First Baptist Church of Geneva
In 2004 First Baptist Church of Geneva (FBCG) in Geneva, Illinois, opened its doors in a new 50,000 square foot building located on a 22-acre green site in an affluent, fast-growing, family-friendly suburb about an hour west of Chicago. In the first phase of construction, FBCG built a large gymnasium and stage, which serves as the worship center. They also built administrative offices for staff members, a large kitchen, two classrooms, thirteen preschool classrooms, and a large, dividable space for elementary and middle school programs with twelve smaller break-out rooms.
As FBCG has strived to fulfill its mission of “Reaching, Connecting, Equipping, and Serving,” the congregation and its needs have grown. FBCG commissioned Aspen Group to help repurpose the church’s original space and add additional square footage, creating space for even greater ministry impact.
In 2015 Aspen concluded construction on a new student ministry space, two new spaces to serve people with special needs, and a general renovation of the Christian education rooms.
One challenge that has plagued FBCG West from the start has been how to create visual clarity so people know what to do and where to go when they enter the building.
“The West campus is tricky,” says senior pastor Brian Coffey. “On Sunday morning, you can tell where to go when you come into the building because everyone’s moving in the same direction. But during the week, if the chairs aren’t set up, you might be confused about where to go.”
By adding clear, easy-to-follow signage outside and inside the church, visitors don’t get frustrated trying to navigate the large building. Good signage has helped to create visual clarity throughout the campus.
Children’s Education Wing
FBCG West also revamped its children’s ministry space, creating an open children’s worship and classroom area in the lower level of the church. Instead of small, non-descript classrooms, Aspen took down walls and created classroom alcoves that open into the large group worship space. All of the furnishings throughout this space are sized for children.
“Our staff was hesitant at first about the open-floor plan,” said John Harper, director of facilities and IT. “Now that they’ve lived in the space and have seen the way it serves their ministry needs, the teachers and students are happy with it,” he says.
Making Space for Special Needs
In 2015 FBCG invested in new ministry space devoted specifically to Masterpiece Ministry, the church’s outreach to families and individuals with special needs. Aspen designed the special needs rooms to include over-sized bathrooms to accommodate wheelchairs, and adult-sized massage tables that double as changing tables to accommodate every size.
FBCG West also created a new check-in area, specially designed to keep “runners” safe and secure within the church’s education wing. This extra detail allows Sunday school teachers the time and freedom to talk with families without risk of the kids darting off unexpectedly.
Aspen also incorporated a “quiet room,” a small space with two chairs and soft lighting designed for children with sensitivities. These simple details provide a calming, peaceful environment. All of these facility details make it possible for FBCG to provide ministry for children and youth with a wide array of needs and limitations including autism spectrum disorders, speech delays, physical impairments, neurological disorders, developmental delays, behavioral problems, emotional issues, cognitive impairments and learning disabilities.
FBCG’s special needs ministry has become an important outreach ministry for the church, providing service and specially designed space to an underserved population. “We want to be a church of influence and impact,” says Pastor Brian. “One of the ways we can do this is by reaching the local community better, while we offer worship, teaching and a safe and healthy place for kids and parents.”
After an eight-year trusting relationship with Aspen Group, FBCG is experiencing greater levels of ministry effectiveness with the help of well-designed, fresh space. “We’ve come to trust Aspen. They’re always willing to take time to introduce us to other ministry leaders and expand our thinking,” says Pastor Brian.