The interior design of your church might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re considering how to budget for your ministry. There are so many important ministry items begging for priority, and church decor may not make the cut.
Consider this, though: The interior design of your lobby influences how people feel when they spend time at your church because it’s the first space in your church building most people experience. This is especially important for new visitors who are taking in every detail about your church as soon as they arrive. They’ll be making both conscious and subconscious observations about their environment.
You want this space to feel welcoming to visitors, and inviting enough to current members that they want to spend more time at your church (rather than rushing out the door after service). What impression do you want to leave? That your church lobby is an afterthought, or that it’s a place for connection?
If your church’s interior design hasn’t been updated in years, it might be time for a refresh. We know a lot of churches don’t have the budget for a complete renovation, but thankfully there are lots of updates you can make on a budget that will help turn your lobby into a space that invites both members and visitors to linger.
Convinced? It may seem like a lot of work, but don’t worry! Take it one step at a time, recruit some volunteers and have some fun sprucing up your space. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. FRESH PAINT
This suggestion is pretty straightforward—there’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to affordably transform a space. If your church building resembles a beige maze, look no farther than the paint aisle of your nearest home improvement store. Your lobby doesn’t have to be full of bright colors—oftentimes an accent wall is all you need to liven things up. Even if you prefer neutral colors, refreshing your paint job every once in a while keeps things looking clean and tidy.
2. MODERN LIGHTING
If your church is full of industrial fluorescent lighting, don’t worry—we’re not suggesting you completely overhaul your wiring to change this. Instead, consider using floor and table lamps to help create a warmer, cozier space. You can also try out string lighting to bring a fun, modern touch to your lobby. If you do have older hanging fixtures or wall sconces, consider switching these out (especially if they’re mismatched).
3. GREEN PLANTS
Green plants make any space feel more inviting and homey. They’re a great way to bring a little bit of the outdoors inside, especially if a glass door is the only window your church lobby has to the outside world. You’ll probably need to choose plants that are good with minimal sunlight, and you’ll need to designate someone at your church to water and maintain them. If that isn’t doable, high quality fake plants will serve you well. They’ve got the same visual appeal, require no maintenance and last forever.
4. DIRECTIONAL SIGNS
Well-designed signs show people where to go in your church. They won’t be left wandering around, wondering where to go next. Start with signs pointing to your children’s area, sanctuary and restrooms, and add from there. Make sure your signs are large enough to be read from far away—the font should be bold and clear (this is not the time to hand write something on a sheet of printer paper). People will be grateful for clear direction and the signs will last for years.
5. MATCHING FURNITURE
Many churches on a budget end up accepting donated furniture to furnish their lobbies. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this—some furniture is definitely better than none. However, if you can manage an upgrade, purchasing furniture in the same design theme will help create a unified, intentional look in your lobby. If you can buy furniture meant to withstand heavy use, it’ll certainly last longer. That said, places like IKEA, Target and Walmart are your best bets to get coordinated furniture for a great price.
6. NEW ART
Now that you’ve put a fresh coat of paint on your walls, it’s time to decorate them. Large blank walls in your lobby are begging for some art to add extra character and life to your space. Themed art helps create a cohesive look and feel, but you’ll know what works best with your space. Whether you choose to visit a craft store, explore Etsy or seek out art designed specifically for churches, try to find pieces that work both for your budget and with your freshly updated aesthetic.
7. CLEAR SECTIONS
Have you considered how to best use the space in your lobby? If it’s large and open, creating sections within the space will help people know where to find what they’re looking for. For example, you could have an info desk in a spot that’s visible as soon as someone walks through the door, a designated coffee spot with room for people to mix their beverages and room for couches and chairs for people to gather and connect before and after service.
No matter the size of your church lobby, consider how people flow through the space. Are the pathways to important spaces like the sanctuary clear? Can people easily move through and find their way to the restroom, even when the lobby is crowded? If you need to do a little rearranging, now is the time. If you don’t have much to work with, this is where having easily visible signs is helpful.
8. WARM BEVERAGES
Did you know that studies show warm beverages make people more likely to view their environment as warm and inviting? Yes, nothing says “welcome” quite like the offer of coffee. A beverage station encourages people to come a little early or stay a little later, giving them more of a chance to connect. You don’t need a whole café for this—a simple station with basic provisions will do just fine. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, a few creamer options (including a dairy-free one is nice) and several choices of sweetener are all you need. A membership to a bulk store like Costco or Sam’s Club makes it easy to stock up. You can have a staff member or volunteer helping out, or set up the station to be self-serve.
These options are a great starting place for a basic renovation of your church lobby. All can be easily customized to suit your space and budget, so pick and choose what will work for your church. Whether you choose one, a few or all, you’ll be well on your way to creating a church lobby that shows people they’re welcome and encourages them to stick around to find a sense of community and belonging at your church.
Outreach Inc., this magazine’s parent company, is the largest provider of church outreach products and services in the world. Join the Outreach Weekly newsletter for the latest tips, tools, ideas and deals to help you reach your community for Christ.