See Your Church With Fresh Eyes
As summer ends and children begin to go back to school, traditionally, the church starts to fill back up from summer vacationers. Fall is a particular time in the church’s life to see renewed growth, as people fall back into the routine of school, sports and the Spirit of God. For some, who attend, it may be the first time all summer they have rejoined the church or even since COVID-19 hit the area. What a fantastic opportunity for the church to become ready for the returners and future guests.
Let me challenge you to see your church with fresh eyes by reviewing three ways to envision what your church can be in the future:
• Evaluating needs of today and tomorrow.
• Emptying spaces to create resources.
• Expanding ministry offerings while working within the footprint of the current reality of your church.
Before the pandemic, many churches were reluctant to change as routine was comfortable. But comfort breeds conformity to current desires and not future needs through conscious examination of all areas within the church comes from evaluating room usage and space needs for the future. Be warned that when considering usage/space, it can become a brickly minefield of egos, mini-fiefdoms, traditions, memories of ‘once was,’ and significant push back from stakeholders that hold to the comforts of the past over future needs of the church.
Evaluating is all about facing the reality of the current circumstances and then dreaming of what the space can be. As you begin to plan, see your current areas through guests’ eyes and review weaknesses in the layout to fit future needs best. Space/buildings were added over time for many established churches and no longer include the function and flow that is needed today. An example of this is children and youth spaces are spread out and are unsecure for modern-day needs. Think about bringing the areas together to have a more secure entrance/exit system or review the current foyer to expand seating capacity. It was once just a pass-through but now can become a congregating area to develop deeper relationships.
If you serve in an established church, you have the honor of a rich history and becoming a depository of collected items throughout the decades. In one of my churches, I had three flower rooms, filled with artificial flowers from floor to ceiling, that could have decorated hundreds of graves but instead was collecting dust. As you evaluate current and future space needs, begin to empty unused space that has turned into a storage room rather than a valuable space for ministry. Be proactive and not reactive to the new vision that the area can have. Too many leaders fear the battle of change, so they allow things to stay the same, do not be one of them.
Use the envisioning process to reestablish what God has for the space and progressing forward in that vein. Yes, it will be challenging to deal with personalities and preferences, but push on and know you are creating a space for future ministry opportunities.
Once you have evaluated the needs and emptied spaces in the church for future use, begin the expansion process. I am not encouraging you to build or add to your church but expand into those empty spaces with new ministry opportunities. Celebrate the progress of moving forward into a new season in the church’s life. With your congregation, share pictures of before and after on social media, talk about the progress in your sermons, and always stay optimistic about the progress. The work you do in these empty spaces is kingdom advancement. It is about using the tools you have created to expand the footprint of Jesus in your community.
Think of the space as a canvass for God to train Christ-followers through community engagement. Envision using a former storage area and turning it into a computer lab or mommy and me classroom or taking two classrooms and knocking out a wall, turning it into a community room for the community to use for free. The opportunities are endless when you focus on using unused space and turning it back into usable space.
This fall, you have an incredible opportunity to reimage your church by spending some time evaluating, emptying, and expanding the current space that is collecting things around the church.