Which Way Do I Go?…Which Way Do I Go?

Have you ever been a first time guest at a large complex? Maybe a hospital, corporate office building, university, major league sports venue, airport or some other similar destination. Have you ever felt like the hound from Of Fox And Hounds – (Warner Bros, 1940) …“which way did he go George, which way did he go?

As I have said several times in this series, I spend a fair amount of time on the road. I am in and out of airports, rental cars, and hotels on a weekly basis. I may be in 2-3 different airports in a single week. On top of that, I am a guy (DUH). So as a member of the male species, it is ingrained that I do not ask directions. I am a man, and by golly, I can figure this out on my own. I am so thrilled that smart phones have GPS…that is a man’s best friend when you are on the road. But I have learned that the GPS does not work very well inside the airport when I am trying to navigate my way to destinations within the terminal. However, most airports (except for Newark…the blithe of all airports) use the same, or very similar, iconic signs that allow me to find my way to key landmarks without  damaging my much protected masculinity. They are:

These 3 signs put me at ease and make me feel like “I can do this”, even if I have never been to that airport. I can follow these signs and not look like a neophyte or an “occasional traveler” (you know who I am referring too). I can proceed with confidence that I will be able to locate the restroom, rental cars, and baggage claim (which I rarely use, but is nice to know where it is on those occasions or when I am assisting someone else find their way). These are all examples of Wayfinding.

Here is what Wikipedia says about wayfinding:

Urban planner Kevin A. Lynch borrowed the term for his 1960 book The Image of the City, where he defined wayfinding as “a consistent use and organization of definite sensory cues from the external environment”. In 1984 environmental psychologist Romedi Passini published the full-length “Wayfinding in Architecture” and expanded the concept to include signage and other graphic communication, clues inherent in the building’s spatial grammar, logical space planning, audible communication, tactile elements, and provision for special-needs users.

In laymen’s terms, wayfinding are elements that help lead a guest through the maze of a facility.

Wayfinding are elements that help lead a guest through the maze of a facility.”

This can take the form of signage, “weenies”, floor markings, pathways, visual graphics and even sound and smell. Any element that provides a sensory clue to a desired location can be considered wayfinding.

Let me say this again…these elements are NOT for your current members/attendees, although they will enjoy it as well (and in the same way I may not need to know where the baggage claim is, if I am trying to help someone else, it is nice to have obvious clues to be of assistance). Rather, wayfinding is for those not yet at your church…your guests. By providing wayfinding…starting at the entrance of your parking lot and continuing throughout the campus experience…you reduce a portion of the walls that a first time guest may have erected and you ease their mind.  They are able to navigate the parking lot, the pedestrian access points, and circulation spaces without feeling and looking like “the dumb new guy”.

In addition, wayfinding done right, can be the landmarks for connection. “Hey Sam, I will meet you outside the double door with the large orange KID CITY sign”.  These wayfinding elements become part of the fabric of your campus, your culture, and your guests’ experience.  Don’t see them as just signs or directional components. See them as part of how your facility tells the unique story of who you are and what you value.


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.

Welcome To Your Dirty Clean Building

You have probably heard that first impressions of your facility happen very quickly when a first-time guest comes in. So, we push our facility team to keep entrances clean. The concern is, what does clean mean to you? Clean is one part of a proper cleaning program in your facility, and while it is the most visually impactful, it doesn’t mean you have a “clean” facility.

Clean is one of the “Big 3” of a proper understanding of what it takes for a great custodial program. The other two are Sanitize and Disinfect. Let us look at their bios and see why they are all important.

Clean

Clean means free from visible dirt, marks, or stains. Keeping the trash picked up, wiping up Brother John’s coffee spill (again), wiping little Susie’s handprints off the glass door; that is cleaning. Keeping an area clean is very important to the program, but what if Brother John spilled his coffee on the table you are about to eat that donut on? Oh, and the rag he used to wipe up the spill is the same one he wiped his hands on after putting the raw chicken in the crock-pot for the potluck. Then, you hope that Sanitize is part of your program as well.

