Inexpensive design tidbits for a small church

All too often, I just want something well-considered and well-designed. Something that’s the best it can be and honest, rather than grasping at qualities it cannot deliver or afford. A diner with good service and fresh pie, rather than a pretentious restaurant with its best years behind it, say. And failing that, I’ll take clean and welcoming over clever and comprehensive.

You know I’m getting to churches, don’t you?

For worship, give me a clean room, friendly people, clear reading, complete directions and perhaps a couple of approachable hymns and I’d be happy. Certainly happier than something that earnest to impress me (or God).

Perhaps you have some good ideas for making an over-reaching, uncomfortable church a satisfying church by means of good design and planning. I’d love to see them.

Here’s one to start. It might be a little silly, but for decorating a too-plain rented space (not a Sunday-only meeting room), I’d be prone to vinyl decals — perhaps with trees and birds. Or some Keith Haring.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I just saw some fabulous quilts that a lay person made to decorate a rented worship space — bright, cheerful, theologically appropriate (dove with olive branch, flaming chalice). It just seems so much nicer to have something made by a member of the congregation.

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