Every church will at some time engage in some form of construction, renovation or environmental transformation… well, every church at some time SHOULD, most will. Churches that do not regularly update environments will soon become more a museum of well-preserved ceremonial artifacts, rather than meeting house for active engagement of The Living God.
When the time comes to make the largest capital expenditure a church will ever make, and even possibly take on years of debt repayment, it is critical that the environments facilitate vision, rather than supplant the vision. Having a clear sense of missional success, through a concept like the “mission measures” found in the Vision Frame, becomes instrumental in creating more than four expensive walls and a roof.
The next church construction project can become a creation of compelling environments when intentional thought toward celebrating mission measures happens. In other words, the building itself can be a powerful way to reinforce what matters most at the church and celebrate vision every day. Side note: if what matters most is more and more people in the building, a church may be living in the “field of dreams” state, explained here.
Reminding the body of the church’s missional call through creation of compelling environments takes much more intention than it does investment.
It’s often the low-cost, yet high impact building features that make the greatest impression. Before starting the next church building project, be it a full-on relocation or a new-paint renovation, stop and think through how the opportunity to celebrate mission measures could happen in this new environment.
A few minutes invested toward celebrating what matters most, through a compelling built environment, will have more consistent and lasting impact on the average church member than the next 10 years of “vision sermons” ever will.
Here is a case study of how a church with well defined missional marks; answering the leadership question, ‘WHEN are we successful at our mission?’ might create intentional moments within the experience of their building.
Church Context: Established Downtown “First Church” Relocating
Developed Mission: Leading people beyond “just good enough” to experience LIFE in Christ.
Developed Mission Measures: A LIFE beyond just good enough is marked by:
Loving God & Others
asking: Is my worship all-in? Is my caring all-out?
Investing in the Kingdom
asking: What is my spiritual ROI yielding? Where is my global POV leading?
asking: Whose threshold do I need to cross? Who needs to hear my story?
Engaging in Service
asking: Does my calling change my living? Does my living change my giving?
10 ways that compelling environments can celebrate LIFE:
- Create a video-driven story center in the Lobby to see and hear of people experiencing LIFE In Christ, celebrate baptism and transformation, show camp, outreach and mission experiences on a loop.
- Develop flexible spaces of multiple uses day-to-day, not just week-to-week.
- Use sustainable materials that reflect stewardship of natural and financial resources
- Remind congregation of a global POV through an interactive, and staffed, Missions Center in the lobby celebrating impact and engaging support.
- Create high impact, visually compelling and safe Family Ministry environments to reach younger generation. Move the playground to the front entrance rather than a back or side to create interaction before and after services and invite the community on campus during the week.
- Allow the more task-oriented members to exercise their gifting for event or environment setup and maintaining of the campus through non-permanent seating and flex-space.
- Incorporate a physical, obvious and illustrative “threshold” to model crossing. Express threshold idea by using contrasting materials, creating a physical portal that all pass through, or including a substantive element to “cross over” representing this first step in faithfully sharing.
- Create intentional vistas to the community with well placed windows and narrative graphics, as a reminder of where Faithfully Sharing primarily happens
- Remind everyone of the community ties to the land and serve with community gardens and inviting campus features. Walking paths, sports fields, exercise stations and comfortable places to gather draw community interest beyond worship hours on Sunday morning
- Establish a center of family life in the community by filling gaps in sport, theater and meeting space. Survey the community and build flexible spaces, indoors and out, that are usable for school performances, local arts groups or civic organizations.