Sanitize

Sanitize means treating food-contact surfaces by a process that destroys vegetative cells (cells that are growing) of microorganisms of public health significance, and in substantially reducing numbers of other undesirable microorganisms, but without adversely affecting the product or its safety for the consumer.

“Clean is one part of a proper cleaning program in your facility, and while it is the most visually impactful, it doesn’t mean you have a ‘clean’ facility.”

That last is important, because it means that the sanitizer will get rid of some nasties (99.999% of those that cause food-borne illness), but is (relatively) safe for you if you touch the residue.  Sanitizers that are food contact rated are certified by the EPA first, and maximum use level for direct use on food contact surfaces are set by the FDA; they will be labeled as such. Most sanitizers will state that the first step to sanitizing is cleaning the surface of debris and spills first.

So, that makes the donut break at the table better, but what about little Susie’s handprint that got on the glass because she was wiping her runny nose? That is where Disinfect comes along.

Disinfect

Disinfect is like sanitize, except for the control issue. Disinfect does not want to leave anything alive on a surface it is on. Depending on type, wet dwell time may need to be 30 seconds to 10 minutes. A disinfectant can be tested and rated as a bactericide (kills bacteria), viricide (kills viruses), fungicide (kills fungus), and mildewcide (kills mildew). Many are rated for a great deal of things based on concentration and dwell time. Just like sanitize, most disinfectants require cleaning as the first step.

 

Fun Fact Time

Sanitizers and disinfectants that are registered with the EPA fall under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) because they are pesticides. They kill living organisms. Overexposure and improper use and handling can cause a great deal more harm in your facility than not using them.

So how do we keep the facility healthy with Brother John and little Susie running around? Simple, we get intentional in developing and training on a comprehensive cleaning procedure. We make sure our cleaning procedures utilize the proper mix of the “Big 3”. If you need assistance, Cool Solutions Group stands ready to partner with you and help you develop the program that welcomes guests to your clean (and sanitized and disinfected) facility.


Does your church meet in a facility (rented or owned)? Do you believe God has entrusted the care and stewarding of those facilities to you (or your church)? Are you proactive and intentional with these efforts? If any of these relate to you, then you need to get your copy of the Intentional Church Series: Facility Stewardship Manual.

Your Church Needs More Weenies

Just to disarm you, I am not referring to wimpy people.  I am not suggesting that you have hot dog carts in the lobby (although it would be a neat twist on your pre and post service experience).  What we are talking about are icons.  Let me explain.

When Walt Disney was designing his world class theme parks, he used the analogy of how you can lead a dog to illustrate his concept of using attractional elements.  He said that you can get a dog to do what you want in one of 2 ways;  you can take a stick and beat the dog…or you can take that same stick, place a weenie on the end of it and lead the dog.  One requires brute force and is not pleasant for the recipient (or the enforcer) while the other creates a sense of anticipation of a treat…a reward…something special at the end of the journey.  Which would you prefer?

How many of you have been to a Disney theme park?  If you have, then you will be able to take this mental journey with me.  Close your eyes and image you have just arrived at the park.  You have paid the admission and walked through the turnstiles to be greeted by the train station which is encompassed by the most incredible array of landscaping and the image of Mickey Mouse…but you cannot see anything else except the entrances to either side of the depot. They draw you in with a giddiness childlike sense of anticipation. “What could be on the other side?” is a common thought that rushes through the minds of even the eldest of guests.

The vine covered train trestle creates a gateway that identifies the start of a truly magical journey.  With its magnetism you are sucked into the park and thrust into Town Square.  At first glance of your new surroundings, you are faced with so many choices.  The fire station with musicians…or maybe Goofy and Minnie to give hugs…or possible see Mickey Mouse himself at the theater.  Regardless of which venue, personality, or feature you gravitate to first…or second…or 10th, all roads in Town Square lead to one place…MAIN STREET USA.

As you round the corner from either side of Town Square, you are transformed into Marceline, Missouri, the home town of Walt Disney. You have stepped back in time to the early 1900’s…a time of simplicity and a era almost forgotten by many.  MAIN STREET is where turn-of-the-century architecture and transportation bring the small-town Middle America of the early 1900’s to life.  There are shops, a dentist office (listen for the drilling in the open window), Walt’s apartment and so much more. But if you stand anywhere on MAIN STREET and look in the direction of the park, what is the thing that will always catch your eye?

