At Ridgewood Church in Minnetonka, Minnesota, a dedicated effort was made to modernize their space, open it up for connections, and give people a sense of belonging. Gathering spaces were refreshed. Traffic flow was improved. Entrances were well-defined and children’s ministry areas were more safe and secure.
One of the most significant changes made by the church was the steps they took to make their space accessible to people with disabilities. The elevator was outdated, unreliable and too small. Restrooms were only partially accessible and built by outdated code requirements. Navigation and way finding was not intuitive and even confusing.
But the church decided that hospitality doesn’t discriminate based on ability.
At Station 19 Architects, we do more than plan new facilities and design church worship spaces. Before decisions are made on how much square footage to build or what the paint colors could be, organizations need to consider some fundamental questions about who they are and what matters most. They need to consider the most strategic, meaningful, and wise steps forward as they discern who they are, why they exist, and who they are in the community.
In Matthew 5:14, Christ calls us the light of the world and a city on a hill. He told Simon Peter that the gates of hell would never prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:18) and He later said that people would know we are his followers based on how we love one another (John 13:35).
When Christ spoke of the Church, it was with authority; strength, hope, and life. On one hand, He spoke of something that was unmatched in its fortitude, able to withstand fiery assaults. On the other hand, he talked about something humble and lowly; reflecting on serving and loving.
2020 was an incredible year to say the least! Things in our world have changed! We get to have new conversations, we get to rethink our ministry approach, and we get to rethink the spaces we have to better serve our ministries and communities.
Our question for 2021 is this: How can our understanding of ministry space help us rediscover our purpose?
Luke 2: 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
A new building isn’t the goal. It's the beginning. The space that you create for your ministry is a canvas; a starting point. It’s the context for big things to come. A well-thought-out, well-designed, and inviting building is a setting for ministry to happen, for lives to be changed, and for God’s kingdom to be impacted.
With each week that passes, it seems new standards and expectations are put in place on our behalf. Outside voices are telling us what we can and cannot do and where we can and cannot go. Some churches are adapting more gracefully than others to these constantly changing guidelines.
Some churches and ministries have used this crisis as a way to implement long-overdue technology upgrades. Some have invented new strategies on the fly. Some are still navigating the best alternatives. Some have a plan. Some need a plan.
2020 has been all about adapting. Overnight our world was turned upside down and we had to get used to a completely new way of living and interacting with the world. Your plans for your ministry have likely shifted as well. You’ve had to come up with new ways to reach not only your people, but your communities as well. Perhaps you had a dream for a new building or construction project for your ministry that you have put on hold because you’re not exactly sure how to move forward in the midst of uncertainty.
Should building a new church facility solve a current problem or anticipate future growth? In other words, should your ministry wait to build until they are feeling the “squeeze” of growth? Or should you build so that you have room to accommodate growth?
This question is at the center of many church leaders’ discussions surrounding strategic leadership and growth. When a church plans for facility expansion, they’re often trying to accommodate both the current context and anticipate future conditions. You need facilities that will be agile enough to have capacity for your future but still provide an immediate benefit to your existing community.
Our lives are filled with stories. Our homes, clothes, language, and Instagram accounts all whisper stories about who we were, who we are, who we hope to be. Similarly, our church buildings share the stories of the people who fill them. They hold memories of growing children, weddings, and old friends. They are the places we continue to go for connection and they are the places we look to for future hope. The places we spend our time to both reflect and shape who we are.
At Station 19 Architects, our Minneapolis-based team of planners, architects, and designers partners with churches, ministries, and schools across the country. Together, we develop design solutions that are uniquely creative while also practical and functional.
The word “unprecedented” has been used more in the past three to four months than perhaps it’s ever been used in modern history. A global pandemic. Cultural tension and a fight against systemic racism. Political and economic chaos. Fear.
