July 19, 2023

5 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Physical Space – Episode 305 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

5 mistakes you're making with your physical space

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Mistakes You’re Making in Your Weekend Experience (Part 3)

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When it comes to creating a great experience for new people visiting our church, one of the most often overlooked resources is our facility. Through our parking, our lobby space, and even our restrooms, we can unintentionally create a negative or confusing experience for guests.

It’s easy to become blind to our spaces when we’re in them all the time. New people, on the other hand, come in with a fresh eyes and different perspective when they’re engaging our facilities because it’s an experience that they’ve not had before. 


Fortunately, this is one area where small intentional changes can make a big difference.

On this week’s podcast, I sat down with Phil Taylor, the Executive Producer of PlainJoe Studios, for a conversation about the five mistakes churches make when it comes to their space and how they can design a more cohesive, positive experience. We discuss:

  • Creating a clear, cohesive space
  • Simple ways to update your building
  • Incorporating “placemaking” into your design
  • The importance of not over or under-building
When it comes to creating a great experience for new people visiting our church, one of the most overlooked resources is our facility. Fortunately, this is one area where small intentional changes can make a big difference. [episode 305]… Click To Tweet When new people are visiting our church, clear directional signage is a key to a good experience. Put yourself in the eyes of a visitor and ask: How do they experience this building? Where do they need to turn? What do they need to find? … Click To Tweet It’s easy to become blind to our spaces when we’re in them all the time. New people, on the other hand, come in with a fresh eyes and different perspective when they're engaging our facilities for the first time. [episode 305] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet
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Sean (00:02):

Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast, where each week we are exploring what it means to be an unstuck church. When it comes to creating a great experience for new people visiting our church, one of the most often overlooked resources is our facility. From parking to lobby space and even restrooms, we can unintentionally create a negative experience only because we’re personally so used to our space. On this week’s podcast, Tony and Amy continue our series on common mistakes churches make on the weekend with a conversation about the five mistakes churches make when it comes to their space. If you’re new to The Unstuck Church Podcast, stop before you listen and head to theunstuckgroup.com/podcast and subscribe to get the show notes in your email. When you do each week, you’ll get resources to support that week’s episode, including our Leader Conversation Guide, as well as access to our podcast resource archive. That’s theunstuckgroup.com/podcast to subscribe. Now, before this week’s conversation, here’s Tony.

Tony (01:01):

The Church Lawyers Client Member Program was created for organizations just like yours. Their team of Christian legal professionals are personally called to empower and protect churches’ ministries and their leaders. They want to help you fulfill your mission by providing biblically-informed and ministry-focused legal solutions. Whether it’s governance, employment, litigation or other matters, let The Church Lawyers walk alongside you as you navigate legal issues facing your ministry. Sign up for The Church Lawyers Client Member Program today at thechurchlawyers.com.

Amy (01:41):

Well, welcome back, Tony. Good to see you again today. How’s your travel schedule been?

Tony (01:47):

It’s been good. I was out in Denver. The mountains were big out there; it’s a good place to go visit. However, it was hot in Denver, hotter than it was in Atlanta.

Amy (01:57):


Tony (01:57):

So I don’t know what’s going on, but it was. But I was with a great church: Crossroads Church. Pastor Matt Manning’s good friend, has become a good friend of mine, and they’re doing great ministry. And there’s actually a story related to Crossroads that I want to share at some point related to some key transitions that they made in recent years. But we’re gonna hold that for a future podcast episode, Amy. But they’re doing great ministry, and it was just fun to reconnect with the team out of Crossroads Church.

Amy (02:27):

I love that you bring them up because if I remember right, they were the first church once the pandemic hit that said, “Nope. We’re gonna move forward and start our planning.” And so I’m excited to share that story cuz they did a lot of hard work the last couple of years.

Tony (02:39):

They absolutely did.

Amy (02:40):

Well, this week, we’re in part three of our series on Mistakes You’re Making in Your Weekend Experience. And so far, we’ve talked about the five mistakes you might be making in your weekend worship experience and in your guest experience. But, Tony, where’s our conversation headed today?

