Why Churches are creating lifestyle settings

By: David Price, AIA  

Whether downtown n or in master-planned communities, successful churches are exploring new lifestyle settings.
A primary objective is to create a unique environment to attract and nurture a community of believers whose spiritual-growth needs may not have been met in traditional church settings. A key concept is to present the "church experience" in a way that relates to peoples' real lives. This implies a need for facilities that are not only conducive to social interaction, but also offer a diversity of activities.
In an effort to touch the lives of young people, churches are often creating less structured environments. In these areas, young people can "hang" with friends and interact in a safe and appealing setting.
In East Central Indiana, First Church of God has created just such an environment. Called "The Living Room,"it provides live music, great food, gourmet coffee, and a smoke-free and alcohol?free atmosphere for 18 years and older. The Living Room operates in a converted second?floor space located in an early 19th Century, commercial building in the heart of downtown Muncie next to Ball State University. In this warm and welcoming environment, young adults can form engaging relationships with mentors as well as peers.

In Glendale, Arizona, on the Community of joy campus, an experienced church staff is developing successful programs serving the youth of the Northwest Valley. Facility plans are underway to develop "The Crossing" -- a multidimensional community youth center containing a sports and fitness center, classrooms and lounges, arts and learning center, a youth cafe and nightclub -? and more. It is a place where young people can become involved in media productions, new technology, youth crisis counseling, a youth hot?line, and support groups. According to Pastor Paul Sorenson, "The Crossing provides an exciting, appealing environment intended to stir a passionate response in young people."
Both The Living Room and The Crossing serve as lifestyle models for meeting the needs of young people. One does so through the doors of recycled commercial space; the other casts a vision built upon the success of its existing programs. In both places, a warm and caring environment is creating a new reality to reach young people with Jesus' unlimited love.

Some ideas for youth-minded venues include:
1. The Back-of-House Stage
2. The Hip-to-sip Tea House
3. The Boogie Bookstore
4. ChurchWorks Station

ChurchWorks is a design firm that designs church buildings that embrace creative ideas for expanded mission and foster friendlier and more inviting environments. If you have any ideas or questions you wish addressed in this column, contact David Price at (714) 832-1722, by fax at (714) 832-0738, or by email at dapainc@sbcglobal.net.

Second Quarter 2001 - PAGE 31- Strategies for Today's Leader - www.strategiesfortoday.org

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