As churches across the country reopen for in-person gatherings, one question has been percolating in many churchgoers' minds: We’re excited to get back to church, but will there be coffee? Amid a pandemic, some might feel hesitant to ask about coffee, while others have opinions as bold as espresso about coffee being part of their church experience. Recently, Kaysi Stanley, the Director of Sales and Marketing for HOPE Coffee, joined me on Aspen Group's Facebook Live, "Equipping Frontline Leaders," Monday episode. Through church partnerships and providing quality Honduran, Guatemalan, and Mexican coffee, Hope Coffee shares the love and message of Christ while helping fund projects focused on providing clean water, education, and safe housing for the poor. During our time, we talked about why church coffee matters and how congregations can keep the carafes flowing.
Live Oak Christian Church in Bluffton, South Carolina, dreamed of having a home of their own. Originally, the congregation met in a local school and later moved to the Bluffton School of Dance, but they had a bigger dream. They wanted to build, and that’s where the story takes an unexpected turn. They decided not to build a church. Instead, leaning into the heart of their mission and the needs of the community, they planned to build the Live Oak Performing Arts Center (LOPAC) in the Cultural Arts District of Bluffton Village, the heart of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
During my years at Aspen Group, we’ve worked with many churches that meet in schools or leased spaces. Generally, these are church plants with about 150-200 people. Typically, as they grow their ministry, they seek a more permanent location. However, due to COVID-19, many of these church plants are facing a tenuous future. Not only have they had to shut down and pause in-person worship like every other church in America, they’ve also been shut out of their buildings because the school or leased space where they meet hasn’t yet gotten a green light to reopen in the midst of COVID-19. It’s a complicated world right now and finding a new space during a pandemic can be especially challenging. How can you gather when you have been shut out of the school or leased space you’ve been using?
If you were to drive by the new site of Faith Assembly Walterboro in Walterboro, South Carolina, you might think this was simply a church that had taken over an old grocery store and adapted it into sacred space. You’d be partly right. Faith Assembly Walterboro is a story of three different congregations joining together to form one new faith community in an abandoned grocery store. Church mergers can be tricky when they involve two bodies joining to become one. For three congregations to merge successfully is an amazing work of God.
Guest post by Karl Vaters The church is not dying. It’s in fine shape. Jesus said He’d build it, and He is. Relentlessly and beautifully. But individual congregations, denominations, and ideologies? Now that’s another story. While the church of Jesus around the world continues to move forward, chasing away the darkness with the light of Jesus, many local expressions of the church are watching their candles flicker in recent years. I believe the next decade or two will be critical for the Western church. The culture around us is experiencing a once-in-a-millennium shift right now—a recalibration of the way we think about everything from morality to sexuality, identity, and theology.
How can you maximize your ministry and build momentum in this season? While it’s been a year of unexpected challenges, it’s also been a time of innovation and inquiry by church leaders as they explore new ways to function and live more fully on mission. Some are addressing pandemic-related challenges while others are recognizing it’s an opportune time to pursue facility improvements. In response to these needs, Aspen Group released its new Rapid Relaunch program, a 30-day engagement with our team of facility experts to explore challenges and create an actionable, customized facility plan that you can execute on fast.
Three years from now, what stories do you hope to tell about your church as you reflect on 2020? Perhaps you’ll share how your congregation served your community in new ways. Or how your leaders found creative ways to gather for worship, more committed than ever to helping people grow in their faith. Maybe others will be telling stories about your church—how it proved to be an unexpected source of hope for them during a difficult time. Lately, we’ve heard from church leaders who are trying to write their relaunch story but are facing facility challenges. As you think about your ministry’s mission and the stories you want to tell, is your current facility proving to be an asset or an obstacle?
Guest post by Karl Vaters Everyone’s adapting now. But not all churches are adapting well. Based on everything I’m seeing, including hundreds of conversations with pastors and church leaders over the last few months, here are my three biggest pieces of advice for congregations attempting to survive and thrive in the midst of a global crisis:
The pace of change during the pandemic has created a need for bold leadership in the church, more so than ever. To support pastors and their ministry teams to prepare for the next season of ministry, we recently hosted a series of webinars focused on relaunching three key areas of ministry—Children’s Ministry (featuring Orange Kids Specialist Missy Purcell), Worship (featuring creative arts leaders Jeff Boriss and Eric Bramlett), and Community Outreach (featuring Jeff Frazier, lead pastor at Chapelstreet Church in Geneva, IL, and Aspen’s Ministry Space Strategist, Greg Snider.)
During COVID, the opportunities for ministry impact have increased along with the complexities of how to offer an engaging and safe worship experience. Church leaders have wrestled with what to offer and how to offer it. How can you deliver high-impact, engaging worship services in the midst of constantly changing circumstances? How do you incorporate additional campuses if you’re a multisite church? How can you make the most of your facility during a time of varying usage?