What “story” does the condition of your facility tell?

iStock_000001268110XSmallHave you ever walked into a restaurant that you read about online or that someone recommended — full of anticipation and excitement — only to be turned off by the lack of care of the facility?

I’ve been disappointed more times than I can list when I was in a mid- to upper-priced establishment. A visit to their restroom left me totally repulsed by the lack of care and cleanliness. A look up at their ceilings (a habit for me, so, if you invite me to your facility, you’ve been warned) to see stained ceiling tiles, or worse, dirty HVAC grills and cobwebs.

What does that say about you and your church? What does it say that you value? Obviously not the health and well-being of your guests and occupants if you’re OK allowing dirt and dust to blow down on their heads or having them breathing dirty air.

What story is that telling?

To me, it indicates that either you don’t care about your facilities, aren’t intentional about their care, or are in bad financial condition to the point where you can’t maintain them. Now, that’s just me — but, could that message also be the one conveyed to your guests?

Not a great witness, in my opinion.

In his book, First Impressions: Creating WOW Experiences, Mark Waltz, pastor of connection at Granger Community Church in Granger, IN, addresses what it might be like to be a guest in our churches and how the first impression might not always convey the story we desire. In addition, the first impression might be the only chance we have to impact their lives. He writes:

“When your guests are distracted from the real purpose of their visit to your church, you’ll have a difficult time reengaging them. In order for people to see Jesus, potential distractions must be identified and eliminated.”

Have you ever considered that the condition of your buildings could affect your ability to engage and minister to people? Most of our previous blogs have focused on the physical attributes related to the built environment. We have looked at the design, the way-finding, weenies and other attributes of the campus and structures. But, what about the condition?

Over my 28-year career of planning and building church facilities, I’ve witnessed firsthand the use, abuse and misuse of ministry facilities. I’ve seen churches spend millions of dollars on new facilities and then neglect to change the HVAC filters, repair leaks, change light bulbs, caulk annually as required, and so on. In my opinion, this is similar to collecting the offering during our worship services and taking 10 percent to 20 percent of the monies out of the offering plate or basket and setting it on fire. We would all agree that that kind of action would be ridiculous and obscene.

“We would never do that; that’s God’s money.”

Who provided the funds to build your facilities? We all know the answer: God did. It was and is His money. And they are His buildings. Yet, we too often act irresponsibly with these assets.

I find that many church members take better care of their homes, boats, cars, motorcycles and even their pets than they do their ministry facilities. Is this acceptable to you? It isn’t to me, and I suggest that the church (big “C”) wake up, take notice and do something about it.

I believe that God holds each of us responsible and accountable for what we do and how we handle every resource entrusted to us.

Tim-Cool-bloggerTim Cool is project executive at Visioneering Studios in Charlotte, NC, and founder of Cool Solutions Group. Since 1986, Cool has served the church community in the areas of construction, facility planning and facility management. He can be reached at tcool@visioneeringstudios.com. This blog originally appeared on his blog, “Cool Conversations Live.”


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