Like it or not, church facilities can either enhance or undermine the worship experience of people in the pews, especially visitors. Most of us become oblivious over time to things like frayed carpet, foggy windows and faded paint that may bother people new to your church.
Touring your building like a first-time visitor can be a real eye-opener. Doing it with your cell-phone camera in hand can help you make your point to your leadership team.
Mega-church pastor Rick Warren identified these environmental factors you should give close attention to:
Lighting affects people’s moods. People today are conditioned to well-lit stores and other public places, but way too many churches are poorly lighted, and visitors immediately notice it. Warren reminds us, “God’s character is expressed in light. 1 John 1:5 says, ‘God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.’ I believe churches should be the brightest public buildings. Light was the very first thing God created. God said, ‘Let there be light!’ (Gen. 1:3) Today, I think God would like to say this to thousands of churches.” He suggests secretly replacing “all the light bulbs in your worship center with twice the watts, then notice the change in mood in next Sunday’s service. You may have revival!”
Sound The best sermon ever preached will have diminished impact if people can’t hear it in a pleasing manner. Have you ever had a sacred moment destroyed by a loud feedback pop or screech? Invest in the best sound system you can afford. Warren also recommends pastors strongly urge their church to purchase a lavaliere microphone. It allows the pastor to move around and better retain people’s attention.
Seating Uncomfortable seating is a distraction and can literally be a ‘pain.’ The mind can only absorb what the seat can endure! Rick Warren says, “If you can get away replacing the pews, I’d advise it. In today’s culture, the only places people are forced to sit on benches are in church and the cheap bleacher section at ball games. People expect to have their own, individual chairs.”
Temperature This one can be a source of real irritation. Different people have different internal thermostats, but the most common mistake churches make regarding temperature is to set the thermostat at a reasonable setting for an empty room. The body heat of a room full of people will significantly raise the temperature. Plan accordingly, plus keeping the temperature on the cool side helps keep the crowd awake.
Clean, safe nurseries This is the number one barrier to families with young children. It is absolutely vital that your nursery is sanitized and safe. That means both the room and all the toys and equipment are thoroughly cleaned every week.
Clean restrooms If people refuse to patronize a restaurant because of unclean restrooms, you can be sure they will react much the same to a church with a foul smelling or messy restroom.
These seemingly small details can hold a church back from fully realizing God’s best for a church. Rick Warren reinforces this with his own personal experience. He says, “For years, Saddleback used high school campuses for our seeker services. In order to make the best of what we had to work with, we organized two quality control crews. The first crew would come in before 6 a.m. and set up 42 different classrooms and a gymnasium. The set-up crew would diagram each classroom’s layout on the chalkboard before moving anything. That way everything could be reset in the right order by the take-down crew when they came in at 1 p.m. after all the services were over. Every classroom was vacuumed twice every Sunday – once at the beginning of the day and once after we’d finished using the rooms. It was hard work but part of the price of growth.”
After all, we are instructed by Paul in Titus 2:10 “… so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”
(Six Physical Factors that Affect Your Worship by Rick Warren, ChristianPost.com, 3/8/07)