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?
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.
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
As a KidMin Specialist for Orange, I coach children’s ministry teams throughout the country and get a glimpse behind the leadership curtain of many different churches. During COVID-19, no area has been fraught with as many safety and logistical challenges as your children’s ministry. If you don’t have a kidmin leader who’s part of your church leadership team, it’s time to include them!
Most churches have learned how to use digital tools to continue to share the gospel and help people find an anchor in this storm. Week by week throughout the pandemic, churches have become more adept at producing online worship services and conducting small groups and children’s ministry via social media and video platforms. Now, the urgency of trying to figure out how to shepherd congregations virtually is giving way to a new question—what shape will ministry programs take in light of all we’ve learned during the pandemic?
Discipleship is a journey. It begins with bringing people into a community, building them up, and eventually sending them out again. At Aspen Group, we believe that church facilities can shape and accelerate the disciple-making journey. Built space guides people to behave in specific ways. When churches are intentional about their building’s layout and design, they can lead people on a journey, moving them from a first-time visitor to a fully devoted Christ-follower. However, it can be hard to identify priorities or know where to start. In this article, I’ll give you some ideas and examples to help you apply the concept of designing for discipleship.
A year ago, churches were struggling to process the reality that their building would be closed for Easter. This year, while we’re still pondering COVID-related questions, we see more churches shifting into phases of reopening. Will your church reopen in a more significant way this Easter season, or are you anticipating a larger crowd than you’re currently hosting for services? Either way, if your building is open, you’ll likely have people who are new to your church and some who have decided to return in-person during Easter. Now is an excellent time to assess your facility and consider how to create an environment that is safe, welcoming and puts guests at ease so they can focus on connecting with God and others.
When COVID-19 hit the U.S., church leaders faced the unexpected and overwhelming challenge of closing their doors. You may have had to quickly figure out how to stream services and move ministry activities online. Now, you’re likely grappling with the daunting details of how to reopen your facilities for in-person worship and other ministries. You and your church leadership team are wrestling myriad questions and concerns about how to relaunch church in COVID-safe ways. At the same time, as a leader, you need to lift your eyes, look out at the horizon, and ask, “What have we learned about our church in this crisis that can help us prepare for a new season of ministry?”
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."
Even as the new year starts, churches across America are facing ongoing challenges brought on by the pandemic. Added to the effects of COVID are tectonic shifts in culture that are changing the way churches will reach people with the hope of the gospel. Aspen has been partnering for years with Barna to explore how to leverage data and design to build a better future for the Church.
As COVID-19 restrictions change in various states across the country and congregations start to regather in their church facilities, many churches are facing a new realization: their building isn’t designed with spaces to accommodate groups of 10 to 50, the range for church gathering sizes in many states.