What does the appearance of your church campus and educational space communicate? When a person drives past your church there is a sightline that comes into view for a matter of seconds. What does the sightline reveal? Do the buildings and surrounding grounds look well maintained and inviting? Is there signage that directs guests to a welcome area? Is there plenty of parking?
A guest will make a decision as to whether they will return in the very first minutes of a visit to the church. Is there guest parking? I like what “guest parking” communicates much better than “visitors parking.” Will someone meet the guest as soon as they depart from their car and meet their needs immediately? An impression of what the entire church is like is often made by the first person they meet.
Is there a Welcome Center and trained greeters? Does your children’s space look inviting? Is it a place where you would want to leave your own children? Are adult classrooms neat, clean and chairs arranged for maximum learning?
Another issue is whether there is adequate space. When 80% or more of the space is filled, this factor can become a major barrier to attendance growth. It is good to evaluate where Sunday School classes are arranged in your educational space. Many state conventions have a resource person who can help you in evaluation of space and future arrangement.
Often a church must make a decision to add space or stop growing. We must never let space stop us from reaching people for Christ. In this case it is important to consider options for the future. I have served in churches where there were multiple Sunday School hours, use of adjoining houses that belonged to the church, modular buildings approved for use by the county and even a air controlled tent for senior high until further space could be added. Whatever you do to add space make sure that enough time is given for future planning. A resource person from your state convention can also be extremely helpful.
Rick Ellison serves in the office of Leadership & Church Health for the Alabama Baptist Convention State Board