23 Factors in Finding a Facility: Help for Church Planters, Part 1
By Mark Driscoll
I was recently going through some old files and found this article I wrote sometime in the late 1990s for church planters. I post it in hopes that it can be helpful to church planters hoping to find a facility.
When you meet, where you meet, and how you meet all proclaim something about your perception of God and your new congregation. Therefore, when selecting a facility, a new church plant is doing a great deal more than simply finding a place to house a gathering. You are making a statement and there are multiple variables to consider according to your priorities. The following article is intended to be a practical means of aiding young churches as they consider a physical home for their corporate gathering(s). The information was collected over a few years of personal struggle as our young new church met in four locations at four different service times in the first two years.
Simply put, what does the building look like from the outside and inside? Is the entrance easily visible? Does the building look maintained, safe, and clean? Inside, how are the colors, sight angles, and overall décor? When was the facility last updated and how does that relate to the identity of your congregation?
2. Time Flexibility
This issue may not seem significant, but should be carefully considered. Once you launch your congregation, will it be possible for you to change your time if needed (e.g., from an evening to a morning service)? If needed, can you arrive early to set-up, or stay late? If and when your first service fills to capacity, can you extend your usage to permit you to go to two services in the same room with the same set-up configuration?
3. Set-Up and Tear Down
How many volunteers will it require to set-up and tear down for your weekly gathering? Storage plays an important role here. Obviously, if you have to transport everything from sound equipment to children’s materials each week, you will also need a vehicle and lots of faithful hands. While there is something to be said for the first servants in a church setting an example of diligent labor, the sad truth is that such responsibilities end up being a management headache dumped on a handful of faithful people who are burned out in six months or less. A church plant that begins with a small core must also face the reality that they have few volunteers who should be used wisely for the benefit of the entire church and spread between multiple areas of need (e.g., worship teams, children’s teachers, office help).
Every room has an odor. If you meet in a gym, it is likely your church will smell like sweaty guys. If you are using the building of a church that frequently cooks, or if you are using a building that has old carpet and drapes, or if you are using a building that is musty because of poor ventilation, then it may be an inconvenience to some, and a problem to others who have allergies. This is also true for the use of flowers, incense, and the like in a service.
To be considered in this category are simple matters such as room temperature and seating. If you live in a warm climate, does the room have air conditioning? If you live in a cold climate, does the room have adequate heating? If the room is filled, will there be sufficient air circulation to keep the room ventilated with fresh air? Does the seating permit general comfort, particularly for those who may have physical problems such as back pain?
Look for more considerations and tips in finding a facility from Mark in future installments of Finding a Facility: Help for Church Planters.