We communicate with our community long before they step through our doors, according to Greater Sydney Conference property manager Rod Long.
“Churches are called to be inspiring and welcoming places, and part of the process of encouraging visitors and helping them choose to return is to make our church facilities as appealing and visitor friendly as possible,” he says.
“The reality is that if our facilities do not appear well cared for, or if visitors have a poor experience before they even meet us, it can impair our chances to connect with people. I feel we have room for improvement.”
Weeds in the gardens, old posters left up, cobwebs around the building, worn floor coverings and paint that needs refreshing are not positive influences on visitors.
“We sometimes struggle to get members to attend working bees—or don’t have them at all,” Mr Long says. “We love our churches but perhaps they are looking a bit tired in some cases.”
It’s an issue Mr Long feels passionately about and he wants to encourage members to take a fresh look at their church facilities to ensure they are appealing and visitor friendly.
In Greater Sydney, the Conference is actively encouraging churches to take up this challenge.
“I think we can undervalue the importance of people’s first impressions,” he says.
“If the external and internal presentation of our facilities doesn’t convey a positive message we can appear stagnant.
“We need to treat our churches like our homes. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money; even small changes can make a big difference.”
Here are some things to consider:
Are carparks and footpaths well-maintained? Is your church easily visible from the street? Are building materials attractive and in good condition? Is the landscaping tidy and well-cared for? Are there weeds growing in gutters or cobwebs around the building?
Are car parks full when visitors arrive? Do first-time guests have easy access to special parking? Is there attractive signage and graphics to clearly guide people to the front entrance? [pullquote]
How secure are the children’s spaces? Are there appropriate child protection practices in place such as sign in/sign out forms? Clean, uncluttered environments and modern, engaging themes are keys to success.
Is adequate seating available? Does your worship space feel cared for, loved and looked after? Are there features/decorative elements that have not been updated for many years? Does it look like your congregation is proud of their facility and cares for it?
Places to connect
Many people who are new to church look beyond the worship space for places to connect socially. Items to consider are furniture, finishes and lighting. Are these components appealing and engaging?
Is your church sign welcoming and appealing and does it contain current and accurate information?