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First Impression - Church Facilities

Making a Lasting First Impresssion


Everyone has heard the statement: “You don’t get a second chance to make a First Impression”. What’s true for individuals is also true for church facilities. In July, I taught a session at the National Church Business Administration Association (NACBA) meeting in Dallas. My subject area was Property Management and the title of the session was “Let Your Church Facilities SMILE. The acrostic S-M-I-L-E made up the points I covered in the session:
  • How your facilities SPEAK by their appearance to members and non-members;
  • When and how to MEASURE for growth;
  • INITIATING good maintenance for ministry stewardship;
  • LIVING with the maze-good signage to find your way around the church;
  • Property assessment and EVALUATING. S-M-I-L-E was focused on Church Administrators’ role to improve the facilities that people notice and want to enter.
  • Recorded history reveals that caves and arbors met the early needs for church facilities. As the church grew, facilities evolved and were structured to meet the needs of the people. Worshipers revered well-kept and maintained facilities and understood that God deserves the best quality.
Today, complex facilities present a new challenge to those given the responsibility of maintaining “God’s House”. Poorly maintained facilities do not reflect good stewardship. As Christians, we are stewards of what God has given to us – to maintain His house as if it were our own.

Ron Chandler, Church Administrator and author of the book “Thy Kingdom Clean”, wrote: “They see the building and grounds before they hear the sermon”. How true!

Upon arrival to a church facility, people process through a series of emotions as the experience of arrival is achieved. Site, parking and amenities establish a precursor to the architectural experience in the facility. Recently conducted surveys of first-time church goers concluded that a church has just 10 to 15 minutes to make a first impression. Within this amount of time, the average first time visitor has concluded whether or not they feel welcome and comfortable and if they’re likely to return.

How do your church facilities SPEAK for your church and make it SMILE?

I have created an Evaluation tool called Making a Lasting First Impression.

The survey helps answer and evaluate these questions in regard to your facilities:
  1. What is your church’s mission?
  2. What defines your church?
  3. How will you know when your church is successful?
  4. What specific group of people are you trying to reach?
  5. What experience do you want for your guests on campus?
  6. What would you like for them to talk about on Monday?
  7. What is the layout of your campus and church buildings?
  8. How could improvements allow guests easier access to your facilities?

This Web site is made possible by the churches of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and their giving through the Cooperative Program to impact the world.