Are churches investing in new spaces?


A rendering of the new café at Seymour Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. Courtesy E&V

The past year has marked a period of resurgence for many construction markets in West Michigan.

It's exciting to see businesses flourishing by adding square footage to manufacturing facilities, renovating hospitals and building new senior living communities after years of holding back on investment.

Recently, one market in particular has grabbed our attention.

Churches and faith-based facilities are investing and expanding, and they're doing so in new and innovative ways.

West Michigan congregations have weathered the recession, and their investment in new and renovated facilities is confirmation of our area’s continued value on faith and the faith community.

The faith-based investments can also be taken as a sign that the average west Michigander is feeling more positive about the overall economy — and is willing to make a contribution towards their church's growth.

We are also finding that these new and newly renovated facilities are a far cry from the typical sanctuary-and-steeple variety you might have grown up with.

The new worship environment

Church environments are sprouting up in unusual places.

Take a look out your window when you're driving past a strip mall on your way home.

Chances are there could be a church sign in between the dollar store and sub shop. Not to mention, old warehouse space has been snapped up by churches wanting to create a modern, urban worship setting.

Whether it's renovations and repurposing of existing spaces or up fits of commercial space and retail sites, faith-based communities are developing meaningful spaces to worship, providing safe places for youth and aiding in community outreach — all while being good stewards of the church’s funds.

For example, Seymour Christian Reformed Church's current worship facility in Grand Rapids has a traditional exterior, but the interior is getting a makeover. The new interior will provide a new look and function by giving the church a coffee shop and expanding the narthex for additional community space.

The church's new space will is intended to create an inviting environment, which encourages church members and new guests from the community to stay, socialize and connect to the church and each other.

Along with new and modern gathering spaces, we're also seeing big faith-based investments in youth, teen and flexible educational spaces.

The resurgence of investment in west Michigan churches is yet another positive sign that our communities are strong, willing to invest in the future — and, in particular, are thinking differently about the places that we worship!

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