There is no one way for churches to navigate the season we're in. No two communities are the same; no two scenarios alike. What’s achievable for one church may not be for another. What’s ideal isn’t necessarily attainable, and so churches, leadership teams, and pastors are finding themselves with an opportunity to “make lemonade out of lemons.”
At Station 19 Architects, we value teamwork. We want to partner with churches, listen to their needs, and help them move in the right direction. It's not about what we want to do; it's about what's best in their exact situation. Jared Carlson, the senior pastor at GracePoint Church in New Brighton, MN, and his team partnered with Station 19 Architects several months ago to help them begin to navigate the facility planning and construction process. As their project began to build momentum, a shelter-in-place order put a stop to everything. We caught up with Jared to ask him about what this process has been like for him, his team, and his church.
Churches have long been the place where communities have met to connect with each other. With the increase of access to the internet and social media, Americans have attempted to replace their normal human connection with online connections. With social distancing restrictions, we are beginning to realize that while we are thankful for the gift of technology to be able to see and hear our friends and loved ones, it is not a replacement for meeting together face-to-face in community.
In a matter of just days, the way that churches and nonprofits do ministry and think about programming has dramatically shifted. In a moment where we are serving each other and those most medically vulnerable by keeping our physical distance, we find ourselves in need of new creative ways to connect. After all, the longing for relationship is how God has created us as humans, reflecting His image and desire to have relationship with us.
We’ve said it all along – your facility is only a tool for the ministry that you’ve been called to do. Pastor Nate Ruch from Emmanuel Christian Center in Spring Lake Park said “Our building helps us do the ministry. It’s not the other way around.” And never has this been more true than in our current climate...during a worldwide pandemic.
We are made for relationship. It’s who we are. It’s woven into our DNA, written in our psyche. We are wired for community. We are made to be connected to people; to live authentically with those around us. We are also made to be connected to the God who made us.
The notion of “build it and they will come” comes from the theory that by simply just existing, the church will attract newcomers.
But today’s culture asks for more than just a building for a Sunday morning service. People are seeking a meaningful connection with God and with each other. What does it look like to create spaces where people are welcomed and invited to do just that?
Setting the right course for your church is only part of the story. Staying on course takes vision, clarity, and the right team of people working beside you. At Station 19 Architects, our desire is to partner with churches and ministries who are ready to create spaces that reflect their vision and sets the course for their ministry.
Perhaps you’ve thought about what it could look like to remodel your church’s welcome area or worship space. Maybe you’ve spent some time dreaming with your staff about how much your kids area needs an update. Maybe you tell yourself that these types of dreams “just aren’t possible for our church.”
At Station 19 Architects, we have more than 4 decades of partnership with churches, ministries, and schools, designing massive new construction projects, simple remodels, and strategic redesigns. Since the day we started our work, we’ve been bringing visions to life with the work that we’ve done. Ultimately, this has been more than designing what’s trending and more than adding space and modernizing worship centers. It’s been building a plan and blueprint for the entire dreaming, designing, fundraising, and construction process for our clients so that their visions can be accomplished while their community thrives.
Vision is the ability to see beyond what is in front of you to the possibilities of what could be.
Our Strategic Master Planning process captures your vision and provides a unique pathway for your ministry that effectively utilizes the resources God has provided. Our Station 19 planners combine extensive experience with a detailed planning process customized just for you. We take time to identify and understand your core mission and vision; listening to understand your unique DNA. We work with you to objectively evaluate your ministry's present and future needs by quantifying and confirming your recent and projected patterns of participation and facility use.
Every ministry is unique, and so is every architectural project.
The space you create for your ministry, whether new construction or a remodel, should reflect who you are and where you’ve been while also paving the way for who you are becoming and where you are going. At Station 19 Architects, we are committed to navigating that process with you with clarity.
Only in clarity can you set a course that’s uniquely yours. Only in clarity can you have the confidence that the decisions you make for your project align with the mission of your ministry. Only in clarity can you make decisions based on the life and vitality of your people and purpose.
