JULY 5, 2016
When we flung open our doors to the world to come and find God, we transitioned from a sacred space called a ‘sanctuary’ to the auditorium style the community is acquainted with. Churches that wanted to be inviting did the same with the foyer, converting them to mall type areas with cafes, service desks, open spaces, music experiences, advertising features and clear signage.
It doesn’t need a lot of money to be done well.
Here are some thoughts; Create spaces so that people can congregate sitting and standing after the service. Spaces to lounge, to stand and move on, to sit and chat over smaller café tables or larger communal tables, upright chairs at the right height for people who are older or infirm. Keep serving and exit areas free. Free up a space for those leaving to pass by information features.
Don’t set it up like the old school dance with seats around the outside.
A foyer is the ‘go between’ space where people are welcomed coming in, engaged while there and uplifted going out. It is the space where they can be greeted effusively, where children are settled down, questions can be asked etc, without the last three rows of a church turning around and losing focus in the meeting.
A separate existing space, or one created with dividers, curtains or the like will work. Modern and focused messages on fixed or pop up type stands should engage people with your vision and your culture. Information for new comers and a clearly marked service desk (staffed by a person in the know) so people who are new don’t have to find sister Wendy or brother Cyril.
Good coffee and tea (not instant) are a must. The décor and the ambience needs some creativity and some money spent on it. Ditch the clutter, the paper notices, cover the messages from the organisation you rent the facilities from. chuck the funeral home type flowers, the bread for the needy (do it another way), and the old lending library books. Go to a public place with great ambience where people hang around and reproduce it to the best of your abilities and to the needs of setting up and pulling down. Put a creative team onto it (under 35yo and if you have none, borrow some for the job). Learn from other churches and have people trained to make it a great experience coming in and going out.