Ministry in the Dust: A Unique Approach that Impacts Ministry and Lives Blog Feature
Tom Shields

By: Tom Shields on April 20, 2021

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Ministry in the Dust: A Unique Approach that Impacts Ministry and Lives

Church Construction | church facilities | Ministry

While most people wind down the work week on Fridays, those of us in construction pick up the pace. Especially if we’re working on an Aspen Group “Ministry in the Dust” project. Recently, we had the privilege of partnering with The Bridge Church in Bradenton, Florida, using this type of approach for their sanctuary renovation project.


What is "Ministry in the Dust?"



When we talk about ministry in the dust, it means the church is able to continue utilizing a renovated space while the work is progressing, week-in and week-out. This is an ideal solution for churches that need a way to worship in their sanctuary or continue with their ministry programs, while the renovation of the space continues.

What makes Fridays different?

On these ministry in the dust projects, Fridays are crucial all-hands-on-deck days for our construction team. This is the day we clean and transform the space from a construction zone back to a guest-ready worship environment. It continues to be a holy and sacred space, set apart. We want to do everything we can so that people can continue to worship and praise God in the space.





On Saturdays, church volunteers step in to help set up the ministry spaces, and on Sunday, the congregation is ready to worship in the space. Undoubtedly, this approach would give some contractors pause as they prefer a dedicated construction area for the project’s duration. But for our team, it’s so much more than a job site. We value that we are working with a church.





The Bridge’s Facility Manager, Justin Bradford, shared that while their people were a little exhausted from a weekly cadence of setup for services, they were equally excited to be able to keep worshipping in the space. “From the congregation’s perspective, they were watching the progress and became excited for what the future holds for our church,” says Justin. Being a part of the story and witnessing the process gave the congregation a sense of anticipation and excitement for the final result.

“From the congregation's perspective, they were watching the progress and became excited for what the future holds for our church.–Justin Bradford, Facility Manager, The Bridge Church

The volunteers were a major part of the success of this renovation as well. “The volunteers were just amazing,” Justin says. “There are a lot of initiatives they’re involved in, so I knew it was a big ask, but they jumped right in and gave up their Saturdays. In fact, when the renovation was done, many of the volunteers expressed how they’d miss the fellowship, so there are plans for regular meet-ups that are coming out of this.”

Keeping an open line of communication was critical for this ministry in the dust project. “One of the ways Aspen did an amazing job was through communication,” Justin shares. “We had weekly construction meetings where we’d discuss what would be happening that week, and share timelines. Things were very well coordinated in order to be able to turn the sanctuary from job site to worship center in a day. Communication was key for that to be able to happen successfully.”

It was crucial that we delivered on our promises to The Bridge, so these weekly meetings, whether they were more social or got a little more into the weeds of the details, were important to keep us all on the same page and working in unison to be able to keep the cadence of renovation, clean-up, set-up, and worship.

“We have felt such love and care by the Aspen team. We have felt so heard and understood. We already miss Tom so much and are so ready for phase two!–Kristine Ashley, Community & Connections Director, The Bridge Church

What makes a ministry in the dust project successful?

At Aspen, we believe a church construction project can be positive for the church, but we also know that church leaders and staff are focused on day-in, day-out ministry. Construction is something out of the ordinary, and it can either be a blessing or a burden for them. Here are some ways we can make ministry in the dust a blessing for the church during a renovation:

Organization: When we bring structure, organization, and clarity to a project, it helps with all the decisions that have to be made and the details that need to be executed. When Aspen teams, church staff, and trade partners are well organized and work efficiently, it creates positive ministry impact for the church.

Communication: It’s critical to have good communication, clarity, and understanding on a construction project, in order to make sure we’re all on the same page. When a church is worshipping in a renovated space, it’s imperative that the lines of communication are open, and that there’s good follow-up, so the project can run smoothly.

Responsiveness: It’s inevitable that questions and concerns will come up on a renovation project, so it’s critical that we respond and address issues as accurately as we can, and in a timely manner. One of our primary roles is to problem solve with the church, so being present and receptive is crucial for the relationship and the success for the project.

We strive at Aspen to make all of our projects a positive experience for the churches we serve. This ministry in the dust approach won’t work for every project, but it’s possible for many of them. We’re grateful for our partners who have trusted us to do this kind of unique work that impacts ministry and lives. If you’d like to explore this type of approach on a project, contact us so we partner with you to work out the right solution for your ministry space.


About Tom Shields

Tom Shields, General Superintendent at Aspen Group, began his construction career with Aspen in 1988. His vast construction experience gives him an advantage of not only knowing construction but also knowing the marketplace. He is committed to keeping communication lines open, which allows projects to run smoothly.