Flip That Church
Image: Courtesy of Mcheala Connaway / VLife Church
Flip That Church

Pastor Mike Connaway's newly planted VLife Church hasn't started holding official services. Yet the youthful nondenominational congregation is already embracing its new home at the previously vacant Trinity Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest church buildings in McKinney, Texas.

"All of our 20-somethings love this old building," he said. "This reminds them of a time when life wasn't broken."

Across the country, old mainline and Catholic sanctuaries are finding new life as evangelical churches upcyle and renovate them for modern use, says Gary Nicholson, director of LifeWay Architecture.

Seattle-based megachurch Mars Hill made a name for itself using the warehouse-church model. Yet it recently signed a five-year lease to use First United Methodist Church in downtown Seattle, one of the oldest churches in the city. It also purchased the downtown First Congregational Church building in nearby Tacoma.

Similar acquisitions by evangelical churches—including Oasis Church in Los Angeles, City of Grace in Phoenix, and Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky—may reflect a cultural shift in thinking about worship and finances.

According to Nicholson, young churches that renovate old buildings and those that lease office or warehouse space are part of the same trend: leveraging facilities more wisely by acquiring rather than constructing. The trend is consistent with recent data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which shows that monthly construction spending on religious institutions has fallen nearly $5 billion since 2002.

Connaway says young worshipers want authenticity, so the building matters. Even though VLife is contemporary, the 19thcentury pews ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this IssueHere Come the Radicals!
Here Come the Radicals! Subscriber Access Only
David Platt, Francis Chan, Shane Claiborne, and now Kyle Idleman are dominating the Christian best-seller lists by attacking our comfortable Christianity. But is 'radical faith' enough?
RecommendedCover Story: Jesus vs. Paul
Jesus vs. PaulSubscriber Access Only
Many biblical scholars have noted that Jesus preached almost exclusively about the kingdom of heaven, while Paul highlighted justification by faith—and not vice versa. What gives?
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickWhatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Whatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Faculty push back against stricter standards keeping curse words, R-rated movies, and sexual content out of their curricula.
Christianity Today
Flip That Church
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.