GPS has revolutionized way-finding for most of us. Name a place or address and away you go. No need to try to read a map or hunt for street signs while going 50mph. Too bad we can’t use that technology to help visitors navigate from the parking lot into the building.
Too often, churches have a bewildering array of entry points which were likely birthed out of multiple building campaigns. If you’ve been attending such a church for a while, you have no trouble knowing where to go, exactly where to park, and which door to enter in order to get your toddler checked in before they have a melt-down in their winter coat.
But what about visitors?
Visitors are obvious before they even park by their snail’s pace as they try to decipher the building. First-time guests may already be a little nervous about their visit. They have a lot of questions running through their minds.
Will I feel out of place?
Will we like the service?
How will I know when to stand and when to sit?
Getting lost on the way to the restrooms is not something we want to add to their ‘first timer’ nerves. As you begin planning to refresh, renovate or add on to your building is a great time to look at your church map and see how you can make navigation easier.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Take a big picture look at your property and facility and ask questions. As you answer each question, think like a long time member and as a first time visitor. The answers to these questions can help you zero in on areas that need attention.
Where is the driveway entrance?
Is it easy to identify where to park?
What is the current traffic pattern?
Where are the traffic jams?
Where are all of the entrances?
Is it easy to find the main entrance?
What is the current traffic pattern inside the building?
Where are people experiencing traffic jams?
What’s not working well?
What is working well?
What is confusing to people?
Is it easy to find the nursery?
Is it easy to find kids ministry?
Is it easy to find the restrooms?
Solving the issues that you have identified can happen in several different ways. It may be as easy as a portable signage that is placed at different building entries.
For example: “Family Entrance” or “Sanctuary Entrance”
Or it may be time to widen or redirect some corridors. Do you need more room? An addition or building expansion is a great time to rework the traffic patterns both outside and inside.
While you work through your next steps, remember that a smiling face, warm handshake and a sincere welcome from your current attendees can do more to make visitors feel welcome than any signage or architecture ever will!