First impressions are BIG! Whether we want to admit it or not, they are! Finding a church is not always about looks, but you have to admit that the overall atmosphere plays a very large part in how a person feels when they enter and leave a space. A church may be gorgeous on the outside to draw you in…but then lack the warmth to keep you there. Now you would hope that this lack of warmth does not come from your congregation, and hopefully definitely not from your pastor…but typically this lack of warmth can come from the overall atmosphere created within your church.
A lot of people are hesitant when walking into a space for the first time (especially a large church). Often new visitors (which are also potential new members) can be affected by your church design whether you know it or not. Maybe they can become confused easily because of lack of signage, or because of where they enter the building. Maybe the new Main Entrance isn’t located anywhere near the Worship Center and although everyone who goes to that church obviously knows where to go, it may not be obvious to a newcomer. Welcome/Ministry Centers with friendly faces should be prominently located and accessible as well, and information that can be taken in hand when they leave made readily available. Nursery areas and children’s ministries should be readily accessible and visible when possible. Overall layout, continuity, crowd flow, interior decor and even the wall color can affect how your space is viewed by a new visitor. You want them to feel as comfortable as possible by making spaces and needs as readily available as possible. The trick is to do all of this without overwhelming them!
If their first impression is being greeted at the door with a smile, followed by a well planned interior space that leads you to where you need to go (and may even have you stop for a warm cup of coffee on the way)… then the chances of them returning are seven fold.