St. Timothy Community Church in Gary, Indiana, stands at the corner of 25th and Grant, a beacon of hope and light in a neighborhood that’s marred by economic hardship and gang violence. Though the church’s exterior design and location creates an inviting presence in the community, church leaders wanted the building’s interior to convey this same sense of welcome for all ages—especially for youth.
Churches are in the midst of a huge transition. They’re prioritizing both the physical experience of people gathering in person for church, as well as the digital experience of people connecting online for worship, fellowship, and learning. Welcome to the world of “phygital” church—the blending of the physical and digital to maximize how churches connect with people and help them draw closer to God and others. My Aspen colleague, Rob Gordon, and I met on Facebook Live for a conversation about phygital church. Rob and others on Aspen's design team are continually asking, How can we use principles of architecture and design to create a phygital experience at church?
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
Brookville Road Community Church in New Palestine, Indiana, exists to inspire people to become wholehearted followers of Jesus. They place a special emphasis on reaching men because they've found that when husbands and fathers feel more comfortable in the space, they are more likely to return to church and bring their family. The leaders at Brookville Road have cued into a reality that Barna uncovered in a recent study on men in America titled, Five Essentials to Engage Today’s Men. The study, in partnership with BetterMan, a resource for men’s ministries, was conducted to find out how both churchgoing Christians and men overall are navigating 21st-century waters.
Since COVID-19 hit and churches were forced to leave their buildings, Aspen Group has been working to help churches prepare to relaunch. "Some of the key church spaces Aspen focuses on, like worship and gathering spaces, have been empty as Americans have stayed safe at home," says Aspen Group Project Architect Craig Dobyns. "My design attention shifted from how we gather and fellowship as a church body in our buildings, to how our buildings can serve the community that is staying at home. Our buildings are still ministry tools, and churches are in a unique position to reimagine their space, even if temporarily."
Don't do it yet. But after reading this first paragraph, close your eyes for a moment. Imagine a stressful time in your recent past. If you could escape anywhere in the world to help reduce your anxiety, where would you go?
The built environment is complex, changing, and needs fresh thinking to solve today’s challenges. The pandemic has created new problems to solve and accelerated the problems already occurring. Recent data from Barna highlights shifts in our culture and how they are—or soon will be—affecting the church.
Just like your home decor gives people clues about who you are—your style and taste—so do church interiors. People can quickly identify who you are as a church, what you value, and who you're trying to reach based on the furnishings, finishes, and equipment you have throughout your building. While it's not practical to stay on-trend with every interior design fad, incorporating some current design details will help keep your building fresh and relevant. Here's a quick snapshot of five interior design trends we've been integrating into churches, which will stay fresh for some time to come:
Throughout COVID-19, we’ve implored churches to look with fresh eyes at their facilities and ask, “In what ways is your church building creating space for ministry impact, and how is it creating a barrier to effective ministry?” With many churches still closed for in-person gatherings—or only open on a limited basis—there may still be a window of time for you to refresh specific areas of your building so that you’re ready to relaunch church for a new season of ministry. But which projects should you tackle on your own, and which ones are better left to the experts?
At Aspen, we often talk about creating places that can be an intentional gift for the community—a beautiful space with no cost of admission where people can find rest. Especially in times of heightened anxiety, spaces that connect people with our Creator and the natural world serve as a respite from stress and frustration, especially in this season of COVID. In the following post, Aspen architects Craig Dobyns, César Espinoza, and Rosie Mitchell share design ideas for ways you can create spaces of rest and respite in your church setting.
In 2015, Aspen Group expanded its territory to design, build, and furnish churches in the Southeast states. Since opening a studio in South Carolina, we’ve completed projects in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, with more projects underway in these states as well as a growing number in Florida. Now, to better serve churches, we’ve opened a second studio in the Southeast, located in Florida.