As more and more churches turn to existing non-traditional structures for their services or multisite campuses, providing a clear pathway of attendance and process toward membership can be challenging. When faced with holding church services anywhere from a school to a shopping center, here are 5 strategic actions that are a part of creating compelling portable environments.
1. Supplement with Signs. Develop a comprehensive signage plan as a central component of a guest services blueprint. Take care to not replace people with signs though. In compelling environments, people and signs work together to communicate the anticipation of guests actually attending. Simple, branded signs in logical locations build assurance and authority.
2. Create Place. Work hard to create a compelling worship environment, but it is not necessary to project a false sense of where you are. If it looked like a school on the outside, there would not be an expectation for the venue to appear as anything other than a school on the inside. However, well positioned pipe and drape provides focus and directs worshippers away from the prom ticket or yearbook posters (that never seem to go back up the same way they came down). Strike a balance between orientating attenders to the worship experience and the investment of resources, both volunteer and financial.
3. Think Logically. Logic rules and human nature takes over when it comes to people movement. Think through the most direct route to the parking from the worship environment and orient guest services around this path. After the service ends, people are like water in that the path of least resistance rules. Use this natural tendency as an advantage and connect people to their next step of assimilation. Don’t make the mistake of asking people to go against the flow to respond to God.
4. Keep It Simple. In the planning stage it is easy to over-think and over-spend. To keep it simple, stay with the obvious. If it isn’t insanely obvious where people are supposed to go or be, usually more money will be spent on signs and more connection resources will be used with volunteers. Sometimes there is no getting around challenging architecture. In any case, the best plan will be the simpler one.
5. Walk the PATH. Use a consistent filter to make decisions about the creation of compelling portable church environments. When it is time to commit, filter any possible outcome using these questions.
… Personable: Will the worship environment naturally draw guests and will our members be excited?
… Accessible: Are we asking for a leap of logic to find the right way to go, or does each step just make sense?
… Thought-thru: Have we evaluated the whole process of attending our church and responded to each step in detail?
… Hospitable: Are we putting our best foot forward each and every Sunday?
Above everything, always remember what matters most. The whole environment should point to the primary focus of every service, glorifying Christ. Drapery, signage and greeters are a means to the end of bringing people to become and grow as a disciple. Keep the main thing the main thing and create compelling environments that do the same.