How One Church Converted Old Square Footage into New Ministry Impact
Parkview Community Church, nestled in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, is a large, growing church, especially known for its outstanding children’s ministry. The original space was built in the 1950s/1960s era, and like any typical church building, it had been added onto, rearranged, renovated, and slowly updated throughout the years. Their most recent update was completed around 2010.
Unfortunately, this piecemeal approach created a severe disconnect between the facility’s look and functionality and the mission and vision the church’s leadership team has for Parkview. The disjointed lobby space, the well-worn children’s space, and the exterior image of the building didn’t tell the true story of the church’s heart to serve the people they were working so hard to reach.
“Parkview Glen Ellyn has an incredible kids’ ministry staff, but the old children’s space didn’t give them room for the leaders to exercise their gifts fully and create the kind of ministry impact they desired,” says Aspen Project Developer Greg Snider. “They value quality space, and their old space just wasn’t working.”
Because the church’s original building was a conglomeration of multiple building projects, there was no core theme holding all the parts together, each piece being added as it was needed. One of the most recent projects included the addition of a firewall and fire doors, which, unfortunately, split the building into separate areas.
Additionally, the exterior was opaque, uninviting, and an intimidating building for a first-time visitor to enter. The building was completely out of step with the warm, loving, and welcoming church staff that waited behind its doors. What that staff desired was flow, security, and aesthetics to match their ministries and values.
From a Maze to Amazing
The first step toward increasing flow, security, and aesthetics was to add interior and exterior glass. With windows on the inside, guests can see wherever they want to go in the building, helping make the interior much less maze-like. New windows on the exterior walls make the building more appealing, approachable, and welcoming from the outside. Instead of entering an ominous building with high walls and a mysterious interior, new visitors are now greeted by a more inviting building.
The second step Aspen took to improve the flow and aesthetics was to redo the church's HVAC system and add a modern sprinkler system to the entire building. By introducing these two seemingly insignificant changes to the building, the church no longer needs to rely on the fire doors, and there is transparency from one side of the church to the other.
While Parkview desired a larger lobby space than what they had, they opted to rearrange, reorder, and restructure the lobby space they already had in order to stay within budget. Aspen Interior Designer Lynn Pickard worked with the church to decide on the best elements for the new lobby space. “We moved the welcome desk, made the front wall the focal wall, added AVL to the lobby, upgraded the fit and finishes, identified appropriate seating for each space’s needs, added wayfinding, and cleaned up the existing space.”
By simply rearranging the elements already being used by the church, the new lobby is now aligned with the mission, vision, and values of Parkview.
Innovative Kids' Space
The one area that needed the most attention at Parkview Glen Ellyn was the children's ministry space. During early conversations and on the initial tour, Greg Snider says, “The church identified young families as one of their target demographics. All their kids’ ministry space was from the 50s and 60s. Their space simply didn't match their ministries.”
The leadership at Parkview wanted to move away from “plastics,” like riveted bucket seats, in favor of wooden, laminate-topped tables, chairs, furniture, toys, and other furnishings. Each room has its own set of tables in lighter colors and natural chairs for kids to sit in during classroom time. Parkview wanted to create a lounge area with kid-sized chairs and sofas to give introverts a place to play during big-group. While extroverts may be attracted to the big open area with toys and other kids, introverts sometimes just want a book and a corner to sit in.
Typically, churches select plastic furniture for its durability and ease of cleaning, But Parkview says that the wood, the natural colors, and the different spaces for different types of children helps create a calmer environment for the kids.
Each age group has its own classroom, like in most churches, however, the large group activity rooms and other learning areas are set up for collaborative learning, following today’s trend toward learning together.
Aspen also improved the traffic flow in the children's ministry area. By simply widening the hallways and allowing for more people to be in the hallway at any given time, it has opened the door for organic conversation between parents as they drop off their children at the same place, something that wasn't possible before with the smaller, more crowded hallways.
Parkview also invested funds from their building project to create a space for a special needs ministry. Though they didn’t yet have a special needs ministry running, they saw it as a potential need and built the space to house the ministry for possible future endeavors.
Respite Space for Volunteers
Another innovative addition to Parkview's space is the Volunteer room. This room is specially designed as a respite space for volunteers at Parkview. The room is a place for volunteers to lock up their belongings, sit and rest for a minute between responsibilities, or catch up with other volunteers. The high counter, chairs, and windows facing outside creates an oasis for harried volunteers who freely give their time, effort, and attention each week to help make the church run more smoothly.
By rearranging elements that already existed, Parkview Glen Ellyn was able to go from a church whose exterior and interior image did not align with their mission to a church brimming with life, full of possibilities, and whose ministries align with their image.
“Parkview Glen Ellyn is a perfect case study in spatial stewardship,” according to Snider. “It’s cheaper to convert old space versus building brand new. Parkview’s design is a prime example of adding usable square footage without adding any rooms. Every church should be asking, "Can we do more with what we already have?" Square footage used in the wrong way is limiting, but square footage used in the right way accelerates ministry impact.”
You can view more pictures of Parkview Community Church's building project in Aspen Group's Portfolio.