Cinderella’s Castle!!!!!

It is a “weenie”.  It leads all of the park guests in that direction. You do not need a tour guide (although they are available) to tell you where you are heading.  You do not need a big flashing neon say that says, “Go to the castle.”  It is iconic and it sucks you in.  It is almost like a force field that gets stronger and stronger the closer you get.  It is magical. It is intentional. It communicates a story.  It WORKS!

So…go ahead and open your eyes and let’s apply this to our churches.  Our campuses and facilities need weenies.  We need these elements that draw people in and shout a message…a story.  What if the entrance to your kids environments was designed in such a way that it would be so obvious to a guest that they would immediately venture to that area…without a sign or someone telling them where to go, the entrance would shout KIDS COME HERE.  Now, I am not suggesting you do not have signs or greeters.  What I am suggesting is that the experience for the guests will be enhanced by providing other visual clues to communicate the story.  It is not an either/or…but a both/and.

Make it attractional (what ever that means in your DNA and culture…don’t get hung up on the above example of Disney.  If you do, you will have missed the point).

Be creative.

Be intentional.

Provide the environment for life change to occur for your guests.  Disney is selling the “Happiest Place on Earth”…we are selling the greatest gift this world will ever know.


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.

Want to Catch More Fish – Put Bait on the Hook

If you were driving down a road in your town and saw this building, would you be intrigued?  Would you want to check it out? As you look at that picture, who do you think this building meant to attract? Who was the primary target to get sucked in by the design and amenities?

If you said MEN…then you would be correct. But not just any man, a mid “thirty something” man.  And why would a church focus on that age group and gender?  It is actually pretty simple for the leadership at Northside Christian (designed by Visioneering Studios).

They believe that if they can attract men in their mid thirties, they will likely bring their wife and 3 +/- children as well. In most cases, it is easier to engage the entire family if the husband/father is leading the charge and is compelled to attend. For most men, there is too much talk about love (especially loving another man…YUCK), surrender, “feelings”, and a whole host of other words and songs that are just not appealing.

So what did this church decide to do?  They were intentional about communicating a story and message to the target they wanted to attract.  They made the conscious decision to put “bait on the hook” as they fulfilled their calling to be fishers of men.  The attractional elements of the physical campus were intended to be appealing to those they were trying to reach…just like the worm, minnow or lure are on a fishing hook.  If you going fishing for bass, you would not leave the bait at home.  Yes, it is possible to catch a fish on a bare hook…but it is less likely , much harder and far less rewarding.  So why do we think it is wrong to put “bait” on the hook when we are fishing for souls? Given some recent responses to my other posts on “story”, I am sure some of  you are saying “But the Holy Spirit is the only thing we need…he will draw them in…why should we try to manipulate.” While I am in complete agreement that the Holy Spirit will move in a person’s heart to take action, God  also gave us eyes…ears…noses…and other sensory attributes that he uses to influence us.

For this church, they decided to use several types of bait…here are a few examples:

  1. The overall design is that of a lodge or “man cave”.  It is very masculine and appealing to a man. It makes me want to go hang out, how about you?
  2. The materials are “manly”.  From the stone, to the exposed wood grains, to the exposed metal, to the car license plates used to clad a section of the facility (above pic), the materials scream MAN!  Women are generally drawn in by color…but men are attracted to materials.
  3. They took the “bait on the hook” concept and developed a fishing hole in front of the building that is open to the public…that they actually stock with fish.  Again, the idea is that a mid-30 year old man with 3 kids would bring the kids to the fishing hole (i.e. a WELL…see this post for more on that concept) even if they have never gone to the “church”…or what we might refer to as the Temple experience.
  4. Amenities…besides the “fishing hole”, this church has been deliberate in the location of their exterior public spaces.  Even if you are not interested in fishing, but looking for a place to sit outside by a gentle waterfall to read…or you have those 3 young kids and need to get them out from under mom’s feet to blow off some pent up energy, this campus shouts…COME HERE.  The playground is open to the public and the outside sitting areas and tables are inviting to anybody just looking for a place to hang and do life with others. In addition, they were judiciously placed on the front side of the campus so they are visible to people passing by…more bait!

