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Aspen Group Blog

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

Marian V. Liautaud

Marian joined the Aspen team in 2014 as Director of Marketing. In this role, she puts her 20+ years as a writer and editor to work by sharing stories of ministry impact of churches Aspen has built. Marian oversees business development and all communications for Aspen Group.

Blog Feature

church facilities | Church Security | Church Safety

3 Ways to Increase Security at Church

By: Marian V. Liautaud
September 10, 2019

Carl Chinn, a church security writer, researcher, and consultant, has been tracking deadly force incidents at churches since 1999. According to his findings, 2017 was the worst year for church violence with 118 violent deaths reported at houses of worship. Though statistically an active shooter is a low security threat for churches, gun violence is what makes the news and creates a ripple effect of fear among churchgoers.

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Church Design | Events | Managing Facilities

Building a Special Needs Ministry at Church

By: Marian V. Liautaud
August 27, 2019

When Phil Heller became Lead Pastor at White River Christian Church (WRCC) in Noblesville, Indiana, in 2006, he introduced the staff and congregation to his then five-year-old son, Cade. Precocious and full of energy, Cade also brought with him the challenges of Down syndrome, a genetic condition affecting nearly 6,000 new babies every year in the United States.

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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.

Blog Feature

Church Design | church facilities | Church Culture

How Better Sightlines from the Pastor to the People Makes for Better Preaching

By: Marian V. Liautaud
August 15, 2019

Orland Park Christian Reformed Church in Orland Park, Illinois, was built in 1970. Over the years, pastors have experienced several physical barriers that inhibited the worship experience. In the sanctuary, there was a disconnect between the pastor and the congregation because of the positioning of the existing worship platform, which was too high and not wheelchair accessible.

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Blog Feature

Multisite | Ministry | Community Impact

Strategies for Community Impact: How 3 Pastors and Their Churches Are Making a Difference

By: Marian V. Liautaud
August 01, 2019

What will it take for the church to regain its place in the center of our culture? I posed this question in a panel discussion with three visionary leaders: Tom Elenbaas, Harbor Churches; Mark Jobe, New Life Community Church; and Dave Ferguson, Community Christian Church. (You can see the full conversation here.)  

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Blog Feature

Church Design | children's ministry space

Design Challenge: How to Improve Traffic Flow and Security in Kids’ Ministry Space

By: Marian V. Liautaud
July 24, 2019

South Harbor Church, one of five Harbor Churches in the Grand Rapids, MI, area, was planted in 2011. The facility was outdated, and their kids’ ministries were spread out in various places throughout the building, making it difficult for parents with multiple-age kids to drop off and pick them up easily. “Consolidating kids to one area of the building is a common challenge for many of the churches we’re designing now,” says Rosie Mitchell, a project designer for Aspen Group. “When nursery, preschool and elementary rooms are located in various or far parts of the building, this makes it very difficult for parents with multiple ages to navigate the building.”

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Blog Feature

Leadership | Church Culture

5 Truths for Building Transformational Giving in Your Church

By: Marian V. Liautaud
June 20, 2019

Sometimes, churches fall into a trap of thinking that building generosity for community impact simply means building something external like a community center or a coffee shop in order to inspire people to give more to the church. According to Julie Bullock, Senior Generosity Strategist at Generis, cultivating true generosity, actually has less to do with what people are giving to and more about what people are giving from.

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Blog Feature

Church Culture | Father's Day

4 Keys to Building a Dad-Friendly Church

By: Marian V. Liautaud
June 13, 2019

Kids play a significant role in helping parents select which church they'll attend. If children enjoy the teaching and activities offered at a particular church, this can have a strong influence on a mom and dad’s decision about that church. Along with considering how well their kids acclimate to a church, parents look for a lot of features when it comes to selecting the right church home.

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Blog Feature

church facilities | Church Safety

When Your Church Is in the Path of a Deadly Storm

By: Marian V. Liautaud
June 05, 2019

On March 3, 2019, a tornado outbreak hit the Southeast. Over the course of 6 hours, a total of 41 tornadoes ravaged portions of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. One violent, long-track tornado killed 23 people, injured 97, and decimated the Alabama town where it first touched down. By the end of May 2019, 500 tornadoes were reported in the U.S., followed by massive rainfall and flooding. Many churches were leveled or severely damaged in these storms, and others have served as shelters for residents during and in the aftermath of devastating storms.

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Blog Feature

Church Culture | Mother's Day

4 Ways to Make Space for Moms at Church

By: Marian V. Liautaud
May 07, 2019

If you’ve got children and teens in your church, you likely have their mothers to thank for bringing them. In Households of Faith, a study produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries, data finds that mothers—more often than fathers, or any other category of frequent participants in households—are seen as the confidants, providers of support, and drivers of faith formation. They’re also the ones most likely to take the kids to church (79%) and teach kids about the Bible (66%), God’s forgiveness (66%), and religious traditions (72%).

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Blog Feature

Church Design | Culture | Millennials | church building

What Notre Dame’s Fire Reveals About Our Love for Church Buildings

By: Marian V. Liautaud
April 23, 2019

When footage of an inferno engulfing Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris flashed across our news feeds, it felt as if the world collectively gasped. How could this iconic cathedral be at risk of total destruction? What would Paris be without Notre Dame to anchor her? One day later, the fire barely extinguished, $300 million was donated to restore the nearly devastated 800-plus-year-old building. Before the end of the week, donations had reached $1 billion and counting.

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