Mosaic Church in Winter Garden, Florida, might have officially
opened its doors in 2003, but their story began taking shape centuries before. In fact, it has the same origin as all of ours: the garden of Eden, a paradise hand-crafted by God for His beloved creations.
Eden began as a perfect oasis that offered everything humankind
could ever need–and it was then broken by sin. And the shattered world that emerged from it was rescued by Jesus and restored for eternity. The heart of Mosaic’s story is summarized in three words: rescue, identity, and mission. And it is this story that
informs and describes their purpose as they serve and spread God’s love.
Adding a new chapter to the story
Mosaic opened a new chapter in its restoration story when it
opened its new campus to the community on December 10 last winter. The two-year process involved extensive planning, preparation, construction, and of course, plenty of heartfelt prayer as the church moved forward with broadening its reach into the local area
and the world.
“As we continue to be obsessed with the gospel and equip the
saints to live on mission for the kingdom, we have seen more and more people enter the story who desire deeply to be transformed by the gospel,” says Lead Pastor Renault van der Reit.
Mosaic’s three campuses lie outside Orlando, including the
only church that meets within the bubble of the Walt Disney World Resort. Two years ago, Mosaic was able to purchase an abandoned, 78,000-square-foot big box retail space–a space they planned to make their global base of operation. The church’s ambition was
to distill and express their story using the massive space they’d acquired.
When Pastor van der Reit told me what Mosaic wanted to accomplish,
I knew there was a deeper, more important story to be told–and it was up to me and my team to help bring it to the surface.
Visioning uncovers the heart of Mosaic’s story
First, Mosaic’s team needed to uncover the core of the story
they wished to tell, both within their walls and throughout the surrounding city. To accomplish this, they participated in an in-depth visioning workshop with my team that helped the heart of their story unfold. The end result was a totally unique “big idea”
that re-framed the project in a whole new light and informed the direction it needed to go.
The visioning process opened the Mosaic team’s eyes to the
Eden story they wanted to tell. And through their rescue, identity, and mission focal points, Mosaic actively participates in the work God is doing in the world to spread redemption and recreation. Their visioning process helped them define this story and
decide how they wanted to represent it visually throughout the exterior and interior architectural spaces of their new campus.
Design and architectural elements bring the church’s story to life
In light of the connection they’d made back to Eden, Mosaic’s
vision for the facility began to take shape: they set out to “bring the outdoors in” by visually representing nature’s juxtaposition of chaos and order. We set this in motion by layering surprising elements and rhythmic patterns to suggest the whimsy of nature
as life breaks through.
“The design team listened to us, and then they came up with
a design that reflected our DNA so well,” van der Reit says.
When visitors enter through the front doors, they’re immediately
draw into the Eden story through a contemporary interpretation of the iconic Tree of Life. From there, garden arbors and trellises overlooking seating areas provide them with plenty of opportunities for connection and relationship-building.
Through the spatial storytelling elements woven throughout
the beautiful new worship and community space, members of Mosaic’s congregation can find encouragement to actively participate in God’s plan to restore creation to its original purpose: cultivating relationships with God and people.
The church’s idea to bring the outdoors in forging both literal
and metaphorical roots for the congregation.
“You know, I used to think that buildings really don’t matter,
but over the last few years I’ve come to understand that buildings allow us a space where we can put down roots,” says van der Reit. “And those roots give us the opportunity to have a firm foundation off of which we can be sent out into the world to be world
changers for God.”
Sharing God’s restorative love in Orlando, Disney, and overseas
Mosaic serves the greater Orlando area–and internationally–in
thousands of ways, both big and small. Members act as the eyes and ears of the community as they meet essential needs of the people they encounter. From paying bills for families who need assistance, feeding those who are hungry, repairing cars for single
moms who can’t afford the maintenance, helping others move, and serving alongside local organizations, the Mosaic family are the boots on the ground.
Mosaic’s Disney World campus was inspired by their heart for
Disney employees. The church launched the campus at Disney to cater to Disney cast members whose work schedules made it difficult to connect with Mosaic. At the Disney campus, park and resort employees can experience God on a schedule that works for them.
As a former Disney Imagineer myself, this resonated with me on a very personal level and helped deepen the connection I felt with van der Reit and his leadership team as we moved forward with the Winter Garden campus plans.
On a global level, Mosaic has served in Kenya, South Africa,
the Republic of Georgia, Cambodia, China, Brazil, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. International ministry is funded in part by a coffee shop van der Reit launched in Winter Garden. Named after Axum, Ethiopia, Mosaic’s first overseas partner community,
Axum Coffee is a cause-oriented chain located down the street from the former Winter Garden campus.
Becoming a catalyst for change around the world
Van der Reit hopes the church will become an irresistible magnet
for their city to enter the story, engage with it, and ultimately express it to others. Van der Reit and the Mosaic leadership team envision the new space as a “catalyst for fearless world change.”
“Now, by God’s grace, that is exactly what it’s going to become,”
van der Reit says.
Mel McGowan is cofounder and chief creative principal of PlainJoe Studios. He is a leading master planner and designer of churches in America.
Article originally published in Christian Standard Magazine, August 2018