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How a Pleasing Exterior Attracts Your Community

Real estate professionals know that initial impressions can be huge factors for potential buyers. What a home looks like at first glance—its curb appeal—can create a positive or negative impression that prompts a desire to either see more or drive on to the next home for sale. In a similar way, church buildings and grounds can leave a positive or negative first impression!

Wise church leaders look at their buildings and grounds with passersby in mind. They ask questions like, “What do those in our community see?” and “What might their first impressions be as they drive by?” Most of us who have attended a church for years no longer notice the external façade, the paint job, the landscaping, and the sign out front. But those driving by probably do. And if they happen to be looking for a church, they are drawing conclusions about your ministry based on the appearance of your facilities and property.

Following is a basic list of questions for church leaders who take seriously the need to remove any barriers that may discourage people from pulling into the parking lot and coming inside! Consider the following . . .

1. Building and Grounds

  • Is the paint peeling?
  • Is the brickwork or siding in need of repair?
  • Are the windows noticeably dirty?
  • Are there covered arrival areas for use in inclement weather?
  • Are there provisions for the disabled to get into the building without having to go up steps?
  • Is lighting adequate?
  • Are the grounds clean? Has paper or trash that may have been left on the property been picked up?

2. Parking Areas and Sidewalk

  • Is adequate parking visible from the road? If not, are there visible signs indicating that other parking options are available to visitors?
  • Are the sidewalks cracked and dangerous?
  • Are curbs and sidewalks accessible to the disabled?
  • Have parking spaces been marked for guests?
  • Have church members been encouraged to park farther away so guests may have the parking spaces nearest the building?

3. Lawn and Landscaping

  • Is the lawn neatly mowed and trimmed, especially prior to Sundays?
  • Has the church invested in landscaping around the building?
  • Are the shrubs trimmed regularly?
  • Does the landscaping need updated?
  • Are trees kept trimmed?
  • In the fall, are the leaves raked and picked up each week?
  • Does someone plant flowers near building entrances in the spring and maintain the flower beds in the summer and fall?

4. Signage

  • Is a clearly readable church sign near the road?
  • Is it well maintained?
  • Are there directional signs on the property that help guests find the entrance doors for the worship center or for the youth and children’s ministry sections?
  • Is the location of the church office clearly identified for those who may stop by during the week? (See sidebar for more on the marks of good church signs!)

Here’s the bottom line: Our concern for the appearance of our buildings and grounds is an expression of our concern for reaching out to those in our communities. In even a small way it demonstrates our desire to welcome others who may, through our efforts, come to Christ as Savior. Further, it models a commitment to excellence that ought to characterize all aspects of our ministries for God’s glory!

Jim Vogel (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) was a pastor for 30 years before becoming associate national representative of the GARBC.

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