Tony (02:55):

Yeah, Amy, I’m looking forward to sharing today’s interview because this episode is going to be focused on our physical space and facilities. This is another area that we look at in our Secret Shopper Reports. There, I mean, we talk about parking spaces, signage, the facility itself, the quality of the coffee. No, I’m kidding. We don’t talk about coffee, though. We, we do appreciate a good cup, cup of coffee, don’t we?

Amy (03:19):

We do. And you know, this is one area where small changes can make a big difference. And we’ve talked about this before. We habituate to our environments, and we just don’t see it anymore. And so those fresh eyes, that outsider perspective, really helps to identify what are those small changes or sometimes big changes that need to be made. And so to help us with today’s topic, we have a guest joining us today. Tony, can you tell us about him?

Tony (03:44):

Yeah. I recently got the chance to sit down with Phil Taylor from Plain Joe Studios; it’s a design studio for nonprofits and churches. And I thought, man, his wisdom would be so helpful for this topic. So, and Phil understands it; he understands both sides of the conversation. He’ll talk about that in a minute because he actually served previously as an executive and lead pastor for several churches over 20 years before he started to work at Plain Joe. But now he’s shifted out of full-time ministry and gets to help churches tell their stories more effectively through his work as the executive producer at Plain Joe Studios. And I enjoyed our conversation, and I think you will as well. It’s very practical. So listen to my conversation with Phil Taylor.

Tony (04:40):

Phil, I’m really glad to have you in the conversation today. We’re talking about mistakes that churches make around their weekend experiences. And with you, I wanted to focus in on facilities because you’re the executive producer at Storyland Studios, part of Plain Joe. Maybe a little bit of your backstory before we jump into the conversation, though.

Phil (05:02):

Yeah, sure. So I spent 20 years as a pastor, most of that time as an executive pastor. And, of course, along the way, got into some facilities projects and expansions. And actually, I was on the client side. So I hired Plain Joe Studios to work on a, a big box store that we were converting into our new home as a church. And they came in and, you know, what we were most concerned about was that we didn’t wanna end up with a 78,000-square-foot dentist office that was just boring and, you know, had no story to it. And, and kind of the decor gets left to the last minute, and everybody kind of just fends for themselves. And it ends up being a, a hodgepodge with no consistent or clear story. And so we brought Plain Joe in to say, “Hey, make, make this place sing. Make it look awesome. Make it reflect who we are.” And they did an incredible job of that. That created a friendship. And then I was able to, they asked me to join the team a few years later and help lots of churches do that around the country. So that’s been a blast to be able to come alongside of pastors and help them tell their story well.

Tony (06:08):

I’m glad that you and the team at Plain Joe are doing that because I will just tell you when I walk into a church, I can tell when a building committee has been responsible for the facility and the interior design and so on because usually it’s as bland as you can imagine. There’s no creativity. It’s not telling any kind of a story. And so I really appreciate experts like you that are coming alongside churches, coming alongside pastors cuz we don’t do buildings for a living. We do ministry, and you’re helping us engage that mission much more effectively. So all that as a precursor to, you and I were talking a little bit, we had a little bit back and forth on what we thought the five common mistakes were that we’re seeing related to facilities and churches. And so I’m just gonna kind of lead you through some of the pre-conversation that we have and walk through these five mistakes that we identified. The first being around directional signage or think about brand consistency, too much insider language. In other words, it feels like churches aren’t creating a clear and cohesive experience.

Phil (07:15):

Yeah, yeah.

Tony (07:16):

So, what do you, what do you think about that?

Phil (07:18):

So we, you know, we’ll call that wayfinding signage, right? And, and really what we’re trying to do is, you know, I’m, I’m new to your church. I’m, it’s my first time there, and I’m, I’m walking in from the parking lot. One: do I know where your building is? You know, is the signage clear to get me to your building? Once I get to your parking lot, can I figure out what the main entrance is that I’m supposed to walk through? Is there a different entrance for parents with kids that I don’t know about? And now I’m walking halfway through the building to check my kids into kids ministry. Do I walk in and I, you know, maybe I got there late, and I’m like a little lost. Or maybe it took a little longer to get there, and I just really need to go to the bathroom. And I can’t find the bathroom, you know?

Tony (07:55):


Phil (07:56):

Like all of these things are, are simple to solve. And really, if you think about it, when you’re new at a church, like there could be a lot of anxiety there. You, you feel out of place. It’s not your, your, it’s not a place of comfort for you because you’re new; you don’t know the building. And, and so just alleviating a lot of that, I think, is a good gospel thing to do where you can alleviate that stress with just some simple, clear signage where the font is big enough that I can read it across the lobby and I can see where I need to go. And if you put yourself in the eyes of a visitor and you say, how does the visitor experience this building? Where do they need to turn? What, what do they need to find? It’s not hard to do that. And then just giving it a consistent look. So it, it shouldn’t be a different color than your, than your colors that you use in your font package and, and whatnot, right? Or in your logo style guide—that should all feel like it hangs together. Having that, that cohesive experience from the parking lot all the way to the chair, the pew, whatever and having it all feel like it hangs together. It’s not hard. It’s not super expensive to do that well in any building, existing building, brand new building. It’s not hard at all to do.

Tony (09:08):

So, that kind of leads to the second mistake. And I, I think it’s just related to, for those of us that are already part of the church, when we walk into our church buildings, we, we know where everything is. And it looks like church is supposed to look. For new people, they come in with a fresh eyes and different perspective on how they’re engaging our facilities because it’s an experience that they’ve not had before. And I’ve seen this also play out as it relates to just, it feels like a lot of the church buildings I walk into just feel tired. It feels like they’re becoming dated. And I think, many times, pastors and church leaders, because they’re living in that space all the time, they don’t realize it themselves. A few years ago, I, I travel, obviously, I’m on the road 2, 2, 3 times a month, visiting churches. Stay in a lot of hotels, primarily in the Marriott chain of some sort.

Phil (10:04):

Yeah, me too.

Tony (10:05):

And I thought I read someplace that Marriott actually has all of their hotel properties on a maybe a five- or six-year cycle where they’re doing renovations. And I thought, I think churches need to do that. Because even some of our newer church buildings built within the last decade or so, even those newer buildings are feeling a little bit tired and dated. Do you find that as well, Phil?

Phil (10:28):

Yeah, totally. And I, you know, it’s kind of funny. You can go into a Marriott hotel, and you could tell like in a, say a Fairfield Inn & Suites, you could tell like within about a two-year period when it was built, right?

Tony (10:39):


Phil (10:39):

Or when it was last renovated. Like, oh, it’s got, it’s got that couch. You know, like you just kinda know. But, but yeah, I think, you know, in churches when you’re designing, let’s say it’s a, a new building. When you’re designing that, that lobby space, think of those common spaces that are, that everybody has to walk through to get to the sanctuary or the kids’ ministry area. If when you’re designing it, like literally from day one, you’re saying, okay, what does it take to update this? Right? So I’ll give you an example of, of one building I was working on where there was an accent color that was used in, you know, maybe 10 places throughout the lobby. It was a large lobby, probably 20,000 square feet. It was for a big church. And so there was this accent color that was used in maybe 10 or 12 places. And then there was some, some vinyl-based graphics that were used in eight or nine places. And then there was some wayfinding signage hanging down from the ceiling—really simple Sintra board, cheap stuff, easy to make. And that was in half a dozen places. And so we looked at that, and we said, okay, let’s say in five years’ time, you want to give this whole lobby a fresh look. You change out the accent colors. You change out the vinyl signage, and you change out the hanging wayfinding signage. And you’re probably gonna spend, absolute max, 20k, right?

Tony (11:59):


Phil (12:00):

Absolute max. And then just, you know, go downwards if you’re in a smaller church. 5k, right?

Tony (12:06):


Phil (12:06):

So is that worth it to give your whole building? You don’t have to update the whole building every time, right? You update the common areas. You, you come up with a new paint scheme. So it’s not hard to stay somewhat current. And then you do some, you know, deep changes maybe every 15 or 20 years. You might make some major changes. But if you’re staying up on that and you plan for it ahead of time, it doesn’t have to be crazy. The place where people get into trouble is when they do something really unique and different, like with the flooring, right?

Tony (12:35):


Phil (12:35):

And then you’re like, well, now you’re screwed cuz that’s gonna be dated in two and a half years, and you’re gonna have to spend a hundred grand to fix that, you know? So.

Tony (12:42):

That’s right. All right. So the, around the third mistake, you were using this phrase placemaking. Can you under, can you help me understand what, when you say placemaking, what does that mean? And where do you see this as being an opportunity for churches?

Phil (12:57):

So placemaking, if you think about this, is let’s say I were to walk into your church on Sunday morning, and you know, God forbid not a single person speaks to me, right? Your, your greeting team is just, you know, they all called in sick that day. And all the pastors are on vacation, and there’s only one guy. And, you know, just, I walk in, and I walk around for 10 minutes before the service starts. And 10 minutes after the service ends, and not a single person talks to me. And for whatever reason, it doesn’t bother me. So what am I gonna learn about your church by just walking around those common spaces, the lobbies, the hallway to the kids’ ministry check-in area, whatever it might be. What am I gonna learn about your church just by doing that? That’s placemaking, right? And that can happen through a few different things. One of the biggest areas is the graphics that are on the wall. So maybe it’s, you know, a big, you know, graphic that covers this whole big wall when you first walk into the lobby. And it’s got, you know, some imagery. Maybe it’s got the, the phrase that you use to kind of define your church all the time, but it’s up there big. It’s really clear. I want you to see this, I want you to read this. This is important about us. Maybe I turn the corner of the lobby, and I see a big, you know, kids’ check-in area. And it’s beautiful and colorful. And kids see it, and they go, “I don’t know what that is, but I want to go there.” What are you telling me? You’re telling me that kids are important. So you’re making, you’re, you’re doing placemaking with the kids’ ministry check-in area. Maybe there’s a wall that is talking about student ministry or global missions or, you know, whatever it is that your church is into. If I can walk around the lobby and I can see two or three spotlight graphic areas that are really helping me to understand what this church is all about, then you’re doing a good job at placemaking. The other thing that plays into that is the furniture choices that you make. So, you know, if I walk into your, to your 1970s building, and you’ve, you know, kind of lovingly fixed it up. And you’ve maybe leaned into that mid-century modern thing that’s super popular right now. And I walk in, and I go, “Man, this feels like, you know, the Starbucks I love to go to.” It’s, you’re, you’re, you’re doing good placemaking at that point, right? You’ve done a good job with furniture selection. You know, are you telling a consistent story with that? Does the trashcan look like it, you know, came from Lowe’s? Or does it look like it came from a proper design store and therefore fits in with everything else you’ve purchased? Right? This is a, a lot of what we talk about when we talk about placemaking.

Tony (15:29):

Yeah. And I think it gets to, you know, buildings need to be functional. They need to, they need to serve a certain purpose, but you’re trying to create a certain emotional reaction almost in the space as well. Isn’t that correct?

Phil (15:41):

That’s right. Yeah. You, you want people to walk into a space and kind of instantly have a sense of, of kind of who you are as a church, right? So if you’ve got, you know, this great brand new, you know, building that, that just feels plain and ugly, right? So like, it’s a good space in terms of the size, but it feels more like the, the, the rec hall for the city rather than a place where somebody would make a church home. So what we always say as, as pastors, we say, “Hey, well welcome to the church.” You know, if this, if we, if you call “blank church” your home, right? We use that language all the time. If you call this church your home, okay, well, if we, if we wanna talk about church as a home, there ought to be some touches of a home as we walk around. It ought to feel a little bit like your actual home, not just this building that’s your home on Sunday morning. And so you gotta really think that through. And that’s an emotional experience, right? Storytelling.

Tony (16:43):

Very, very much so. Yeah. Very much so. Alright, so the fourth mistake is not building the right size building. And there are two directions, and I wanna maybe spend a little bit of time on both sides of this. I’ve seen churches that have underbuilt, and I’ve seen churches that have overbuilt. And let, let’s talk about the underbuilt churches. And this is what I’ve seen, Phil, and, and maybe you can help us understand how Plain Joe helps churches around this, too. Sometimes, many times, I’ve run into churches where they have a good number of seats for the church, but then based on the number of seats, the parking lot might meet code, but it’s not supporting their seating capacity. The kids’ space isn’t designed to accommodate the number of adults that they have. The lobby space is inadequate. And just, I don’t know. There’s probably a technical term for this, but the people movement in the building, because of the size of the hallways, is just not adequate for the number of seats that they have built in their auditorium or sanctuary. So, all that to say, I find that some churches are underbuilding for the crowd that they’re expecting at any given time on a Sunday morning.

Phil (17:59):


Tony (17:59):

So how, how do you help churches with that?

Phil (18:02):

Yeah. So there’s there, like you said, there really are three areas where you’re gonna run into capacity issues. There’s the sanctuary seats available. There’s the, the amount of capacity you have in kids’ ministry, and there’s the amount of capacity you have for parking. And then there’s a fourth spot that is kind of overlooked but is just as important. And that’s the capacity that you have in the lobby because it’s, that becomes oftentimes your central gateway through to all those different areas, right? And so, you know, a lot of times the church will say, “Well, we wanna, we wanna make sure we have enough seats for Easter, right?” And so they, they build a sanctuary that’s really big, and they don’t think about the fact that, hey, guess what? You might actually grow, and you might fill those seats. And if you do, now your kids’ ministry isn’t big enough. And so kids’ ministry feels uncomfortable and cramped, and, you know, you end up knocking through a wall into your office area and kicking all the staff out of the offices so that you get more kids’ ministry space. And so really kind of thinking through, what, what are our options here? What are our plans? And making sure that, that you’ve got, you know, adequate space and all of that. Do you have a plan for when you start to run outta space in your parking lot? Is it, in Florida where I live, you know, we just park on the grass. Like that’s what everybody does in Florida—you just park on the grass. And you’ll see churches with grass lots, like as their actual strategy. And that’s totally acceptable. You can’t do that in other parts of the country due to mud or whatever else is going on or coding. You can’t do it. So you gotta kind of think through all of those things and have a plan in place so that you know where to go. You know, more often than not, churches will overbuild the sanctuary and underbid everything else. I don’t know exactly what the psychology is there. We could probably do some study on, on the heart of a pastor for, for that and, and maybe even do a little bit of soul searching on that. But it is a common problem. And I think what, what is better to say is, Hey, let’s, let’s just have a plan for how to expand the sanctuary. Let’s, let’s go ahead and build with the idea that you may, you may jump in with a couple of services right off, right off the bat in that new building. And, and, but you’ve got enough room for kids’ ministry and parking along the way. And the lobby, I, I’ve seen this too many times where churches get to a point, they get to that dreaded point in every building project that we call value engineering, which is the fancy way of saying cutting the budget, right? The lobby is the place that almost always gets value engineered, right? Where you, where you’ll end up saying, “Hey, you know, since we’ve got the sanctuary and the kids’ space, we can cut the lobby way down and, and save the budget there.” And I’ve been in, you know, churches that were quite large in terms of the, their sanctuary size. And then they have these little tiny lobbies, and they wonder why everybody leaves two minutes after the service ends.

Tony (20:55):


Phil (20:56):

It’s because it’s so uncomfortable to be there. And so they just leave. And it really impacts the ability for that church to build real community amongst its people because there is no place to hang around afterwards and enjoy a cup of coffee and talk to your friends who go to your church, right? And so, don’t, don’t skip on the lobby. If you have to skip somewhere, if you’ve gotta cut the budget somewhere, cut the offices out, right? Cut the staff offices out. I don’t care if you have 50 people on your staff.

Tony (21:26):


Phil (21:26):

Cut, cut the offices out, and spend 25 grand on really nice furniture around the lobby.

Tony (21:33):


Phil (21:34):

And just say, Hey guys, you know what? For now, we can’t afford offices. But we gave you enough kids’ space, and we gave you enough lobby space. And we put lots of chairs for you to sit on.

Tony (21:43):


Phil (21:43):

So it, it’ll be fine. It’ll be fine.

Tony (21:46):

Yeah. I’ve, I’ve worked with plenty of fast-growing, thriving churches that their auditoriums were just not quite big enough, and they did not have enough office space. And it’s interesting; it feels like the church, churches that finally build the auditorium that’s big enough, and they finally have enough office space are usually the churches that are stuck, Phil.

Phil (22:07):

Yeah, yeah.

Tony (22:07):

So, I think there’s a lot of wisdom in all of that. I was really proud of a church that I was working with a few years ago here in Georgia, which, by the way, you can’t park in the grass because you would be parking in mud in Georgia. But, I refer to them as the largest church I’ve ever worked with that had the smallest lobby. And I was proud of them because, during Covid, they actually invested and prioritized expanding their lobby space. And it really, on this side of Covid, has set them up for a lot of momentum. So the reverse side of this mistake then is overbuilding. And where I see this coming into play is when churches build auditoriums for the big holidays like Easter and Christmas. But then they’re never able to fill that space the rest of the year. So can you speak to that for a moment?

Phil (23:00):

Yeah, it’s a, it’s definitely, a big mistake to overbuild, especially with sanctuary capacity because it, it can have a pretty big impact on the morale of the church if you’ve got a space that you can never fill.

Tony (23:15):


Phil (23:16):

Thankfully, banks often don’t let you do that.

Tony (23:21):


Phil (23:22):

It used to be that banks would allow that, and they just wouldn’t really look too deeply at these things. But they seem to be kind of wising up to the way churches are building, and they’re looking a little more deeply. But, you know, it affects morale. It means that now if you need to do, I’m of the belief that churches function better with two services. I realize that there’s, you know, there’s some that have a theological conviction about doing only one service, and that’s fine. But my personal view is that they function better with two services. And that means that you can’t think of your sanctuary capacity as just what it is at one service but what it is at two services.

Tony (23:56):


Phil (23:56):

And that really then dictates, you know, how big of a room you build. I think there’s a way that you can really work well to have a space that does have some flex space for growth or the large Sundays. And that’s doing some of the mix of flat-floor and then stadium seating. You see this at a number of churches now over the last, you know, five to 10 years, where you might be able to hold, say, 800 people on a flat-surface sanctuary. And then there’s kind of a stadium seating effect on the back that gives you another 800 seats. And a curtain can be pulled across all of it so that when you pull that curtain across, it’s an 800-seat room, right?

Tony (24:39):


Phil (24:40):

It’s not a 1,600-seat room. And maybe you could even do it halfway without opening up all of it. So there’s some, there’s some unique creativity that, that, that we’ll often bring to a sanctuary design to say, okay, let’s take care of your needs now. Let’s assume that you’ve got some growth in you, and let’s take care of those needs. And, and let’s do it in a smart way that doesn’t make your room feel really empty when you just haven’t grown into it yet.

Tony (25:07):

So, all right. The last mistake I wanted to talk about today is related to story and seems appropriate talking with someone from Plain Joe and Storyland Studios. But the mistake is around churches not telling the story through design. Can you explain that a little bit?

