Today we see a movement toward churches becoming the heart of the community in which they serve. Many people, like the “woman at the well” John chapter 4 describes, may never go into a church building for a service, but they will go to the church campus for a community event or personal benefit—like an outdoor community playground for kids. In order to reach out seven days a week, churches are finding ways to open their doors to the community in order to serve more people and reach out with God’s love.
Outdoor play spaces provide opportunity for children in the community to have fun, while coffee shops deliver remote businessmen and women as well as casual guests the chance to put their guard down and find personal reasons to set foot on the church campus.
What Message Does Your Church Campus Communicate?
A church’s space is a representation of who you are to your community. When someone drives by your church, your campus has 5-10 seconds to communicate who you are, what you represent and what you value. Why is the church building and what it communicates so important?
First Impressions Last
As you know, first impressions last, so it’s vital to intentionally create a welcoming church culture in order to draw people into a loving community of believers. The outside of your building, your church’s billboard, and website are all ways in which you can extend a welcome to potentially new members. Consider what you desire to communicate to your city, and begin by taking an objective look at what someone new to the area may see as they drive by your church for the first time.
What are people left with when they drive by your church? What first impression do they have of your church’s space, members and values? Does your exterior billboard help communicate in a way busy moms can catch the date of your July 4th Patriotic Celebration, Easter Egg hunt or Christmas Eve service times as well as weekly service times? Websites and driving by serve as the church’s front doors in our culture, so we must be sure they accurately represent us and communicate a clear, inviting outreach to the community.
A Welcoming Environment
Do you offer a welcoming environment with colorful landscaping, easy to spot entrances and well-labeled parking for visitors? Is your church’s interior accepting to newcomers with features like warm hues of carpet and wall color, a coffee shop, and areas to linger and visit with other people?
The reality is that visitors respond to the environment in your church, which comes down to not only the people who attend your church, but also the décor and the overall vibe your church exhibits. Once someone comes through your doors for the first time, they take in everything that makes up the space. Many appreciate not only a place to worship God and receive the Word, but also a place to spend time with new friends and “do life” together. What does your church’s space communicate, and how do you know if it is time to build in order to accommodate more people?
How to Know if It Is Time to Build
How do pastors know when it is time to go beyond the current space and expand in order to reach more people in the community? There are several symptoms to look for when analyzing if it is time to build, remodel, or expand your current space.
- Pay attention to the capacity of your worship center. If you are at 80% capacity on Sunday mornings, then growth could be stunted if you don’t add another service time, build a new building, or expand the existing church facility. Many ask why 80% is the lid. Simply put, people don’t sit shoulder to shoulder in a building.
- Understand that people like convenience. If a new family of four comes to the door and can’t easily find enough space to sit together, it may affect their decision to return or not.
- The church’s parking lot should provide one space for every two seats in the building in order to accommodate both regular attendees and visitors.
- If you experience consistent growth for 3-5 years, and then plateau, realize it may be time to add space or another service to the existing church building.