After more than an hour, I realized the power was off.
Countless Google searches and multiple YouTube videos later, I was still unable to diagnose the tech problem in front of me. I was the “young guy” on the church staff, and I was responsible for all things technical. This seemed like a simple fix, so why was a solution so difficult to come by?
Then I paused, stepped back, and felt thoroughly embarrassed: I forgot to check the power switch. I got so caught up in what I was doing that I forgot to step back and think differently about the problem.
Space is critical for a better perspective. That’s why it’s so easy to quickly identify problems in how other businesses or churches operate. Since we don’t live inside that particular business 40+ hours per week, we have the benefit of space to see what works and what doesn’t.
Becoming more effective as a leader and as a church requires intentional moments to think differently about how things work. It’s easy to forget our congregations and communities don’t walk the halls of our churches like we do. Since it isn’t their full-time job, they aren’t in the staff meetings, email threads, or hallway conversations.
Reaching more people means seeing the world through their eyes. By empathizing with their viewpoint, it’s much easier to engage them. And a great place to start with empathy is your campus.
Being intentional about facilities provides an opportunity to connect with more people from your congregation and your community. Start that process by taking a walk around your facility and asking these five questions:
1. Do people know where to park?
The very first impression for a guest is the parking lot. If they don’t know where to park, they start their experience confused and frustrated. Label your visitor parking with directional signage throughout the parking lot. Also make sure you label the best parking spots for young families.
2. How do we want people to come into the building?
Many churches have multiple entrances. Decide the top two or three doors people should use. Label those doors so people can see them from a distance.
3. Are the restrooms clearly labeled?
One church in Atlanta started meeting in their current worship center nearly 60 years ago. Yet many longtime members had no idea bathrooms were in the balcony. At your church, people, especially visitors, likely won’t ask where the restrooms are located. Put signs at the major gathering points of your facility that point to restrooms and install signs over the restroom doors so people can see it from a distance.
4. Can someone get to where they need to go easily?
If someone has kids, do they know how to find their children’s area? Is the worship center clearly labeled? What about information areas? Using insider language for these areas may be confusing to both members and guests. For directional signage, use obvious labels like “auditorium” or “kids area.”
5. Do people know what is important to us?
This question addresses members and visitors. Can people look around the hallways and high-traffic areas and see what you believe, what is important, and what you celebrate? Look for ways to display local outreach opportunities, reinforce your core values, and celebrate the work done in your church.
Taking a Thoughtful Stroll
Once you walk around the campus, invite a few other members of your leadership team to do the same. Then schedule a follow-up meeting to compare notes.
There will likely be some easy changes that cost little to no money. Start there. Don’t feel the need to fix everything right away. Make steady changes to reach more people, and more people will begin to get involved.