The kid’s space continues this theme and attractional relationship with their community. You can see why “Your Kids Won’t Want to Leave”, on the blog by Jody Forehand….which is another form of “bait”.

Are you ready to go fishing for your community?   Is your church more interested in “cleaning” fish or catching them?  If it is the later, make sure you have the right bait.


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.

Your Church Facilities Should Suck

Have you ever driven by a park, mall, restaurant or other building that caught your attention and sparked your interest to the point that you just had to pull in and check it out?  Maybe it was the design of the building?  Maybe it was the look and feel of the campus/grounds.  Maybe it was the crowds of people in the parking lots or those mingling throughout the campus or maybe it was some other attribute that was so compelling that just sucked you in.  There was this innate and unspoken draw that was irresistible.  You may have fought the suction the first or second time you passed by…but eventually, the gravitational pull and indescribable suction pulled you in like being sucked in by a massive vacuum.  I know I have.

The design of a facility and campus are far more critical in telling your story than most people realize.  Road appeal matters.  Aesthetics matter. I am not saying that your facility needs to be opulent or look like the Crystal Cathedral (sad what has happened there), but it is going to make a “statement” and tell a story to those in your community. It can also be the catalyst to suck people in or repel them.

I once attended the Exponential Conference and loved being with thousands of church planters and leaders with a passion to expand the reach of the gospel. But let me give you a common mistake I see many, not all, church planters and new churches make far too often.

Church Planters will do their due diligence and locate their church in an area of the community that fits their “target market”.  They understand the community and the people they plan to reach.  Momentum builds…which leads to growth…which leads to crowded conditions in their rented facility…which leads to buying land…followed by the planning and building of a facility.  As with most new churches, money is tight and yet space is needed for ministry. So they find themselves in the conundrum of space vs. dollars.  They have bought land in an area of $250-$500,000 homes…right in the heart of their target. That is GREAT! But because of their need for “cheap” space, they throw up an austere structure…most likely a plain looking metal building. They cut corners on the street scape, landscaping and entrance signage, or worse, they put some something incongruent with who they are and the community they are trying to reach.

What story have they just told their community?  Will people whom spent $400K plus on their house…who are not yet believers, want to come to the little metal building around the corner? To a “passer-by”, what are you communicating with your building and campus? Is it appealing?  Does it draw (suck) them in? Does it spark a positive emotional reaction? Does it say “WELCOME…come check us out” without posting a billboard or sign? Does the community see you as an asset or a detriment?

Now, I totally understand the need to have space to fulfill the vision, mission and ministry of the church.  I get the reality that there is a limited budget.  These are real issues. What I am suggesting is that we be intentional with our campus and facility design…and intentional does not necessarily mean more expensive…but it does take effort, planning, vision, and vigilance.

We will keep unpacking these factors in the weeks to come.  But in the meantime, drive around your community with a set of fresh-eyes…and notice the way some of the facilities and campuses (not necessarily churches) look and see what kind of story they communicate to you. When we are aware that design matters, we start to see things that will cause us to pause and either be sucked in, or merely say, “Huh.”

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.

What "Story” Does Your Church Facility Tell? – Intentional

What does it mean to be intentional? When I use this word in conversation, I think of it in these terms:

  • On Purpose
  • Premeditated
  • Done with a specific result expected
  • Attention to details

These are words and phrases that are totally opposite to concepts such as:

  • Do it on the fly
  • Let’s see what happens
  • Make it up as we go
  • Hope for the best

Most successful ministry leaders adherer to the first list rather than the latter when planning sermon series, accounting methods, ministry initiatives, music sets and transitions between songs, website design, blogs and the like.  They plan.  They have an eye on the net result of their plans and goals.  They do not leave things to “chance”. And they, or someone on their team, is paying close attention to every detail.

