Seven Layers of (Worship Space) Design

Today is Wednesday and it's time for Water Cooler Wednesday on Randy Elrod's blog. It's where creatives get together each week to share a thought or post about something creative. It's also where we talk about culture, art, music and more and try to figure out how we can make and impact on our society.

This information comes from Christopher Lowell's website.Lowell was one of the first persons that I ever heard speak about design. His weekly program on the Discovery Channel was a must for us as we taped (yes, videotaped) each of his shows each day and watched and were amazed at his creativity.

We still miss those "Christopher Lowell Shows". In Christopher's words--they were "Fabulous". He made things very basic and simple to understand. I would watch and say "Hey, we could do such and such". All inspired by Lowell. I believe you can still watch some of those episodes on line and his latest venture is also online where he applies the Seven Layers of Design.

One of his premises for design is that it is all done in layers and he came up with this formula for interior design. We've used it in our home and my office ever since we learned it on his show. It works. Here it is:
  • Layer 1 Paint and Architecture (moldings, mantel)
  • Layer 2 Installed Flooring (any floor surface that is wall to wall)
  • Layer 3 High Ticket Upholstery Items (sofa, love seat)
  • Layer 4 Accent Fabrics (area rugs and drapes)
  • Layer 5 Non-upholstered Furnishings (the work horses of the room, end tables, chairs, coffee tables)
  • Layer 6 Accessories (pictures, mirrors, candlesticks)
  • Layer 7 Plants and Lighting
This got me to thinking one day about WORSHIP DESIGN. I wondered if it was possible to break down the design of worship into Seven steps. And so, here is my attempt to apply some of these principles to worship. See what you think.
  • Layer 1: Foundational Truth: What is God's truth for today. What is it in one sentence that can summarize what you are trying to communicate today?
  • Layer 2: Space/Architecture. Where do you have to do it? This one is big--because space will play the biggest part of the atmosphere and "feeling" of worship. Look at this picture--what type of worship would you find here? Sometimes it surprises you--but most of the time you can predict what type just by looking at the room.
  • Layer 3: Personnel. Who do you have to carry it out? Just like architecture--this one is huge. How can you carry off something that your personnel have no gifting, training, etc for. You have only the capacity granted by the Spirit and brought by the team.
  • Layer 4: Special Events. Are there an extra things added to today's worship--seasonal, etc. These will dictate some of the theme of the day.
  • Layer 5: Equipment. What do I need to carry it out. You are only as good as your equipment. Believe me I've learned this over the years. If you can't get it out--doesn't matter how good it is coming in. Spend a good amount of your budget on quality goods.
  • Layer 6: Visuals. What would it take to get to the next level of understanding? The senses--how are they engaged?
  • Layer 7: Lighting. What mood do you want to set? I can't tell you how much this makes a differenct. I had a wonderful light set up in my last church--we used it everyweek. Here I have a basic stage lighting system--no color, etc. It makes a huge difference in the setting of the atmosphere of worship
I found this Tuesday night here .It talks about the seven deadly sins of design. Hmmm, could we be on to something with the 7's?

Next week I'll talk about his follow up to the Seven Layers-the Seven Layers of Organization. Heaven knows that we all could use it. I'm especially needy in this tax season for a quick primer.
*** thanks to Danny Poyner Jr. for the help with the title. You're right--Worship Space.


simple christfollower said...

Hey Jim, you may be on to something here. Very insightful interpretation of design principles. Can't wait until next week to see where you go from here!

JVo said...

good thinking, man.

Chad Wright said...

Love the ideas. Now the next series should be how to achieve great creative work when you are missing a few of the seven elements.

Danny Poyner Jr said...

I might call this "Seven Layers of (Worship Space) Design." As far as designing worship, I feel like number 1 is the only essential you have listed.

The other six might fall under a category of aesthetics for "Worship design," but in the context you have them listed, they are adiaphora.

I think my issue is semantics with your title, although, I do believe too many preferences have crept in as "necessaries" in our worship.