Do you remember the last church you visited that wasn’t your home church?
You pulled into the parking lot and were already impressed. The landscaping was tidy and the building was nice, but neither of these was remarkable. Inside you were greeted and found your way to the sanctuary. Perhaps the service spoke to your heart or maybe it didn’t, but you still left with a feeling that there was something right about that particular church. What made this impression?
Consider another church visit. This one does not leave a positive impression. There is grass growing in the parking lot cracks. The bushes surrounding the church are overgrown, and the inside is equally disorganized. The exit lights are dated, and some do not have lights in them. Extension cords are stretched across walkways, and the hallway also serves as a storage area. You’ve been to that church, too.
What is wrong at this church? This church needs an individual to step up and care for the neglected details. Someone needs to care.
A number of intangibles can affect how a person feels during a visit to a church. These can range from the friendliness of the members to the small details of the upkeep of the church. Although these things are sometimes hard to identify, they can make a large difference to regular members and visitors alike.
Have you ever noticed how much more pleasant it is to visit an organized and well-maintained facility? There is a reason for this reaction. Our brains recognize (whether we realize it or not) the clues that indicate whether we are in a safe place or not.
In many churches there is a designated Safety Officer tasked with keeping the church building a safe place to be, but all church leaders can help make the church a safe and inviting place to be. Here are a few target areas to consider.
1. THE CHURCH ENTRANCE
Is the space clean? Are all the exterior lights working and in good order? Are the bushes trimmed so visibility is not an issue? Are handrails and railings secured? Is the signage easy to read and up-to-date?
2. PARKING LOT
Are there cracks and potholes that can cause members and visitors to trip? Are the far corners of the area well lit as to discourage intruders and illegal activities? Are storage units and church vehicles parked off to the side to give clear access for cars to maneuver?
3. INTERIOR ROOMS
Are facilities well lit and clean? Are cleaning supplies locked away and air fresheners kept where children cannot access them? Are vision panels installed in all Sabbath School classroom doors and a current fire evacuation plan posted inside each room?
4. THE SANCTUARY
Do the carpets have wrinkles or tares? Are cords taped down and marked to prevent trips and falls? Are all exits clear and marked?
These are all indicators that someone is looking out for the safety of the location and those who come there. Someone cares.
When my father was teaching me to do a task, he used to tell me a principle that I should always keep in mind. His words of wisdom were that no matter what we are asked to do we should do it diligently and to complete it with the best job possible. He told me that I should consider each task as if it was from God and my effort and completion of the task as a ministry. There is no job for God that does not deserve our best effort.
If we apply this principle to the ministry of the safety officer, we may not see a direct result, such as when as evangelist gives an altar call or a Bible worker giving Bible studies. After all, the best result for an effective safety officer is when an accident doesn’t happen.
If you know of someone who serves your church in unseen ways, take a moment to thank them. Maybe that person is you! If so, thank you! Your work does much more than maintain a tidy atmosphere. It keeps people safe and makes them feel secure. Your faithfulness to your responsibilities shows visitors that your church takes its mission of reaching the world seriously. Those who visit our churches will see that we care.
David Fournier is manager of Client Care for Adventist Risk Management, Inc.