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.
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.
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What would it mean to embrace a phygital ministry strategy at your church? If you're ready to make the shift, where do you begin? Recently, we met with Aspen Group’s Ministry Space Strategist Greg Snider and Jamie Shafer, a Communications Strategist with Fishhook, to explore how churches can build a frictionless physical and digital experience for their guests.
We will remember this year for many reasons. Among them, it will be known as the year the church closed its doors while simultaneously claiming new space in the digital world—and living rooms across the country. Churchgoers worshipped from home and church leaders wondered if Easter 2020 might break the internet. Now we’re wondering the same thing about Christmas.
At Aspen Group, we believe lobbies should be vibrant, mission-critical space for churches. However, right now, your lobby needs to support your church in new ways as you relaunch in-person worship services and begin to phase in key ministry functions. It won’t look exactly like it did earlier this year, but you can still use it effectively.
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?
Lobbies are mission critical for churches. This is the primary space where people congregate to connect with others. However, right now, your congregation is unable to have the close-knit interactions that we encourage in lobby spaces, even if you have returned for in-person worship and gathering at your church.
At Aspen Group, our heartbeat around the projects we do with churches centers on so much more than seeing a building going up. We love to see how the Lord is working within the church, in local communities, and through teams. Our adaptive reuse project with Faith Assembly in Walterboro, South Carolina, was a recent opportunity to see God working through three different congregations that joined to form a new faith community. The church’s purchase of an abandoned Food Lion grocery is a beautiful example of what can happen when teams collaborate to breathe new life into a community.
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.
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?