Today I am hanging out with Mel McGowan, a thought  leader in the area of designing sacred space. We are collaborating at a blue sky session with one of his new church clients in Houston. Mel's passion is to "tear down the metaphorical walls that separate a church from its local culture and create places that help re-connect the community to the message of Christ.” His background in film and a decade-long stint with the Walt Disney Company influenced the designs he has created for more than 60 faith-based clients including Saddleback, Mariners in Irvine and Southeast Christian in Louisville.

Why do I love Mel? While most church architects have led us to "do church" in the United States of Generica, Mel is showing a better way- the way of Church Unique.  I have worked up close with two churches that have used the services of Visionering Studios, and the product is impressive. 

The church pictured here is Northside Christian Church, in Spring, Texas. Northside is an Auxano client that went through Vision co::Lab, and brought us in to do a Guest Perspective Evaluation. Post grand opening, Northside doubled their attendance from  600 to 1200 in the first six months. This true "third space" comes with stocked pond for fishing and disc golf course among other features.  Imagine having to solve the problem of people smoking weed on your church property. Or wait, is that what architectural evangelism is all about. The first step in their stated strategy is "hang out!"  

What guiding principle drives the redemptive heartbeat and unorthodox creativity behind their design process?  They follow the tenet "form follows fiction," rather than the traditional "form follows function." All faith communities have a story to tell, and church buildings provide the perfect medium for this narrative. 

The bottom line: Don't wrap your unique vision with generic brick and mortar. Find someone like Mel when its time to integrate your DNA and story into a one-of-a-kind building solution that serves as a tool for mission. Read more on "form follows fiction."

Find out about our co::Labs starting soon both virtually and in Atlanta, Orlando, Houston and Dallas.