23 Factors in Finding a Facility: Help for Church Planters, Part 2
This is part 2 of a series from Mark Driscoll to help church planters who are looking for a facility to meet for corporate worship. Look for further installments for factors 11-23.
Will your building be sufficient with its current lighting or will you need to bring in additional lighting (e.g., lamps, stage lights)? Conversely, some facilities have so many windows and so much natural light that it becomes difficult to project images in the room or to alter the atmosphere when desired. Also, some rooms are so dark that people are forced to squint, which may cause them headaches or eye strain.
This area is particularly important but also very complicated. The costs associated with acoustically engineering a room can be staggering. Therefore, the average church planter will be forced to deal with varying degrees of acoustic difficulty. For example, many older churches were acoustically designed for an organ and congregational singing, while a community center meeting room is designed for a lecture without live music in mind. You will need to determine which types of instrumentation you will use for worship and factor that into your consideration of a room, along with what type of sound equipment you will need. Remember, however, that whenever possible you will want to try and find a way to hear the room when it is full of bodies during a live music performance. This is necessary because the acoustics of a room change dramatically if the room is empty or filled with such things as chairs and bodies, and also vary greatly if the people are standing or seated. The human body tends to greatly deaden sound and the size of your congregation in relation to the capacity of your room will cause marked differences in the sound. Also consider other features, such as balconies, under which sound can be trapped, and high ceilings, which also tend to consume sound. Most acoustic complications can be worked around but the subsequent costs in sound equipment can be quite high.
Many older buildings do not have sufficient power for sound and video equipment. Some buildings are still running on two pronged outlets without a ground. Others do not have “clean” power and can cause feedback in a sound system (usually this is more of a problem with analog rather than digital sound boards). Therefore, you may need to use lots of power strips to protect your equipment, and may need a power conditioner for your sound if feedback from old power is a recurring problem.
Physically, where is the facility? In which neighborhood is it located? How accessible is it to major arterials and freeways for those commuting in? To be considered in this category are such things as natural boundaries that tend to divide people psychographically into various communities. These boundaries often include such things as major freeways and arterials, lakes, rivers, bridges, and railroad tracks. If you want to reach a particular community, it may be vital that you are in that community and not merely near it, since most of its people may rarely leave their neighborhood unless absolutely necessary. For other churches with a regional attraction, a specific location may be less important because their people commute in from varying distances and are less concerned about particular neighborhood identities.
10. Children’s Space
Does the space have sufficient additional areas to set up childcare? Will the children’s areas be clean, appropriately lit, safe, and have a controlled temperature? Will the children’s areas permit future growth as the number of children in the congregation grows? The issues surrounding children’s ministries can be critical to a new church, particularly those with young families wanting to ensure their children are left in a safe and nurturing environment. The costs associated with children’s items and additional labors of setting up and tearing down each week can make the rental of an existing outfitted church or school with children’s rooms particularly helpful.
To see factors 1-5, read the first post in this series. Look for more considerations and tips in finding a facility from Mark in future installments of Finding a Facility: Help for Church Planters.