Pastor Paul Marzahn: 'The church is being challenged to get out into the world."

Local pastor explains "church flipping" - re-purposing old church buildings for new congregations or community use

Paul and Jordana
January 03, 2019 - 6:19 pm

Dan Cook

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Pastor Paul Marzahn is the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church. That’s his full-time job. But he’s becoming well known for “flipping” church buildings. He joined Paul and Jordana to talk about how he got started.

“My grandfather and my father were both construction people and farmers in a small town in southern Minnesota called Waterville. Our little country church went for sale, and my grandfather and my dad said, ‘you know this is such a beautiful church, why don’t we fix it up and still use it?’ And it’s still being used to this day.”

Why are his “flipping” services necessary?

“Sometimes a building runs a life cycle,” Marzahn said, “people age out or the population declines in that area, so sometimes a building needs to go for sale and be repurposed.”

What are the buildings he restores and refurbishes used for?

“Sometimes churches are made into day cares or made into community centers, that’s one purpose,” said Marzahn, “Sometimes they can be ‘saved’, if you want to use that term, by coming together with a coalition, and sometimes if you want to use the term ‘flipped’, they can be repurposed to a new congregation coming in with maybe younger people, revitalized. And so, unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t seeing the viability of these older buildings.”

Pastor Paul says that his background with church planting helps him and his team reimagine traditional spaces.

“There’s a church in South Minneapolis called Solomon’s Porch that took an old Methodist church, repurposed it, filled it full of couches to make it more of a lounge feel,” Marzhan told Paul and Jordana, “he [the pastor> sits in a chair and kind of goes around in a circle and preaches in his chair.”

And that’s not the only example of new approaches to traditional church services.

“I have a Bible study that’s actually at the Lakeville Brewery Company, and my daughter’s a waitress there, and we have a little Bible study in the corner,” said Marzhan, “so there’s these places where you can do non-traditional spaces. I mean, the church is being challenged to get out into the world.”

Hear the entire interview with Paul and Jordana: