David W. Miller writes from the Church at Rocky Peak, Chatsworth, California.

It doesn't always take major changes to make a church attractive to guests. A few small changes can make a big difference. Consider the following:


Better a little too cool than a little too warm.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon walked around his building one snowy night in disguise throwing rocks through the windows in his church to allow fresh, cool air inside. Even he could not keep people awake in a warm and stuffy auditorium. Johnny Carson reportedly kept his studio at 66 degrees so the audience would not fall asleep. Theaters are all cool. People who don't like it that way bring an extra sweater. A church, too, is more conducive to attentive worship when it is slightly cool.


Better a little too bright than a little too dim.

A bright room sets a bright atmosphere. A guest speaker at my former church told me my preaching would be twice as effective if I painted the ceiling and added more lighting. After making the changes, what a difference! The room was alive with expectation. Always make it brighter where you want the people's attention in our case, the platform.


Better a little too loud than a little too soft.

Again, we learn from public theaters. They keep it loud enough for even the elderly. Watch out for "dead spots" in the auditorium. It's a mistake to skimp on the sound system when building or remodeling. A quality sound system helps attract quality musicians (and a poor system drives them away).


Better a little too full than a little too empty.

Fit the seating for the size of the crowd. We opted for attractive, padded chairs, which we set up and take down for the anticipated number of people in each service.

When uncertain, we set up with too few seats, but with the option to add chairs. A room with more than half the chairs empty says, "They were expecting more, and only a few came." When you add chairs, it says, "They have more than they were expecting!"

But be careful. Full means allowing for some space between those who don't know each other 85 percent is "comfortably full" but 95 percent full is "uncomfortably ful1 -" (Uncomfortably full is still more attractive to visitors than only 50 percent full.)


Better a little too contemporary than a little too traditional.

Teach the people to "gather to celebrate; be alone to meditate." Do what the Bible says and "sing a new song" to the Lord. Relate more to today's generation than to those of the past. What must the unchurched wonder when we sing of raising our Ebenezers? We started a "Good Old-Fashioned Gospel Hour" on Sunday nights for those who wish to use hymnals and sing the great old hymns.


Better a little too short than a little too long.

Have them leave wishing there were more. More illustrations and application make any sermon seem shorter. Yes, it does take more preparation to deliver a shorter sermon! Less than twenty minutes may not allow time to develop the topic, text, and application, but only exceptional communicators can hold an audience for over thirty-five minutes.


Better a little too healing than a little too cutting.

Most auditoriums contain more broken hearts than hard hearts. One wise old pastor told me his ministry began its rapid growth the day he stopped his "Get On the Ball for Jesus" sermons and started preaching 'Jesus Can Put Your Life Back Together Again" sermons.


Better a little too informal than a little too formal.

Informal means warm and relaxed, not sloppy and poorly planned. Aim for excellence without being stuffy.

Platform dress makes a loud statement. In our case, the dress is casual contemporary.

We do things differently each week. We interview real people in ministry. We use a short drama presentation as either appetizer or dessert to the message. We laugh a lot!


Better a little too uninvolved than too threatened.

Welcome guests but don't embarrass them.

Many will prefer to remain anonymous. Expect the guests to "spectate" and the members to participate.

Early in the service we give a general welcome to guests and invite them to relax, enjoy the service, and get involved only as much as they feel comfortable. "You may not know the songs, but sit back and enjoy listening to the congregation sing."

We never ask for money from the platform. We teach biblical principles on giving in the membership classes and small groups. We communicate critical financial needs by letter or at the close of a service after dismissing the guests early.

We always give guests permission not to give when taking the offering. Instead we offer them a gift: a cassette tape on love for our first-timers, a paperback NIV Bible for our second-time guests.

David W. Miller writes from the Church at Rocky Peak, Chatsworth, California.