Re-designing Church for the 21st Century

A CNU article originally written by Nathan Norris on April 22, 2019.

Church participation has been declining in the United States over the past five decades. Hundreds of churches close every month. The closings have increased as an unprecedented percentage of young adults choose to spend their time elsewhere.

But, will the trend continue?

The answer is no if Dr. Patrick M. Quinn, Lead Pastor of Century Church (“Century”) has anything to say about it. This past year Century acquired 23 acres in Pike Road, Alabama, and set out to create a church campus that will abandon the 20th Century church design formula in favor of directly addressing some of the factors that are contributing to decreases in church participation.

“The 20th Century model for building churches focused on the church buildings, whereas we believe that the future of the church is to focus on how to build the community first,” says Quinn. He notes that throughout the centurie­s the church has always been its healthiest when it focused energy and love outward toward the community.

Instead of creating a large church building that is surrounded by a sea of parking and only used once or twice a week, Century wants to create a campus that is vibrant throughout the week because: (1) it has buildings that cater to the needs of the entire community; and (2) they are designed to be so welcoming and comfortable that people will simply want to hang out there.

To translate this vision into a plan, Century engaged the CityBuilding Partnership LLC to put together a charrette with seasoned practitioners from the Congress for the New Urbanism’s Christian Caucus as well as members of the New Urban Guild. All told, more than 20 designers came together to craft the plan that would follow four basic church-building principles that can apply to new or existing churches.

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