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May 19, 2021 08:00am
One Church Survey, One Pastor and 4 Foundational Truths
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(The following blog was written by a Texas pastor whose church is in the Austin area.) 

You can learn a lot about people when you step into their homes. 

Imagine waking into the home of a family you’ve never met before. At a quick glance, you instantly make some surface-level observations about the household. Are they clean and organized or messy and cluttered? Are they casual and relaxed or formal and precise?

Upon further examination, you’re able to draw some conclusions about the deeper values of the home. The dilapidated dinner table and the dishes in the sink tell the story of how much the family enjoys spending time together around a delicious, home-cooked meal. The toys in the living room, artwork on the fridge, and fingerprints on the backdoor window communicate that kids are welcome and free to play. 

Your home tells a story. 

As Antioch Georgetown starts to take steps toward our future home, we’re giving careful consideration to the story we want tell. What message do we want our facility to send to our friends, our guests, and our community? 

We’ve intentionally decided to focus on four words. These four words will become our own personal building code. They will lay the foundation for the design, decor, function and finance of our future home. The words are not the product of one person’s imagination, but rather they’re a collective result of church-wide input.

These four words are: Approachable, Authentic, Adaptable, Affordable

Approachable

  • 48% of respondents prefer a seating capacity of 101-250. 43% prefer a seating capacity of 251-500. 5% prefer a seating capacity of 501 and above. 
  • Non-members are more likely to prefer a smaller seating capacity while members are more likely to prefer larger seating capacity. 

We believed this to be true, and now we have the data to support our assumption: 

 “People want a church that’s small enough to be known yet large enough to be impactful.”

Attending a new church for the very first time can be a daunting endeavor. What should I expect? Where will I sit? Who will I meet? Will I be out of place? Our facility design should remove barriers for first-time guests, not add to them. Our hope is to provide visitors with an easy-to-navigate layout that allows them to confidently walk into Antioch without having to guess where to go. We should aim to be approachable

On the other hand, after a person decides to call a church their home, there’s a natural desire to want their church family to grow, reach new people, and make a real difference in the community. We feel part of something bigger than ourselves, and want to make a lasting impact. 

From the parking lot to the front door, and from our kids area to our hospitality area, we will strive to be approachable

Authentic

  • For the age group 39 and under, nearly 60% prefer a smaller seating capacity, while 37% prefer a larger seating capacity. 
  • For the age group of 40 and above, 38% prefer a smaller seating capacity, while 57% prefer a larger seating capacity. 
  • Men are 60% more likely to prefer a larger seating capacity while women are nearly 60% more likely to prefer a smaller capacity.

Based on our church’s survey data, younger adults are almost twice a likely to desire a smaller church; and conversely, adults 40 and above are 20% more likely to desire a larger church. 

There’s no question: young adults are looking for meaningful and authentic relationships. They likely to participate in surface-level or superficial interactions on social media channels, which leaves them hungry for real, face to face interactions. Desperate for community, they want to know and be known. 

Our survey data also revealed an interesting dynamic between men and women’s preferences. While not true across the board, the majority of male survey participants are partial toward a larger church gathering, while women are partial toward a smaller church gathering. 

Although it’s not true 100% of the time, our survey suggests that men likely prefer larger church gatherings/settings where they can blend into the crowd. On the contrary, women generally prefer smaller place settings where personal connections are more easily fostered. Again, authenticity matters. 

What does an authentic facility look like? It’s one that intentionally fosters the development of relationships. We shouldn’t over allocate space to the stage and seating capacity. Rather, we should be very strategic in creating authentic third spaces like a lobby and/or a lounge. In order to foster relationship building, we must also focus on providing auxiliary areas, like “play-scapes”, grassy courtyards, and/or picnic pavilions. These types of environments facilitate authentic relationships. 

Adaptable 

  • 70% believe the facility should be used by the community throughout the week. 
  • 20% believe the facility should be used by the community but sparingly. 
  • 5% believe the facility should not be used by the community. 
  • On a scale of 1-5, community use (4.54) is of greater importance than budget (4.37). 
  • On a scale of 1-5, budget (4.37) is of greater importance than the decor (3.19). 

We have a fundamental belief that everything we have belongs to God. King David wrote, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). As the Lord provides resources for us, we have a responsibility to manage those resources well. That means sharing and meeting the needs in our community. 

Our facility must be adaptable. Our space for the children’s program on Sunday may convert to a childcare opportunity during the week. Our lobby may double as small group meeting space or a volunteer training center. The worship area may be used by home school co-ops or function as a large event venue. At this point, the possibilities are endless.

Affordable 

  • 51% agree or strongly agree that the land should be paid off first. 
  • 19% disagree or strongly disagree that the land should be paid off first. 
  • 30% are neutral. 

We have great trust that God is meeting our every need and will meet our every need. However, we don’t want to foolishly move forward without carefully counting the costs. We will not sacrifice our current ministry on the altar of future growth. 

There are two key financial metrics we are targeting as a church to be able to move forward with architectural design and construction. Thinking of it like purchasing a home, we need a down payment and we need monthly income to service the debt. These two numbers are greatly influenced by building costs and interest rates, two things that are difficult to project in the future. 

Therefore, we are prompted to make some conservative assumptions. With a desire minimum down payment of 30%, we are asking God to provide the rest before we break ground on construction. In the meantime, we will take a few necessary steps toward that goal. 

We are grateful for the church’s participation and look forward to building a future ministry faculty that’s approachable, authentic, adaptable, and affordable. Thank you for your continued prayers and kingdom investment in what God is doing in and through our church.

Copyright © 2021 by Andy Comer @ https://antiochgt.com/uncategorized/building-code/. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.