By Justin Horey
In the fall of 2016, Restore Church of Silver Spring, Maryland, opened “The Living Room,” a coworking space where individuals have access to open office space, a kitchen, Wi-Fi, printing, scanning, coffee, and tea for a small monthly membership fee. The Living Room is one of a growing number of shared office environments around the country tailored to freelancers and telecommuters who don’t need a full-time office but prefer not to work out of their home.
“The Living Room gives us a space where we can connect in relationships,” said pastor and church planter Aaron Thomas. “By day, it’s a coworking space where people can work remotely. By night and weekends, it’s a place for parties, book studies, and other events. It’s our experimentation ground for connecting in relationship with people who are disinterested in a Sunday morning church service.”
Restore Church does hold Sunday worship services, but those are also located in an unconventional setting: McGinty’s Public House, an Irish pub and restaurant located less than one-half mile from The Living Room. Still, Thomas doesn’t view Sunday mornings as the primary time for evangelism. “Due to the rising number of dechurched people or religious ‘nones’ in our area, we have continually been moving toward a more relationally centric model of ministry,” he said. “Sunday mornings are quickly becoming obsolete to a large part of American culture.”
The Living Room has given Thomas and Restore Church a place to connect with people, introduce them to Christ, and make disciples. “I’m hoping Restore can experience some great fruit from our experiments with The Living Room and share these ideas and practices with many others,” Thomas said. “By no means are we a fast-growing church. We don’t have perfectly designed systems at this point. Innovation is costly, but ultimately this is what the kingdom needs.”
Though The Living Room is new, and Restore Church is still learning from it, Thomas encourages other church leaders to consider new ways to use facilities for evangelistic purposes.
“Our culture is crying out for these types of movements, even if they don’t realize it.”