Evaluating Your Church’s Exterior

Beyond the church’s website, the first thing I see about your church is its exterior – and I will likely form impressions about your church as soon as I arrive. If our Lawless Group team were doing an assessment of your church’s exterior, below are some questions we would ask. Think about these questions as you go to church this weekend. 

  1. In general, is the building easy to find?  Does traffic naturally flow past the building? Or, do I need specific, complex directions to find the location? If I must be intentionally looking for your church to get there, the church must offer something so strong when I get there that I want to find it. 
  2. What is my first impression of the building? Does it look old and dated? New and updated? Formal or informal? Messy or clean? Loved or neglected? Typical (it’s a traditional building) or unique (it’s a school, theater, etc.)?
  3. What does the parking lot look like? Are the parking spaces marked? If the lot is paved, is it broken and poorly maintained? Are there weeds growing through the asphalt? Is there clearly identified guest parking? 
  4. Would I likely feel safe in the parking lot? Is the building itself in an area that appears to be dangerous? Is there adequate lighting throughout the parking lot? Must I park so far from the building that the walk could be frightening?
  5. Does the exterior show a need for maintenance? Are window frames freshly painted? Are any windows broken and unrepaired? Do the exterior doors need paint? Do bricks or siding need repair?
  6. If the church has a sign, what does it say about the church? Does the sign itself look dated? Does it have so much information on it that no one could possibly read it all while driving by? Is there an outdated announcement on it (or, is there a corny saying on it)?
  7. What does the landscaping look like? Is the landscaping fresh and alive? Are there dead flowers or bushes around the building? Is the mulch old and colorless? Do flowerbeds need to be weeded? Does the grass need to be cut? Is the lawn trimmed well? 
  8. Are there messy areas around the building? For example, are there garbage bins in an unnecessarily obvious place? Has some spot around the building inadvertently become a storage place for old “stuff”? Is there an old storage shed on the property?
  9. Are main building entrances clearly marked? The bigger the building is, the more likely it is that I may not know which door to enter. The overwhelming nature of a larger building can be minimized if a clearly marked, intentionally welcoming entrance is identified.
  10. Would I generally feel welcomed when I drive into the lot? Are there greeters welcoming me as I arrive? Are there clearly identified greeters throughout the parking lot? Do greeters carry umbrellas as needed? Would I see signs to a welcome center? Assuming the church has guest parking, is it easy to see as soon as I arrive? If the parking lot is large, are shuttles available? 

Your church likely has only one opportunity to “draw me in.” So, what does your church say to me before I ever enter the building? 


  • Scott says:

    I think that this actually goes two different directions. Yes, a well maintained facility will draw in upper-middle class young families but I know that buildings that look too nice can also deter lower class families in poorer contexts because they automatically feel like they wouldn’t fit in or wouldn’t be welcome. What do you think? Have you ever experienced that? I think the look of your building should reflect your context more than anything. Similar to how the ethnic diversity of your church should reflect the ethnic diversity of your community.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      I agree to some extent, though not entirely. Part of being Christian is to do all we do for God’s glory — and I would include in that upgrading, renovating, etc., a church building that is in disrepair. The church must lead the way in renewal. Thanks, Scott. 

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