Editor's Note: This article is part three in a three-part series focused on helping church planters connect and communicate to their community. You can read the first article here or the second article here.
The population of cities are once again increasing as the world moves in. Gentrification, commerce, and public transportation are parts of revitalization that are beginning to draw millennials from the suburbs to the downtown neighborhoods of yesteryear. Setting up an office in such an environment is quite easy, since there are now many options of cafes, libraries, and free wifi areas. But there are unique opportunities to the church planter that many in the city are unaware of—the chief of these being co-work opportunities.
What is a co-work space?
A co-work space is an open office environment provided for local startups. These spaces could be hosted by a non-profit or by the city itself, and the space exists to promote entrepreneurial ventures within the city. Inside these co-work spaces many dreamers and brand new companies find a space that is affordable and convenient. Generally these co-work spaces have a small kitchenette for food, printers, and of course dedicated and powerful wi-fi. This open office provides startups with an office without the accompanying infrastructure costs since most startups cannot afford to rent their own space.
In a co-work space, there are usually different tiers of membership. There is typically a basic membership, which allows members to come in and grab an open desk. There is a mid-grade level, which gives you a specific desk and lockable drawers. Then there may be a premium level with an enclosed office. In my city, the basic level is only $75 a month, which is a steal. And this is what I would encourage, because you are in the bullpen with people.
Benefits of a co-work Space
When conducting office work in a co-work space you will be rubbing shoulders with self-starters. These companies want to see the city succeed and are attempting to answer problems in the city. As a church you are also bringing an answer to the city’s cries. You are bringing healing for the heart and soul of your city. You are in the fight. In my co-work space, I am often asked what I am experiencing in my corner of the world. I am asked what the homeless need most and if certain initiatives would be valuable. I am surprised how often I am approached and how my voice is welcomed and appreciated by the powers that be.
In a co-work space you are building relationships with the future leaders of your community. You are part of a community of people that probably have little regard for the things of God. You get to be light in the darkness. In my co-work, I met a guy a while ago who makes t-shirts, so we order our shirts from him. We are encouraging local commerce and building a relationship. We may spend a little more on the order (as opposed to the cheapness of the Internet) but we are investing in a human relationship. I am not simply buying a t-shirt, but also sowing gospel seed. As time goes on, those relationships deepen. And when the questions come (as they always do), who are they going to turn to? You are there, a minister of the gospel that has actively loved them as a person and a business.
In a co-work space you get to be a part of the marketplace conversation of your city. You may meet people who need employees. You may become aware of services that someone in your church may have need of down the line. You may set up office near a company that works exclusively with undocumented immigrants, so when that family comes to your church you have someone to help them. The networking potential is wonderful.
Some things to look for
When searching out co-work space, you want to find an option that has 24-hour access. Some colleges will offer co-work space, but it is bound by their schedule. As a church planter, you want the freedom to come and go as you please. Some nights you want to work late, and some mornings you want to come in early. So look for this perk.
You will also want to find a good location. There is more than one co-work in my context, and I am with the one in the heart of the city. I want to be where my people are. I want to see them as I walk into work. I want to look out the window and see the city God has called me to. It keeps the community front and center in my heart.
You want a month-to-month rental agreement. You don’t want to sign a 12-month contract. As a church planter, your life may change. The church may have to move its location; it might fail; you may end up getting a building gifted to you. Month-to-month allows you to enjoy the benefits of a co-work space with no risk.
If you are without a building, office, and desk, and you are in an American metropolis, I would heartily recommend you consider a co-work space as a solution. It has all the benefits with very little cost. It provides exposure and relationship and influence. It is everything a church planter wants most, but it is purchased with the sharing of life instead of dollars.