Choosing your church plant location isn’t just about capacity. Consider these 5 important factors.
As you’ve likely encountered, there are endless factors to consider when choosing a location for your church plant or multi-site project. From questions about the HVAC to negotiating rental details, it’s easy to get caught up in the details and overlook the basics.
That’s why we’re encouraging you to take a step back and start with the non-negotiable elements of your church plant location. Here are the ones to check off your list first.
6 Smart Considerations When Choosing a Church Plant Location
1. The target group
According to Lifeway Research’s coverage of New Church’s “The State of Church Planting in the US”, did you know:
84% of church planters feel a definite calling from the Lord to the geographic area where their new church is located
Planting teams are aware of their target group and, sometimes, that predetermines a church planting location. Other times, it might be flexible. Church planters know each region has a culture and that location matters. In some towns, crossing “the tracks” to head to church in another area of the neighborhood might be too big of a friction point for visitors. In other cities, two sister regions might consider themselves interchangeable.
And although location might be crucial, inventory might be obsolete.
In that case, consider every location within the planting team’s envisioned area, focusing only on the non-negotiables like capacity and safety. If there aren’t adequate options, move on to closely-located options that also fit the bill.
Prepare by determining how big of an issue location is for your planting pastor, team, and target group.
Adaptable solutions: 5 Ways Flexible Space Will Solve Your Space Issues
2. A good vibe
What’s the overall atmosphere of the facility?
Did you know surveys show that visitors make up their minds about a return visit within 7 minutes of arriving at your facility? That’s long before they’ve heard the worship band or pastor.
When it comes to welcoming visitors or first-time guests, the importance of the tone coming from the parking lot, entrance, and lobby cannot be overstated enough.
Consider the long list of potential locations and how those venues might impact the vibe. Is the entrance off-putting and dark? Is the parking lot in horrible condition?
On the other hand, envision the welcoming atmosphere that can be created with the right treatments and equipment.
- Church in a local roller rink? Consider bringing in some air fresheners to combat the familiar roller rink odor. Take advantage of some of the fun elements like the disco ball and glow lights when it makes sense. Utilize backdrops and great signage to guide the first-time visitors’ path to worship, children’s ministry, and restrooms
- Worship gatherings in a hotel? Liven up the atmosphere of drab conference rooms with colorful flooring and dividers for kids. Open up the window coverings to let more natural light into the welcome areas. Plant people around the entirety of the hotel area to greet and guide visitors to the church lobby, worship center, and children’s drop-off (large hotels can be overwhelming to some!).
- Taking over a warehouse on Sundays? Bring in elements that make an empty warehouse feel homey — like plants, lighting, and lobby TV’s. If the ceilings are particularly high, you may even want to consider portable heaters for the colder times of year. Set up hospitality stations in the restrooms to bring a little more cheer.
More valuable than any amount of equipment are friendly faces who have compassion for the possible discomfort of a visitor.
Greeters and attendants can be trained to assess the comfort level of the guest and respond accordingly. If they have children, make sure they are aware of the kids’ ministry options. Do they appear to need assistance? Kindly offer a wheelchair or help them to an easily accessible seat in the worship center.
Pro tip: While it’s critical to use signage to ensure all areas are easy to find, it’s equally important to strategically position people to answer visitors’ questions.
3. Great visuals and sound
The list of equipment is generally uniform whether or not you’re in a permanent facility or portable environment. The difference is that you’ll select your tech based on the church plant location’s size and shape to ensure coverage and visibility.
In a nutshell, you’ll need a custom combination of:
- Speakers with the right coverage patterns and dispersion
- Projectors sized correctly, based on screen size and lighting control
- Screens viewable from anywhere in the room
- Wireless microphones
- Wires, wires, and more wires to connect everything
Of course, each piece needs to be portable. You’d be amazed at what a great case can accommodate safely.
We’ve got you covered. Get your tech questions answered when you schedule a zero-pressure call with one of our experts.
4. Fun kids’ area
The same way a tidy doctors’ office waiting room brings comfort and security, so does your children’s ministry area.
Parents are handing over their most important people to your care, and it takes just a little extra effort to make it clear that kids will be safe, secure, and happy while they’re visiting.
It doesn’t take a school gymnasium to create that atmosphere, it just requires some creativity and the right gear.
For example, are you considering a movie theater for your church plant location? Take over the lobby, the hallway, or even an adjacent party room. When you brighten the lights, drape colorful curtains to frame the space, and set up inviting equipment for kids to climb or sit on, you’ve transformed your space.
Fun kids’ space: How to Accommodate – and Engage – Kids in a Portable Church Venue
5. Intuitive parking
Is the parking lot adequate and intuitive? Two things to consider: space and signage.
Will visitors know exactly where to park? And is there enough space for them, considering nobody wants to think they’re stealing the last spot. Make sure you’ve accounted for a bit of extra space or consider erecting a portable “Visitor Parking” sign in a few up-front spaces.
When determining the space needed, consider an average of 1.7 adults per car.. Of course, volunteers can be asked to park off-site or carpool which will free up spots.
To solve their parking problems, one Michigan church built a relationship with a nearby university that allowed them to use their campus parking on Sunday mornings. Parking limitations don’t have to be a deal-breaker, but they might require creativity.
Parking tips: Church Launch Must-Haves | Parking or Easy Access
6. Clear signage
Although this can element can be adapted no matter your choice of church plant location, it’s important to start thinking in this direction (pun intended).
Direct, informative signage not only gets people where they need to be but is also a chance to make a big impression. Of course, in temporary or rented facilities this can be a challenge. Some of the facility’s permanent signs might need coverage to avoid confusion and reduce barriers; other signs will need coverage with your wayfinding signs.
Here’s the rule we share with our clients: When a visitor is standing at one of your signs, there should be at least one other sign of yours in view. For instance, when a visitor exits the bathroom facilities, the way back to the worship center, lobby, or kids’ ministry area should be obvious.
Pro tip: Although it’s no secret your church plant location is a borrowed facility, you’re aiming for enough of your branding that people walk in and forget that it’s not yours.
Don’t get lost in the details. Start with this list of smart elements to consider when you’re selecting your church plant location and then work with staff and committees to iron out some of the other elements.
Once you combine a suitable facility with a good vibe, great children’s space, adequate parking, and powerful audiovisuals with passionate volunteers and leaders, you’re well on your way to a strong launch.
Get more tips on choosing and assessing your location and our list of essential equipment considerations with our free eBook.
What are your non-negotiables? Drop a comment below and share with us.