You are a devoted leader in your community church and you spend countless hours advancing the mission of your church and serving members. You are passionate about everything your church does, from the special Sunday morning service, to the youth programs, to administering to the needy in your town. But what you can’t quite figure out is why your attendance numbers never really grow, no matter what you try.
After consulting with an expert in church growth tactics, you reorganize your committees and board. You get together for focused strategic planning meetings, and you find the areas of your administration that are weak. You’ve identified leaders in your congregation who would be excellent to help advance your church’s mission, and put them into roles where they can make a big difference. You’ve started to take some of the heavy load off the Pastor and are starting to strategically empower others to step in and help.
But did you know that your building and furniture might also be an area to work on? If you’ve grown attached to the familiar feel of your church, and you’re unsure if it’s outdated due to this attachment, it’s probably time to bring in a professional. Designers and architects who are experts in church building needs can help you to see the space with new eyes and identify problem areas. They also help you to reframe how spaces can be used. After all, your church is a community space and can be used far more effectively for these purposes with some focused tactics.
When it comes to furniture, there are a number of ways you can use the existing building. By focusing on being more flexible, you can maximize your space while continuing to build community. Here are a few ways that flexible furniture can help you advance your church mission and vision.
Reimagine Your Sanctuary
The tiny traditional church of centuries past was quite formal with permanently installed furniture. Many church leaders are still working with these beautiful, old buildings, helping them to bring new life to the community. This can be tricky, however, due to how the buildings are set up. If you want to be able to get more people into church services, you’ll need to reimagine your sanctuary.
Remove old church pews and replace them with more flexible (and comfortable!) church chairs. This allows you to move them to accommodate more people and to make the space feel more community-centered. It also allows you to pack more people in without sacrificing your important aisles and emergency exits. You’ll also be able to make room for disabled community members more easily.
Consider using your sanctuary for more than just Sunday morning meetings, as well. If you can utilize the space for weekday meetings and services, you’ll get more use out of the space.
Use Your Foyer More Effectively
Many foyers become places to hang coats or are simply passageways into the rest of the church building. Turn them into community spaces, especially if you hold two Sunday services. Set up folding tables for coffee, tea, and snacks, and encourage members to mingle during the time between meetings. This way you can keep the sense of community alive while still being able to offer services to far more people.
If your foyer is tiny, you might consider building onto it in an affordable way to maximize the space. Invest in folding chairs, folding tables, and other flexible furnishings that can be useful in the foyer space as efficiently as possible, while also encouraging lingering and community-building.
Rework Your Classrooms
Often, churches put different classes in separate rooms, not considering that the bodies in the room aren’t actually filling up the space. Consider if you can combine classes at all - perhaps mix young children age groups, for example. If you still need classes to be separated as they are, invest in room dividers that will allow for more than one group to use each room.
Ensure that your storage spaces in the classrooms are actually making the best use of the space. Instead of using up precious floor space, install cabinets on the wall that will allow classrooms to store supplies while still having full use of the room. Invest in flexible furnishings that can be effectively stored right in the classroom. Folding tables and chairs tend to be the best for these spaces.
Make Your Multipurpose Room Flexible
If you have a multipurpose room, use it to its full capacity and effectiveness. Be strategic about storage and then invest in different kinds of chairs to be used for various events. Banquet chairs are great for more formal events like weddings, conferences, fundraising dinners, and so forth - especially if they are stackable! You can also have chiavari or cross-back chairs available for dressier events that warrant more design-savvy furniture.
Purchase high-quality folding tables of all sizes and shapes. Long rectangular tables for church events and meetings. Round tables for dinners and community celebrations. Smaller tables for carnivals, conferences, or fellowship coffee meetings. Choose tables that will enhance your space and make it useful for cultivating community within your membership.
Strategize Your Storage
Storage is an important part of having flexible furnishings and for using rooms for many kinds of events. But it can also be done poorly and cramp space. If you have built-in closet space, make sure it’s set up to be used effectively. Install chair storage hanging systems, built-in shelving for tablecloths, dishes, and other supplies, and space for folding tables that will be easy and safe to access.
When installing storage spaces in rooms, make sure to not cut into floor space if you can help it. There are genius designs out there that focus on maximizing space. Don’t fall for the design that someone in your community drew up, just because you are afraid to disappoint them. Consult designers and storage architects so that your storage makes everything that happens in your church a breeze.
Pay Attention To Design
If you are trying to reach out to younger generations, millennials for example, you’ll really need to strategically analyze your design scheme. Congregation members want to feel comfortable in the church space and not everyone will see pews or out-of-date furniture colors as relaxing. Look at your design scheme from the perspective of a young adult. Bring a few of your young congregation members in to get their view of how things feel to them and what they might change.
Above all, always bring in designers who deeply understand how to make a space feel like it has new life and vibrancy. If you want to attract younger members, you’ll need to find out what makes them stick around a particular church and what makes them not come back. Flexible furnishings will go a long way to bringing them in, as they lend a more modern flair. Make sure they fit your aesthetics color and design-wise. And that they’re comfortable!
You’re passionate about making your church a place where community members can come to be fed spiritually and to build connections with each other. To do this, you’ve analyzed your mission to figure out how to more strategically implement it, you’ve worked on arranging your leadership to be more effective, and you’re working on your building to make it more effective and inviting. By focusing on these things and by making your space and furniture more flexible, you can grow your congregation, attract new members, and make devoted members feel that their church is alive and vibrant.