In one church I worked at we were in a building project. Our elementary room was running about 70 kids on a Sunday morning and the room was designed for about 40 kids. The church built a new sanctuary right next to our current facility. The new building and old building would join right where our classroom was. There were a few weeks where they would have to tear out a wall and the classroom would not be usable. My solution was for the elementary children to sit in with their parents for a couple weeks while we worked on the building.
Leadership decided against that idea and someone suggested we could meet on a bus. We had a bus ministry at the time with two full sized school buses. I argued a bit about it but decided to honor my pastor’s wishes. We got a battery operated karaoke machine and setup our song service on a cassette tape. We had the kids wait in the hall until the bus got there with the children already on board. It was a cold spring day so we had to keep the bus running with the heat on. It was loud and still cold. That was probably the most horrible service we ever had. I was glad when we only had to do it for one week.
I look back at that experience and encourage myself whenever I think our facilities are lacking but the truth is if we had church in that bus every week people would have stopped bringing their kids. All my workers would have quit and I probably would have quit myself. There was nothing good about it. Sitting in a cold, loud, smelly bus wasn’t God’s best for our kids when we were building an almost 2 million dollar addition.
Our facilities can keep us from growing even if we aren’t sitting in a 30 year old school bus.
Jim Wideman writes about seven areas for assessing our facilities in his book Stretch:
Are there enough rooms? Are they cluttered? Is there room for growth? Are the visually pleasant? Multipurpose rooms make clutter and classroom management an issue you always have to deal with.
Some churches spend lots of money decorating inside the classrooms and the hallways look scary. I love our hallways because we put thought into the design.
I went to a great church one time and was impressed at all the changes they made in a transition that brought rapid growth. One thing that capped their growth was bathrooms. They still had seats but no more space for going potty. That outgrew the building even though they had empty seats.
People don’t like to not know where to go.
If the parking lot is scary, people keep on driving. Just like when it comes to buying a home, curb appeal matters when picking a church.
Are there enough chairs, tables, rugs, cribs, rocking chairs etc to handle growth?
Are we using battery operated karaoke machines that only take cassette tapes? If so, we probably aren’t positioned for growth. Projectors, TV’s and sound systems may not have been needed in grandma’s Sunday school but as you grow those things become essentials.