10 Sensible Ways To Help Your Church Building Speak

Steven Fogg —  August 3, 2010 — 3 Comments

The first time I remember going to church I was about seven years old. My parents sent me off to Sunday School, I don’t really remember what I was taught, but I do remember what the building was like. How it made me feel. I remember the classroom like rooms and the pews in the church hall. I remember the 70′s style windows, the red brick walls. You can see the inside of the church here. I think its been renovated but you will get the idea.

It’s not just your brochures, websites, direct mail pieces and people that make a statement who you are as a church. Your church building also says makes the same statement. The style of architecture, the colours, the toilets, the plaques on the walls, the wallpaper, seating, lighting the beige carpets, the marble floors all say something. Good or bad.

Unfortunately some church buildings now are lost in translation. The building is saying something completely different to who you are as a church.

Here are ten sensible ways to help your church building speak in your culture’s language:

1) The interior and exterior of your church can reinforce the message your sermon series theme. Here’s a great example from LifeChurch.tv

2) Interior design - This is one of the most prominent and powerful tools can use to create a feeling of belonging. Interior design often is locked into a period that dates quickly. Think ahead and plan your interior design for longevity. Colour schemes, furniture, floors they all matter and should be designed together.

3) Good auditorium design - Is your seating comfortable and clean? I sat through the Global Leadership Summit at a church last year and I wanted to stand up after 20 minutes because the chairs were so uncomfortable.

Can you see the stage on a Sunday? I’m amazed by how many churches have flat floors. My wife is vertically challenged (just like I’m follically challenged) and always struggles to see because someone of average height is sitting in front of her when we visit another church because the floor is flat.Churches can learn alot from movie theatres. I love sitting in cinemas for hours on end and I can see everything.

Is your auditorium designed for sound? Good acoustics can make all the difference to the Sunday experience.

4) Decoration - Plaques, crochet pictures of butterflys and lambs scream outdated, obsolete and cliche. What pictures or graphics best reflect who you are as a community?

5) Lighting – Is your lighting designed with your mission’s target audience in mind? For some this is modern concert style lighting, for others its more restrained.

6) Accessibility – Can everyone access your building? Can every age group, a person of disability find there way without help into your church?

7) Signage - Can someone who visits your church for the first time find their way in to the building? People don’t like getting lost. They hate having to ask where the toilet is.

8) Smell - Sounds obvious I know but stale and dusty just turns everybody off. Do your toilets smell clean and fresh? If they do hire a cleaner.

9) Landscaping - Depending on where you are located, if you have landscaping get people to look after it. A tidy and presentable garden says so much about the community that meets there.

10) Cafe - We’ve just built a new cafe and it has transformed our community space on a Sunday. People actually want to hang around and connect with their friends. Some people still love their free instant coffee and tea, but the majority are now enjoying real coffee and a cafe experience they would be proud to invite their friends to.

How have you made your church building speak? Have you seen any good examples? Get commenting below.

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  4. Church Happiness Machine

Steven Fogg


3 responses to 10 Sensible Ways To Help Your Church Building Speak

  1. Phil Creighton, UK August 3, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Amen to all that Steve! I reckon we should make our church buildings are like lighthouses with a mighty beam to help people avoid the rocks.
    What we end up with is tiny cupcake lit by a pathetic birthday candle, slightly used.
    It doesn’t take much to ensure the buildings are well looked after, but goodness we need to do it.

  2. We move into our new space in two weeks, and these are all important items. We have been in an elementary school for 5 years. It often smelled of urine, was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The benches were hard and non adjustable. Our kids area was on the other side of the school, people had to cross a dive way that had curbs to get to our front door. I picked up gum, candy wrappers and trash every week at or entrance. The inside was decorated by the theme for the month of the school. We once had a paper chain that hung across the front of our stage the entire Christmas season. If you have control of your space, do it right!

  3. Great article! My wife and I just recently used some of my vacation time to “missions trip our church” by doing some badly needed painting in the ‘classroom’ hallway. What a difference!
    I am in the process of working with one of the building coordinators on some much needed graphics, wall hangings, and other signage.
    Very timely post indeed!

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