Steve, unfortunately, this post violates the rules of this particular message board. I understand, while you are willing to provide free consultation to interested parties, it is obvious you are doing it as a way of trying to generate business. Such posts should be placed in the following section: http://www.lutheransonline.com/lutheransonline/classifieds/index.phtml
Now, if you want to lead a general discussion on how church architecture dictates the mission of the church, that would be interesting (at least to me).
I think each congregation has to determine what its best option is.
Some congregations may decide adding to its present structure is the best option.
I for one hat to see functions reduced, but there might be some activities that can be combined.
If congregations aren't open to change, it means they are not growing--and dying.
Other congregations may have to move--I am thinking of one congregation that was in a downtown commercial area in Spokane. There were no residential neighborhoods for blocks. Finally, they were bought out. They used the proceeds to relocate to an area that was experiencing strong residential growth. In the first year after relocating the size of the congregation has doubled.
The biggest problem with many churches is not the space, it is their understanding of function and exisitng space. . It is important not only to educate the building committe but to educate the interested and I mean interested members in the congreation. We all have been in meetings that are controlled by a few that can't see the trees for the forest or the cases with the church...the forest for the trees This is the time for the group leader (architect) to educate the congregation to the various solutions, not just a design answer to the loudest in the person or group.
I think you are speaking about me, Steve. I am pretty much a shaker and a mover. When we became members of our church, we were struck with how plain the altar and sanctuary furnishings were. They were plain formica boxes. After about a year I spoke up at a voters planning meeting, calling the boxes sterile and unimaginative (Little did I know a retired carpenter from the congregation had made them) To say the least that went over like a lead balloon.
But after the old man died I again brought up the problem and even made a couple of proposals on how to solve it. This time people were more receptive, but it was felt we needed to consult the original architect--who was still in business. A committee was formed to work with him (I was not on the committee). In the end, most of his recommendations were similar to mine. Out went the sterile fomica, In came some nice native wood furnishings. But this took at least ten years to accomplish.
Now I am pushing for more sustainability projects. And am meeting some of the same type of resistance.
However, we are in an interim situation right now. We have completed the self study and are waiting for the list of candidates (probably after Easter). This is one thing I am going to ask candidates about, though.
Our congregation faced this challenge a few years back. The church building is over 100 years old. With the help of a skilled professional, an addition to the original balcony was put in place. Increased the seating by approximately 40. The sad truth is now, just a few years later, we have the space in the front of the church for those 40 plus a few more. Amazing what a change in the direction of a congregation can do to the membership. My prayer is that God will see this need and help our congregation to heal again and once again experience growth instead of decline.
Have you ever wondered why? When you go to a show in Las Vegas you pay the waiter to sit up front. When you go to church you pay the usher to sit in the back. Ever wonder why?
When you went to church with you parents, you were put in the back of the church.
When you went to church with your confimation friends, you were put in front of the church.
When you went to church with your own young children, you were put in the back of the church.
Try this out.
All members with children under the age of 4 sit in the front of the church.
All sunday school children and confirmants attending church, sit in front of the church.
You might say, what, this will disrupt the service. Only momentarily, with a little disipline and candy, the children will settle down and everyone in the back can see over them and will feel a sense of connection.
If you don't like the situtation, you move forward a few pews.
Kids need to see too. In one generation you will have people that will be sitting up front.
Our sanctuary is in the round. The seats nearest the entrance are usually reserved for elderly people, people who are in wheelchairs or otherwise disabled. That's because they can get to restrooms easier if they have too.
Families with kids are seated throughout the rest of the sanctuary. Some in back. Some up front. But because we are in the round every one can see everyone else. We find our everyone in the congregation are very welcoming of kids, and very understanding of how kids are. One time our pastor was making a point about things we can't do. Every time he said "You can't" a two year old in the back row yelled out, "Yes, I can." Turned out to be a two way conversation. The congregation loved it.
Seems like our young people prefer to sit over by the organ But it is not like they can't be seen over there. Sometimes they will sit over by the lectern. Depends on who sits down first.