Four years ago, our church hit a growth spurt and we planted several new locations in a year. It was an incredible time seeing new communities have that “Welcome Home” experience, but of course, we had to learn how to create church interiors quickly, cost-effectively, and in a way that serves a wide variety of ministries throughout the week. We began to develop an “Environments Team” within Creative — a team to oversee visual consistency across our campuses, create fun and innovative physical art projects for events, and troubleshoot solutions for the many unique needs placed on our buildings. Sourcing furnishings with dual-purpose capabilities that were also cost-effective became important really quickly, and that’s when our director introduced me to the world of IKEA. I was immediately drawn to the simplicity of design and an entire world of “hacking” possibilities. I loved the system of getting products in store paired with their website to plan ahead. All I needed was time to make a five-hour drive to Frisco, Texas, and I was in headfirst learning everything I could about their products!
Fast forward to the year 2016 — we hit another growth spurt of multiple campuses, including several buildings we either remodeled or built from the ground up. We also redesigned and installed new children’s environments in multiple locations and began operating a college out of our main location by flipping kids classrooms into college student spaces almost every day. The foundation we built for environments in the church was refined even more to accommodate new, even crazier challenges!
Where we had learned a lot about outfitting our buildings to be multi-purpose, especially with IKEA products, we became really proficient in creating spaces for education, hospitality, meetings, and administration work. We used various IKEA storage systems — Pax wardrobes, Sektion kitchen cabinets, and Besta media storage — to create children's room storage, check-in counters, and hospitality and coffee bars. We use IKEA lighting products, photo frames, rugs, shelves, and fake decorative plants with the little positionable wooden men. Yes, these products may only last a couple of years due to the abuse they get in a public space, but it’s perfect for us with how often we change the function of a room or the look and feel of a space.
One thing I love about our team is the passion to share what we’ve learned with others. I originally joined the Creative team in an administrative position. I have an English degree with an art minor, and my only design skills coming into a staff role were painting and building my own canvases with some basic knowledge of power tools. Our leadership is incredible at spotting potential, though, and they give me many opportunities to learn, win, and sometimes fail through projects that are almost always conceptual from start to finish. There’s no manual, just basic guidelines to “confidently wing it” and make projects happen with excellence. Through this process we can truly see where people are gifted, and then we can give them the opportunity to walk in that gifting even more! We don’t just hold onto that knowledge, though; we have to share it with others. And out of that came our Masterclass series — a free class, or set of classes, offered through our church to anyone who wants to come learn about a particular area from members of our team or talented friends of ours from even outside the church. We offer different classes throughout the year in the areas of video, production, environments, writing, communication, photography, social media, and even speciality topics like craft coffee, holiday decor, and our own version of the show “Chopped!”
Ever since we started Masterclasses, I have wanted to share what we have learned about IKEA, and this spring we had our very first class. We divided material up over three meetings — the first as a crash course to the IKEA website, popular systems we use and how, and our favorite products. Our second meeting was a field trip to the newly opened IKEA Memphis! We had several people carpool the much shorter drive of 2.5 hours so I could walk through the store with them, talk them through items in person, and give them tips on how I shop the store to get in and out with a ton of items (and not have missing pieces)! Our third meeting covered how to read the instruction manuals with their funny pictures, plus tips on how to assemble their products well. We were blown away by the turnout! We hope to offer this class again in the fall and open it up to other churches and business owners as well. The information isn’t profound, but it’s practical and can help businesses, churches, and families make their spaces work well for them!