Church Production

Open door policy ...

By Carol Padgett
February 5, 2013 12:43 pm EST

Topics: Notes from the Editor

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How comfortable do people from your local community feel just randomly popping into your church for an event or a service there—especially if they’ve never been through your doors before? Have you ever reached out to them or sought to somehow “advertise” your presence, your inclusiveness, and the use of your space for the local community?

In WFM’s p. 20 feature (Spring 2013 issue), “Discovering New Urbanism,” by Cathy Hutchison, church leaders like David Fletcher of and worship space architectural designers such as Trung Doan of Studio Red Architects in Houston echo the question—how open are your church’s doors, both physically and metaphorically?

Doan notes that many of the churches in downtown Houston are mainline churches with the luxury of urban locations. Yet, he reports, “We are seeing churches make changes to reach the younger demographics and also to touch the diversity of the community, but we haven’t seen much change in the buildings yet.” Churches see the need for this connection with the young families moving downtown, but they haven’t necessarily put form to their desire to connect.

Fletcher, too, doesn’t necessarily report finding that churches are taking a more community-oriented and approachable form, but he does say that they are at least planting themselves where need resides. “If you look at where the new construction is going, it is not suburbia,” Fletcher notes. “When you invest in places of greater density, the opportunities are greater because there are more people. Consider the difference in 10 people per acre vs. 30…. But I think it is more than that. The values of the next generation are different from the ones that built the template we are using for ministry today.”

My own church, His Hands in Woodstock, Ga., a suburb of metro Atlanta, was an adaptive reuse project—once a big-box retailer. It’s surrounded by other big-box retailers and strip malls, and it’s on the same corner where a county bus stop sits. In some ways, it looks more like a retail establishment than a place of worship. And aside from the bronze sculptures of Jesus positioned on the small grassy area before the entrance, you could drive by it and not realize it’s a church. However, the all-volunteer staff puts on barbeques, fireworks festivals on the Fourth, invites local bikers for a “Bless the Bikes” event, and sends its attendees (there are no “members” at His Hands) out into the streets on holidays with gifts for needy children and turkeys for families that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them.

What is your church’s take on design for urban connection? Is it in your programming, your physical site, your architectural design, some combination of these—or in your overall approach to ministry? Share your thoughts with us below.

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All entries for this blog:

  Open door policy ...

  A Building Momentum

  Unite with WFX 2012

  Climbing into the Skin of a Building

  Questions and Reflections

  NFMT 2012 Roving Product Recap from WFM

  The Digital World and Physical Space

  Christmas and Community

  WFX Dallas 2011 IFRAA Session Notes

  What Can We Learn From Your Church’s Story?

  Will Your Church Play a Role in the 2030 Challenge?

  NACBA Packs Lessons for Churches Seeking Loans

  WFM Direction Heading into Summer 2011

  Collaboration Reaches a Higher Level at AIA 2011

  WF Designer Debuts at AIA in New Orleans

  Announcing WF Designer ...

  NFMT Insights 2011

  DSE 2011 Roving Report

  Is spring coming early this year?

  Looking to a New Year in Church Building

  Day 2 Update: WFX 2010

  Today and Yesterday, WFX Atlanta 2010

  Building Identity

  Call to Action at Catalyst East 2010

  Wanted: A Strong Community Connection

  A Change in Pulse

  An Info-Seeker’s Dream

  Kids and Architecture

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