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.

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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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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 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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church facilities | Ministry | Relaunch Church | Rapid Relaunch | Design Week

Creating Space for Connection in the COVID-19 Era

By: Derek DeGroot
July 29, 2020

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:

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Church Design | church facilities

3 Reasons Why Your Church May Be Ready for a Makeover

By: Derek DeGroot
October 02, 2019

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.

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Church Design | Culture | Millennials

Rest for the Weary: 4 Ways Your Church Can Be a Place of Respite

By: Derek DeGroot
August 21, 2019

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.

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Church Design | Communication

The Power of “Proxemics”: Creating 4 Zones for Connection at Church

By: Derek DeGroot
June 06, 2018

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.

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Multisite | Church Culture

4 Keys for Building a Church to Grow

By: Derek DeGroot
March 29, 2017

If you want to ignite a culture of strategic expansion, you have to build for one–literally. But buildings require time and capital. For some churches, especially those that are focused on reaching more people for Christ as quickly as possible, the thought of building new campuses or investing in permanent space seems at odds with a nimble, frugal approach to launching multiple congregations.

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Church Design | Millennials | Multisite

4 Keys to Helping Your Church Fuel a Multisite Strategy

By: Derek DeGroot
October 06, 2016

If you want to ignite a culture of strategic expansion, you have to build for one - literally. But buildings require time and capital. For some churches, especially those that are focused on reaching more people for Christ as quickly as possible, the thought of building new campuses or investing in permanent space seems at odds with a nimble, frugal approach to launching multiple congregations.

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