Best of the Web: The Top 5 Essays on How Churches Share Space

This post is part three of a weeklong series on how churches can solve the problem of underused space. You can read part one here and part two here.

Churches everywhere are thinking about how they can make their spaces available to renters in a way that benefits both the congregation and the surrounding community. We think it’s wonderful that this conversation is happening, so we’ve gathered some of our favorite pieces from around the web:

1. Artists, Church See Alliance in Cheap Space

(BushwickBK.com, 5 February 2010)

[Brooklyn musician Monica Salazar] took a tour of the church and was overwhelmed by the spaciousness and graceful quality of the rectory, the cathedral, its cafeteria, school auditorium and a three-story library and youth center tucked away from the busy street in a parking lot in the rear. “I was totally overwhelmed with the amount of spaces, the variety of spaces and the endless stream of ideas and possibilities for the type of events we could incorporate,” said Salazar. “I had a bit of a brain shutdown.” In December, Salazar reached out to friends who work in performing arts to visit the space and generate ideas for a collaborative usage that benefits both the Church and the artistic community… Read more

2. Old Churches: Fit for New Uses

(The Economist, 26 January 2013)

[T]here is a new mood in the Church of England, illustrated by a project started at St Germans earlier this month. The plan is to turn the church into a community centre that will continue to hold religious services. This has worked elsewhere: Michaelhouse café in Cambridge (pictured) serves cappuccinos during the week but the building reverts to its original use as St Michael’s church on Sundays. In Hereford, Bath and York, working churches double as coffee shops, crèches and stores… Read more

3. Wasted Space, Wasted Opportunity

(MinistryMatters.com, 11 January 2011)

American Protestant churches are among the greatest space wasters of all public-use facilities. The vast majority of sanctuaries—huge open spaces—are used only two or three hours a week. The majority of rooms designated for Sunday school classes are used one hour each week. Fellowship halls stand empty 90-95 percent of the time, and many church libraries haven’t seen any action since the late 1970s. In churches with declining involvement, once trafficked rooms now serve as storage areas… Read more

4. Adaptive or Community Use of Underused or Closed Sacred Spaces

(Partners for Sacred Places)

Congregations who occupy older buildings may have large amounts of unused space, and may not be used to thinking of it as an asset. However, extra rooms in a sacred space can often be valuable in fostering community revitalization and continued neighborhood development. Many congregations already use their buildings to serve the wider public, running programs ranging from soup kitchens, to day care centers, to job training sites. However, many outside social service and cultural organizations do not have affordable homes to run their programs, and look to churches for centrally located, well-configured spaces in which to do their work… Read more

5. Community Garden Plans to Move to East Dallas Church

(DallasNews.com, 22 May 2013)

“We wanted to find ways to reinject ourselves into the neighborhood,” says Mitchell Boone, associate pastor of White Rock United Methodist Church. “As an aging congregation and one that worships around 150 on any given Sunday, we weren’t reaching our full potential with utilization of space and resources. We have a facility that is 57,000 square feet.”  Read more

 

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