By: Derek DeGroot on June 07, 2021
4 Ways Your Church Can Help Younger Generations Grow
As churches, schools, and universities grapple with how to meet the needs of a new generation of young adults, they often overlook the part their physical buildings play in influencing spiritual formation.
In response, we’ve created a downloadable resource to help your church leaders answer important questions about how your building or campus can be a part of—not a hindrance to—your discipleship process.
Making Space for Faith Formation walks church leaders through four distinct areas that Generation Z and Millennials have self-identified as important to their experience in a church. These key themes include:
Young people prefer to pick and choose from an assortment of experiences and assemble their lives based on options. For students and young adults who have little history in church, your building can help form their experiences and facilitate the pick-and-choose lifestyle they crave.
Ask: How does your facility naturally guide people to have moments of quiet reflection, connect with others, and experience their faith?
Millennials say they connect with God through nature, and that is even more true for Gen Z. For young people who often worry about anxiety and loneliness, bringing nature into your building can be a welcome change from the sterile interiors they may expect inside a church. In addition to bringing nature into your space, this guide will help you consider how you can incorporate your outdoor space into a disciple-making opportunity.
Ask: Does your church or school incorporate glass, greenery, or open-air spaces where individuals can connect with God through nature?
"We form our buildings. Thereafter, they form us." –Winston Churchill
3. Visual Clarity:
When you walk into your church building, you never have any doubt about where to go or what to do. It is, after all, your office (or at least a place where you spend much of your time). But young people who may be entering your church—or any church—for the first time are less certain. Millennials and Gen Z want to know what to do next and what is expected of them in a building. The exercises in this guide can help you explore how to make those steps intuitive for younger newcomers.
Ask: Does your space tell people who you are and help them feel at ease and maneuver confidently?
Finally, young people feel the heavy strain of an uncertain future. The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded this feeling. Church should be a place where individuals can find rest and respite from the stress of everyday life. Simple design choices that include things like natural light or strategic window placement can create a sense of calm and help ease these tensions.
Ask: Does your facility offer spaces to rest and reflect, and recover from stress and anxiety?
It’s easy for church leaders to forget that different generations and demographic groups perceive the world in a variety of ways. The physical spaces that previous generations enjoy are often not the same as the spaces young people find most welcoming in a church.
Whether you are starting a journey of building a new church building, expanding your existing location, or simply making modifications to your existing space, the Making Space for Faith Formation guide is a helpful tool that will equip you with the information you need to make informed decisions about the place you call your church home.
About Derek DeGroot
Derek DeGroot is President of 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.