Beyond Sunday School

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My last two homes were built long before I was alive.

The house we currently live in was built in 1957, and the house we lived in before that was built sometime in the 1890s. In both cases, significant updating was needed—fresh paint, yes, but also gutting some rooms and repurposing others. Not simply because our taste differs from the previous owners, but also because the truth is that our homes reflect the way we order our lives. How we inhabit our home in 2022 looks very different than how the original owners likely inhabited the space in 1957.

And this is no different for many of our churches. Church ministry has shifted and evolved dramatically over the decades, and buildings designed in the 1950s reflect the ways churches did ministry then. As a result, many churches inhabiting older buildings find themselves leaving large portions of their space untouched, almost unusable.

A prime example of this is the “education wing” found in so many churches built when adult Sunday School was a primary Sunday morning experience. For most churches today, that era is long gone and countless classrooms sit empty as a result.

Yet most education wings are perfectly positioned to provide an office or meeting space for many community-minded organizations and non-profits. We’ve learned that a little imagination can go a long way toward breathing new life and ministry potential into them. Below are pictures of the former education wing at Resurrection MPLS (now the Center of Belonging):

Not only has the space received a facelift, but — far more importantly — organizations like Emerge Mothers Academy, the South Uptown Neighborhood Association, and Wayside Recovery Center have space to provide much-needed services to the community.

In the weeks to come, we’ll look at other ways church buildings can be leveraged in creative and missional ways. For now, we’d invite you to partner with us by considering how churches you know (maybe even your own??) might be ready to dream about new ways to use their space for the good of our neighbors.

In this together,