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Thread: Churches: expansion/contraction trends?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Churches: expansion/contraction trends?

    Been noticing in our fair city along the Colorado front range that a lot of the surrounding land acquired by churches which were built back in the day (last century) in anticipation of future expansion, has instead been sold off for other uses. We have a residential development being built on one property, and exploration of commercial uses on another. It seems the vision of growing congregations needing land to expand hasn't turned out. These churches tend to be the "neighborhood"/" ma and pa" type in terms of scale and also identifiable in terms of Christian denomination (Baptist, Episcopal, etc.) Meanwhile the "big-box" churches that aren't branded in name and built in the past 10 to 20 years appear to be steady, not expanding (or contracting).

    I was pondering if this trend is nationwide? Perhaps what's happening here makes sense as the political identification of Colorado has been moving from red state to blue state over the past decade. I've certainly read the studies indicating that as a whole, our nation has become more secular over time. How that might translate into development/redevelopment trends intrigues me. What might be happening in your Blue/Red neck of the woods?

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    When I was in Phoenix the trend seemed to be non denominational mega churches. Lots of land, a big sanctuary, a Sunday school, etc. Then start adding things like a school or teen center. They seem more business oriented than the mainstream named religious groups (Baptist, Catholic, etc.). The mainstream guys seemed to stay smaller and stick around in neighborhoods vs finding huge tracts of land on the edge. Granted there are exceptions like the big Catholic church downtown. Now that I'm in small town Kansas it's mostly mainstream churches with just a couple non denominational ones. I haven't heard of many mega churches in Kansas, maybe toward KC? Then again, this area is ultra conservative and will follow the religion their parents did because that's the right one. Sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in the '50s when I hear things like, "Them Jewish folks are nice people." Like it's some kind of surprise (the last one came from one of my commissioners).
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    In the northeast the biggest issue has been the closing of catholic churches as membership decreases. Not too many mega-churches around here.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    When I was in Phoenix the trend seemed to be non denominational mega churches. Lots of land, a big sanctuary, a Sunday school, etc. Then start adding things like a school or teen center. They seem more business oriented than the mainstream named religious groups (Baptist, Catholic, etc.). The mainstream guys seemed to stay smaller and stick around in neighborhoods vs finding huge tracts of land on the edge. Granted there are exceptions like the big Catholic church downtown. Now that I'm in small town Kansas it's mostly mainstream churches with just a couple non denominational ones. I haven't heard of many mega churches in Kansas, maybe toward KC? Then again, this area is ultra conservative and will follow the religion their parents did because that's the right one. Sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in the '50s when I hear things like, "Them Jewish folks are nice people." Like it's some kind of surprise (the last one came from one of my commissioners).
    What you're describing is consistent with what I would think of Arizona and Kansas given their political/social views historically...

    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop View post
    In the northeast the biggest issue has been the closing of catholic churches as membership decreases. Not too many mega-churches around here.
    Might that again be characterized as the "blue state" nature of the northeast? What is occuring with the land underneath? Is the catholic church selling off the land to a REIT, having it redeveloped, or just holding on to it? I'll have to look up who owns more abandoned land, Wal-Mart, the REIT that owns Sears or the catholic church.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Tay-j's avatar
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    Here in Utah it is a given that any subdivision will have at least 1, maybe 2 LDS Church Lots.

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