I tell churches all the time that the three most important rooms in a church building are the worship center, restrooms, and nursery. Most churches don’t understand the importance of these rooms. How do I know this? By simply looking at the way most churches take care of these three rooms. In far too many cases these rooms suck. (I don’t know any other way to put it.) So what will make these rooms stand out? Let start with the basics.
- A good sound system is crucial to reaching today’s audience. And don’t rely on an architect to design your sound system, because very few know how. Instead, hire an independent sound company. Don’t be afraid to spend money here … often I find that the sound system is one of the biggest costs of a worship center.
- Avoid too many hard surfaces. Unlike the past, today you want as little reverberation as possible. You want to drive the music with microphones rather than allow hard surfaces to drive it. To determine if you have too much reverberation clap you hands. If you hear any echo you have too much reverberation, so eliminate some of the hard surfaces.
- Chairs are better than pews. Architects still use an archaic 18-20 inches per person, which is uncomfortable for the vast number of people.
- Video projection should be bright and clear without dimming the lights. Young adults are the most media savvy generation to date.
- The lobby should be half the size of the actual worship center if you want people to stay and mingle.
- An information booth should be centrally located and staffed with two people 15 minutes before and after the beginning and end of worship.
- Good coffee and soft drinks should be prominent and free.
- Parking lot attendants will solve a lot of problems, especially if they have two-way communication devices to help people find an empty parking space.
- The cleanest room in a church building should be the nursery. If the carpet has spots, either get rid of them or get rid of the carpet. No one wants their child playing on a dirty floor.
- If a crib has one side that drops down, get rid of it. It is illegal today to have such a crib.
- Nothing should be in a nursery that isn’t directly used for children. I’ve seen too many church use the nursery as a place to store unwanted things such as filing cabinets, pianos, and just plain clutter with no apparent use.
- Provide a nursery brochure to give to parents using the nursery for the first time. Include such things as how often the toys are cleaned, when the room is disinfected, and how often the sheets are changed.
- Change the crib sheets after the use of every child, clean the toys with disinfectant between each worship service, clean the changing table after each use, and vacuum the carpet between services.
- Never have the toddlers and the infants in the same room. Invariably a toddler will learn to stand and poke a finger in a crib while in a church nursery.
- Require parents to show some form of identification when leaving or taking their child from the nursery. Safety is more important than ever before because church nurseries are notorious places for a non-custodial spouse to take a child without the custodial spouse’s knowledge. There are many excellent software programs that provide safe passage in and out of the nursery.
- Give new parents a pager so that they can be contacted quickly if there is a problem. Visiting parents often wait longer for children and are more concerned about leaving their child in someone else’s care.
- Pay the lead sitter in each room and require they be regular in their attendance. It is important for both infant and parent to see a familiar face when using the nursery. This means you should pay a bit more than the going rate for your lead sitters in order to secure consistency and quality.
- Have the nursery open any time you want young parents to attend an event. There are even grocery stores that provide babysitters while the parent shops for groceries.
- Each room should have direct access to a restroom.
- People should be able to wash their hands without touching any surface including the exit door. Of course this would require major renovations in older churches, so look for ways to solve this with little cost. For example: put an automatic towel dispenser close to the faucets so a person could get one to turn off the faucet. Then put a trashcan close to the exit door for people who are averse to handling the door.
- Put diaper changing tables in the men’s and women’s rooms.
- Provide covers for toilet seats.
- Have someone check the restrooms during worship to make sure they are well stocked, clean, and presentable.
I’m sure you could list more items for each room, but from what I’ve seen, these are the basics that too many churches overlook. Which ones do you need to add to your church building?
Question: What would you add to these lists? Share your additions in the Comments section below.