A tired congregation often has a tired facility.  We get used to the dirt and the corner cobwebs and the clutter.  But a visitor will notice right away.

Here’s how to start getting the building ready for new people …

There are five areas that a visitor will see before the sermon begins, and five more factors that will get the sermon heard better.  These are the curb, the lot, the entry, the nursery and the restroom, and the lights, the sound, the smell, the temperature and the friendliness of the people.

1.  Curb appeal.  This is a big factor in any real estate transaction, and just as important in marketing your church to newcomers.  If your church looks uncared-for from the street, how will the first-time prebeliever trust your message?  You want a good first impression, and you do that by mowing the grass, planting flowers & shrubs, keeping the roof repaired and the walls painted.  Keep it fresh and inviting.

2.  The parking lot should not have grass growing in the cracks.  It’s best to keep the cracks filled, but even if you can’t, you can use some weedkiller or manual labor to keep the grass away.  And if the lines are fading, buy some lot-marking paint and a couple of 2x4s and refresh the slot markers.  You should also have someone guarding and guiding in the lot, to help newcomers find close spots, and to give them a hand and a smile as soon as they get out of their vehicle, and help them find the door.

3.  The entry should be easy to find and uncluttered.  Paco Underhill says that the first 10 feet of a store is a transition zone, to let people get in the door before they decide which direction to go.  In your church, have those first 10 feet essentially empty, with a welcome table or greeter looking at them as they enter.  That station will help the first-timer know where the nursery, the auditorium or classrooms are.

4.  The Nursery is a critical factor for a young parent (especially mothers).  If the cribs are the old, unsafe kind or the changing table looks unstable, if the floor is cluttered and the toys are dirty, she’s less likely to entrust the child to the church, or will worry enough during the sermon to not focus on the message.  The Nursery is perhaps the most important room in the church for building a church.  If your congregation is short on cash, ask for donated portable playpens and get a supply of sheets; those pens work great for both private play and infant sleeping.  And keep a supply of baby wipes, diapers and hand sanitizer – in full view of newcomers.

5.  The Restroom is important because it’s only noticed when it’s dirty.  If it smells bad, has paper on the floor, or is dimly lit, it reflects poorly on the church.  Make sure it’s warm enough for bare legs on the toilet seat.  As far as it is possible, never run out of toilet paper, soap or paper towels.  If there’s a window (as in some older churches), have it tinted or covered as to not be visible from the outside.

Assuming all these are good, the visitor will walk into the sanctuary.  It should be well lit, especially if there are older people attending (old eyes need more light).  They should be able to hear the words of the music and any announcements clearly, even if sitting in the back.  The room should not be too hot or too cold – if choosing, make a bit on the chilly side to begin with, in part to compensate for the lights and body heat, and in part to keep them awake, so long as it’s reasonable; 68 degrees is fine in winter, 72 in summer.

And it almost goes without saying that the congregation should be as cordial to new people as to old friends.  Almost, for I’ve seen churches ignore new people, and I’ve seen visitors become active members and tithers on the strength of a couple of handshakes.


This is not an exhaustive list, but are the simple, low-cost ways to get the facility ready to entertain guests.

<–JumpStart main


Copyright 2010, Mike Mitchell


One Response to “JumpStart – Facility Maintenance”

  1. I always motivated by you, your views and attitude, again, thanks for this nice post.

    – Thomas

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