Why Design for the Church?

Colin Tan

For centuries, the church has persisted through the ages. While the message of the gospel remains the same, the method and the presentation of what church should look and feel like has changed.

In his book on building church for unchurched people, Deep and Wide, Andy Stanley proposes that engaging presentations help maintain the interest of the audience. Likewise, Jesus, in the Bible, used different styles of presentation to address different audiences. He used day-to-day scenarios such as the lost coin and the lost sheep because the common folk could relate to such stories better. Andy Stanley also proposes that our environments need to be not just relevant, but “irresistible” in order to attract the unchurched, the last and the least.

Some may ask if it is necessary for church experience to be “designed”. Is it wrong (or un-spiritual) to consider the “consumer instincts” of the unchurched? After all, Jesus ministered to the spiritual needs of people by first meeting their very real, and very natural needs. He fed the hungry, healed the sick and mended the broken-hearted.

In modern-day marketing, we create products to meet the needs of people. So, in order to reach the right people—the people that your church wants to reach out to—it is our due diligence to design a church (product) that meets their real needs.

As Andy Stanley writes in Deep and Wide, the message starts from the parking lot. When we know who we want to reach, and design our church experiences to meet their needs—from the parking lot, to the kids church, service experience and all the softer parts of what makes a person want to call a church home, it signals to your congregation that you care about what really matters to them.

In this blog, I’ll be talking about some design thinking methodology and tools that may be useful to you in the context of church planning. But remember, these are just tools.

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Church is about people after all, and nothing about dealing with a room, or hall, full of humans is ever uncomplicated. The purpose of this blog is to provide a conversation guide of how we can use some of these tools to benefit the church. So let’s begin.

Colin Tan

UI/UX designer, front-end developer, filmmaker