Setting the Tone for Worship in Your Space

Setting the Tone for Worship in Your Space

Whether you are refreshing, remodeling, or building a completely new worship center each decision you make communicates who you are and what you care about as a church community. Every choice, from room layout, seating arrangement, seating type, music preference, artwork to signage and way-finding, you’re communicating your identity and values to guests and regular attendees — whether they’re online or in-person.

If you’re in the process of a worship space project, you’re either on the verge of or in the middle of a thousand individual decisions you get to make. Consider these questions, clarifications, and concepts as you walk through the journey of your process:

Worship Center? Sanctuary? Auditorium?

Each of these words communicates something. The name of your space will communicate who you are, your mission, and how you want the room to be experienced. So make sure the word you choose says what you need it to say.

Organ Pipes or Drum Kits?

Organ pipes generally indicate a commitment to tradition and history, while a drum kit is a sure giveaway for music with a contemporary edge – be mindful of what is displayed front and center!

Cross? Cross in the Front? Cross on the Side?

This can be an interesting conversation. We recommend that you address the topic honestly and include the right people in the discussion and decision. Most likely there will also be a discussion of where to install video projection screens as they interact with the cross and other iconic items.

Pews, Theater Seats, Individual Pew Chairs, or Individual Chairs?

You might prefer pews for a more traditional or historical approach, or individual chairs to allow for more flexibility. One type of seating may give you more total seats, while another may fit better with the existing architecture.

Seating Arrangement?

Some worship centers’ seats encircle the platform allowing for a sense of family, community, and intimacy. Straight or curved rows may be preferred if your focus is more heavily on teaching and preaching.

Natural Light? Black Box? Hybrid?

Are you going to have a worship space that can control & shut out all outside light for an individualized setting? Or will windows let in natural light, keep the space more open & airy - with a connection to the community and outdoors? If you’re going without windows, how will you create the atmosphere in your space? If you’re going with windows, consider your view. A hybrid scenario could allow you to do both.

Decorated or Neutral? Symbolic or Modern?

The way you decorate your space communicates a lot about your culture. Stained glass communicates something very different than industrial concrete. More traditional settings tend to be full of more obvious symbolism, including stained glass, but that doesn’t mean that a modern or contemporary, multi-purpose space is without symbols or icons. How you use lighting, screens, and layout to create an atmosphere can do a lot to reference your culture and connect people to the worship or sermon series. Remember, no space is ever devoid of symbolism.

What will be your capacity?

How full the space is (how many people are in seats) brings with it positive and negative perceptions.

For example:

If the worship space is large but you’re at less than 50% capacity, there is a negative perception. The question gets asked, “Where is everyone? Is something wrong?” You can make the space feel more full (if chairs are movable) by setting up less chairs, spacing the rows further apart, and focusing on comfort. If the seats are fixed – dim the lighting in areas or curtain off areas to have the space feel more intimate.
Conversely if the space is too small and the number of people coming is 80% full or more consider, adding another worship hour. A packed space can feel uninviting like there isn’t a space for me.

The Smells and Feels

Do you have a “no coffee” policy in your new worship space? Is your space cluttered? Difficult to navigate? Too hot or cold? Many of the intangibles of your space can have very tangible results for your guests and regular attenders - good and bad! So be aware of what you may be communicating.

This conversation is just about your worship space! Each step of planning, design, architecture, and construction takes on a life of its own. It turns into a series of implicational decisions that can be overwhelming if confronted and damaging if ignored. So make sure Take this opportunity to look ahead and engage these topics with wisdom, clarity, and the experience of a trusted advisor


We'll Walk Beside You! 

To find out how we can help you navigate the process of building, remodeling, or refreshing your worship space, connect with us. We’ll gladly walk beside you.

Station 19 Architects, Inc., currently has an architectural entity or individual architects registered or licensed as a business entity or an Architect in the states of MN, IA, WI, CO, ND, SD, NE, MO, and WA. Our goal is to serve clients nationwide, so if you're interested in pursuing a project with us let us know and we'll start the process of getting properly registered in your state. The information contained on this website is not an offer to provide, or a solicitation to sell, any product or service in any jurisdiction in which such offer or solicitation, purchase or sale would be unlawful under the appropriate licensing laws or other laws and regulations of such jurisdiction.

Project Photography © Saari & Forrai Photography