increase their non-tithe revenue – finding ways to leverage their assets to stabilize cash flow. At Visioneering Studios, we have seen a notable uptick in churches hoping to convert their unused property into cash-generating retail and community space. And even though small businesses are closing, more than ever, developers are looking for prime commercial locations to open high-performing retail. With church-focused design, these environments could be a game-changer for the local Church.

6. Student Ministry Revival.

Mostly driven by the worship wars, students were once confined to the church basement 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 cage-free drums reached 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 on relational connections that include outdoor development complete with garage doors, nine square, and Gaga Ball.

7. Death of the Modern Farmhouse.

It’s officially about time to put your Shiplap out to pasture. The modern farmhouse has reached critical saturation and has now become the worn-out style that graces the shelves of BigLots and local flea markets. Remember, Chip and JoJo’s popular hit show, “Fixer Upper,” peaked in 2016 – in case you’ve lost track of time, that was five years ago.

And for the record, if you still have a pallet wall anywhere in your building, it’s officially time to update.

8. Collaborative Office Design and Zoom Rooms.

During 2020, church employees across the country have learned how to collaborate remotely and work effectively outside of the traditional office environment. In fact, many churches have discovered that they like it. In the future, you'll see more collaborative office environments with church employees clocking hours from coffee shops, public parks, and home offices. COVID has officially ended the era of executive office suites for every staff member. 

9. Sound Stage & Live Studio Audiences.

In a matter of days, Churches across the nation have stacked their auditorium seats and transformed their worship centers into full-scale sound stages. Overnight, the Church expanded its digital presence, and the need for "dedicated studio space" was born. 

Resolved to sustain the power their new online impact, church leaders are now scrambling to find high-profile and visible dedicated studio space to house their online campuses. It just wouldn't make sense to tuck away that expensive camera gear in some back closet that once stored the mop bucket. In the post-COVID season, you'll start to see glassed-in online studios attached to church lobbies and Late-Night style sound stages as a strategy to keep the Church's digital presence front and center. 

What kind of church design trends are you seeing?