Not every church can be a cathedral. And these days, more and more congregations are acknowledging that “the church is the people and not the building.” With this shift in attitude, we are seeing fewer traditional brick and stone church structures. This leads to the exploration of more novel ways to meet the needs of worshippers in the community. Here are a few of the church building trends that have caught on over the last several decades. We have also added some of the pros and cons.
#1 Storefront Churches
Churches may be tax-exempt, but they still cost a LOT of money to build and maintain. And the cost of real estate in a desirable location can be steep. That’s one reason for the increasing number of storefront churches sprouting up across the land. A strip mall with declining real estate value may not have an attractive façade, but it has a very attractive price point—especially for new churches that are just getting their start. Such churches have the advantage of being easy to start, conveniently located, and (typically) with plenty of available parking.
#2 Cowboy Churches
For those who want a complete departure from the shiny “mega-churches” that populate the big cities, the quaint cowboy church offers a nostalgic haven. Often located on semi-rural, scenic land surrounding metropolitan areas, these buildings usually have plenty of room for congregants. They might even feature a hitching post out front. A converted barn or warehouse and some Christian country music is all it takes to give these churches the rustic flavor that congregants crave.
#3 Public Building Churches
There are many churches that lease space from schools and public agencies to serve the needs of their congregations. Obviously, the practice of churches meeting in public schools has been the focus of some controversy. This is especially true if a religious organization seems to be paying less than the fair market rate for the use of public property. However, from an environmental and community standpoint it makes a lot of sense to make this kind of practical arrangement. Churches want to reach out to families with children, and school buildings usually remain unused on Sundays.
#4 Home Churches
The home church dates back to the earliest days of Christianity. The disciples of this new religion always met in the homes of the faithful. The trend saw a resurgence in the 90s in the U.S. There are many reasons for home churches, including disillusionment with the traditional church, lack of funds to maintain a facility, and simply a desire to return to a simpler way of doing things. Of course, meeting in a residence puts a limit on the number of people who can attend at one time. Also, it can cause trouble with the neighbors if parking becomes problematic.
Peak Steel Is Helping to Build the Churches of the Future
One thing is for certain, how a church building looks is a lot less important than people who make it come alive. At Peak Steel, we understand that congregations have a diverse range of needs when it comes to planting a new church or replacing an aging structure. We’ve had the honor of working on many church projects, with cost-effective materials and construction to allow congregations to create a practical and yes, even a beautiful gathering place without emptying the offering plate. See some examples of church building trends in our gallery here.