I have used the example of Disney before and how they are all about the guest experience.  Do you think they care about the details or the “story” they want their guest to tell their friends and family after their experience? Do you think they leave that experience up to chance?  HECK NO!  Let me give you some examples:

Trash Cans – Did you know that Disney studied and learned that the maximum amount of steps a person will walk to get to a trash can is 30 paces. In order to promote  the cleanliness of the park, trash cans are placed no farther than 27 paces away from each other.  Wow…that will keep things clean. And not only that…they are not just trash cans…they are a prop and part of the story.

On-Stage/Back Stage – Disney makes a clear distinction between what people see and what people don’t see. This goes back to Walt Disney’s desire for Disneyland to be a “show.” Whenever “cast members” walk on-stage, the show is on. This distinction continues into how cast members dress and even the conversations they have with other cast members. This is part of their culture.

Street-scape – Disney knows that most of its guests entering the park are excited to see Sleeping Beauty’s castle…which happens to be at the end of Main Street.  To enhance this visual, the buildings along Main Street get shorter and the awnings extend out further along down the sidewalk. This makes the castle appear farther away and larger than life. This draws you toward the castle  and starts that transformation process (more on this in future weeks).

Sight, Sounds, Smell and Texture – When you get near the end of Main Street you are presented with a myriad of options as to where to venture next.  With each of these options, whether it is Tomorrow LandAdventure Land or Frontier Land, you will be drawn in and transformed incorporating all of your senses…and then some. Disney is very intentional with the imagery that greets you at the entrance of each “land”…and that theme draws you in and stays consistent. They also use music, sounds, and other audible effects to make your experience congruent with what your eyes see.  It then draws you deeper into this transformation by appealing to your sense of smell and “texture”.  Next time you are there and start to explore the various lands, look down and make note of what you are walking on…and so the intentionality continues.  Amazing!!!

What I have seen and learned by observing this is that many, if not most, of these impactful impressions are not that much more expensive, if at all, than their “basic” counterparts.  And in areas where additional investment is made, it is counterbalanced by a reduction in investment in others.

So…the bottom line is that “intentionality” does not have to equate to it being more expensive….it just means you have to be intentional. Purposeful. Thoughtful. Deliberate. Focused on the outcome.

As you consider your church and ministry facility, have you been intentional with its design, story and sensory elements…or have you left it to chance?

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.

Is Your Technology Actually Helping You Minister Better?

By: Neil Miller of KiSSFLOW

On the Monday Morning Church podcast, I speak to Executive Pastors and Church Administrators about the monumental changes in technology over the last 15 years.

It is amazing to hear how churches are using tools that few could have dreamed of earlier. Technology, like church management software, has allowed churches to scale their impact like never before.

But the same church leaders are also worried that technology is eating too much time from their staff.

Think about your own setting. How many hours a day do ministers at your church spend in front of a screen? How much of that time do they spend manually updating information, editing volunteer profiles, and transferring data from spreadsheets? How long does it take them to respond to all the emails piling up in their inbox?

When it comes to facilities, how much time is spent updating logs, checking HVAC schedules, and sorting through work orders?

Technology has given us amazing benefits, but it also demands a lot of our attention.

What if there was a way to retain all the benefits of technology, while at the same time freeing up ministers to actually have more time to spend with people?

“There’s a sweeping trend that has taken the business world by storm, and churches are smart to open their sails to it.”

Automation.

While it may sound like an imposing word that your church isn’t ready for, it’s likely exactly what you need.

With automation, a church can take a deep look at the workflows of their regular processes – both those that involve the whole congregation (e.g. communication approval, facility requests, and volunteer registration) and those focused on how the facilities run (e.g. work orders, purchase requests, and event scheduling).

By automating a workflow, you not only set up a standard way to handle the process every time, you can also eliminate manual tasks such as sending notifications, updating calendars, and transferring data.

In addition to giving pastors and ministers more time back in their schedules, automation can also:

  • Standardize your core processes to ensure consistency across campuses
  • Reduce the number of errors that happen because of manual transfers
  • Give an audit trail of every request
  • Track the current status of any item instantly

Take a standard Facility Usage Request. A manual workflow can have lots of holes in it. There could be missing critical information, the request could miss an important approval, and it could take hours to figure out the last person who acted on the request.

