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.
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.
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Churches are working hard to determine when and how to reopen their facilities in the midst of ever-changing COVID-19 parameters. As you relaunch your church for this next season of ministry, I want to offer some basic principles about design and space. There are two basic roles of your ministry space:
It happens to most churches. You’ve been in the same church building for many years. It was great in the 70s and the 80s, but as your ministries have evolved, your building hasn’t. What worked well when you had adult Sunday School classes or when your children’s ministries didn’t include a large-group worship time, may now be misaligned space. Too often it's the physical space within a church building that defines the type of ministry that occurs. When we miss ministry opportunities because we have a facility misaligned with who we are as a church, it can become a serious stewardship issue.
In today’s world, we are constantly connected. Whether it’s Wi-Fi on planes and trains, or Bluetooth-enabled cars, or even waterproof devices that allow us to check e-mails in the shower, people are wired—and weary. Based on an Aspen/Barna study, the next generation is looking for a place to rest from their highly plugged in, fragmented lives. The church may be the perfect place for them to find it.
In 1963, Edward T. Hall coined the term “proxemics” to describe the perception of the physical space around us. When social scientists examine this perception of connecting space, they generally speak of four zones: Intimate (<2’) Personal (2-4’) Social (4-12’) Public (>12’) We need to design for connection across all four zones to foster healthy, dynamic social lives. Let’s take a look at each of these zones.