At Station 19 Architects, we are committed to partnering with churches, ministries, and schools to create spaces that reflect who they are with a vision for where they’re going. We’ve been doing it for decades. Sometimes it looks like helping churches accomplish exactly what they have in mind. Other times, it means helping them discover it.
It comes down to two simple, but extraordinarily vital, things: a process that’s been tested time and time again and a team committed to our client’s success. The start-to-finish experience with Station 19 Architects puts our clients in the driver’s seat of their project, with experts there to direct and instruct each step of the way.
This has been Station 19’s launching pad for our process for over 40 years. It has been the foundation of our Architectural Design Philosophy. Our dedication to building a space that reflects your ministry’s unique DNA calls for in-depth discussion about where you have been and where you see your ministry in 1, 5, 10 years and beyond. We believe that by listening first, the design process yields results that empower leadership and visions. It helps foster creativity.
Station 19’s design philosophy can be summarized in three words: Passion. Creativity. Expertise.
Our unique approach to design starts with prayers and listening and culminates with bold choices for God-sized dreams!
The facility you build should reflect the culture and community you’re a part of. It should be planned and built according to your unique vision, strategically reflecting who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. It must do more than react to current demands and church architecture trends.
This process takes vision and clarity, so that who you are can be reflected in the future of your ministry. It also takes a team: a partnership with the right people who can match the dream of your church with the facility you design, finance, and build.
It takes time, effort, and motivation to build a dream...to cultivate a vision. It doesn’t become a reality overnight.
Before designing any sketches or concepts, Station 19 always takes time to listen first to the client’s dream. That principle, “Listen First.” has always been at the center of our process. It gives us the clarity we need to create spaces that will communicate and reflect a ministry’s vision.
No matter the church community or denomination; no matter the location or the budget: Every project we work on needs to reflect the vision of the organization. And vision isn’t limited to the number of people that fill the seats in an auditorium. It involves the ministry that churches do; the people that they reach. Ultimately, it is about each church community’s unique expression of what it means to be “the Church”.
Station 19 Architects is proud to announce that as of January 1st, 2019 we have welcomed two new associate partners! Registered Architect and LEED Green Associate Dan Torgerson and Certified Interior Designer Cristina Earley made the leap into leadership and are ready to dive in to the ins and outs of being a Station 19 partner.
At Station 19, we are committed to working together with our clients, partnering with them to take the right steps forward. When a church is ready to talk about a facility construction or remodel project, we don’t view it as a chance to bring our ideas to the forefront. Instead, it’s our responsibility and privilege to bring your vision to life.
Are you ready to be bold in communicating your vision? At Station 19, we have a passion to serve churches regardless of size, whether a large church or a brand new church plant, whether in the middle of a small farming town or in the heart of the inner-city. We want to help them discover what it means to be bold in communicating their vision for their facility and their community.
We say it all the time. Every project we work on at Station 19 is unique because every church’s vision is unique. We partner with churches to help them reflect who they are in the space they create for their community. It’s what makes our job great. Each project takes on a look and feel of its own, and we get to co-create something beautiful in partnership with our clients.
At Station 19, we are joining our experience with the ministries we work with, whether across town or across the country. What this looks like for a community in North Minneapolis is different for one in Pierre, South Dakota. Likewise, planning a new facility is different than planning the remodeling of an old space. Every project is unique because every vision is unique.
Recently, I was talking with a pastor and was fascinated by the variety of opportunities that ministries have in front of them. Church used to be predictable. It was on Sunday morning. People sat in pews. They brought their Bibles and dressed up and went to Sunday School and drank Folgers.
At the start of his keynote address at an international denomination’s annual pastors’ conference, Irwin McManus asked attendees how many churches were represented at the conference. A few of the up-front leadership chimed in. Some unscripted and un-mic’ed conversations transpired. Someone yelled a number from the back.