Good buildings come from good people, and all problems are solved by good design.
A church can be many things, depending on a person’s location, season of life, and spiritual needs. But one thing that many people count on their churches for is a sense of stability. In a changing world, the church experience embodies the comfort and trustworthiness of the eternal.
It’s no surprise, then, that people tend to be very protective of their worship facilities. They love their church because it’s a special, spiritual place, one that they may have belonged to for decades. But when someone comes in with plans to change something about the church—be it as simple as adding a window or as complex as shifting the tone of the worship service—they often encounter heavy resistance.
As an architect with 20 years of experience in mission-minded architecture projects, Dan Keiser has seen this resistance firsthand. For every pastor or church leader who understands it’s time for an upgrade, there are countless church members who think it would be much better to leave things the way they are.
In many cases, Dan and his team represent the face of change for church architecture. This role makes integrity-based relationships just as important as the architectural expertise that KDG brings to the table in designing a church worship facility.
[Many churches] believe that buildings can express the values of congregations, bringing new meaning to the act of stewardship in architecture.
—Gary Wang, Christanity Today
Transitioning Out of the Traditional
One specific illustration can be seen in a Columbus area church where Dan has been involved for many years. The church was growing rapidly and the building simply couldn’t accommodate all those who wanted to worship there.
As the church grew, the style of music began to change from a traditional choir to praise music with a live band. The problem was that the large, multi-purpose space in which people congregated for services was too sterile and institutional for the new style of worship. KDG was tasked with making a huge space feel more intimate.
The first step of implementing the renovation was to paint the ceiling black. On the first day of church in the newly redesigned space, Dan stood in the lobby and took note of churchgoers’ reactions to the update. It wasn’t pretty. A lot of faces were filled with terror at the new look.
Dan expected as much, for this is typical of all churches who make changes to the holy status quo. He also expected what would happen over the next few weeks. The comments about the changes leveled out and became more measured, until nearly everyone agreed the new look was a major improvement.
Stories like this have given Dan some choice insight for pastors seeking to lead their congregation in new directions:
“If you hear a negative opinion, wait a couple weeks. Change becomes normal very quickly—it becomes normal, and usually, they can’t imagine it any other way. When you’re making good changes for all the right reasons, it ends up being successful.”