23 Factors in Finding a Facility: Help for Church Planters, Part 3
By Mark Driscoll
11. Room for Fellowship
Will there be sufficient open space for people to mingle and meet before and after the services? While this item may seem simple, the issue of hospitality can be key for a new church hoping to connect with visitors in an informal setting.
For most starving church planters this issue is critical. Working on a limited budget trying to juggle start-up costs with salaries, facilities, and programming can be maddening. However, you must remember that it is your hope to remain in your first location as long as possible because the costs and management complexities associated with moving can be very damaging to the momentum of a newly forming congregation. The right location may cost you some additional monies, but as a long-term investment, beginning with the right location can promote quicker growth and subsequent increased financial resources.
It is often amazing how many things are needed to hold a simple church service. From paperwork, to sound gear, to projection equipment, to refreshments, to nursery items, the list continues to grow as your service matures. Therefore, it will be necessary to have adequate storage for your initial items, as well as additional space for future acquisitions. Ideally, this space would be located in your facility and easily accessible for set-up and tear down. This allows all the items to be stored on wheels for easy transport. However, if your facility does not permit you such storage, you may want to negotiate having a storage facility left on the property, or acquire trucks or vans for weekly transport of all materials to your site.
14. Public Perception
Some facilities carry with them particular public perceptions that can be either harmful or beneficial. For example, if you occupy a church building recently vacated by a cultic group, or a congregation that had embittered their community, your arrival may cause many to mistake your church for the previous tenant. Conversely, some locations are viewed as beloved community centerpieces and the use of such locations may allow your new congregation to be viewed in a positive light in relation to the general good reputation of a particular facility.
You should expect to need approximately one parking space for every two or three church attendees. If your congregation is younger and largely single, that number could increase to one parking space for every one or two church attendees. If you are anticipating going to multiple services in your facility, you will need sufficient parking for certain people to be parked for both services (e.g., set-up and tear down people, children’s workers, sound engineers, musicians). And if you are anticipating having multiple services and a full Sunday school program, you should plan on needing double the amount of parking of a single service. In urban areas parking can be tremendously costly, sometimes as expensive as the actual facility and requiring separate negotiations and contracts. Some facilities in neighborhoods rely primarily on off-street parking, but this parking should be used with regard to the neighbors, who often become embittered if they cannot park in front of their homes or are forced to deal with increased traffic.
16. Additional Space
Does the facility have a kitchen? Does the facility have a gym? Does the facility have a dining area for a common meal? Does the facility have available classrooms for education, prayer, and other meetings? Does the facility have any potential office space for use during the week? How can these additional spaces be resourced to benefit your new work?
17. Additional Use
Can you have access to the location for special events (e.g., concerts, meals, lectures, parties, weddings, outreach events) and special services (e.g., Christmas Eve, Easter, New Year’s Eve)? Can you use the facility for midweek activities if and when the need arises? The more flexibility your facility provides, the wider range of options you have at your disposal for creative programming and experimentation. This is particularly important as your congregation transitions from a core to a public congregation since many of your initial programming ideas may prove unfruitful and force you to examine additional options.