Redemption of your church campus for guests

By reconnecting with your neighbors, you will bring the church back to the forefront of what was missing – a deep community connection.

As weekly attendance has declined for many established churches, it has become more apparent that the church building is no longer conducive to what the church needs today. Any change brings both perspective and positive excitement about what’s to come. It depends on which side of the fence you are viewing the change.

Throughout scripture, men and women have sought change, not for change, but to redeem what God had originally brought forth. Likewise, the church is always called to adapt and move forward in the present future that God has for the local church. Change, while frightening, can be rewarding if the church is willing to buy back guest space that is currently underutilized or not at all.

Reclaiming the past and bringing it into the future.

The local church campus is steeped in history. With such a rich history come fiefdoms that retain past practices, room assignments, and furnishings that become little idols within the church. When redeeming space to prepare for the future, a leader must navigate the minefield of glory days to reclaim what God wants to do today.

Although the footprint of a traditional church building need not change, the inner workings, from the naming of rooms to the design of the sanctuary, might need to change to accommodate new ideas and the new era in which the church came in. Instead of thinking of church as “mine,” start looking at church as a place “to come.” The local church can still celebrate the past but focus on the needs of the present while preparing for the future.

At my local church, we are reclaiming a small hallway as a museum of the past. We will place plaques, photos, etc., in this space to honor who we have been, but we will redesign the interior of the church’s footprint by transforming the classrooms into a cafe and a mission center where we collect and package items for missionary outreach programs.

Be creative with your current space by being Christ to the people inside the church, knowing that change is not easy, but always look to what guests or the community need outside. the church and dream of what might be in the redesigned space.

Repair to present a good face forward.

When you see the local church through the eyes of the guests, you begin to see the needs of the church. How often have you or the local church prayed for guests who come and don’t stay? Is it because you haven’t prepared the church for guests? Sometimes it’s cleaning around a classroom or taking items from the foyer to prepare for the guests who are coming.

As you begin to examine your current space, you’ll likely see things that you’ve grown accustomed to over time. Deferred maintenance issues will come to the fore, and a plan should be devised to begin tackling the issues. Having a plan is the first step, but the plan must be implemented and not debated for eternity. By dividing the repair plan, you can reduce the overwhelming list of small jobs that can be handled with the right resources and actions.

Think of it this way: if a guest came to your house, you would probably fix things, clean cobwebs from corners of rooms, dust, dispose of trash, and move things that don’t belong. This is what the repair is to presenting a good face. It gears up for the guests that come through your doors and is ready to fully accommodate them with a clean, organized, and serviceable repair facility.

Restore what has been lost.

The established church has faced many losses over the years – lack of attendance, dwindling donations, fewer children and a lack of community involvement. But through it all, God remained. Have you ever wondered; why did I stay through all the change? Most likely it is because of God. God has called you and those around you to the church you serve. It is not by accident but by divine appointment that God has kept you in such a challenging place. Yet, in the difficult season, God is still working.

As you begin to see the church campus as a connection point (starting point) for community engagement, you begin to see where God is challenging your leadership to step out of your spiritual comfort zone to achieve the lost from the community. The God you serve is a great God. Trust him and trust yourself as you lead people to restore what has been lost.

Remove programs that do not fit today’s vision.

Do you have enough people to run the programs you currently have listed in the directory? Probably not, and your church is not alone. Instead of offering a cafeteria-style programmatic listing for everyone, focus on what you can do well to reach the most people. This may mean that programs that were successful 25 years ago will have to be retired, and those human and financial resources will be reallocated to a new area.

Focus on what the church has and assess whether it meets the needs of the community. If not, then the church needs to pivot by placing resources where God can make the most of what the church has.

As the programs are withdrawn, it is an opportunity to celebrate what God has done through the church in the past. Highlight people who have helped lead the programs in the past to let them know that what they have done has brought value to the kingdom as the church celebrates its history. Introduce the new program and highlight the leaders who will lead the programs in the future. Ask former programmatic leaders to pray over new leaders to show continuity of service to the local church and the wider community.

By removing programs that no longer fit the culture of today, you begin to extend the community to another generation through slight modifications and programs that reach followers of Christ today.

Renew your commitment to join your neighbours.

There was a time when the church could open its doors three times a week, and the parking lot was full. Many churches today do not have young families. Even in the midst of decline, there is hope found in Christ. You can’t go back and change yesterday, but you can start over today. Renew the church’s commitment to reaching your neighbors by discovering the needs of those around you and striving to meet those needs.

Outside the walls of the established church is a community that is almost forgotten. The church was once part of their life, but they don’t know who the neighbors are today. By reconnecting through listening, learning about needs and responding to community needs with church neighbors, you will bring the church back to the forefront of what was missing, i.e. say a deep community connection.

Guests can become members if the church is willing to buy out its current space for the future needs of the community. Redeeming the church footprint for guests is not a new program or a quick fix. But a partnership with God and his people inside and outside the church. A partnership to live like Christ not just on Sundays but throughout the week with the church and its neighbors walking hand in hand.

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