When you use automation tools like eSPACE and KiSSFLOW, you can set up a standard process to run with consistency and efficiency. You can even set up conditional workflow paths, requiring additional approvals for larger spaces or additional steps if the requester needs to pay for the usage.

Automation is a way to keep the massive scaling benefits of technology without having to dedicate so much time to it.

Companies around the world have already embraced automation and use it to improve their processes. Churches can do the same to reduce the administrative burden on pastors and free them up to connect with people more.

For a full overview of automation and some tips on your first steps, download the free Beginner’s Guide to Church Automation. You’ll learn how other churches are using automation and why it’s more accessible than ever before.

Neil Miller is the host of the Monday Morning Church Podcast, presented by KiSSFLOW, the church automation solution. To learn more about KiSSFLOW and see how churches are using automation, visit http://church.kissflow.com.

What “Story” Does Your Church Facility Tell? Delta vs. Former USAir

I fly a lot.

Living in Charlotte, NC, I used to predominately fly USAir (now American) as Charlotte is their primary hub.  Most any where I want to go is a direct flight.  They have a significant number of flights every day to most of the destinations that I fly to. Most of the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport is designed to cater to them and their clientele.

So, why do I almost exclusively fly Delta Airlines? Why would I subject myself to having to fly through another port (unless I am specifically flying to Atlanta, Memphis, Detroit, NYC or Minneapolis)?

Let me share some of the reasons why I fly Delta and then we will look at how this applies to the story our church facilities tell:

  1. About 80% of my travel is paid for by the clients I serve as part of reimbursable expenses.  In light of that, I am constantly looking for the best value I can for our clients…helping them be good stewards.  Seeing I generally have to subject myself to a “two-legger” (meaning a connection flight to get to the destination), the flights are less expensive than the equivalent direct flight with USAir/American. Seeing that stewardship is important to me, it influences my buying and partnering decisions.
  2. With the exception of their small CRJ 100/200 planes, every flight has WiFi.  If you know me, you know I love my email and connectivity…so I do not mind sitting on a second flight if I can be productive.  Our family recently took a vacation that required a 3+ hour flight each direction.  We flew USAir/American as I had significant miles accumulated and we used them for the trip. We flew a standard 757 going and a transatlantic 757 on the return. NEITHER plan had internet service.  GRRRR!!!  While I was glad not to be “working”, I still wanted internet access for other things like social media, videos, cloud accounts, etc. My expectations were grossly unmet and I was frustrated and very disappointed.
  3. For the most part, the Delta fleet is newer and better maintained…or at least they appear to be for the areas of the planes I see (i.e. the cabins, seats, flooring, etc.). The flights I mentioned above were older planes…old decor…straight out of the 1970’s: frayed seat upholstery, worn our carpet, 0ld seat controls, retrofitted video monitors, and in-flight entertainment systems that did not work or were not activated. The condition of the planes I submit my physical life and safety are important to me. If they are not taking care of the areas where paying customers sit for hours, what else are they not maintaining?  HMMMMM.
  4. On the flights our family recently took,  we received a single beverage in coach…and no snack…on a 3+ hour flight.  REALLY!!! The stinginess or generosity experienced influenced me in a significant way.
  5. Flying can be stressful…especially for the infrequent flyer…like my wife and kids…and the majority of the people on a vacation destination flight.  So the attitudes, outgoing personalities, approachability, and over all demeanor of the crew, gate agents, and flight attendants is critical.  Again, poor marks for our recent experience…and Lisa and I were sitting in first class on the way home. Still, it was below average customer service compared to what I expected and what I am used to experiencing. It was clear that the first class flight attendant was not invested in her role on this flight. Personal interactions are a direct reflection on the culture, DNA, and attitudes of an organization, and this spoke volumes to me.

I could share more about the airline industry pros and cons, but that is not really my point.  The point is, that the experiences people have as a guest at your church (or any organization) will impact them and can play a significant role in determining if they return (become a patron, enthusiastic customer, and ultimately a raving fan) as they find their way on their spiritual journey.

