As you know and have experienced, Covid-19 has changed nearly everything that we call normal. This includes the way that we think, consider going out, and connecting with friends and family. But what about in relation to the Church? Congregations across the globe have been impacted and Church Leadership has had to adapt their usual habits to something completely new. At the beginning of the crisis (I guess when it became real), Churches moved to remote and online services. Now, everything is beginning to open back up and Churches are allowing members to come back on site. However, from what we have seen, Churches are NOT going back to normal. They are implementing various safety protocols to help allow members to worship comfortably while keeping all their members safe and healthy. This is likely going to be a “new normal” for the foreseeable future. For Churches that are looking to expand, need a new campus or an update/remodel, how will Covid-19 change Church Architecture, Design, and Interior Design. Here are a few potential ways:
Going into a sanctuary, seats are lined throughout the entire space. A typical thought, in the past, was how many seats can we fit into this space, can we line the chairs against the back wall, add another row at the front, an extra chair on seat side of the aisle? How can we put more people in the space? This thought process is being completely re-envisioned with a focus on social distancing. Therefore, to accommodate that concept Churches are going to have to do one or a couple of options:
Build larger spaces to allow more people to sit while maintaining social distancing. In other words, rows will need to be further apart, and chairs potentially spaced out or those not in families leave 3-4 seats between each party.
Going to multiple services. Taking chairs out to create more space and then allowing people to pick a time that works best for them. But then what are capacities for those services and when reached will you turn people away (One option discussed later can address this).
Choirs and/or Praise Teams
Nearly every Church has either a choir and/or praise team that helps lead worship each Sunday. However, will the stage or choir loft provide ample space to effectively allow for social distancing. In most occasions, a stage can accommodate a praise and worship team (maybe there cannot be as many vocalists) but it is likely that a choir would need to be significantly reduced.
Finishes and Fixtures
For all facilities, we need to think through the types or finishes and fixtures that would need to be used throughout our buildings. Rather than outlining every aspect, I have a couple of examples and considerations. Initially, let’s start with the bathrooms. It would be important to start investigating options that allow people to be as hands free as possible. This would include installing automatic or motion censored faucets, hand soap dispenser, toilets, hand dryers, and then a foot door open (similar to a stepNpull). This allows our congregations to use, enter, and exit bathrooms while limiting touches.
These spaces are created for multiple different purposes. In fact, this is a recent trend over the past decade or so and could be more important than ever for a Church. As I mentioned early in the sanctuary seating, if we have a flex or open space in other areas of the Church, we could have remote worship. This would allow us to create distance in our sanctuary with overflow to accommodate visitors or other members of the Church. Also, if our sanctuary or worship space is our flex space, we can easily accommodate social distancing by arranging it intentionally. Lastly, we still want people to move freely throughout our campus. This can be done more effectively with wider hallways and large foyers. For a Church that is in a facility older than 15-20 years, they may not have this space readily available. Fortunately, expanding a foyer can be relatively inexpensive depending on your space but widening hallways can be more difficult and costly.
Every building has a capacity with the max amount of people that should be in a specific space at a time. This is often dictated by County and State regulations that is monitored and evaluated by a local representative (for example, Fire Marshall). With the current pandemic and social distancing, there could be a chance that the current ratios could be adjusted. This could affect the number of people in a sanctuary, children’s area, and building as a whole. Therefore, we may need more volunteers and rooms for the children’s ministry. Also, this could greatly impact a daycare meeting in a Church as well.
Overall, there are opportunities for Churches to enhance their space to be more conducive with the current pandemic at hand. This post highlights several considerations to think through moving forward, whether building new, renovating, or updating your existing space. As Church Design + Church Architect Specialists, we would gladly talk through some of those conversations with you to develop a plan of action.
Reach out to us for a FREE phone consultation to discuss ideas!