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Aspen Group Blog

Knowledge to navigate the intersection of church culture, leadership, ministry, and facilities.

Blog Feature

Multisite | Church Mergers

Church Mergers: The Unintended Consequence of the Multisite Movement

By: Jim Tomberlin
September 05, 2019

Around 2009, my friend Warren Bird, then at Leadership Network, called and asked if I was seeing a lot of mergers in my multisite church consulting. I was, and he was seeing the same. “God is doing something,” Warren said. “We ought to write a book about it.” A couple of years later, we published the book, Better Together, Making Church Mergers Work. Originally, like many pastors and church leaders, I had a vague, negative idea about church mergers. We didn't see it coming when we started thinking about multisite during my years at Willow Creek Community Church, but mergers have become an unintended consequence of the multisite movement.

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Blog Feature

Church Design | Events | Managing Facilities

Building a Special Needs Ministry at Church

By: Marian V. Liautaud
August 27, 2019

When Phil Heller became Lead Pastor at White River Christian Church (WRCC) in Noblesville, Indiana, in 2006, he introduced the staff and congregation to his then five-year-old son, Cade. Precocious and full of energy, Cade also brought with him the challenges of Down syndrome, a genetic condition affecting nearly 6,000 new babies every year in the United States.

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Making Space for Millennials Executive Summary

Making Space for Millennials Executive Summary

Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.

Blog Feature

Church Design | Culture | Millennials

Rest for the Weary: 4 Ways Your Church Can Be a Place of Respite

By: Derek DeGroot
August 21, 2019

In today’s world, we are constantly connected. Whether it’s Wi-Fi on planes and trains, or Bluetooth-enabled cars, or even waterproof devices that allow us to check e-mails in the shower, people are wired—and weary. Based on an Aspen/Barna study, the next generation is looking for a place to rest from their highly plugged in, fragmented lives. The church may be the perfect place for them to find it.

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Blog Feature

Church Design | church facilities | Church Culture

How Better Sightlines from the Pastor to the People Makes for Better Preaching

By: Marian V. Liautaud
August 15, 2019

Orland Park Christian Reformed Church in Orland Park, Illinois, was built in 1970. Over the years, pastors have experienced several physical barriers that inhibited the worship experience. In the sanctuary, there was a disconnect between the pastor and the congregation because of the positioning of the existing worship platform, which was too high and not wheelchair accessible.

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Blog Feature

Church Design | church facilities

When Your Church Is Portable: 5 Ways to Create Effective Ministry Space

By: Shannon Jirik
August 07, 2019

Churches are popping up in schools, community centers, and warehouses. They’re meeting in movie theaters, coffee shops, and even comedy clubs. While many churches plant roots in permanent facilities, churches often start out mobile and borrow or rent space that's primarily used for another purpose.

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Blog Feature

Multisite | Ministry | Community Impact

Strategies for Community Impact: How 3 Pastors and Their Churches Are Making a Difference

By: Marian V. Liautaud
August 01, 2019

What will it take for the church to regain its place in the center of our culture? I posed this question in a panel discussion with three visionary leaders: Tom Elenbaas, Harbor Churches; Mark Jobe, New Life Community Church; and Dave Ferguson, Community Christian Church. (You can see the full conversation here.)  

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Blog Feature

Church Design | children's ministry space

Design Challenge: How to Improve Traffic Flow and Security in Kids’ Ministry Space

By: Marian V. Liautaud
July 24, 2019

South Harbor Church, one of five Harbor Churches in the Grand Rapids, MI, area, was planted in 2011. The facility was outdated, and their kids’ ministries were spread out in various places throughout the building, making it difficult for parents with multiple-age kids to drop off and pick them up easily. “Consolidating kids to one area of the building is a common challenge for many of the churches we’re designing now,” says Rosie Mitchell, a project designer for Aspen Group. “When nursery, preschool and elementary rooms are located in various or far parts of the building, this makes it very difficult for parents with multiple ages to navigate the building.”

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Blog Feature

Church Culture | restarts

What to Do If Your Church Is Becoming a Museum

By: Mark Jobe
July 16, 2019

In Europe, there are Gothic Cathedrals that draw visitors from all over the world. There’s one in Spain that took 400 years to build. (You thought your building campaign was long!) But, if you walk into that building today, it’s a museum. Additionally, the U.S. is filled with grandiose churches that seat 500, but only average 12 attendees on a Sunday. Churches that were once vital, powerful places that would make a difference in the community are closing. They were the hub of the immigrants, the places where the gospel was preached, where people were married, buried and baptized. Now they’re demolished or repurposed into condos. As a pastor in Chicago, I started to wonder, should we just abandon these buildings? Something struck my heart as I began to read scripture: What if these stained-glass window cathedrals were filled with young people attending these older churches? What if we were able to take what people sacrificed to build for the Gospel and now redeem these buildings for God?  

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Blog Feature

Multisite | Church Mergers

Should My Church Merge? 4 Questions to Help You Decide

By: Jim Tomberlin
July 08, 2019

In our consulting work at Multisite Solutions, we get weekly calls from churches asking two questions: So, why should a church merge? Should we do this or not? When I talk with the two churches involved, usually two senior pastors or a senior pastor and a board member, I ask them to reflect on four questions to help them answer the big question: Should my church merge?

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Blog Feature

Leadership | Communication

The 5 Steps of Leadership Development

By: Patrick O'Connell
June 26, 2019

Leadership development may often be perceived as vague, time-consuming, or intimidating. In reality, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Using “Tony” as my fictional example, here is a proven, five-step mentorship/apprenticeship model that can be used to develop new leaders in church ministry.  

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