Thursday, February 05, 2009

Use of Space

A follow up to a previous post about adaptive spaces and getting full use out of a space.

I was thinking that if certain rooms in your house are only used 1/8 to 1/3 of the day, and that is not very good use, then Churches are even worse offenders.

Assuming even 4 hours of Worship services a week (which I will assume is even a high average) and there are 168 hours in a week, these places are sitting empty and unused for almost 98% of the time. I think I would find it difficult to reconcile that if I were going to be building a new Church building. Now, this of course doesn't ring true for every Church. There are many churches that meet in schools, such as my friend Luke Mundy's church RVC Fresno.

As well, from what I understand, the Mormon's do a better job than most at utilizing space, including multiple "congregations" using the same buildings
In one sense, the local Church meetinghouse is a religious building principally dedicated to Sabbath worship but is also used for social, educational, and community activities during the other days of the week.
-From Mormon Church
Check out this page which illustrates possible uses of money that would be available if all the real estate owned by churches in the United States was sold. While you might not agree with all the ways that money should be spent, it is very interesting to see what kind of impact could be made with this change of thinking.

This was also something my family talked about as we visited Saddleback Church a couple of weeks ago. We found out that Saddleback Church has around 100,000 members, of which around 25,000 are very active. While the main campus we visited seemed at first glance huge, daunting, and maybe even over the top, it probably is a better use of resources than a bunch of smaller churches each having their own buildings etc.

According to this site the median church in the U.S. has 75 regular participants in worship on Sunday mornings and an average of 186 attenders. Let's split up the 100,000 members of Saddleback by 125 people in a regular congregation and we come up with a whopping 800 different churches. That means 800 church buildings and parking lots. I don't know the exact number, but I would wager a lot of money saying that Saddleback doesn't come anywhere close to the square footage of 800 separate churches. This just goes to show the efficiency of scaling up, especially in churches.

What do you think?

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