10 Facility Questions to Consider as You Go to Church This Weekend

I was shocked. The church had a noticeable, distinct, musty odor, but none of the church leaders noticed it. It seems they had lived with it for so long that it no longer caught their attention – even though it almost knocked out anyone who entered the building for the first time.

Because we “regulars” at our churches also sometimes miss the obvious, here are some questions to consider as you go to church this weekend. They’re designed to help you see your church’s facility as a guest might see it:

  1. Is the church website informative and inviting? That’s one of the first places an unchurched person may learn about your church and its facility. Check it out. Would the site make you want to attend?
  2. Is the church building easy to find? Forget that you know where it is. Think in terms of a person who’s trying to find it for the first time.
  3. What first impression does the facility make? Is the church old? new? Is it well-maintained? poorly maintained? Does it suggest care or neglect? 
  4. Does the church have guest parking? You may not have worried about that option, but somebody will. If your church does have guest parking spots, are they easy to locate – or would a guest need to search for them? 
  5. What does the landscaping say about the church? Weeds and dead flowers say something much different than well-manicured landscaping.
  6. How many clearly identified greeters do you meet from the parking lot to the worship center? If the answer is “none,” your church has room for improvement. You might think the church is friendly, but the same people who talk to you each week because they know you might shy away from talking to guests. 
  7. Is the main entrance obvious and clearly marked? Most of us go in the same door each week, and we long-term members don’t recognize the confusion that many doors present for a guest.
  8. Does the church have a welcome center? You may not know the answer since you’re likely not a visitor. If not, do some homework when you arrive. If the church does have a welcome center, does it look inviting?
  9. Is the church building confusing? It may not be confusing to you, but you know its hallways and passageways. It’s possible in many cases that a first-time guest and family might get lost in the same building.  
  10. What impressions do the main restrooms leave? Most people need one at some point, so everybody will form some kind of impression of the church based on a restroom. What is that impression in your church?

What questions would you add? 

5 Comments

  • Kay Foxx says:

    Could you address the facility needs for those of us who meet in a school ? Thanks ! Love your insight !

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Great question. Among other things, I would look for these kinds of things:

      1. Are there signs that clearly identify that a church meets at this location? Are those signs visible from the road (if the municipality allows such signage)? 

      2. Are there greeters in the parking lot? 

      3. Is the entrance door clearly identified?

      4. Is the immediate entrance welcoming? Is there an obvious welcome center that is manned?  

      5. Is the atmosphere itself warm? that is, are the people friendly? has the congregation done a good job of setting up the worship area? 

      Hope this helps. 

  • Louis Cook says:

    Dr Lawless,
    Thanks for these posts. I think every church should be “secret shopped” regularly so they can get a picture of what a visitor sees. I am in the Raleigh area and have visited many churches. The good things include that all had websites that clearly told me when they held worship services and how to get there, all had a Welcome area and greeters too and most importantly all preached the gospel and believed the Bible. The bad was that the red carpet was out for a first time visitor but after that few acknowledged you and the members often were not friendly. A welcome center & greeters are nice but if they are a false facade on an unfriendly church then that is quickly discovered. Members need to know that basic hospitality is a necessary part of welcoming visitors, attenders and members to what should be a joyous time of worship. If you have a name tag, are a member of the staff and/or you are a deacon/elder then you need to lead the way in greeting those who visit. Finally if someone addressed you by name multiple times but you never inquired about your name then you have told me far more about your church than any website or welcome tent could. Please note that is not directed at you but it it did happen at multiple “friendly” churches.

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