We have talked about how First Impressions are so critical…and it tells a story, whether we intent to or not. This is a real life example of how this is played out in an everyday occurrence.

Does your church offer a WOW experience and tell a story that is congruent with your mission, vision and ministry objectives? If not, you may be missing an incredible opportunity to meet the needs (especially spiritual) of those in your community.

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.

The Magic of Place

The concepts of “story” and “place” are not new concepts…but they seem to be coming more vernacular with churches dedicated to reaching their community and being intentional about communicating their unique story (which is a reflection of their vision and mission).  We are going to take some time looking at the implication, strategies and contextualization of place and story, and how they can be more than just a strategy, but a critical component to your churches DNA and culture. Let’s start with The Magic of Place.

The magic of Place has three faces: natural, constructed, and virtual.

Natural Place Magic is intrinsic to those wonders of the physical world that thrill and awe us by simply existing. It’s the stuff of National Geographic  specials that create magic through their natural grandeur. Our primary memories of these places will always be the magic of the natural wonders themselves.  Even so, skillful service magicians can subtly but measurably enhance our experience of Place Magic. A subtle balancing and blending act is the key to creating consistent Place Magic by showing off the main attraction at its best.

Constructed Place Magic comes in a greater variety than does Nature’s Place Magic. While few man-made places are palaces, castles, or world icons, even the most mundane can also be magical. There are hotels and grocery stores and retailers and automobile dealerships and hospitals and dental offices that stand above others and sparkle. People should feel attended to and comfortable in your constructed place.

Virtual Place Magic demonstrates that place is not always a physical location. Successful organizations must have a presence, a story, and a sense of experience in their virtual world, as well as the physical world. The look and feel of your online presence – your digital front door – must reflect the look, feel, and ambiance of your brick and mortar place.  Distinctive and eye-catching design is only beginning of creating a virtual place; you must also build trust and create a unique experience. From the first click, guests should be drawn in, made curious, and delighted by the virtual place you have created.

Utilizing a Natural Setting

Few organizations will have the benefit of a serene waterfront setting or a majestic mountain view. But everyone has a place that can be enhanced by the following rules:

  • Find your “natural” story – All locations have a story; what’s yours?
  • Educate yourself – Steep yourself and your team in the details of your place
  • Create an “elevator” story – What 30 second story can your team tell about your locale and its uniqueness?
  • Dabble in décor – Consider enhancing your interior with visual representations of the natural setting
  • Sensory congruence – The smells and sounds need to be in sync with the sights and feel

Creating Illusion, Amazement, and Delight

There is no better contemporary example of building magic into man-made places than the world of the theme park. And there’s no better example of this than Walt Disney, who created an entirely new approach to the concept of entertainment, a business obsessed with the customer point of view, and the precise management of the customer’s experience. With the opening of Disneyland in 1955, Disney developed an obsession for anticipating and controlling every detail that will support – or detract from – his vision. He called it “Imagineering,” and defined it as the blending of creative imagination and technical know-how. It has been best codified by Marty Sklar, the first chairman of Disney Imagineering, in a set of principles dubbed “Mickey’s Ten Commandments.”

  1. Know your audience– Before creating a setting, understand who will be visiting your place
  2. Wear your guest’s shoes– Evaluate your setting from the customer’s perspective by experiencing it as a customer.
  3. Organize the flow of people and ideas– Think of setting as a story and tell the story in a sequenced, organized way.
  4. Create a “wienie”– Borrowed from silent film lingo, a wienie is a visual magnet used to orient and attract customers.
  5. Communicate with visual literacy– Language is not always composed of words; use the common languages of color, shape, and form to communicate through setting.
  6. Avoid overload by creating turn-ons– Do not bombard customers with data; let them choose the information they want, when they want it.
  7. Tell one story at a time– Create one setting for each idea to avoid confusing customers by mixing multiple stories in a single setting.
  8. Avoid contradictions; maintain identity– Every detail and nuance of a setting should support and further the organizational identity and mission.
  9. For every ounce of treatment provide a ton of treat– Give your customers the highest value by building an interactive setting that gives them the opportunity to exercise all their senses.
  10. Keep it up– Never get complacent and always maintain your setting.

