Each year we provide dozens of consultations to Churches over various topics when looking at a campus. Although each Church is completely different in their mission, vision, and goals, a common topic and need is how can Churches update or breathe life into their existing facilities (in many cases on a limited budget). Below outlines some recommendations and starting places to consider when modernizing your facility along with one necessity that every Church should do.
“Every space tells a story. Make sure yours is intentional and one of excellence.“
Create a Large Foyer and Connection Space
Most of our initial starting points when updating a Church is the Foyer. Typically, Churches built before the 90’s did not have a large foyer, you entered into a hallway or small gathering spaces, but it did not allow for connecting, visiting, coffee café area, or fellowship. Here are potential ideas for updating this space: lighting, flooring, opening up some walls to enlarge the space, putting on a modern fresh coat of paint, and removing dated pictures, art, and/or fake plants. Ultimately, this space is going to be where you potentially set a key first impression on a visitor and having it open, clean, and inviting is important.
Update the Sanctuary
Every Church understands the importance of the worship space in a Church. It is crucial this space helps create an environment of worship and is an asset to the way we conduct and present our service. Now, I do not mean that you need concert lighting or a fog machine, but we may need fresh carpet, enhance the stage floor, the stage background/back drop, and change the pews to chairs. This can radically change the entire atmosphere of the sanctuary. In many instances, Churches are moving towards a more contemporary or blended style of worship. Our choir lofts are being used differently and even the stage as a whole is utilized in a more praise style of worship. So, what is the DNA of the church currently or what is it moving towards in the next 2-5 years and how should our worship area function to be an asset to that ministry.
Side Note chairs vs. pews
Chairs create flexibility in the spaces:
They can be removed (a sloped sanctuary floor can make this difficult) for a multi- use space
You can change the seating configuration
You seat more people in chairs than pews
Cleaning can be much easier.
Nursery and Children’s Area
This is definitely one of the more crucial spaces in a Church. If a family has a bad experience here, it is highly unlikely that they will ever come back. Making this space clean, inviting, and secure is an absolute MUST, no compromising. Here are more insights:
Attempt to make this space close to the entrance and easily accessible to parents. Sometimes this is not possible in an outdated facility, but ample and proper signage can help (get professional signage for the campus). Also, the parents probably do not want their kids to be across the entire campus either. Ultimately, location is important.
There should be an official check-in and out process that is strictly adhered to by everyone (even the Pastor). Also, every volunteer should have a background check, and several should be CPR and first aid trained.
Cleanliness is another important component of an excellent children’s area. This should include everything from:
Clean Flooring, not stained carpet
Fresh smell, not musty or moldy
Paint/Lighting- Make the space bright and fun
Make an Excellent Impression
Earlier I mentioned that a component of the first impression starts at the foyer but really this occurs outside the building. You may have the friendliest people on the inside but if the exterior looks run down, people may never even consider entering. One perspective could be, the condition of your building is a reflection on the Church. This may require the Church to develop attractive landscaping, putting lighting in the parking lot, ensure grass is cut, update the exterior of the building (paint or just clean), and put in a new sign or banners.
Technology is a very important part of our culture today and can be used to enhance Church spaces. This includes everything from our sound equipment in the sanctuary to the classroom. For instance, Churches are starting to have TV’s set up the foyer area. Before the service, announcements are scrolling across the screen and during service is the worship and sermon. Also, consider technology as a form of outreach as well. This allows us to live stream and/or record our service and put online. In this case, want to ensure that the video is clear, and the sound is audible.
Hire a professional to help you through this process. A qualified and experienced firm should be able to help you navigate through the waters of updating your Church. They can help you:
Determine where to start
Address City and State code requirements (It could be likely that the building may not meet certain codes and specific projects may require you to address those issues).
Help calculate potential costs of the project.
Walk you through the entire process allowing you to focus on Ministry while they handle the project.
Most importantly, they see spaces and can have optimal solutions. We have arrived at dozens of Churches where they spent months developing ideas/plans on only to find out it either cannot be done or is not the best solution. Rather than attempting to solve the problem or present a solution, let the professional navigate those waters with you. They should not tell you what to do but create a partnership to work together for the best answer for your dilemma.