Churches come is all sizes and shapes: From a retail store-front, to soaring and elaborate cathedrals. Churches are where people congreagate to connect and to be inspired.
What makes a church inspiring?
Some would argue that the building's architectural style and structure make it inspiring. Others would argue that the people or the service held in the building are what make it inspirational.
Personally, I have been in a lot of churches that have been inspiring, and some not so much. The inspiring ones - be it a storefront or a cathedral - had several things in common. Each was welcoming, well-maintained and offered me a personal sense of connection.
The ones that were not so inspiring also shared similar attributes. They were "cold." Both the people and the building felt cold, and it was apparent that each was neglected. The general feeling was that no one really cared that much.
4 Things That Keep Your Facility From Feeling Neglected
1) Clean it
Nothing says "I don't care" to me more than trash on the floor, dirty corners, finger prints on the wall and stains in the carpet. It doesn't matter if your facility is 5 years-old or 50 years-old, a dirty facility gives the impression no one really cares.
2) Maintain it
Broken door handles, cracked windows, loose siding and the like also communicate that no one cares. General building maintenance is a must. If things do not work or look broken, a feeling of apathy is communicated. Imagine if you invited someone to your house for a special meal or event (like a graduation party) and then did not mow the grass, fix up a falling down fence and left the front door half of its hinges unrepaired.
Would your guests feel like you cared about them? Probably not. However, if you fix and paint the fence, mow and clean out the landscaping, and fix the loose shutters hanging from the house then your guests will more likely feel comfortable and welcome.
3) Update it
Orange shag carpet died in the 70's (all the people said AMEN). Pull it out. That homey country look went out in the early 90's. Unless you are in a historical building and are purposeful about reflecting the era the church was built in, it's vital that your church doesn't look dated.
To me a church with obviously dated finishes communicates a feeling that the church it out of touch with today's culture. The church is living in the past.
4) Envision it (what could it be)
What could this space be used for? How can we give our sanctuary a more contemporary look? What if we repainted the lobby? These are the type of questions you should be asking.
Recently my church updated the front of the sanctuary with wood planking. The idea came to us when we saw a similar installation at another church.
The front wall at our church was a yellowish color that I was never fond of.
Built in 2003 that yellowish color was in, however today it is out. So, we talked about repainting. That's when I saw the wood wall at another church. They had simply stained 1"x4" and 1"x6" boards attached horizontally in an alternating pattern.
It was inexpensive, installed by volunteer labor, and offers a beautiful more contemporary look. Updating our look all started by seeing what others had done and by visualizing what our space could be.
A great way to get ideas and get started on the items above is to perform a facility audit.
You need to understand that the look of your facility is communicating something about your ministry. Does it inspire or does it say we don't care? The choice is yours, what do you want to communicate? Let's be an inspiration.