Imagine that you’re visiting a new church for the first time with your family. You arrive to discover that the parking lot is full and there are no attendants or signs directing you to an overflow lot. You drive around the block a few times until you find an open metered parking spot. You run back to the church, family in tow, since you’ve now missed the first few minutes of the service.
As you approach the church you notice that the exterior of the building looks somewhat dilapidated and none of the entrances are labeled. You take your best guess at which entrance to use and luckily find yourself in the church lobby near the worship center. There are no greeters present to welcome you, hand you a pamphlet for the service, or provide information. There aren’t any signs indicating where to take your young children for Sunday school so you drag them into the worship center with you for the service.
You can’t find a pew with enough space in the worship center to accommodate your family so you snatch the two remaining visitor chairs in the back for your spouse and youngest child, leaving the rest of your family to stand or sit on the floor. Without hymn books and service pamphlets you feel lost and disengaged during the service. In the middle of the service one of your children indicates that they need to use the restroom. There are no signs in the hallways directing you to the restrooms, so by the time you find them and return to the worship center the service is nearly over. To make matters worse, the restrooms were dirty, low on toilet paper, and out of paper towels.
Your family leaves the church without a single person welcoming you or introducing themselves to you. You return to your car and find a parking ticket on your windshield because you forgot to put money in the parking meter during your mad dash to make it to church on time.
Do you think you would be part of the 20% of first-time guests that would return and become a member of this church? Probably not.
Evaluate your church facilities through the eyes of visitors
As a facility manager, part of your mission is to help your church grow by maintaining facilities that enhance the worship experience for visitors and members alike. Visitors that have a good experience with your church facilities, staff, and services are more likely to return and become loyal members. In turn, these members will eventually support your church through volunteerism and monetary contributions.
The first step in optimizing your church’s facilities is to evaluate them through the eyes of your visitors. Click on the image below to download our “Checklist for Church Facility Managers: Evaluate Your Church Facilities Through the Eyes of Visitors” — this checklist will help you assess and improve your facilities to keep your first-time guests coming back for more!
Jamie is the marketing director at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not keeping the marketing ship afloat, chances are she’s trail running with her husband or practicing her guitar skills.