7 Innovative Church Buildings in America

Kent Shaffer —  March 5, 2008

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Ministry Today has published a subjective list of the seven most innovative church buildings in America. The online article goes into detail about each church building but does not include any photos. So I scoured the Web for photos so you could have a glimpse at a few of these innovative church buildings.

#1 :: Northland A Church Distributed (Longwood, FL)
Photo Credits: Mark Beeson, G Jackson Lights, and the church website.

Northland A Church Distributed’s Worship

Northland A Church Distributed Auditorium

Northland A Church Distributed Auditorium

Northland A Church Distributed Auditorium

#2 :: Living Water Community Church (Bolingbrook, IL)
Photo Credit: Wildesign Group Architects via Flickr.
UDPATE: Original photos taken by Aspen Group.

Living Water Community Church Auditorium

Living Water Community Church Lobby

Living Water Community Church Children’s Ministry

#3 :: New Beginnings Christian Center (Portland, OR)
Photo Credit: Building God’s Way.

New Beginning Christian Center

#4 :: Victory Christian Center (Tulsa, OK)
Photo Credits: Daniels and Daniels Construction and the church website.

Victory Christian Center Exterior

Victory Christian Center Interior

#5 :: Parkway Christian Church (Surprise, AZ)
Photo Credit: CCBG Architects.

Parkway Christian Church Exterior

Parkway Christian Church Exterior

#6 :: The Vineyard Church (Urbana, IL)
Photo Credit: Aspen Group.

The Vineyard Church Auditorium

The Vineyard Church Lobby

#7 :: Cornerstone Christian Fellowship (Chandler, AZ)
Photo Credit: Rowland Companies.

Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Exterior

Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Interior

For explanations why Ministry Today calls these seven church buildings the “most innovative in America,” check out their online article. They certainly are some cutting-edge facilities, but I also know that there are quite a few other remarkably innovative church buildings around the world.

For Discussion:
- What are some other innovative church buildings that inspire you and why?

[via Preachers and Teachers]

Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with OpenChurch.com to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

34 responses to 7 Innovative Church Buildings in America

  1. I might not be a big fan of the church but Crystal Cathedral is still is the one church in the world that people visit because it is jaw dropping.

  2. This is interesting. The magazine, “honed in on finding those structures that uniquely combined elements of artistry, functionality and worship”

    What I find interesting is how it looked for these buildings. I had nothing to do with the mission of the church (Matthew 28).

    I’d be curious to see the most innovatively designed church around the Matthew 28 mission of the church.

  3. There is a church niot far from where I live that did what I think is brilliant, they opurchased a strip mall and then “rented” half to the church at way below market rates and rented the remained to other business which pays for the entire thing. It may never be a mega church but it does handle hundreds. And they have a high desirable property they can sell later on.

  4. Very interesting.

    My concern with these types of worship arenas:

    Do we run the risk of the method outshining the Message?

    Similarly, do we add all these audio visual effects because they’re necessary or help augment the delivery of the message? Or Are we adding these elements because we want to impress visitors and create a ‘wow’ factor?

    I’ve worked in Media Ministry for quite a while. I stress the following to any of our new volunteers.

    “If at any point, we do anything to make the method more attention getting or noticeable than the message, then we’ve lost our focus. Our ministry should be one that goes unnoticed.”

    Just my opinion though..

  5. I am the Creative Media Director at Northland, the first church on the list. Although we are honored to be on this list and very blessed to have the innovative facility that we do, I know of many, many other churches who were missed in this article.

    I agree with Matt Farina that the mission should be the first priority in our design, with functionality and technology driven to meet that goal. It is our hope that our facility has done that as best our human hands can accomplish…we rely every week on God to fill in the gaps.

  6. as the designers for the Northland facility we at Platt Design Group are honored to have be part of such a beautiful creation and blessed community. it’s our heart to work with churches to design a space where the message and the worship can be not only be heard but experienced.

  7. How can you not look at Willow Creek? It may not be in the top 7 but it’s an amazing and functional facility. Of course, for fifty million dollars …

  8. I normally don’t like to toot our own horn but after 20 years of renting in the city, Park Community Church is renovating a dry-goods warehouse right in the heart of Chicago’s near northside to create a 1,000 seat urban warehouse church for its congregation of 20-40 year urbanites. Check it out at
    http://20millionminutes.com/2007/03/03/warehouse-church-in-chicago/

  9. Very cool, Steve! I like the old warehouse look.

  10. That is a very subjective list.
    I thought innovation had more to do with how you used a space than what you paid for it, or how much it reminds you of a mall?

    An innovative church I would suggest is Sojourn Community Church in Louisville. They transformed a condemned school into a wonderful mutliuse space.

