Making Space for Gen Z Disciples Blog Feature
Derek DeGroot

By: Derek DeGroot on April 28, 2021

Print/Save as PDF

Making Space for Gen Z Disciples

Church Design | church facilities | Design Week | Gen Z

At Aspen Group, we believe that architectural design affects behavior. Behaviors become habits. Habits form us. People instinctively move and operate in a space based on what the design is guiding them to do. As churches and schools grapple to meet the needs of a new generation, they often overlook the part their physical buildings are playing in influencing faith formation—their responses, behaviors, and habits.

The following four crucial components of design address the cultural forces that are complicating the discipleship journey. How can your built space help answer a new generation’s deepest needs?


1. Modularity:




Your building can help guide people in exploring and experiencing their faith. Design features, such as varying your flooring, can indicate where traffic should flow to get from the lobby to the sanctuary, and where you can step out of traffic and find a quiet space to sit and reflect or have a conversation with someone.

      • What variety of spaces do you offer within your church or school facility?
      • How is your facility connecting people?
      • What behaviors is your facility developing?


Learn how you can design your facility to make space for Gen Z disciples.

Download Free PDF Now


2. Nature:




People are attracted to the interplay between indoors and outdoors. As we design new space for churches, we’re mindful of incorporating glass and open-air spaces where people can feel like they’re part of nature whether they’re indoors or outdoors. Nature is a key aspect for how people connect with God, and plays a significant role for those who struggle with anxiety and loneliness.

      • How do you incorporate nature in your indoor space?
      • Are your outdoor spaces playing a role in discipling people, or merely moving people from building to building?
      • How are you maximizing your outdoor space to help lower anxiety and inspire individuals creatively?

3. Visual Clarity:




Your space should tell people who you are and help them feel at ease and maneuver the space with confidence. If your school or church doesn’t offer visual clarity, you’re at risk of turning people off—possibly losing them forever—if they can’t easily figure out how to move about your building.

      • What story is your space telling?
      • Is your design and layout guiding people to where they need to go?
      • How is your space allowing people to discover what role they can play in your ministry?

4. Respite:




Gen Z feels the strain of an uncertain future linked precariously to their education and career achievements. The pandemic has only served to heighten their fears of the future. Mental health among Gen Z has reached crisis levels. Loneliness is an epidemic on the rise. Relationships are straining under new pressures. It’s critical that spaces be designed with rest and reflection in mind—spaces to help individuals recover from stress and anxiety.

      • Does your space offer respite from a chaotic world?
      • Is there adequate natural light and views of the outdoors?
      • How is your facility promote rhythms and practices of rest?

What kinds of behaviors do you want to form in the next generation at your school or church? Are there any spaces on your campus that are working at cross-purposes with your goals to help form people in their faith and education? Check out our free guide, Making Space for Faith Formation, to learn how your built space can address these issue. If you need help shaping the future of your space for the next generation, contact us for a no-pressure conversation with one of our ministry space strategists.


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.