Set a high standard for maintenance, safety, and overall look of your building.
I know the church is not a building. That is not to say, though, that the building is unimportant. A building says something about the congregation that gathers there; so, we need to pay attention to our facilities.
Listed here are 15 facility issues I and my consulting teams have seen recurrently in churches, including established churches and church plants.
1. No obvious main entrance. We have seen this problem in churches with large facilities as well as church plants that meet in rented space. The building has several doors, each that enters the facility in a different location. Only one leads to the main entrance, but guests must guess which door that is.
2. An unmarked (or unattended) welcome center. No signage indicates the welcome center, and no greeters direct people there. Brochures and sermon CDs might be available there, but sometimes no one is present to distribute them. Such a location is an information kiosk—not a welcome center.
3. Paper signage. Think about what this communicates: handwritten (or poorly done computer-generated) room signs on a piece of paper taped to a wall. I realize emergency situations necessitate a “quick fix,” but this kind of signage implies a lack of attention to excellence.
4. Old information on screens or bulletin boards. I’ve seen bulletin board announcements for events that took place six months ago. Even in churches with computerized announcements, I’ve seen outdated information flashed on the screen.
5. Unsecured children’s area. Our “secret shoppers” often report having complete access to children’s areas. In some cases, no security system is in place to protect children. In other cases where security does exist, unmonitored outside doors still allow entrance to this area.
6. Windowless doors in the children’s area. Windows in doors cannot eliminate the possibility of child abuse in a church, but they are at least a deterrent. Solid doors are an indication the church has not taken enough steps to protect their children.
7. “Big people” furniture in children’s rooms. Perhaps you’ve seen a children’s room where the table is lowered a bit, but the chairs are still adult chairs. The furnishings (and often the teaching method in the class) say to a child, “Your job is to act and learn like an adult in this room.”
8. Clutter. The list is long: old literature on tables, “donated” toys no one wants, leftover craft supplies, ugly upright pianos, last week’s bulletins, unwashed dishes, drama costumes. … Somehow the church facility has become a gathering place for junk.
9. Open outlets in preschool rooms. A preschool room electrical outlet without a cover insert is an invitation to trouble. Toddlers typically have not learned not to stick something in the outlet.
10. Dirty carpet. This one surprises me, simply because cleaning a carpet is not that difficult. It may cost a few dollars, but not cleaning the carpet says, “We’re not that concerned about the look of God’s house.”
11. Odors. Again, the list is long: the musty smell of water damage, the hangover of dirty diapers in the nursery or spoiled food in the kitchen, an unfixed clogged toilet. … What’s hard to believe is that people who attend regularly apparently do not notice the smells.
12. Unstocked bathrooms. Sometimes I feel like I’m traveling on a mission trip when I enter a church restroom—that is, I’m out of luck if I didn’t bring my own toilet paper, soap, and towels. Those issues are only magnified when the bathroom is dirty.
13. Poor lighting. Dimming the lighting might be an effective device to focus worship, but a service is hardly facilitated if members strain to read their Bibles. I’m especially sensitive to this one as I get older.
14. Few garbage cans. Church buildings would be cleaner if our buildings included nicely designed, strategically placed garbage cans inside the building. There is a reason garbage cans in bathrooms and kitchens are often overflowing.
15. Faded paint. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do to a room. It’s also amazing how long some churches wait before adding that fresh coat.
This post was adapted from an article that first appeared at ThomRainer.com on August 19, 2014.
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.
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