  11. I’d check out Vintage 21 for innovation. I don’t think of innovation as being fancy lights or great stages, but taking something that you might not think of as “church” and making a great space for worship.

    Vintage21 renovated a warehouse in a not so great area of Raleigh, NC and made a fantastic place to meet with God. It is artistic, beautiful, rough…and not too “plugged-in”. They use just the right amount of technology.

    The lights, the message “series”, the music – none of it distracts from the essence of the Gospel message that day.

    -Mike (just my 2 cents)

  12. Hi Kent,

    Just one minor correction on this post. The photo credits for Living Water Community Church should go to Aspen Group. We were blessed to have two of our projects on the Most Innovative list. (We did partner with Wildesign for the Living Water design but those are our pics.)

    Love the site. It is exciting to see how it has grown. Keep up the good work.

    - Dan

  13. I’m soooo excited for children’s ministry and some construction (have a look; you’ll be glad you did) we’ve been able to do recently to wow children, to pique their interest and bring them (and their parents) to Christ!

  14. They’re all beautiful buildings, lovely designs, great colour schemes, nice equipment; but basically all the same.

    Someone stands on a stage infront of a group of people and talks at them. Or drums at them – majority of the pictures here have drum kits set up in the middle of the stage.

    Wouldn’t coffee shops, community centres and camp sites would be more innovative?

  15. While the buildings featured are certainly impressive, my honest, first reaction was a sickening feeling in my stomach of the church buying into consumerism. I am all for doing things with excellence, but I wonder… (and I make this comment without personal knowledge of any of these church communities) How does their giving to the poor, the needy, the starving, or their immediate neighbors compare to their building campaigns? How necessary is millions of dollars for an auditorium that is empty 6 days a week? (Maybe more for a special conference, concert etc.)

  16. Thanks for checking out Preachers and Teachers.

  17. We have to relevant in the culture we live in..right?

    Where did Jesus preach and teach?..synagouges.
    These were some of the finest construction available in His time. Yes, He did go into the highways and byways too. We should be all things to (all) so that some may be saved. The poor we will always have with us. Balance our outlay.
    We are an “entertain me” culture..right?
    Do you have any of the following;
    Television (Large screen,LCD,plasma),MP3/CD player? Lets face it..we like techno as a culture, to ignore this fact in Lutherean in appeal.
    <

  18. With every picture on this page, it saddens me to think that we really don’t need all of this to worship God and pray together.

    May the Lord open our eyes so that the money spent foolishly on these buildings, can help what Christ said he was and we are anointed to do.

  19. muy lindo en principal las alabansas con tantas luces por aqui por aya muy lindo todo es fasinante la iglesia los esesnarios todo muy lindo debe ser de muchas personas nosierto todo muy bello……….

  20. As a Christian, architect, and A/V volunteer who’s been wrestling for years about whether or not to get involved in designing churches, I have to put in my one cent….

    I think churches need to strike a balance between being relevant and being part of the overstimulation problem. Just because we have the means, we need to ask the question, is this necessary? Will this add or detract from the message of the gospel? Can we cut 10% off the budget for this building and build a few dozen wells in and an orphanage in Africa? Or fund a struggling sister church in the rural south?

    Many times the things we think will ‘lure’ new people to our churches are the very things that confirm their cynicism about what the American church is really all about. Kids don’t need Disneyland to learn about God. Adults don’t need synchronized lights, and 3000sf stages to worship. In fact I often, often wonder if these things aren’t separating us from God, reinforcing worship as a spectator experience best left to the professionals.

    I love modern design, I specialize in it. I’m not a traditionalist that thinks we ought to go back to wooden pews, stained glass windows, and organs. I just think we need to keep our buildings reasonably humble and stay away from the corporate imaging that seems to be so popular these days.

    Church buildings should feel different, they should feel authentic, they should reflect and amplify the values and creativity of the people who fill their walls, not the values of the commercial and retail world at large (which speculates what ‘they would want’)

    The best church spaces I’ve visited have always seemed to be renovations of existing buildings. The theology is powerful in that. Renewal from the inside out. Taking something that was unwanted and misused and claiming it for the Kingdom.

    That said, I’m not criticizing the designers of the above spaces at all. There is some very fun and creative work on display, and well done. I just feel the program and direction coming from the leadership at some of these churches may be missing the mark a bit to the detriment of their mission.

  21. Hey – I live in Tulsa and though I am not a member of Victory – I have been inside their churuch.

    I was very impressed at how functional the seating is – as well as the quality view even from the top row.

