How do you know when it’s time to consider a renovation or build at your church? Oxford Bible Fellowship, in Oxford, Ohio, continued to see opportunities related to their vision stacked up against facility-related challenges, both inside and out. Pastor Garrett Nates was moved by the needs of their church, the local community, and the college campus. “We were running up against so many different constraints on our ministry. Probably every single area had pinch points.”
Discipleship is a journey. It begins with bringing people into a community, building them up, and eventually sending them out again. At Aspen Group, we believe that church facilities can shape and accelerate the disciple-making journey. Built space guides people to behave in specific ways. When churches are intentional about their building’s layout and design, they can lead people on a journey, moving them from a first-time visitor to a fully devoted Christ-follower. However, it can be hard to identify priorities or know where to start. In this article, I’ll give you some ideas and examples to help you apply the concept of designing for discipleship.
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
Church building projects can sometimes create a sustained season of stress for pastors and ministry leaders. Though there’s positive excitement as walls go up and spaces take shape, the change associated with building or renovating a church can leave senior leaders vulnerable to getting stuck and possibly leaving the church once the dust from the construction project has settled.
The Aspen Group Architecture process takes a project through a collaborative process with the design team and an established network of subcontractors that creatively solve construct-ability issues before they arise. Hamilton Hills Baptist Church in Fishers, Ind. experienced the benefits of this team approach first-hand.
$1.2 million dollars was the difference between what Faith Lutheran Church could afford and the estimated cost of the building designed by a local architect. The church contacted Aspen Group to help value engineer the plans to get the project back on budget.
Looking into the future, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Naperville, Ill. knew they would have to build to remain locally relevant. The leadership was no stranger to building programs, but past projects were obvious – they built because they were out of space. This time leadership didn’t have clear direction, just an undeniable passion to prepare for the future.
LaGrange Christian Assembly is a growing church of approximately 250 members located in the Chicago suburb of LaGrange. Aspen Group recently completed a 10,000 sq. ft. addition to their existing facility. This addition gives them a multipurpose gym, administration rooms and education space.
At the conclusion of his book, You Lost Me, David Kinnaman offers 50 ideas to find the lost Millennial Generation. The ideas come from Christian leaders—some well known and some unfamiliar—trying to inspire people to move from thinking and talking to doing and changing.
Go down the hall and turn left at the Prayer Room. Then, go up the stairs and it will be the third door on the left, just past the Kingdom Builders classroom. If you get to the double-doors you’ve gone too far. Have you ever found yourself, or heard someone else, giving directions like this around your church? I think we’d all agree that making a great first impression to new guests visiting our church is extremely important. But how that impression is formed may be a little less clear. A hearty handshake and pleasant “Hello!” at the door is a good start, but it doesn’t end there. In fact, that welcome can be quickly negated if your guests don’t know where to go from there. You need to look beyond keeping coffee stations filled, toilet paper dispensers stocked and bulletins printed. You must look to your signage. Your signage should provide your guests with cues that will make them feel comfortable and free of anxiety while moving through your space. After all, they’re like the new kid at school who knows no one, experiencing a new and unfamiliar space. You want your signage to “show them around” without forcing them into conversations they may not be ready for yet. We have covered the importance of effective signage on this blog before, but it is a critical, and often overlooked element in many church facilities. One of the primary reasons for intentionally creating a good first impression for guests is to remove all the distractions and frustrations that can keep people from connecting with God. Worrying about the location of the restrooms or where their children are supposed to go does nothing but distract people from this opportunity. So, where do you begin? Start by entering your building with fresh eyes. Realize that it’s not about you and what you know. It’s about those who know nothing about you. Look at your place from a visitor’s perspective. What do your guests see when they enter? What are they likely looking for? Do they have kids? If they want to learn more, do they know where to go? I like the list that Jed Davis, Aspen Group Project Developer, offers: Make sure your main entries are obvious and that people know what they’re walking into. Answer two basic questions: where do I go, and where do my kids go? Call out your coffee and restrooms. Don’t forget about the exit process and where guests should go for next steps. How does your church do with signage? Post photos of your creative signage on our Facebook page.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another.” — Seth Godin Your Church Has a Brand I love what Matt McKee wrote in a recent ChurchLeader.com article, “Your church has a brand whether you are being strategic about it or not.” There are a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that are collectively guiding people to (or away) from being part of your congregation. The challenge comes in shaping your church’s brand in a way that accurately communicates the ministry that God has called you to carry out. My friend Lindsay Dudeck from Fishhook tells me: "In 2013, the church in the United States isn't competing with the church down the block. The church is competing with Starbucks and the NFL and Target and any other way that someone would want to spend their free time." All too often we find that a church's branding doesn’t connect with its mission. The tagline says something different than the logo, which says something different than the signage, which says something different than the website. Each element sends its own message, confusing the congregation and the community on who the church really is. Your Building and Brand…Which One’s Shaping Which? While it‘s crucial that a church develop clarity and unity in the above listed items, I would assert that your building is the most vital element to consider when examining your church’s brand. When someone drives by your church, what brand message are you communicating? Are there signs of life? Does the color of your facility reflect the personality of your church? Can people tell that your church has a heart for kids, older adults, families, sports, etc.? Is your signage communicating the same ethos as your other communication tools (web, print, etc.)? Can people even find the entrance? Like it or not, our culture is one of consumerism. We need to remember that those people who are searching for God have been molded by a culture of consumerism. As people pass by your building, they are making assumptions about your ministry, and so you have a great opportunity to help accurately shape those assumptions. One Church’s Story The body of believers at Vale Community Church has always exuded energy, creativity, and love for their community. Unfortunately, Vale struggled with a disconnected message and a building that communicated anything but life and creativity. Before endeavoring to design space for Vale, Aspen Group recommended that they speak with Fishhook about ways to better communicate who they really are. In working closely with the church, Fishhook was able to create a vision for Vale and develop better brand cohesion amongst all its communication elements. Aspen Group, then, strived to keep it all connected with our new exterior designs. We used the church's new tagline as a guiding inspiration and today, "Explosive Love, Vital Truth" can now be seen in everything from Vale's logo, website and signage...all the way down to the meticulously-selected metals, colors and stone wrapping its new exterior façade. Now, when you drive by Vale Community Church, it is clear that they are a community of believers that are alive and full of “explosive love.” How about your church? When someone drives by your church, what brand message are you communicating?