Churches that plan to offer in-person Christmas worship services this year may need to adapt their facility to mitigate the potential spread of COVID. Your church lobby serves as the first point of entry. It’s the initial space that greets newcomers and long-timers, and it’s the place where people will want to mingle most. But, how will it work in the midst of COVID?
Your church building is one tool of many to help you express your mission, accomplish ministry goals, and connect with people. When churches create ministry space, they do it to facilitate the programming they are currently providing—or hope to provide in the near future. The world, however, is changing more quickly all the time. Physical space that serves ministry purposes today may not provide the kinds of spaces we need next year, let alone for the next decade or more.
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The digital age has been driving us to change our physical spaces. Because of COVID, churches are taking a closer look at how to adapt their physical ministry space to help serve both their physical and digital ministry needs. “During the last 20 years, there has been a tremendous shift in buildings, largely due to the fact that the digital age has been driving us to change our physical spaces," says Greg Snider, Aspen Group's Ministry Space Strategist. "We've been adapting spaces based on cultural changes in a digital world, but the shifts have not been with the mindset of digital-first.”
Even if you’ve been in ministry for decades, 2020 may have felt like your first year on the job. Although your church’s message was unchanging, many other elements felt like moving targets as you worked to adapt your physical ministry space, digital presence, and perhaps, even your ministry priorities.
What would it mean to embrace a phygital ministry strategy at your church? If you're ready to make the shift, where do you begin? Recently, we met with Aspen Group’s Ministry Space Strategist Greg Snider and Jamie Shafer, a Communications Strategist with Fishhook, to explore how churches can build a frictionless physical and digital experience for their guests.
What do you need to recognize about shifts in culture now that will affect your church in the coming year? How can you find unity within your church? How can you keep running the race? These are questions we explored in a recent conversation with Karl Vaters, one of the leading voices for equipping leaders of small churches. Karl is the Teaching Pastor at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship and author of several books including, The Church Recovery Guide: How Your Congregation Can Adapt and Thrive after a Crisis, which was released this summer.
Throughout COVID-19, we’ve implored churches to look with fresh eyes at their facilities and ask, “In what ways is your church building creating space for ministry impact, and how is it creating a barrier to effective ministry?” With many churches still closed for in-person gatherings—or only open on a limited basis—there may still be a window of time for you to refresh specific areas of your building so that you’re ready to relaunch church for a new season of ministry. But which projects should you tackle on your own, and which ones are better left to the experts?
Live Oak Christian Church in Bluffton, South Carolina, dreamed of having a home of their own. Originally, the congregation met in a local school and later moved to the Bluffton School of Dance, but they had a bigger dream. They wanted to build, and that’s where the story takes an unexpected turn. They decided not to build a church. Instead, leaning into the heart of their mission and the needs of the community, they planned to build the Live Oak Performing Arts Center (LOPAC) in the Cultural Arts District of Bluffton Village, the heart of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
If you were to drive by the new site of Faith Assembly Walterboro in Walterboro, South Carolina, you might think this was simply a church that had taken over an old grocery store and adapted it into sacred space. You’d be partly right. Faith Assembly Walterboro is a story of three different congregations joining together to form one new faith community in an abandoned grocery store. Church mergers can be tricky when they involve two bodies joining to become one. For three congregations to merge successfully is an amazing work of God.
During COVID, the opportunities for ministry impact have increased along with the complexities of how to offer an engaging and safe worship experience. Church leaders have wrestled with what to offer and how to offer it. How can you deliver high-impact, engaging worship services in the midst of constantly changing circumstances? How do you incorporate additional campuses if you’re a multisite church? How can you make the most of your facility during a time of varying usage?