In my home church, we called the primary interior entrance to the worship center “the vestibule.” Others call it the “narthex,” the “foyer,” or “lobby.” Whatever we may call this entranceway to a church building and the worship center – which I will call “foyer” for consistency – here are some of the problems we’ve seen in years of church consulting. Use this list to evaluate your church foyer.
- It’s not clear from the outside where the foyer may be. The exterior of the building has so many doors (and several doors so look like a possible entrance) that it’s tough to know where best to enter.
- The best parking is distanced from the foyer. I’ve seen buildings with the foyer in the front and the parking far in the back. Sometimes that’s unavoidable, but it’s not best when the parking directs attenders away from the foyer.
- The foyer is too small. I’ve especially seen this problem in older buildings, but some newer structures have the problem, too. Traffic flow gets blocked and fellowship gets hindered when there’s no room to move in the foyer. This problem becomes especially acute when a church has multiple services.
- It’s dark and uninviting. Regular church members may not see it that way (since they’ve grown accustomed to it), but guests see older, poorly lit foyers as less than welcoming.
- The foyer is cluttered. It’s easy for “stuff” (even good stuff, like food and clothing collected for the needy) to create a mess that hinders the welcoming nature of a foyer. If you use the foyer for this purpose – which I don’t recommend – at least do it neatly. The first interior part of a building that a person sees matters.
- Any furniture is old and/or worn out. I understand that some of the furniture may have been gifts to the church, but the foyer should not be the “parlor” celebrating the past. Old furniture leaves the impression that the church is stuck in the past.
- Too much has been added to a small foyer. This often happens because a church begins to think strategically about maximizing the foyer, but the area is too small for the plans. Even a welcome center – which I highly recommend – can sometimes be so large that it actually hinders traffic flow.
- Greeters are non-existent or not identified clearly. This problem can be fixed easily, but I’m surprised by how many churches still don’t use greeters wisely.
- The welcome center – if there is one – is poorly designed or managed. I’ve seen sloppy, cheaply designed welcome centers, and I’ve also stood for too long at “welcome” centers with no human beings there.
- The foyer misses opportunities to facilitate worship. For example, soft worship music in the background can help turn a heart to God. If the foyer has screens, scripture verses prior to the worship service are more important than announcements. Even greeters can help by greeting with, “We’re glad you’re here today. We’re praying you meet God today.”
What other issues would you add to this list?