Does the Condition of Your Church Facility Matter to Guests?

Have you ever walked into a highly-recommended restaurant, full of anticipation and excitement, to then 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 and visited their restroom to be totally repulsed by the lack of care and cleanliness, or to look up at their ceilings to see stained ceiling tiles, or, even worse, dirty HVAC grills and cobwebs. (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.)  What does that say about you and your facility? What does it say about what you value? Obviously, you do not value the health and well-being of your guests and occupants if you are OK with allowing dirt and dust to blow down on their heads or have them breathe dirty air.

What story is that communicating?

To me it indicates that either you do not care about your facilities, are not intentional about their care, or are in poor financial condition and cannot maintain them. Now, that is just me, but could that message also be the one conveyed to your guests?

Having a facility in poor condition is not a great witness or example in my opinion. Allow me to explain why:

In his book “First Impressions: Creating WOW Experiences,” Mark Waltz, former pastor of connections 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 facilities could affect your ability to engage and minister to people? In previous blogs I have focused on the physical attributes related to the built environment. We tend to focus on the “obvious” components of a first impression such as signage, guest services, banners, and swag bags. But what about the condition?

Over my 35-year career of serving local churches addressing facilities matters, 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 your worship services and taking 10 to 20 percent of the monies out of the offering plate or basket and setting it on fire. We would all agree 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 will hold each of us responsible and accountable for how we steward every resource entrusted to us.

Do you know the current condition of your facility? Or maybe you are trying to create an action plan for intentional facility stewardship? Contact us today and ask about our Facility Condition Assessment. We would love to help you become a faithful steward with the facility you have been entrusted with!

Posted on June 10, 2020

Tim Cool is the founder of Smart Church Solutions and has assisted nearly 1,000 churches, (equating to over 5 million square feet) throughout the United States with their facility needs. He has collaborated with churches in the areas of facility needs analysis, master planning, construction management as well as life cycle planning/facility management. Smart Church Solutions is also the developer of eSPACE software products including Event Management, Work Order Management, Life Cycle Calculator, and IoT Integrations.
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  • While I was in seminary in Louisville, KY, the seminary field supervisor asked me to go to a coal mining town to preach at a church.

    It was some distance away from the seminary.

    I went there two Sundays, and they asked me to come as pastor. I did not feel led to go there for several reasons.

    However, I did tell them I thought they did not have the right attitude toward God and the church (a little strong, but nonetheless seemed to be true).

    Not only were their worship services routine and seeming without spirit (which I did not comment on), their church was dirty. It seemed to not have been thoroughly cleaned in a while.

    I went to a couple of their homes on Sunday afternoon. Their homes were clean and nice. However, they let the church go.

    I agree absolutely that the condition of a building will say “yes” or “no” to a visiting person, whether unclean or in disrepair.

    There is nothing more of a “turn off” for a young family than a dirty church and more so, a dirty nursery.

    With things needing to be done to a church building, most members would not let go in their houses, is a complete disaster for
    a church trying to reach people.

  • Deborah K Davis says on

    I live in a wheelchair, so if the church building isn’t friendly toward people with physical limitations says volumes to me.