Wednesday, August 14, 2013


For the introduction to this series, click here

For part one of this series, click here

When I think about the face of the church, what it looks like, and how it presents itself to its members and to the community in general, I like to think of two levels: the level of personal interaction and the level of external presentation. These aren't scientific, sociological, or demographic distinctions, they are merely my attempt to categorize what I've observed in my limited study of local churches. In part one of this series, we looked at the importance of personal interaction, how a congregation relates to newcomers and one another.

I began with that level because the temptation (or trap) some churches fall into is to make today's level, the level of external presentation, the primary element in their picture of the church. So let us agree in principle that people, not programs, are the key component to the portrait of a local church. Amen and amen.

All that being said, understood, and established, there is most definitely a place for external presentation within the local church. Most people come to church via personal invitation and most people are "won over" by the warmth and friendliness of the congregation, but quite frequently, it is the building and programs that initially get their attention.

It is surprising how many churches have warm, friendly congregations, but their buildings are in need of paint and yard work. A visitor wanders in, but there is no signage to direct him or her to the nursery, the children's area, or the sanctuary. They get a church bulletin that looks like it was typed by a grade school student. When they pick up their hymn books, they have to blow the thin layer of dust off.

The church's programs and the mechanics of how the church operates are also noticeable. What is available for my kids (four empty beige walls in the kids' area doesn't look very inviting!)? How do they do music? Who "runs" the church? Certainly not all of these questions are going to be explored in depth, but they do lead to some initial impressions. The kids area is a big one that will become very evident.  Church government will usually take some time to explore. Even elements such as technology will make an impression: do you project lyrics or announcements on a screen? Is your lighting and sound an enhancement or distraction?

None of this implies that every single church should have the latest gadgets, the most efficient, business model of leadership, or the most professional praise band. Budgets and giftedness within the congregation will play a huge role in this level of our portrait of the church. I have a feeling that, in this day and age of mega-churches, that a good many people might be looking for the smaller, simpler church.

Here's a great exercise when looking at your church.  Periodically pretend that you know nothing about your church and you are visiting for the first time. Write down your impressions of the parking lot, the building, the foyer, the sanctuary, the coffee, and the people. Try to look at everything as if you were there for the very first time. It's quite revealing and might help in some decision making regarding external presentation.


1 comment:

  1. First of all, thank you.
    Thank you for investing in children through childrens ministers by blogging about your experiences on KIDSERVANTS LOG: Musings from Teacher Tim, and sharing your learnings openly.

    Please know how incredible this is. And be encouraged to keep going.

    I hope and pray that even more childrens ministers will be inspired, find solutions to their struggles, will be encouraged not to stop serving, and be inspired to grow their gifts.

    We recognize that these are incredible times to live in, where technology allows childrens ministers around the world to encourage each other. As for ourselves, we use technology to reach out to children globally as well.

    We’re developing the world’s first videogame that takes kids through the Bible from beginning to end. Our hope is to increase the love for God’s Word amongst kids.

    We dream to see fathers and sons going through the Bible together, having fun as they become part of David’s army, spend time in the fish as Jonah, and play level after level, leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

    In order to steward this immense project well, we’re building relationships with childrens ministers like you. You know the kids in your community. We like to ask your input by allowing you to look behind the scenes, have your kids/families play demo game levels before they go public, etc. You may also recommend a few people you think would be of interest.

    Additionally, we can provide you with plenty of interesting “blog-food” (concept art, images, etc) if you feel that this could benefit your subscribers.

    If you’d like more information, shoot me a quick reply to the email address below.

    connect (at) tornadotwins (dot) com