You are practicing Place Magic by creating or enhancing environments that delight, support, and enliven your guests. Magical places are venues with physical attributes that attract and please, subtly enhanced by human endeavor.

Remember that as a church leader, you do have “customers” – they are the guests who come to your place every weekend.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to create a magical place in your organization!

Adapted from Service Magic by Ron Zemke and Chip Bell and reposted by permission from Bob Adams (@robertvadams) with Auxano and Curator of the  Vision Room.

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.

The New “Front Porch”

If you lived around the turn of the century until the 1950’s, the front porch of the homes, general stores, and local businesses was a vital part of culture.  If  you wanted to know what was happening in your community, especially your immediate 5 minute walk, you could sit out on a front porch and see and hear what was going on.  My grandparents lived in an old house in Canton, Ohio with a front porch.  I can remember as a boy sitting out there and watching the neighbors interact…watching the “social media” of the day in full action.  My grandfather used to take me on a 3-4 minute walk up Second Street to the general store that also had a front porch that was occupied by people connecting, sharing life, and sharing experiences.  I also remember watching the Andy Griffith Show and seeing how the gents used to sit out front of Floyd’s Barbershop talking to the passerby’s and getting caught up on the local news (or gossip). If a new person or business came to town and you wanted to know more about it/them, you could hang out with these boys and get the skinny.

The front porch was a primary means of gathering information.  It is also the place that a “first impression” of something or someone might be developed. If the boys in the rockers said that the new hardware store was a great new addition to the community, your first impression would be positive.  The converse would also be true. If you wanted to know what was going on at the local church, you could hear the latest by hanging out on the front porch.  Or you would ask your neighbor as you swung on your front porch swing and they played catch with their kids in the street or front yard.

So what about in today’s culture? I would suggest that in 2017 (as in the previous 5-10 years), the new front porch is the internet, websites, social media and the like. While the traditional “front porch” has been decimated by zoning laws, busyness, and our desire to hibernate/escape society in our suburban settings (which is where I live as well), we have turned to other means and methods to gain the information that we desire. Like it our not, the new “first impression” of your church may have little or nothing to do with your facility, preaching, music, friendliness, denominational affiliation or any of the other things we think attract guests.  In fact, more times than not, a first time guest (not visitor) is going to check you out on the web before darkening your doors.  They will check out your website.  They may Google the church and see if there are any reviews or good/bad press about the church. What if they get to your site and there is a picture of Brittany Spears (see pic of a real church website…oh, my)? If you can capture their attention…which is usually less than 1 minute…they may even check out a sermon or podcast.  From that initial experience, they will make a determination if they want to physically come and check you out.  If your website and other internet interactions do not tell a story that impacts their interest, they will be moving on to the next website.  Period.

I know that many of you are thinking, “How shallow.” Really?!?!?  You think that? When was the last time you were looking for a good place to have dinner and you searched the internet before leaving your house or office?  Did you open a website to be unimpressed by the “presentation” and representation of the establishment, so you moved on to another?  I know I have…and I have missed out on some great dining experiences because the website turned me off. Whether we like to admit it or not, first time guests, especially a non-believer, is a consumer.  They are “shopping” for an experience and that experience starts on the web.  I know many “churched” people don’t like to think in these terms, but that’s reality…deal with it (in Jesus name).  Just like you “shop” on line for a restaurant that meets YOUR needs and expectations, people are doing the same thing with church.

One of the biggest factor for churches is being intentional about who you’re trying to reach.  For example, making a church style website with tabs like “ministries,” “service times” and “current series” will generally just appeal to your standard church audience.  The key is to really think through who you’re speaking to and trying to reach.  Is the site for your existing attendees?  Seekers who have never had a church experience?  Seekers who have walked away from church after being raised in a religious household?

Over the next several weeks we are going to talk more about the “story” your church facility tells.  “Story” is a huge part of our interaction with people and having a congruent story about or churches starts not at the front door, but at your new “Front Porch”. How inviting is your front porch?

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.