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A Church Pastor’s Dream List

By Gordon Botting

Twenty-five years ago I served as pastor of a large metropolitan church. At first glance, this church was a magnificent edifice with a large one-of-a-kind pipe organ; a three-tier sanctuary; and two 30-foot-high motifs, imported from Italy, depicting the three angels of Revelation and the Second Advent. However, in contrast to its beauty and dignity, the church lacked the basics for encouraging members and the community to come and be part of the congregation.

Although it had seating for 1,400, there were only 150 parking spaces; while it had a pastoral staff of five, its office complex had only one office; and despite it being easily seen from the road, there was no way for a person to enter the facility from the other side of the parkway.

If you are currently looking at constructing a new facility, here are six basic elements that it needs.

1. External signage. The church sign should identify the church in large, high-contrasting lettering that can be easily read by passersby. A number of church signs that I have seen display the church name in colors and hues that are nearly identical with the background. I have been amazed by the number of Seventh-day Adventist churches that do not spell their denominational name correctly, such as no hyphen between "Seventh" and "day" or capitalizing the "D" in "day."

2. Entrance to the Facility. Adequate lighting of the church's name is needed (as well as for important entrances). The street number must appear in large letters that can be seen easily from the road. The entrance(s) should be convenient from the street and well-marked. Having a covered entrance for a minimum of two vehicles to unload their passengers is a must for weather conditions and for special occasions, such as funerals and weddings.

3. Parking

Parking space should be adequate for the largest event you will ever have at your church. Designing the parking to be convenient for visitors and members to gain access to the various entrances of your facility is a real plus. Providing special parking spots for visitors, including parking spots for families with small children and pregnant mothers, is a great way to welcome newcomers. Trees and shrubs are an added bonus, along with a walkway between the rows of parked vehicles.

4. Storage. Inadequate storage rooms result in, probably, the biggest "nightmare" for deacons and deaconesses. In many cases, the church building committee fails to include a room to store the chairs and tables used for fellowship lunches. This problem extends to the Sabbath School rooms, which never seem to have satisfactory cupboards, particularly in the lower divisions, for all the soft toys, flannel kits, books, and boxes of handout items. A child-sized toilet in the bathroom near the classroom is also a bonus.

A special closet for whiteboards, projectors, TV stands, and other audio equipment is often overlooked. The deaconesses would praise any building committee that included a large walk-in compartment with shelves for the items churches use, such as tablecloths, flower vases, and Communion materials.

When planning each room for your new facility, the thinking should be "storage, adequate storage, and more storage." Even then, down the road, you will probably be saying, "I wish we had more storage."

5. Small rooms. Often much of what happens in the local church involves small groups, be they working committees, social groups, musical ensembles, or spiritual circles. Providing rooms of various sizes makes individuals feel more at home and saves on utility costs. Sometimes having a large room that can be divided by two or three moveable walls can provide for a number of functions and groups. Remember, the majority of church work is conducted in small rooms.

6. Church office space. Every church needs a professional office space. This should include a reception area with a secretarial desk and adequate space for computers, printers, and other office equipment. A separate copy room is very helpful, with lots of table space for assembling bulletins, for instance.

The building should include two or three pastors' offices even if your church currently has only one pastor. Evangelists and Bible workers will need these rooms when you conduct evangelistic series. The pastoral offices should be designed to face the secretary/receptionist's office, divided from it by a double-paned glass wall to keep the conversations private.

The little things—the attention to details—make a church feel more like a home, which will encourage individuals and families to return again and again.

Gordon Botting recently retired from being financial educator and stewardship director for the Pacific Union Conference

Reprinted from MINISTRY with permission