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Church Design

Aspen Group Blog

Knowledge to navigate the intersection of church culture, leadership, ministry, and facilities.

Derek DeGroot

Derek DeGroot is Vice President of Design and Integrated Services for Aspen Group. After graduating from University of Illinois-Chicago’s architecture program, Derek began his career in residential design. At the same time, his church was embarking on a building project. Derek quickly realized that churches needed to find a better way to build. Soon after, he discovered and joined Aspen Group in 2007.

Blog Feature

Church Design | Physical Space

Derwin Gray on How Physical Space Impacts Prayer–From the Church Architect’s Desk

By: Derek DeGroot
October 21, 2021

Derwin Gray, former NFL player and founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church, discusses cultivating a life of prayer and intimacy with God in this week’s ChurchPulse Weekly podcast, "Derwin Gray on How the Lord's Prayer Has Reshaped How He Views Intimacy with God and His Beliefs About the Importance of Physical Space."

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Blog Feature

Church Design | Physical Space

Kicking off the Barna podcast series "Making Space"—From the Church Architect's Desk

By: Derek DeGroot
October 14, 2021

For six weeks in October and November 2021, Barna’s ChurchPulse Weekly will feature a series— "Making Space." As part of Aspen and Barna’s partnership on new research, Making Space for Formation, the podcast will help start a new conversation among church leaders about the role of physical space in spiritual development and the theology of space. Each week, Derek DeGroot, Aspen VP of Design and Integrated Services, will reflect on the podcast from his seat at the Church Architect’s Desk.

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Making Space for Millennials Executive Summary

Making Space for Millennials Executive Summary

Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.

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Church Design | Design Week | emotional wellbeing

Designing for Emotional Wellbeing: The Power of Both/And

By: Derek DeGroot
August 25, 2021

This post is part two of a two part series in which we explore how design can shape our culture and result in emotionally and mentally supportive environments. One goal of good design is to incorporate a sense of ease and emotional well-being into a space. We move beyond the purpose of simple function to create a more personal interaction and meaningful experience for the user. As we look to design spaces that help churches address needs for things like respite and personal connection, the interplay between the indoors and the outdoors and art and architecture can offer creative and unique solutions.

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Church Design | Design Week | emotional wellbeing

Two Ways Design Can Impact Emotional Wellbeing

By: Derek DeGroot
August 23, 2021

This post is part one of a two part series in which we explore how design can shape our culture and result in emotionally and mentally supportive environments. Can you imagine that the design of your lobby, sanctuary, and gathering spaces in your church could actually help address the emotional and mental health needs of our culture today? Recent data from Barna underscores a need for churches to bring real solutions to bear on our culture's growing mental health crisis—and the spaces we provide to our congregations and communities can be a powerful tool to help people navigate their anxiety, grief, and depression in order to more deeply connect with others.

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Church Design | Church Construction

What IKEA Can Teach Us About Church Design

By: Derek DeGroot
July 26, 2021

As a designer, I think a lot about how the spaces we occupy inherently provoke responses. Our physical body and our mind are often driven to an action based on the physical environment we’re in.  If you’ve ever been to an IKEA, you know this to be true. The massive furniture store that originated in Sweden and has now taken over the United States has turned ordinary people into furniture super-shoppers.

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Church Design | Millennials | Gen Z

4 Ways Your Church Can Help Younger Generations Grow

By: Derek DeGroot
June 07, 2021

As churches, schools, and universities grapple with how to meet the needs of a new generation of young adults, they often overlook the part their physical buildings play in influencing spiritual formation. In response, we’ve created a downloadable resource to help your church leaders answer important questions about how your building or campus can be a part of—not a hindrance to—your discipleship process.

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Church Design | church facilities | Design Week | Gen Z

Making Space for Gen Z Disciples

By: Derek DeGroot
April 28, 2021

At Aspen Group, we believe that architectural design affects behavior. Behaviors become habits. Habits form us. People instinctively move and operate in a space based on what the design is guiding them to do. As churches and schools grapple to meet the needs of a new generation, they often overlook the part their physical buildings are playing in influencing faith formation—their responses, behaviors, and habits. The following four crucial components of design address the cultural forces that are complicating the discipleship journey. How can your built space help answer a new generation’s deepest needs?  

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facilities | Community Impact | Educational Environments

Making Space to Form the Next Generation in Higher Education

By: Derek DeGroot
February 16, 2021

Creating space for ministry impact extends beyond church buildings, especially as we consider what it means to disciple the next generation. Shaping the future leaders of the church means that we need to create space for forming people in the midst of rapidly changing culture. 

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church facilities | Community Impact | Relaunch Church | Design Week

How to Adapt Your Church for Phased-In Gathering Sizes

By: Derek DeGroot
January 11, 2021

As COVID-19 restrictions change in various states across the country and congregations start to regather in their church facilities, many churches are facing a new realization: their building isn’t designed with spaces to accommodate groups of 10 to 50, the range for church gathering sizes in many states.

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Church Design | interior design | Relaunch Church | Rapid Relaunch | Design Week

Designing Churches to Shape Culture and Solve Problems

By: Derek DeGroot
December 01, 2020

The built environment is complex, changing, and needs fresh thinking to solve today’s challenges. The pandemic has created new problems to solve and accelerated the problems already occurring. Recent data from Barna highlights shifts in our culture and how they are—or soon will be—affecting the church.

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