The role of the modern church is evolving with places of worship expanding their reach and impact by serving as gathering places outside of the traditional Sunday morning service. In fact, the new role of the church building expands far beyond the classical context of religion.
When the time comes, many churches will once again open their doors to the public as venues for performances, events and community meetings – and they need to enhance their facilities accordingly.
“Worship venues have become a growing part of our business,” said Cindy Albrecht, director of sales and marketing for Staging Concepts, a leading provider of portable staging solutions and equipment for performance venues. “We are increasingly called upon to help transform both the spatial and sensory aspects of these spaces to better serve the needs of the congregation and the surrounding community.”
Following are three ways churches can add flexibility and functionality to worship spaces:
Given the variety of activities hosted in today’s church sanctuaries, flexibility is essential. With this in mind, modular stage extensions are becoming increasingly popular.
From accommodating musical performances and theatrical productions to hosting baccalaureate services and wedding ceremonies, portable platforms offer a convenient and cost-effective way to expand a sanctuary’s presentation area.
No matter the size of the venue or congregation, stage extensions can be customized to serve the dynamic needs of any church community.
For example, to provide a larger space for holiday performances and scripture reenactments, Staging Concepts developed a custom stage extension for Calvary Chapel in Helmet, California.
This expansion was primarily needed to accommodate a performance that would include a large number of community members but has proven to be useful time and time again for this active church.
“To construct the extension, we customized our SC90 platforms and support systems with black polyvinyl surfacing and added black skirting to give the extensions a clean, finished look” explained Albrecht. “This combination of elements creates a seamless transition from the existing stage to the expanded stage, all while providing a surface that looks and feels permanent.”
Given the temporary nature of stage extensions, the set-up and take-down process is a critical factor when considering extension options. The portable platforms require no tools for assembly and can easily be stored when not in use.
When extending out is not an option, consider going up.
Each year, Mount Olivet Lutheran Church hosts numerous Christmas sermons, programs, concerts and gathering around the holiday season at its two campuses located in Minneapolis and Plymouth, Minnesota.
Additionally, more than 1,000 people lend their voices to the church’s 14 choirs, which perform at both facilities throughout the year.
A few years ago, Staging Concepts worked with the church’s facilities operations manager to refresh the church’s 40-year-old riser system.
“Using SC90 platforms, bridge supports and IBC guardrails, our team built a custom riser designed to fit perfectly into the Minneapolis sanctuary and altar space but with built-in flexibility and portability,” noted Albrecht.
Originally purchased to accommodate up to 200 choir members and the church’s annual display of large Christmas trees, the riser system is set-up, taken down, transported, reconfigured and used throughout the year for groups and events of varying sizes and both church campuses.
In some cases, altar space may be limited or reserved exclusively for sacred activities. With a little creativity, custom risers can convert virtually any space in a sanctuary for added functionality.
“Our team assisted with an innovative renovation at Christ Cathedral Church in Garden Grove, California, where we designed and constructed custom risers and platforms for the balcony in the sanctuary to accommodate the congregation’s choir,” Albrecht said. “Custom wall towers and modesty panels with highly custom millwork were also added to enhance acoustics and complement the distinctive architecture of the flagship space for the Catholic community.”
While religious organizations are exempt from accessibility mandates by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), creating a worship space that is physically inclusive is important for not only accommodating the needs of a congregation but also for enhancing the utility and marketability of a church facility.
At Pilgrim Chapel on the campus of Dallas Baptist University, the Staging Concepts team supplied wheelchair accessible stage extensions to enhance accessibility and create additional square-footage for special events.
The low-incline ramps blend seamlessly with the existing staging and are equipped with ADA-compliant supports and guardrails offering easy access for all members of the congregation and community.
Ultimately, don’t feel restricted by space or equipment limitations. With all of the flexible and customizable options available today, it’s absolutely possible to achieve your vision and optimize the potential of your worship space.
To find the right solutions for your space, seek out suppliers that understand load capacities, lateral stabilities and building codes, and who bring practical experience to your project.
“We have designers and engineers on our team with backgrounds working with churches and in the performing arts,” Albrecht said. “They speak the language and have expert insight into the nuances of these types of spaces.”
Since 1990, Staging Concepts has provided modular, custom portable staging solutions for all types of venues, including performing arts spaces and production companies, sports facilities, worship venues, convention centers, hospitality settings and special events, www.stagingconcepts.com.