At Vanman Architects and Builders, we have discovered that the portion of the church building that often is not discussed early enough or often enough is the design of the focus of the worship service: the church stage, or church platform, or church altar.

Before getting too far into the discussions of how the church building will be designed, study how the platform or stage will be used.  An experienced church architect will have certain expectations of how your church uses your altar – if you use the church platform differently than expected, let your architect know to avoid any costly changes at the end of design. 

Consider your worship style

More traditional churches will require choir risers, communion rails, and liturgical furniture.  If the church is not planning to reuse their original furniture, these are additional costs that the architect will want to consider.  If the original furniture is to be reused, it is likely that your new interior design will want to incorporate the finishes on your furniture.  More contemporary churches will want room for equipment and large bands, and wiring trenches will want to be incorporated.  Some of our clients even use fog machines, and these will be an important consideration because of additional needs – mechanical air-handling equipment will need to be sized to accommodate the ambience.

Know the laws as they apply to the church’s platform

Current laws do not allow you to store anything under a stage unless there is fire suppression in the stage.  Often, we will infill below the platform to prevent any temptation.

Your platform will require a ramp.  Indoors, the ramp will need to run twelve inches for every single inch in rise.  That means, for a platform one foot off the ground, your ramp will need to be twelve feet long.  This is valuable floor space and it is necessary to be aware of the floor space eaten when someone wants a platform three feet off the worship room’s floor.

It is not necessary to design to the single largest production in the church’s calendar

The block-busting Easter production or Christmas Pageant need not dictate the size of the stage if the rest of the year, the platform population is much smaller.  Temporary platforms are an acceptable option and if they are not in place very long, they will not be subject to all the laws that a permanent stage is required to meet.