What story does your church facility tell?: Intentional

intentionalWhat does it mean to be “intentional”? When I use this word in conversation, I think of it in these terms:On purpose;

  • Premeditated;
  • Done with a specific result expected; and
  • Attention to detail.

These are words and phrases that are totally opposite to concepts such as:

  • Do it on the fly;
  • Let’s see what happens;
  • We’ll make it up as we go; and
  • Hope for the best.

Most successful ministry leaders adherer to the first list rather than the latter when planning sermon series, accounting methods, ministry initiatives, music sets and transitions between songs, website design, blogs and the like. They plan. They have an eye on the net result of their plans and goals. They don’t leave things to “chance.” And they are (or someone on their team is) paying close attention to every detail.

I’ve used the example of Disney before and how they’re all about the guest experience. Do you think they care about the details or the “story” they want their guests to tell their friends and family after their experience? Do you think they leave that experience up to chance? HECK NO!

Let me give you some examples:

Disney-TrashcanTrash cans. Did you know that Disney studied and learned that the maximum amount of steps a person will walk to get to a trash can is 30 paces. To promote the cleanliness of the park, trash cans are placed no farther than 27 paces away from each other. Wow…that will keep things clean. And, they’re not just trash cans; they’re a prop and part of the story.

Onstage/backstage. Disney makes a clear distinction between what people see and what they don’t see. This goes back to Walt Disney’s desire for Disneyland to be a “show.” Whenever a “cast member” walks onstage, the show is on. This distinction continues into how cast members dress, and even the conversations they have with other cast members. This is part of their culture.

Streetscape. Disney knows that most of its guests entering the park are excited to see Sleeping Beauty’s castle — which happens to be at the end of Main Street. To enhance this visual, the buildings along Main Street get shorter, and the awnings extend out further along down the sidewalk. This makes the castle appear farther away and larger than life. This draws you toward the castle and starts that transformation process. (I’ll write more on this in future weeks.)

Sight, sounds, smells and textures. When you get near the end of Main Street, you’re presented with the a myriad of options as to where you might venture next. With each of these options — whether it’s Tomorrow Land, Adventure Land or Frontier Land — you’ll be drawn in and transformed, incorporating all of your senses…and then some.

Disney is very intentional with the imagery that greets you at the entrance of each “land,” and that theme draws you in and stays consistent. It also uses music, sounds and other audible effects to make your experience congruent with what your eyes see. It then draws you deeper into this transformation by appealing to your sense of smell and “texture.” Next time you’re there and start to explore the various lands, look down and make note of what you’re walking on. And so the intentionality continues.  Amazing!

What I have seen and learned by observing this is that many, if not most, of these impactful impressions are not that much more expensive, if at all, than their “basic” counterparts. And in areas where additional investment is made, it’s counterbalanced by a reduction in investment in others.

So, the bottom line is that “intentionality” doesn’t have to be more expensive; it just means you have to be intentional. Purposeful. Thoughtful. Deliberate. Focused on the outcome.

As you consider your church and ministry facility, have you been intentional with its design, story and sensory elements — or, have you left it to chance?

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.


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