Christ The Rock Community Church (CTR), located in rural Menasha, Wisconsin, is a non-denominational church with a deep heart for authenticity and relationships. With a mission to "seek the lost, love the hurting, and disciple believers to do the same," the church extends its arms and opens its doors to foster the vision that everyone, no matter their condition, can know and worship Jesus.
The church's leadership team came to the realization, however, that their facilities were not suited to best accomplish the church's mission. Their vision was to become a central place within the community for connecting and cultivating relationships, but this wasn't happening to the extent that they felt called.
Derek Degroot, Aspen Group‘s lead architect for the Christ The Rock remodel noticed the same problem. "Upon seeing the existing church building the first time, I immediately saw the opportunity within the lobby space. It had all the "bones" of a great space: centrally located, good volume, and good visibility. But it didn't feel like the people I had met at Christ The Rock. It was clearly lacking the intimacy that mirrored their mission, and I knew we could redesign it for a more effective flow and an ability to connect with others."
Designing for DNA
Where the lobby once felt like a cavernous open space, guests now find themselves in a beautiful, open, circle-type lobby featuring a two-story brick fireplace as the centerpiece. Warm lighting and wood accents give the space a comfortable, homey feel. Music plays quietly in the background, and the fireplace and café invite you to relax and stay awhile.
Aspen drew inspiration for the design of the space by tapping into the unique personality of Menasha's primarily Dutch community. Degroot says, "There was a simplicity to the community but also a beauty. It was natural and peaceful, unique even, due in part to its location by Lake Winnebago and the Fox River.
People love to be outside, and we wanted to incorporate this theme by bringing an element of the outdoor community charm inside the church without being too extravagant.
The inviting presence of the stone fireplace, and the lobby’s natural wood accents helps remind guests of their roots as a logging and farming town. Overall, the intent of Christ The Rock’s renovation was to create a sense of home by capturing some of the local Wisconsin culture.
“We were striving to come up with an identity based on our values, our mission, and the way we do business,” says Curt Drexler, executive pastor of CTR. “We needed somebody to come alongside.”
Ben Lenz, associate pastor, and Drexler both agree that Aspen fulfilled its mission to “create space for ministry impact” with the Christ The Rock remodel.
Throughout the envisioning process, CTR's leadership stressed how important their children's ministry was to the DNA of the church. With the addition of new nursery spaces, a toddler play area, and several new student venues, it is obvious that CTR has a heart for the children and young students in their community.
It is the hope of the church that these areas are used and benefited from more than ever before. Lynn Pickard, interior designer for the remodel, said that she worked to "merge the outdoor theme (specifically Wisconsin outdoors) with the orange curriculum in the kid's areas." The bright color palette and easy-to-read location markers draw guests and members in alike.
With the new renovation, Christ The Rock is quickly becoming the local hub for activity and community. Moms gather in the cozy indoor café while their young children enjoy the newly updated children’s ministry space. The café and children’s ministry department were two of the main focal points of the renovation project. Students choose CTR as their spot to do schoolwork or other class-related projects.
When the church hosted their initial open house, more than 2,000 community members attended to see the newly designed space. Many said things like, “This is a church?”
As the community experiences the benefits of Christ The Rock’s newly renovated space, they’re realizing that the building didn’t have to be just a church in the sense that it was a religious institution; it could be a gathering place for the community to do life together, which was exactly what CTR had hoped for when they renovated their building.
The leadership team and staff of CTR are overwhelmed by the positive response from the community. “It opened people’s eyesit gave them a reason to come,” says Drexler. He says the remodel has given the church a new way to talk about mission and vision, and the congregation possesses a renewed sense of excitement and passion for what is going on in their church and in the lives of their community.
Christ The Rock is not just a building. It’s a church that houses the bride of Christ, and it’s a place wherethe mission of God is fulfilled. “Every time we talk about the lobby, we’re not talking about the lobby. We want to seek the lost and reach the hurting,” says Lenz. And that is exactly what the church is doing.
With the combination of a new design, the congregation’s renewed excitement for their vision, and God’s continued faithfulness, community truly has been rediscovered at Christ The Rock Church.