Choosing a church plant venue is more than location. Ask these questions to determine if a facility represents the vibe of your church.
Whether you spent every Sunday morning of your youth in church or you only attended a handful of weddings as a child, can you stop and recall the smell of a church basement?
Of course, you can.
Every house, school, office, and church has an aesthetic. Whether it’s the scent, the look, the sound, or the feel, the atmosphere is determined by a combination of those factors. Furthermore, that atmosphere communicates valuable information about your vision and priorities, and you want to be sure any potential facility effectively communicates the vibe you want to share.
Choosing a church plant venue will start with location and the practical aspects of your site, but don’t discount the importance of aesthetics and their impact on a facility’s vibe.
As you walk through the building, try your hardest to put yourself into the position of someone who is disenchanted with church or attending church for the first time as an adult.
- Would an aged individual be put off by the long, potentially-slipper hallway? Are wayfinding structures friendly and clearly readable?
- What might a young family think about the original purpose of the building?
- How about single, career-minded individuals? Being used to a professional environment, what might they think about the busy wall paintings that you couldn’t possibly afford to completely cover?
And in the current climate, consider if there’s enough space to socially distance and yet feel part of the group.
We won’t get into the details of important factors like restrooms, signage, lobby and children’s ministry area, but it is important to check the atmosphere of each potential area before you sign the lease on a facility. (But don’t write it off if the venue doesn’t check every box. Stick around for a great story from a church plant we worked with years ago.)
Space solutions: 5 Ways Flexible Space Will Solve Your Space Issues
Based on decades of experience working with church planting teams, we’ve compiled the questions that will quickly reveal the subtle nuances that can make or break your opinion of a facility and help you wisely choose a church plant venue.
10 Questions To Check The Vibe of Your Church Plant Venue
1. How would you describe the atmosphere?
Is the lighting too dark, yellow, or fluorescent? Undesirable lighting isn’t unsolvable but will require you to get creative with portable lighting solutions.
2. What does it smell, look, and feel like?
We’ve talked about smell but what about the look? Portable churches can’t cover up every surface. Consider if it’s generally dirty and, therefore, unappealing. If you’ve ever experienced a sticky bistro table you know what we mean. Probably not your desired vibe.When choosing a church plant venue, consider more than logistics and location. What’s the vibe? Are the aesthetics welcoming? Find creative workarounds for everything from unappealing smells to inconvenient layouts. Click To Tweet
3. Am I naturally comfortable here?
The combination of aesthetics can give you a general uneasiness or eagerness to enter a building. What’s the comfort level of the venue?
Listen In: Top 10 Podcasts for Church Planters
4. What does this building’s history communicate to those in my community?
Consider previous tenants of the building – permanent or temporary – and what impact they might have on people’s impression of the facility. If churches have unsuccessfully launched in the location, it might take some creative marketing to communicate clearly that you’re a new church community.
5. Is there a questionable history that might cloud people’s view of the venue?
If the venue has a history of turmoil or traumatic events, it will likely be difficult for some community members to get themselves to visit or attend.When choosing a church plant venue, uncover the reputation of the potential facility. Ask about previous tenants what they know about the site. And then get creative about how you can shift the perspective. Click To Tweet
6. Does this building fit the team’s vision and invite growth?
Think about this quote from pastor and author, Ed Stetzer:
“Don’t let your church be a cul-de-sac on the Great Commission highway.”
Is there room for growth, or will people begin to feel crowded (read: unwelcome) after 6 months?
7. How would I feel inviting people into this space?
If the layout is especially awkward or a guest has to navigate a quarter mile down a hallway to get to the worship center, it might deter people from inviting family and friends.
8. Imagine you’re promoting this location as the home of your new church or campus. Does that excite you?
Picture that interaction and recognize if you feel the need to apologize for the venue.
Pro Tip: Make sure visitors know how to locate your venue. Start with visible flag stands and banners.
9. Consider your target demographic. Is this facility in their area?
People groups gravitate to specific areas of every town. Is your location convenient for your target demographic to attend or might distance become an eventual turn-off?
10. Would your target demographic be drawn (or at least not turned off!) to the venue?
Make a point to go where your target population goes. What’s the vibe of those places? Pay attention to every aesthetic and consider how it compares to your venue.
THE MAKEOVER OF ONE CHURCH PLANT VENUE
Just because you answered “no” or were unsure about some of the previous questions, don’t write off the site just yet.
Consider the story of a new church plant we worked with in Michigan. They were interested in utilizing a Saturday-Night-Only-Dance Club for Sunday services. The historical venue checked the boxes:
- Well known
- Close to the church office space
- Plenty of parking
- Upbeat vibe
Unfortunately, the unappealing stench of Saturday night’s activities lingered on Sunday mornings. But, since the pastor loved the venue so much, he came up with some possible solutions to the problem.
Before signing the lease, he decided to take one Sunday and do everything possible to efficiently eliminate the smell to determine the viability of this venue.
Read more: 5 Benefits of Starting a New Church
VOLUNTEERS SAVED THE DAY
Before the Sunday worship experience, he had a team clean the facility for one hour and, additionally, burn candles and incense. The results were impressive – so impressive they decided to sign the lease and simply include a small group of “scent improvement volunteers” to the Sunday morning team.
It’s no secret to any portable church or multi-site church that volunteers are an incredibly valuable asset. In this case, they saved the day. Also, they made the decision to choose this church plant venue an easy one.
Choosing a church plant venue requires questions to be asked that go beyond inquiries about logistics. When deciding on a facility, consider the aesthetics, history, and subtle messaging which will contribute to every visitor’s experience at your church. And remember: don’t be too quick to write off a venue that doesn’t check every box. Instead, get creative with your solutions.
Now that you’re ready to assess the vibe, get 63 innovative ideas for church plant locations with The Ultimate List of Portable Church Venues.
What have we missed? What other questions can help a team choose the right church plant venue for their worship services?