Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date



This is a handbook about communication. The book explains how to acquire, organize and display information about the ''physical and spiritual" existence of the church in order to help church groups understand themselves and to share that understanding with others in making decisions about the built environment. The book comes out of my experience first as a church layman and later from my experience as an Architectural Programmer, helping groups through pre-architectural and architectural decisions. In both the layman's and the professional's role, I shared in the struggles which people experience in making decisions about the built environment which will be “good” in the sense that they actually help people accomplish and be what they want to accomplish and be, and which are at the same time "acceptable" in the sense that the decisions are embraced, understood and comfortably supported by all interested parties. My professional work has been directed towards decision-making which is "participatory” in nature that is, involving both the users of the facilities as well as professional “experts” (programmers, planners and architects) . In a participatory process, decisions are based on information brought before a group by any one of its participants and thus recognizes the "expertise” of each member of that group. A participatory process helps achieve decisions which are “good” functionally by providing a forum of knowledge sharing and thereby increasing the field of knowledge and information beyond that of the architect or building committee to the whole field of expertise of the user. A participatory process helps achieve decisions. which are “acceptable” to the user, by helping the user become directly involved and thus deepening the awareness and understanding of human and functional factors served by the final building design. This handbook is intended to help people in understanding and communicating facts of church life both quantitively and qualitatively. It is intended neither as an academic tome nor as a prescribed process for decision making. A brief discussion of decision making in theory and of design decision making in practice is included to familiarize the layperson with the general flow of events leading to a decision so that people may more freely and easily participate in those decision. Of more pressing concern, this handbook describes some "tools” for communication; what sorts of information are necessary for making decisions, where and how to obtain the information and how to organize and display the information so that it has meaning and is easily accessible for use. Each of the tools outlined here has been used successfully in my professional work with churches. Each may be used by church people who have some experience in decision making. However, some caution is advised in applying this work without some guidance from a design professional or facilitator. It is the intent of the author to write a somewhat complete description of tools, and, in the interest of space, to write only a brief explanation of the programming process per se. In short, the reader is not expected to be able to become an expert programmer by reading this handbook. Rather, those who have some programming skills will be able to better program with churches by using this handbook. At the same time, it would be shortsighted to speak only to the experts. It is the author's intent to involve the users of the church facility in the decision making process. Thus the handbook is divided into several sections, each of which can be readily produced in a looseleaf format for easy distribution. Thus the facilitator, after helping a church decide on a programming process, of decision making, may distribute various parts of the handbook so that members of the congregation, the real experts, can go about the business of gathering, organizing and displaying information.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Edith Ann Cherry

Second Committee Member


Third Committee Member

Richard Staab Nordhaus

Included in

Architecture Commons