Archive for Space and Facilities

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Churches Make in Classroom Design

narrowroomWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? I’ve seen more than five mistakes so this will not be a complete exhaustive list of things to avoid or include in the design of your new education space.  I wish there were only five mistakes so we could easily make those corrections but life is not that easy.  It can also be different for the various age groups that meet in the education space but here are the top five issues I’ve seen in recent years.

WHAT DO I DO? Consider these mistakes and ideas:

  1. Too many churches have been guilty neglecting preschool, children and youth space.  They’ve provided for the adults and in particular they’ve taken care of the older adults but fail to provide the best space for the next generation.  I told someone last week, “I always want to be part of a church that is for the next generation.”  So put my class or group in the worst space but make sure that my kids and grandkids have the best!
  2. Churches need space for moving people and gathering for non-official fellowship time.  When they design their buildings they don’t provide hallways that are wide enough nor do they include spaces for gathering prior to, during or following small group and worship experiences.
  3. Yes, we are spoiled and we would have time making in other places around the world but we like our modern-day conveniences.  Don’t go cheap when it comes to HVAC!  I always recommend that churches include both a supply line as well as a return line in every classroom.  Also make sure you include technology such as Wi-Fi, video and audio.
  4. Another big mistake is when churches break what I call the “1 for 2” rule.  That is when they design a classroom that becomes a long narrow box.  The goal should be for the classrooms to be more like a square than rectangular.
  5. When I started in ministry this was not even a thought but today it’s a different story because it is a different world!  When we design our church spaces we need to take very seriously the security issues.  In designing space for those under 18, the space needs one way in and it needs to be controlled.  Make sure your church has a plan in place for dealing with the various security issues.

What Every Student Needs in Their Sunday School Classroom

welcomeWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? The Bible conveys to us that we have been made creatures have need relationships. I know that many might disagree with that statement, but it the core of our being I believe we all desire community.

Certainly there are those moments when we all look for that time of peace, quite and solitude.  I look for that myself, but at the end of the day we need relationships. We need people in our lives that can be there in the good times and in the bad. Your small group or Sunday school class is a great place for that to happen.

WHAT DO I DO? Community begins to take place when you do things outside of the classroom or group time. Too many times we simply go to church, go to our class, listen to the lesson, move into the worship time, get into our cars and go home without communicating with anyone.

I’m not talking about the casual “hello” or “How is it going”… I’m talking about connecting with people you are doing life with. My wife and I have made connection with a couple in our group and every week we are together we always talk about the next time we are getting together to grab a burger! Then it’s at the restaurant we can really begin to laugh, share, pray and enjoy each other’s journey and hear what God is doing in their lives.

So make the effort to start (or continue) those relationships within your group and see how God will use that to spark new opportunities.

Hebrews 10:25-25: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

The One Thing You Could Do in Your Classroom to Help Reach More People

groupprayerWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Many church leaders have said jokingly, “Ministry would be fun if it was not for people…” But the fact is that “there would be no ministry if it were not for people!”

For too long our Sunday school groups have been inwardly focused, social clubs, or cliques (yes, I said it). One of the main purposes when Sunday school was established was reaching out to bring in other people. Jesus Himself said, “Go out into the highways, and hedges and compel them to come in…”

WHAT DO I DO? So what is ONE thing your class or group could do to reach more people? Her is my one thing: Prayer!

What do I mean when I say prayer? Let’s call people out by name! David Francis, Director of Sunday School for Lifeway Christian Resources reminded us in one of his “Franciscan epistles” that a class becomes a little more of a community when members of the class start praying for people by name.

Most of our classes have prayer time built into their group, but seldom when I sit in classes do I hear lost peoples’ names mentioned. Is it because we do not know any lost people? I’m sure that is not the case.

We are surrounded by lost people all the time, so start thinking about the one (or three) people you could pray for this coming Sunday.

Romans 10:1: “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.”

The Three Most Important Areas in Your Church


WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? What are the three most important areas in your church (other than the worship center and classrooms)?  Notice that I said in your church so that doesn’t include the parking lot nor the church sign but those are very important as well!  I also excluded the worship space and classrooms but I will make one exception.

WHAT DO I DO? In my opinion the most important area(s) of your church are the preschool and children’s areas.  This will include their classrooms, reception areas, inside play areas, large group/worship space(s), etc.  Anything that is for the kids at church needs to be as nice or nicer than the newest daycare and/or elementary school nearest the church.  Why?  Because that’s what is expected.

The second most important area at your church is a space I don’t visit!  Its your ladies’ restrooms!  Guys are different and we are okay with stuff but women are different.  We’ve stopped going to restaurants because their women’s’ restrooms were dirty.  I don’t understand the issue because they’re not cooking in there!  Make sure your ladies’ restrooms are clean and nice.

Third on my list is your hallways and gathering spaces.  People want and need space to gathering and congregate.  That space also needs to be bright and up-to-date.  It needs to be clean and well kept.  I’ve always said that you can tell how healthy a church is by how early the people come and by how late they stay.  If your church doesn’t provide the space for gathering, then it could be a hindrance to the growth of your church.


Dr. Smith serves as a state missionary with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and is the Groups and Faith Development Specialist.  Visit their website at for more information and other resources to aid your ministry.  You can also connect with Dr. Smith at or  Dr. Smith is available for conferences or other speaking opportunities and can be contacted at


Five Ways to Update Your Classroom Without Spending Too Much

barnWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? “Every barn needs a little paint”.  It is amazing what can happen when you give even the oldest space a little attention.  First impressions are very important and we only get one chance to make a good first impression.  The way we dress says a lot about a person.  The way your classroom looks says a lot about your group.  So what are five simple things you could do to update your classroom without spending too much money?

WHAT DO I DO? First, clean it!  Take a Saturday morning and have a workday in your classroom.  Provide breakfast for the members and clean up your classroom.  Throw away anything that is outdated or broke!  The things that are in your classroom that you don’t use put them in storage.  Dust and wipe down the walls, scrub the floors or vacuum the carpet.  Don’t forget to wash the windows and the window treatments.

Second, put in new lights.  You can replace the existing lights or add new ones.  Make sure you clean the room before putting in new lights because all the dirt will be seen with new lights.

Third, paint the room.  Again plan a workday and paint the classroom.  Make sure you check with the appropriate leaders at your church because there may be certain color pattern for your church.  Don’t pick out a dark color nor do you want to pick out an unusual color.  Stay with the basic comfortable colors.

Fourth, hang some new visuals in the classroom.  Put up a new white marker board and/or a new bulletin board.  Go to the Christian bookstore and get some decorations to hang on the walls.  Don’t make it too much but just enough to make it look new.

Fifth, purchase some new chairs. Before you say that costs too much go and price nice chairs at the local big box store like Staples, Costco, Sam’s, etc.  You will be amazed at how new chairs will change the look of the classroom.


Dr. Smith serves as a state missionary with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and is the Groups and Faith Development Specialist.  Visit their website at for more information and other resources to aid your ministry.  You can also connect with Dr. Smith at or  Dr. Smith is available for conferences or other speaking opportunities and can be contacted at