Have you ever walk into a restaurant that you read about online or someone recommended…full of anticipation and excitement…only to be turned off by the lack of care of the facility? I have been disappointed more times than I can list when I was in a mid to upper priced establishment, to then visit their restroom and be totally repulsed by the lack of care and cleanliness, or to look up at their ceilings (that is a habit for me…so if you invite me to your facility, know I am looking at your ceilings…you have been warned.) to see stained ceiling tiles…or worse…dirty HVAC grills and cobwebs. What does that say about you and your church? What does it say about what you value? Obviously not the health and well being of your guests and occupants if you are okay allowing dirt and dust to blow down on their heads or have them breathe dirty air.
What story is that telling?
To me it indicates that either you do not care about your facilities…or are not intentional about their care…or are in bad financial condition to where you cannot maintain them. Now that is just me…but could that message also be the one conveyed to your guests?
Not a great witness in my opinion.
In his book “First Impressions: Creating WOW Experiences”, Mark Waltz, pastor of connection at Granger Community Church in Granger, IN., addresses what it may be like to be a guest in our churches and how the first impression may not always convey the story we desire. In addition, the first impression may be the only chance we have to impact their lives. He writes;
“When your guests are distracted from the real purpose of their visit to your church, you’ll have a difficult time re-engaging them. In order for people to see Jesus, potential distractions must be identified and eliminated.”
Have you ever considered that the condition of your buildings could affect your ability to engage and minister to people? Most of our previous blogs have focused on the physical attributes related to the built environment. We have looked at the design, the way-finding, weenies and other attributes of the campus and structures. But what about the condition?
“The first impression may be the only chance we have to impact their lives.”
Over my 28-year career of planning and building church facilities, I have witnessed firsthand the use, abuse and misuse of ministry facilities. I have seen churches spend millions of dollars on new facilities and then neglect to change the HVAC filters, repair leaks, change light bulbs, caulk annually as required and so on. In my opinion, this is similar to collecting the offering during our worship services and taking 10%-20% of the monies out of the offering plate or basket and setting it on fire. We would all agree that that kind of action would be ridiculous and obscene.
“We would never do that … that is God’s money.”
I ask, who provided the funds to build your facilities? We all know the answer: God provided the resources. It was and is His money. And they are His buildings. Yet, we too often act irresponsibly with these assets.
I find that many church members take better care of their homes, boats, cars, motorcycles and even their pets than they do their ministry facilities. Is this acceptable to you? It is not to me, and I suggest that the church (big “C”) wake up, take notice and do something about it. I believe that God holds each of us responsible and accountable for what we do and how we handle every resource entrusted to us.
Check out our book, Why Church Buildings Matter. Church facilities will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to the church campus can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. This book will reveal how to maximize your church facility to share the greatest story ever told, the gospel.