  22. Church planting request

    My name is B.Isarael; I born brought up in Banjara Hindu tribal family. My family was starving as didn’t send me school then my neighbor friends were going to school, my heart was broken desire to school. At the time the God send his servant to leading into study then God realized me plan and purpose in my life. 1992 as the year Jesus saved to me then GOD changed my name from Devilal to Isarael.Then GOD called to YWAM in 1996. I joined YWAM in DTS Hyderabad. I worked one year with Mercy ministries staff in Hyderabad and SOFM Practical 2 1/2years as church plant team with the staff. Then I worked as the team leader up to 2003.
    I got vision in 1992: One day I was praying at night, the GOD showed the scripture Zechariah: 04:1-7.In that visions my heart is filled by bright light and appearance the flash lined follows
    ? Church planting for the world.
    ? Orphan Home & Children Care Ministry.
    ? Mercy Charity Ministry.
    After completion my training I started individual ministries in Hyderabad the location of Nagaram area. By the God’s grace we established seloum church at Nagaram.
    Church planting for the world.
    Prayer needs:
    ? We have 25 villages in 4 districts ministries in slums areas in Andhra Pradesh.
    ? We need to establish the churches at all villages.
    ? But we have no lands and no money because of all believers are poor as they can’t able to lead their families financially.
    ? We have no permanent place and no co-operation from any organization.
    ? We have burden trained servants of the Lord but the poverty leading them as daily wages-saker.
    ? We have women fellowship but the lock of finance it isn’t running.
    ? We have evangelism team to proclaim the gospel; we haven’t any home for prayer and any vehicle to outreach.
    ? It is very critical situation at the rainy season that no have shelters for prayer and meetings.
    ? We need 24 hours prayer towers but we haven’t home.
    ? Here is opportunity to start Discipleship Training Centre (D.T.C) to make evangelist to villages students. But we haven’t any help.
    ? We need public crushes in villages to realize the people miracle of the Lord.
    We are praying and starving of Lords grace. We hope in Lord he will fulfill his deeds to separate his people from the villages.
    E-mail: isaraelbanoth@yahoo.com

    Thanking you.
    Yours in Christ
    Bro: B.Isarael,
    Redeemer Gospel Ministries,
    Plot No: 23, Kamalabai NagarColony,
    Nagaram (Village & Post),
    Keesara Mandal, R.R district,
    Hyderabad-500 083,
    India.

  23. I think Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas is a wonderful church. The new sanctuary was open Sept 2008. It is a mix of old style traditional with new innovative monitors, sound technology and in about a year a new pipe organ (you dont see that in many churches anymore). The pastor is Dr. Charles Swindoll. The church is not setup like an entertainment center, rock concert stage or anything like that…it seats over 3100 people, has classic style, and is an all around wonderful place to be when worshiping the Lord. We open our new Chidlrens building in January 2010, looking forward to seeing what that looks like as well.

  24. i have read some of the comments about churches should rather use the money to help the poor or do missions work rather than spend it lavishly on a building. And it sounds reasonable (spiritual) enough for sure, right? …but here is another view (perspective) from the Bible ….

    John 12
    Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

    4But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5″Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[b]” 6He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

    7″Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. ” It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

    Also another scripture in Haggai
    Haggai watched with disgust as the people busily began building their own houses while God’s temple lay in shambles. “Is it time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” (1:4).

    Just a view, that its not always what makes sense to us, but that it is all for the Glory of God and His pleasure alone!! God created the universe for His pleasure and glory!
    He created us alone for His pleasure! That’s it!! This is God’s house and it should be the very best quality and architecture because it is a outward expression for our worship to Him with excellence! If we are doing it with a motive to please and worship Him and give Him the very best for His house , place of worship , He is pleased! If you take a look around God does it up BIG! He spared nothing to create the vast universe and planets, and there are breathtaking waterfalls, highest mountains, vast oceans. Because of their granduer attributes, this is what gives God glory! So why not our building mimic the grandeur that pleases Him and points to magnigicent glory!
    Not that there is anything wrong with giving to the poor, but
    I would rather be in Mary’s position expending lavishly on Jesus b/c it’s all about His glory, then to follow in Judas Iscariot’s foot steps and use false humility (spirituality/religion) because we know where that story ends!! Just my 2 cents! :)

  25. I agree. The grandeur is all for God. He gave Moses the specific colours and measurements for the tabernacle. He is interested in the fine details of beautiful things. Am sure every part of these buildings serves a purpose for everyone and maybe alomost everything. That is the children and youth ministry, men, women and the elderly, new converts and outreach programs. Big non Christian organisations are very effetive withh the use of administration, marketing, receptionists, accountants, technology, good architecture and more! We need all these things too to be effective in expressing the Gospel in todays context. Paul did well for what was available……in the 1st century!

  26. we are also looking for a sponser to build a church in zimbabwe bulawayo as we are worshiping in an open air . My church has a membership of 1500 people .

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