Being a portable church presents challenges that a permanent venue often doesn’t have. However it also creates SO MANY other good possibilities that permanent churches don’t have. As we wrap up the last of this 6 week series on Principles of Portability, we hope you have learned that most all of the challenges of portability aren’t really challenges at all. With proper planning portability can be a huge victory for you, your volunteers, and your community! In previous posts we have focused inward on you, your gear and your team, in this post we turn outward with the focus on your city you are working to reach!
Today we focus on breaking down the invisible barriers as first time guests enter your venue.
As you know, newcomers approach a new church with a certain amount of trepidation. They are on alert when they walk through our doors – they will be constantly evaluating and critiquing, especially in our post-Covid culture. However, even pre-Covid many approached church fearful or uncomfortable. It is our job then, as the seasoned church goers, to provide an environment that addresses these unspoken fears.
Some of the basic and common (but certainly not limited to) invisible barriers we have seen center around a lack of signage that can cause confusion on where to enter the building or find the right rooms, having a lack of (friendly) people welcoming new guest, or a parking lot that is difficult to navigate, and many more. Our goal, and I suspect yours as well is to making your church a place where new people can be comfortable and where they want to come back to. Here we list out a few simple, but important ways you can resolve those fears in your rented venues!
1. Make sure you have signs that allow them to navigate around the facility with confidence.
You have likely experienced feeling lost in a space before. One many relate to is walking a new airport upon arrival. Many airports have a lack of signage where you may see one sign pointing you to where you want to go, but then you walk long distances after wondering if you have missed a sign or are still walking in the right direction. Great signage will always allow people to know they are in the right place, which encourages them to let down their guard. This first impression also builds trust in your church whether your guest knows it or not (ie bad signage causes frustrations and lack of trust).
2. Make sure that the space allotted for Pedestrian Flow is comfortable and not claustrophobic in community areas like: Children’s Pick up & Drop Off and Coffee.
This has always been true, but post-Covid will likely be even more so. Especially with newcomers and not yet believers.
3. Provide Accessible Resources for people to learn about your church. You can do this by providing manned tables and unmanned tables for people to pick up literature.
Your visitors will include extroverts AND introverts. Extroverts frequently ‘dip their toe in the water’ by directly approaching and talking with people. Having an additional unmanned resource area allows the introverts in your midst to dip their toe more comfortably.
4. Hosting events or times when you share the vision of your church.
As a portable church, you can do this by having a printed VIP pop-up tent in your lobby for a meet-up or place to sign up for an event. Events can be done between services, throughout the week like in small groups or family dinners for people to learn about the church from other people within leadership or the congregation.
5. Make sure that your Children’s Environments are noticeably safe & secure. First time parents can be really scared to leave their child in a foreign environment.
This starts with a great check-in process and security at the entry points. It continues with great communication, setting expectations and having a room that has been ‘staged’ (think HGTV when a house is being sold). All these things speak volumes and build great trust in you. Big focus points here are working toward having the same teachers week to week that kids can connect with and trust (a common big miss by churches on a tight budget).
6. Create really appealing environments.
We live in a world with a lot of competing factors for attention. Create environments that focus worship, create a family feel and provide a place for the kids to want to come back to!
So to wrap it up…
While this list of invisible barriers is not exhaustive, it can start the conversation of ways to help the unchurched feel more comfortable in your portable setting. And isn’t that the goal? While portable churches already have an advantage here (removes some barrier of a physical church building), there is always room to improve. And we know that these fine tuning, continual improvements are crucial to reach the people in your community and to overall Kingdom growth.
As you have read through these 6 principles of portability, no matter what stage your church is in, we are ready to partner with you as you continue expanding, growing, and moving forward. Run your ideas and thoughts by one of our experts and let’s keep your vision progressing!
Check out principles #1 – #5 or download our eBook for free – here.
Principle #1 – Consider the Weight
Principle #2 – Measure Cubic Volume
Principle #3 – Ease of Use
Principle #4 – System Reproducibility
Principle #5 – Volunteers are your most Valuable Asset