Saturday, November 28, 2009

First Impressions - part one

Years ago a survey said the number one thing church guests remember about their first visit was (drum roll, please), the landscaping. That’s right – the church lawn. Not the sermon or the greeters but something most members take for granted (until the weeds take over). Guests speculate that if a church takes care of its grass, it is probably doing a good job on other things such as worship, childcare, etc. So, use this list to help ensure you are giving a good first impression.
  • Street signs o Make sure there are street signs on the corner(s) nearest your building. If not, ask the city or county to install signs on your corner (not one of the other three). Make sure people can clearly see your church is at the corner of Elm and Main St. and not the other church at Elm and Second St.
  • Exterior church signs
    o Ensure that the road-side signs with the church’s name are uniform. Some churches have signs of different architectural styles (Gothic, Baroque, Mission) reflecting the committee in charge at the time. Nice lighting is critical.
    o “Keep it simple, stupid” works for church signs, too. The signs should have “just the facts” – after all, there’s only so much fine print you can read at 35 mph. Somewhere the church’s website should be on the sign.
    o Signs with changeable lettering are not bulletin boards but are marketing tools – the messages must be a positive reflection on God and your church. Pithy messages are cute but what are you communicating?
  • Parking lot entrance signs
    o Can drivers see quickly (at 35 mph) where and how to get into your driveway?
    o What about coming in at night, in snow, or rain – is the driveway marked with reflectors, poles, or other visual aids?
  • Parking lot maintenanceo Every other year get your parking lot re-striped. Well-marked lines help people park cars properly. It also cuts down on “creative parking.”
    o “Creative parking” can lead to fewer actual parking spaces and to a bad impression to guests. It is also a hazard if it blocks access to emergency vehicles.
    o Some first-timers come to an evening performance. Light the parking lot so they can see how to get back to their car and continue their positive experience after the special event. Of course, residential churches need to consider the impact of lighting on neighboring houses and turn off parking lots at a reasonable hour.
  • Guest parking
    o Ensure your guest parking (not “visitor parking”) is near the main entrance doors. Label these clearly so members don’t park there.
    o Some churches replaced “handicap parking” with “Special Needs/Sr. Adult Parking” so police cannot ticket non-handicap vehicles. It serves the same function but gives more flexibility.
Lead On!

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