Have you ever found yourself going into a store and being put off by the clutter, disorganization, dust or something else? Have you ever gone to fill up with gas and pick the brighter well lit gas station over the older station with dimmer lights? The truth is that we make choices every day based off of what we see and how we perceive things to be. It could be that we make the decision off of a need to feel safe or the idea that a store like this wouldn’t have quality merchandise. But without knowing it, we make a split second decision of where to go, how long to stay and if we will return to that place. Realizing this, a fresh set of eyes on our church complex might prove to be time well spent.
As you walk through your complex, try to put yourself in the place of a guest to your church. What do you see? This can be difficult for us to look at with fresh eyes because many times we are walking through the same halls everyday. It might be better to get someone else from outside the church to walk through and give their opinion. You might be surprised at what they tell you.
There are a few things below that you can look at as you begin to evaluate how welcoming your complex may be:
1. When you pull up to the building.
- Is it inviting? (clean, lawn/building maintained, etc…)
- Does it have clearly marked directional signage for guests? Including where to park, where is the main entrance, etc…
- If you could identify one thing as you pull up to the building that might need to change, what would that be?
2. When you enter the building.
- Is there a welcoming atmosphere/environment created? (Any clutter, or items that have no purpose being in the main entry?)
- Is it clean? What is the first thing that you smell when you walk in?
- Does it have clearly marked directional signage or a campus map letting people know where to go? (i.e. where is Children’s Ministry, Worship Center, etc…)
- If you could identify one thing as you walk into the building that might need to change, what would that be?
3. As you walk through the building.
- There are many places that things get ‘stuck’ in a church building. As you walk through the building ask yourself, What is the purpose of this being here? What value is it to our guests and regular attendees? If it’s not decor that is creating a welcoming atmosphere or something that will enhance the full experience on Sunday morning, it might need to go.
- Is there a detailed cleaning that is needing done? Look at the lights, baseboards, walls, etc…
- Is there some building maintenance that needs taken care of? (Lights that need replaced, toilets that need repaired, carpet that needs fixed, etc…)
- Are there outdated materials left from previous weeks and months? If so, eliminate them.
- If you could identify one thing or group of things that might need to change as you walk through the building, what would that be?
4. Pay attention to the restrooms
- Restrooms are a great place to invest some time. This may not be high on our ‘worship experience’ list. But it is high on the list of every ‘consumer minded’ person who walks through our doors. Are the restrooms clean and inviting?
- Are they well stocked for the amount of people that will be coming through the building?
- Is there any maintenance, painting, etc… that needs to be taken care of?
- Are there baby changing stations available for guests to use?
- Is the smell pleasant when you walk into the restrooms?
- If you could identify one thing that might need to change as you examine your restrooms, what would that be?
One exercise that you might find very enlightening. Take a neighborhood tour of churches. (These will be the same churches your guests may be visiting too.) Ask yourself these same types of questions as you walk through their building. What ideas can you learn from them that you can take back to your church complex? If for some reason you can’t tour neighborhood churches, then anytime you’re at a meeting in another church, make sure to use this time to also pick up any ideas that might help you develop your welcoming environment at your church.
We might could discuss the fact that people should come to church for worship and not care about the rest. And in a world where we were all spiritually mature, that would be true. But the fact is we should also be seeking to reach those around us who are lost and those who haven’t grown spiritually. One thing that I emphasize continually with our property team is that the work they do to keep the grounds and the property maintained is an important part of seeing people come to Christ. It eliminates the distractions. Even those that come through our doors with a ‘consumer’ mindset will have barriers removed so they can worship and draw closer to God. Our goal is to use our facilities to bring honor and glory to God. It is to allow people to come and worship together. Spend some time evaluating your complex and see if some of the ‘first impressions’ that you’re giving to people are actually causing them to leave. We are stewards of all that God has blessed us with daily. Let’s take good care of it!
- Making Your Church More Accessible to Those with Disabilities (rainintorainbows.com)