Stop Living in the Past - Word&Way

Stop Living in the Past

Recently I was sitting in a church classroom and realized my attention was drawn to a poster on the wall. Was it the art? A snappy headline? Useful information? No, I realized it was because it was promoting something from last year.

Ken SatterfieldKen SatterfieldIt has been said that many Christians would like to go back to the Golden Age of church in the 50s. That’s not possible. Shouldn’t we also try to keep people from reliving the last year or two in our facilities?

Every place was new at one time, but time has ways of making spaces dingier and more cluttered. When it is your space you may not notice all the minute changes, but If you haven’t been someplace in a while it’s hard to miss.

How can you see your spaces with new eyes? One way to do that with your existing members is to have a Sunday swap-off. Let adults, youth and children meet in each other’s classrooms and share what they like — or don’t care for. What is each of your five senses experiencing?

Another idea is to enlist an interior designer or real estate professional to do a walk-through of the public spaces. They can help spot out-of-date information and curriculum, clutter, worn carpeting, poor lighting and more.

In addition, look for mystery event announcements that either leave off key pieces of information or include church codes: Who attends the Joy class? Where do the McCoys live? What time is it?

Take a look outside, too. Do the grounds stay reasonably well-kept? Is the paint peeling? Are there drainage problems? Does your sign need repair? Are there cigarette butts lining the edge of the road?

Michelle Van Loon notes in the Christianity Today article “The Church Deserves Better than Ugly Decorations” that “country-folksy décor” is not only off-putting to men, but to many women as well. She reminds us that we should not forget that the church is a holy space. She challenges readers to consider if relaxed and welcoming spaces, with features such as coffee bars, overemphasize the horizontal nature of our gathering spaces at the expense of the vertical spaces in connecting with God?  

Questions about appeal or dated or missing content can be expanded to church advertising, fliers, worship bulletins or websites. The purpose of these exercises can not only help us to be more inviting with our spaces, but also remind us how we should make our spaces current to lead ourselves — and our visitors — to God.

Ken Satterfield, a former media specialist, is Word&Way’s Advertising and Marketing Coordinator. 

See also:

4 Reasons Your Church Website Might Be Keeping Visitors Away (Clover Sites)

Ornate Sanctuaries No Distraction From the Word, Baptist Pastors Say (Baptist News Global)

Make Church Great Again! “Free Our Churches From the Ugly and Stupid” (Fr. Z’s Blog)