5 Reasons the Foyer of a Church Matters

I’ve written in the past about common problems in church foyers (see here and here). Here’s why this place in your church matters more than you might think.  

  1. That’s often the first interior place a guest sees. Whether we like it or not, people will form a first impression about the church based on what they first see. If the foyer is old and cluttered, that’s what they’ll first think about the church. That assessment may be inaccurate, but that’s irrelevant when people form first impressions.  
  2. That’s a primary place where people will connect with others. Decades ago when people lived near the church and developed relationships across their fences and in the neighborhood, the foyer mattered less. In fact, they were often quite small. Today, though, foyers can be a place where believers catch up on life with each other.  
  3. Traffic flow in the foyer matters. If the foyer is crowded and uncomfortable, even entering and leaving a church building can become less than inviting. People are less inclined to invite others when the church begins to feel like a crowded mall at Christmastime.  
  4. The entryway of a church helps set the atmosphere of the church. A small, dated, and dark foyer says something much different than a larger, modern, bright foyer does. Those of us who walk through that small foyer for years, though, don’t always recognize the difference. We see right past the foyer into the next place we’re headed in the building.   
  5. Ministry takes place there. Imagine a well-designed, welcoming foyer with happy, smiling, recognizable greeters who say without pretense to a nervous guest, “We’re really glad you’re here today.” Or, think about a greeter who recognizes a hurting church member and says, “I just want you to know we’re praying for you.” Those immediate impressions about people in a warm atmosphere can be lasting.  

What reasons would you add to this list?

4 Comments

  • Robin G. Jordan says:

    The foyer of the church where I used to preach but longer do so – a story in itself – looks more like a doctor’s waiting room. Against one wall are a row of chairs, put there I suspect in hopes that the day would come when the church had so many guests, they would be needed in the sanctuary. Opposite the foyer is a table which holds a visitors register and on which are placed the church bulletins for the service. One church member regularly questions the need for church bulletins since the church seldom has guests and the handful of regular attendees know the order of service by heart. .Since the church has a guest or two on rare occasions and the church bulletins creates a feeling of normalcy, the church continues to provide church bulletins for those infrequent visitors. (The same church member is apt to point to the attention of these visitors how small the congregation is.) Adjoining the the foyer are the church’s two restrooms. A glass door separates the foyer from the sanctuary. Opposite the entrance is an American flag, a low cabinet with a metal cup on it for donations to one of the few ministries that the church supports, a banner that was used in a local parade at some time in the church’s past when the church was affiliated with a different denomination, and a large flower wreath, reminiscent of those seen at funerals. Only a handful of people attend the church and no one is stationed in the foyer to greet visitors to the church.

    I recently completed Thom Rainer’s Scrappy Church Assessment for this church. According to this assessment the church is “Near Dead,” confirming my own observations. Rainer’s recommendation is that the church should permit itself to be appropriated by a healthier church. Right now the congregation is considering a yoking arrangement with another small church in which the two churches would share a pastor. The congregation of the second church is no bigger than it is. This arrangement would not affect the status quo as might the ordination of a relative newcomer like myself to serve as the church’s pastor. It is not a merger since both congregations will be retaining their own buildings and having separate services.

  • Noah says:

    What if your church has no foyer? At Our church, you basically walk in and there is a small hallway the about ten feet wide but the doors to the sanctuary are six feet away. Would love some ideas.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Hi, Noah. Many older buildings don’t have a foyer. In that case, I’d still try to find a spot where people can gather for fellowship, coffee, etc., soon after they enter the building. In warm climates, that place might even be in the parking lot.

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