When you?re working in ministry, it?s very easy to become focused on the big hitters: what songs you?re going to sing, what sermon you?re going to preach, or when the next big event is going to be. Unfortunately, as we put so much emphasis on these few elements, we often neglect one of the most crucial?the atmosphere. Even as we work in the creative areas of ministry, we can get so wrapped up behind our computers that we ignore the atmosphere we?re setting for our congregation. While all of the other portions of Sunday morning are valuable, a rotten atmosphere can steal their spotlight and leave attendees never wanting to come back. People will endure a bad sermon every now and then. But put them in an uncomfortable environment once, and you may never see them again.[quote]People will endure a bad sermon every now and then. But put them in an uncomfortable environment once, and you may never see them again.[/quote]
I get the opportunity to visit many churches? Sunday services. Even when you?ve worked in ministry for years, it?s still pretty nerve-racking to visit a new church for the first time. What I?ve learned most through these visits is that the atmosphere of your church communicates a message long before your pastor begins to preach. As I look back at the churches that put little effort into their atmosphere, I couldn?t tell you a single point from their sermons. Their environments preached so much louder than their pastors. On the other hand, I can remember in detail which churches made me feel welcome from the moment I stepped foot into their building. By cutting out distractions and establishing an inviting atmosphere, they were able to keep my attention and ultimately point me more toward Christ.
It?s not enough for a sermon, song, or slideshow to tell of God?s goodness. The overall atmosphere of our churches should be reflecting His glory. As followers of Jesus, it?s our responsibility to share the Good News with others. As people walk through your church doors, it?s important to remove every barrier that distracts from the message and work hard to create magnetic atmospheres that attendees love. This often comes down to two fundamentals that I believe make up every good, inviting atmosphere: intentionality and excellence.
Whenever you walk into a subpar environment, your first thoughts are normally questions. ?What?s that smell?? ?Why is that ______ in here?? ?When was the last time they cleaned?? ?What are we supposed to do??
Setting a great atmosphere is all about removing questions like these. In fact, ?Wow! They thought of everything!? is one of my favorite responses for an atmosphere to generate. People should be able to look around your environment and notice that you went out of your way to make them feel comfortable.
Design and d?cor should always be centered around your target audience and focus on what they are there to do.[quote]Design and d?cor should always be centered around your target audience and focus on what they are there to do.[/quote]
For example, if the goal of your church?s lobby is for people to relax and connect with others, it should resemble the design of a coffee shop. It should have warm colors and plenty of comfortable seating that promotes staying a while.
For your sanctuary, the goal is to create a relaxed environment where attention is drawn to your communicators on stage. Creating an atmosphere for this goal should involve lighting, seating, d?cor, and media that naturally draw eyes off of surroundings and promote focus on the stage.
Regularly take a solid look at the environments around your church. Gauging how well they?re focused on your target audiences and goals is a key part of maintaining a great atmosphere.
It may also help to pull inspiration from other venues with similar targets.
In the same way that you prepare for guests in your home, it?s a must to prepare for guests in your church. You always ensure that your home is extra tidy for visitors because you know that?s ultimately a representation of your family. With your church, it goes a step further than this. Not only are you representing yourselves, but you?re also representing God.[quote]Creating an atmosphere of excellence isn?t so much about having the nicest facilities. It?s more about honoring God with what He?s given you.[/quote]
Creating an atmosphere of excellence isn?t so much about having the nicest facilities. It?s more about honoring God with what He?s given you. When you approach your environments with the mindset that you?re going to do the absolute best with what you have, people take notice. You may not have the best sound system, but you take care of the one you have. You may not have the most expensive computer, but you use the one God?s given you to its maximum capacity. Having the willingness to go the extra mile and do things with excellence has a way of inspiring people. It establishes an atmosphere of quality and shows attendees that they?re important to you.
Consider the five senses. Does your environment smell good? What do guests hear? See? Taste? What do attendees feel in your atmosphere? Taking the time to run through these senses during one of your services can make a huge difference in how you ?do church? on Sundays. From time to time, invite a friend or family member that?s not connected to your ministry to offer perspective with a fresh set of eyes. They may be able to point out some areas that need improvement you?ve been overlooking for years.
Creating engaging environments may not come naturally to you, but they?re worth investing in because they lead the way for people to hear the Gospel.
Atmosphere is centered on feelings. People are going to remember your church based on how they felt when they attended. By championing your atmosphere, you can get people excited to come back to church, invite their friends, and go deeper in their relationship with Christ.