Brightmoor Christian Church doesn't hide its light.
True to its name, the church shines bright as a beacon of welcome to the community.
Having undergone a recent expansion and renovation of their existing space, Brightmoor had three clear goals: create opportunities for member engagement, help energize existing youth programs with dedicated space, and develop a new worship center to support its growing congregation and stateof-the-art services.
Working with Progressive AE, a full-service architecture and engineering firm and national leader in worship design, Brightmoor set out on a journey to change the way the church was seen by the community, and better support their mission and growth. "Our goal was to design a building that supported Brightmoor's ministry, but was also eye-catching and visually stimulating," says John Van Houten, practice leader at Progressive AE. "Understanding the needs of the church, as well as future aspirations, was critical to their success." The result is an 86,000-square-foot expansion and renovation that meets the needs and supports the future of this thriving church.
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." (Matthew 5:14-15, "Sermon on the Mount") Located in Novi, Michigan, along M-5 which is a major thoroughfare that runs southeast to Detroit, Brightmoor leadership knew they had an opportunity to highlight their presence to those passing by. The old building was traditional brick with small windows and little to no visibility into the building's interior. Additionally, there was no signifying structure or sign that quickly and easily let people know the building was a church. "People driving by thought we were just a school, or worse, an office building," said Gary Jonna, chairperson of Brightmoor's building committee.
To help increase visibility and create an iconic entrance and view from the highway, a new entrance was constructed with a two-story arc of glass curtain wall allowing visitors to see inside connecting Brightmoor with the community. Taking the Sermon on the Mount to heart, the unmistakable "candlestick" on the site is the new 60-foot cross made of steel.
This marks the entrance and signifies the building's purpose to visitors and drivers along M-5. Visible from half-a-mile away, the cross attracts from afar and draws visitors into the building. "We wanted the new expansion to be very transparent, warm and welcoming," said Senior Pastor Jamie Kjos. "We wanted people to look through the glass and see the life going on within the building." Since construction, there has been a major shift in the way people are finding and connecting with Brightmoor. "We ask visitors to fill out a Connect Card' and list their reasons for coming to Brightmoor," said Kjos. "The number one reason is still a friend invited me', but the number two reason is we saw your building off M-5.'"
ON THE WORD OF GOD
To help convey the conceptual configuration of the expansion, the building team and Progressive AE followed a simple mantra: "let there be multiple doorways' into the church, but all must lead to Christ." This idea comes to life through a Bible, embedded in the poured concrete of the sanctuary's main platform, allowing the pastor to literally "stand on the Word of God." The building's impressive steel structure radiates outward from this point while eight additional Bibles are embedded in floors throughout the church including each entrance to the sanctuary, the children and youth spaces, and a 100-year-old Bible that sits in the floor of the prayer room. Looking down on the church, a direct line can be drawn directly from the exterior cross to a plaque which marks the location of the first Bible embedded on the main stage.
A FOCUS ON COMMUNITY
More than constructing a larger building, Brightmoor Christian Church wanted a building that would support and energize their growing community. In their old space, areas for fellowship were scarce. "Our former lobby was tight and small, and people moved in it almost like salmon swimming upstream," said Kjos. "We were very deliberate in voicing our need for a new lobby and gathering area, and Progressive AE heard our message." The new hub, or lobby, promotes connections among church members by offering various seating selections that encourage conversation, group study, or coffee with friends. The planning of the space makes entrances to the worship center and kids and youth area easily visible from the front entrance. A specialty coffee bar and front desk were included in the design. "This sense of comfort and connection continues outside to the church's main entrance and exterior," said Van Houten. "Design-wise, the building's exterior presence embodies the message of shelter and welcome. The entrance canopy provides physical shelter, while the cross provides spiritual shelter."
NEW WORSHIP EXPERIENCE
Brightmoor's new sanctuary grew from an 800-seat facility to more than 2,100 seats. The growth was necessary to accommodate a growing number of attendees at weekly services and to support the church's popular holiday productions, known to attract as many as 10,000 people each year. In the previous facility, these types of large-scale productions required the use of school classrooms as support areas. With the new worship center, this is no longer a problem. The state-of-the-art theatre- style space includes a green room, choir rehearsal room, additional back-of-house support areas, and the very best in lighting, sound and multi-media systems. "Technology has changed drastically from 2000 to 2017," says Kjos. "The lighting is now far more complex and visually attractive. We have video LED screens for multi-media services, and our acoustics are phenomenal." As a result, services are more immersive and enveloping than ever. To create a sense of intimacy in the large space, the center's seating curves around the front platform, visually connecting opposite sides of the worship space.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
In addition to a new nursery, the project included construction of a new children's area and youth center, both formerly housed in a bare-bones gymnasium. "We wanted to send a message that our children and teenagers are very important to us," said Kjos. "Part of the reason for the expansion was we wanted a designated space to more effectively minister to children and teenagers."
Using a palette of bold, primary colors, Worlds of Wow!, a Denton, Texas-based interior design firm, created a series of inventive and kid-friendly worship and play spaces for kindergartners through fifth graders. "We saw what our attendance was for the nine weeks leading up to the new expansion, and then for the following nine weeks after it opened," notes Kjos. "Attendance of our children in the elementary and younger age bracket is up 201 kids per week. Kids are saying to their parents, We have to go to church!'" Originally, the idea was to convert the old worship center into the school auditorium. However, by instead converting it into a youth center, the space easily serves both needs; making the solution cost effective as well as a good use of space.