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."
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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.
When COVID hit and churches had to lockdown earlier this year, pastors everywhere wondered what to do about their empty buildings and how to maximize their facilities once they're ready to regather in person. We worked hard to help guide you through uncertain times. As the pandemic continues, here are our most-read articles and resources to help you prepare for a strong start in 2021.
Last week our team at Aspen Group hosted Design Week—a five-day focus on some of today’s most pressing challenges for churches and how design can provide solutions. It was an inspiring week! We discussed and provided resources about how the design of your church’s building and spaces (interior and exterior) can create culture and address—even solve—some of the most pressing issues facing churches today.
Churches that plan to offer in-person Christmas worship services this year may need to adapt their facility to mitigate the potential spread of COVID. Your church lobby serves as the first point of entry. It’s the initial space that greets newcomers and long-timers, and it’s the place where people will want to mingle most. But, how will it work in the midst of COVID?
Your church building is one tool of many to help you express your mission, accomplish ministry goals, and connect with people. When churches create ministry space, they do it to facilitate the programming they are currently providing—or hope to provide in the near future. The world, however, is changing more quickly all the time. Physical space that serves ministry purposes today may not provide the kinds of spaces we need next year, let alone for the next decade or more.
The digital age has been driving us to change our physical spaces. Because of COVID, churches are taking a closer look at how to adapt their physical ministry space to help serve both their physical and digital ministry needs. “During the last 20 years, there has been a tremendous shift in buildings, largely due to the fact that the digital age has been driving us to change our physical spaces," says Greg Snider, Aspen Group's Ministry Space Strategist. "We've been adapting spaces based on cultural changes in a digital world, but the shifts have not been with the mindset of digital-first.”
Even if you’ve been in ministry for decades, 2020 may have felt like your first year on the job. Although your church’s message was unchanging, many other elements felt like moving targets as you worked to adapt your physical ministry space, digital presence, and perhaps, even your ministry priorities.