Phil (25:27):

So everything we do at Plain Joe starts with story. And every good story is gonna have three clear aspects to it: character, setting and plot. I mean, think about it. Every story that’s ever been told has characters. It has a setting, and it has a plot. And so the first place that we start with all of our churches is we wanna discover that. Again, whether it’s a church or a Christian school or a not-for-profit, we want to, we wanna come and meet with the key leaders and figure out what your story is. When we understand the story, then we can go from there into all the different aspects of design that we might step into. Let’s say we’re rebranding you as a, as a church or not-for-profit. Let’s say we are redesigning your existing building or designing a new building or working on a website project, whatever it might be. If it starts with that story, then we can really lean into that carefully. And so, if you understand what the story is, then you’re able to build all of those design pieces around that. So if you say that you’re, that you love the traditions of your church and, and you’re in an area that really highly values that, then that ought to be reflected in the design of the building. If you say that you’re innovative, if that’s part of your story is that you’re a super innovative church, then that probably ought to impact the technology that’s used in the lobby, right? So each of these things impact the story as we look at, at how we do design work. And I think, if you’re, if you’re not holding to a consistent story, then relatively quickly, a space, a building, a home for a church will start to feel disjointed. And you start bringing in pieces, whether it’s a piece of furniture or you know, a, a remodeled part of the building that doesn’t tell the same story, it doesn’t feel consistent. And so if you’ve got kind of a, a roadmap, if you think of that story as the roadmap forward and everything you do for the next five to 10 years kind of heels into that story that, that you’ve helped determine and discover, then everything that you designed for your spaces, whether they’re your physical spaces or your digital spaces, they should all feel like they hang together. Does that make sense?

Tony (27:46):

It absolutely does. Phil, thank you so much for joining us for today’s conversation. Just helping us think again about how the spaces that we are building and creating really do impact that weekend experience. So thanks for joining us today.

Phil (28:00):

Good to be with you, Tony. Thank you.

Amy (28:08):

That was a great conversation, Tony. I’m so glad he joined us. You can tell that Phil really has a heart for helping churches in this area. One takeaway that I loved is how Phil said if we’re going to call our churches a church home, we should actually strive to make it feel like a home people can come to and feel comfortable. What stood out to you, Tony?

Tony (28:27):

Yeah, there were quite a few, I thought, very good takeaways from the conversation. The first thing I loved was how Phil framed up this idea of making our physical space warm and inviting as a good gospel thing to do. It, I mean, it takes a lot of courage to show up to a church for the very first time. So, it’s our job to make it as comfortable as possible and to alleviate the anxiety where we can, whether that’s through having enough parking spaces or just making sure it’s clear where the bathrooms are, as an example, just trying to remove as many barriers as we can. The second takeaway for me was that keeping our space updated and fresh doesn’t mean having to renovate the entire building. Phil explained how some just new paint and new signage in your common areas can bring a fresh energy to your whole space without needing an entire overhaul. So if we build in those planned refreshes every few years, it doesn’t have to be a big financial impact on our ministries. Then, the final super practical advice, don’t skimp on the lobby and then wonder why no one wants to hang out after the services. Think about how the size and setup of your lobby impacts people’s experience at your church, both entering and leaving, and make sure you prioritize that space.

Amy (29:50):

Good stuff. Well, any final thoughts, Tony, before we wrap up today’s conversation?

Tony (29:55):

Amy, one of the things Phil really emphasized was putting ourself in the eyes of a visitor and asking, how does a visitor experience this building? Where do they need to turn? What do they need to find? While this is something churches can do on their own, it can be really helpful to have a true outsider come in and help you see from this perspective. So if you want to learn more about how our consultants can serve you in that way, you can visit our website and start a conversation at theunstuckgroup.com/start. And you can learn more about Plain Joe, they’re a Storyland Studio that serves churches, at plainjoestudios.com.

Sean (30:34):

Well, thanks for joining us on this week’s podcast. If you like what you’re hearing on the podcast and it’s helped you in some way, we would love your help in getting the content out farther. And you can do that by subscribing on your favorite podcasting platform, giving us a review and telling somebody else about the podcast. Next week, we’re back with another brand new episode. Until then, have a great week.

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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