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:
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4) Decoration – Plaques, crochet pictures of butterflys and lambs scream outdated, obsolete and cliche.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.