3 Ways Your Church Building Can Make a Big Community Impact

3 churches who have leveraged their buildings for the common good beyond Sundays.

Community Impact church

One of the greatest tools a church has available to reach people for Christ is their actual, physical building. Here are three stories of churches that intentionally sought to create space within their buildings for the purpose of reaching people within their communities. Each story reflects a desire to leverage ministry space for the common good and use the church building for more than Sunday morning worship.

Sherwood Oaks Christian Church – Bloomington, Indiana

Nestled in the rolling hills of Bloomington, Indiana—a city of 80,000 and home to Indiana University—Sherwood Oaks Christian Church has been a staple in its community since the 1960s. According to Sherwood Oaks Business and Communications Director, Emily Bedwell, the church has always been focused on serving the community by loving people into a life-saving relationship with Jesus.

As the community, culture and world surrounding Sherwood Oaks Christian Church has changed over the years, so has the way in which church leadership has attempted to reach the community. A few years ago, the church board and elders looked for new ways to serve the Bloomington area by transforming the purpose of its church building from an exclusive, sacred space to a community-focused building.

In 2010, the church began leasing and lending its facility to any community group or activity that needed space for meetings or practices. And soon thereafter, its facility went from a space that sat mostly empty during the week to a building that’s alive with groups, clubs and other community activities.

By opening their building to the needs of its community, Sherwood Oaks Christian Church has found that it’s able to reach people in new ways.

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St. Timothy Community Church – Gary, Indiana

Likewise, St. Timothy Community Church in Gary, Indiana, recently opened its new church building. Aspen Group specifically designed, built and furnished it for the purpose of becoming a hub for the surrounding community.

Over the past few decades, more and more industrial jobs have exited the city, slowly pushing Gary down into further economic hardship. Many unemployed Gary residents struggle to find steady, marketable work, and very few safe places remain in the city for young people to hang out. St. Timothy’s new space addresses both of these issues.

In its new space, the church continues to run its popular catering business, employing youth from the community. This provides a venue to teach young people marketable skills through hands-on training and provides a safe place to hang out instead of on the streets. Today, the church stands as a beacon of light in Gary, spreading God’s love through new opportunities and services in Gary’s community.

Community Christian Church-Yellow Box – Naperville, Illinois

Community Christian Church-Yellow Box in Naperville, Illinois, has always been a church that dreams of helping people find their way back to God. During their recent building project with Aspen Group, the church redesigned its main campus to better reflect this mission.

Its new, state-of-the-art auditorium now offers an ideal location for youth events, concerts and business training seminars. The classrooms and training rooms also provide space for smaller meetings throughout the week.

The church leadership decided to open their building to the community to be the meeting place for business retreats, youth events, concerts, seminars, training days and even simple coffee dates. Community Christian upgraded its coffee bar—implementing different spaces to work, chat or read—and opened it to the community almost every day of the week.

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How are you leveraging your ministry space to reach out to your neighbors?

  • Art Granzeier

    A big part of the impact will come from just being open to the Spirit’s leading. A couple of Sundays ago, our new ministry center had just been completed and we were preparing for our first fellowship meal there. That Sunday, my wife and I were on our way home after service, and decided to drop off some stuff at the ministry center (so that we would not forget it at home 😉 )

    On the way to the center, my wife noticed a huge plume of black smoke, and I thought that it was coming from near the ministry center. When I got most of the way to our building, the police had closed off the road; The fire was right across the street from our ministry center. I managed to get the last parking space available (lucky – no, just blessed.) I walked to the ministry center and put the stuff inside. When I came back out, I noticed that there were many fire trucks, ambulances and police cars outside, with lots of emergency workers attending the fire across the street. It turned out that this fire brought out half of the City of Pittsburgh’s fire department trucks – a very big fire indeed.

    The Holy Spirit lead me to open the center for a rest area, and break out a few cases of bottled water. I notified the firemen, police and medics that we had couches and chairs in a cool area for resting, and a wash-room for their use. Several emergency workers came in to use the facilities and we were able to minister to them. In addition, several bystanders came in, and we were able to talk to them about our mission statement: “Love God, Love People and do something about it.”

    It was awesome watching God take that brand new ministry center and give it a “grand opening” that was pure ministry to our neighbors.

    PS – Could you please put date lines on your articles? This is the first time that I have seen anything from ChurchPlants, and do not know how old this article is. I really do not want to be rude and comment on a ten-year old article, but this looked like a good opportunity to tell how God is working in Pittsburgh.

  • Troy

    Wonderful article with one major piece of advice missing. Before you blow the doors open on your ministry, contact an attorney that specializes in defending churches from litigation. A conversation with a good attorney is going to raise all kinds of questions about security, liability and insurance coverages. If you have a major liability accident occur on your church property and insurance doesn’t cover it, it could be the end of your ministry.

    #ideal world v. real world