Design Ideas to Future-Proof Your Church (VIDEO) Blog Feature
Marian V. Liautaud

By: Marian V. Liautaud on February 22, 2017

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Design Ideas to Future-Proof Your Church (VIDEO)

Church Design | Millennials

Is the Church You're in Today Built to Reach People Tomorrow?

Now, more than ever, churches need to invest in well-designed facilities to help create space for people to connect with God and others. But the way that people experience God and community is changing. In this video, Aspen architect Derek DeGroot looks at key shifts in culture that affect the way pastors and church leaders need to be thinking about church design and facility use. Here are four examples taken from his talk, "Is the Church You're in Today Built to Reach People in the Future":

Offer Spaces Just to Be

Do we offer restful spaces? At Aspen, we call these spaces "respites." The key characteristics of respites include:
  • It’s off the beaten path
  • It connects people to God
  • It offers personal and individual space
  • It contains positive distractions

An example is a rooftop garden at a hospital. People at a hospital may be suffering, and they can come to this space to connect to God. The church needs to create more of these types of spaces, spaces designed for people just to be, if we're going to reach the next generation. While your church may have respite spaces, one of the things you may be missing is an obvious invitation for people to use them. Be sure you let everyone know—including those in the church and those passing by—about the quiet spaces available in or outside of your church property.

Aspen Architect Derek DeGroot discusses trends in design that can inform how churches make space for people to grow in their faith both now and in the time to come. Is your church built to reach people today and in the future?

Watch the Video

Incorporate Nature

Outdoor spaces are trending because people have an increased desire to experience God in nature. According to Aspen's research with Barna from Making Space for Millennials, nature is a key means for helping people experience God. Examples include prayer gardens and patio spaces. Often these are more affordable options for creating sacred space, and many churches already have natural amenities on their property that can be easily adapted for this use.

Bring Church to the People

Think about the revolution of pop-up spaces and the explosion of the food truck business. We live in an increasingly modular world with unlimited access and choices. Instead of seeking out destinations, we want the spaces to come to us. Churches could capitalize on this trend by creating temporary, or pop-up, chapels. By bringing church to the people, those who may not be part of a faith community will have an unexpected way to experience the sacred on the street! At its heart, the church has to be a conduit for relationships. Today, and in the future, people are looking for different types of spaces, such as 5-minute spaces (hot spots designed to catch people in a flow) and 50-minute spaces (lounge-type spaces where people are intentionally gathering with one another).

Make Space for Creatives

If the church wants to foster a sense of community, try creating places where people can come together to make things. It could be art, music, gaming, or some other medium. "Makers" studios could be a dynamic way to bring people—Millennials especially—together. What if you designed your regular lobby and connecting spaces to also serve as shared freelancer workspace? This is another way the church can serve as a gathering place for creatives.

Partner for Greater Impact

There are myriad opportunities for churches to cultivate space for respite, nature, and creativity by linking arms with other community-minded organizations or developers in your area. For instance, what if churches decided to strategically invest in improving the community by partnering with other developers and investors to rescue blighted buildings or outdoor spaces? Strategic partnerships will be a key way for churches to regain relevance in the public square now and in the future. Watch the video to learn more ways to "future-proof" your church. Derek DeGroot, AIA, is a lead architect for Aspen Group.

About Marian V. Liautaud

Marian served as Aspen's Director of Marketing from 2014 to 2021, sharing stories about how Aspen designs, builds, and furnishes space for ministry impact.