Published: 5 years ago

Appearances Matter

Like a lot of people, I like to get away from the craziness of the office from time to time and retreat to one of my local “mobile sites” to catch up on email, finish a project, slay some dragons, etc. Most of the time, those mobile sites end up being Starbucks, but occasionally the Caffeinated Mermaid isn’t available, so I have to choose another spot.

Recently I was faced with the almost-tragic decision of heading into a McDonalds and spending an hour working on email. (And it’s McRib season. *shudder*) But just as I was pulling in, I noticed a Wendy’s two doors down. A nice Wendy’s. A recently remodeled Wendy’s.

If you haven’t seen one of these new fast food beauties, know that the little red haired girl is remodeling a ton of stores at $700,000 a pop. And wow, do they look like an entirely new place. Gone are the copper-toned roofs, the red and tan interiors, the speckled formica serving counters. They’ve been replaced by huge tinted-glass fronts, interior gas fireplaces, flat screen TVs, and a digital menu system that will wow you faster than you can say “right price right size me.”

So of course, it was a no brainer. I forsook CreepyClownLand for the sleekness and slickness of Dave Thomas, generation 2.0. I was a tried and true consumer, picking one place over another totally based on what it looked like on the outside.

Now I understand: inside stuff matters too. All the remodeling dollars in the world don’t compensate for lousy food, lousy service, or lousy prices. The inside has to match the outside, but it was the outside that drew me inside.

And it works the same way in our churches.

We’ve long said here at the Summit that buildings are tools. Our various campuses meet in renovated warehouses, rented public schools, and shared traditional church buildings. And what’s on the inside always trumps what’s on the outside. But the outside matters. Appearances matter. So here are five things to think about when thinking about your “front face” you present to your community:

  1. Don’t be an eyesore. Look at your surrounding neighborhood. Check out the homes, businesses, and schools that surround your church. Does your building enhance or detract from the properties that surround you? Do you stick out like a sore thumb, or blend in with the local architecture? Heaven help us if the city zoning board has a higher standard of excellence than we do.
  2. Do what you can with what you have. Not everyone can or should invest in a $700,000 remodel of their church building. Not everyone will be able to give the exterior or interior a full facelift. But start somewhere: wash some windows. Pull some weeds. Slap a coat of paint, freshen up the parking lines, replace some signage. 
  3. Figure out what you value. Look at your budget: are you putting more cash towards mulch or missions? Towards comfort or community? Here’s the point: some churches have a “give it all away” mentality. Others have an “it all belongs to us” mindset. And there can be danger in both extremes (especially that last one, in case you’re wondering where I stand).
  4. Be a blessing to your landlord. Some reading this don’t own the building you’re in. Like us, you utilize schools or shared space. But you can still do what you can with what you have. Offer to landscape the front entry on your dime. During the summer when school budgets are scaled way back, have some volunteers who will mow the yard on the “off weeks.”
  5. Just pay attention. 94% of our building sins could be fixed if we’d just look with a fresh set of eyes. Step away from your computer. Walk outside. What do you see? Faded canopies? Cracked sidewalks? Peeling paint? Start a list, and start working down that list as you can.

Inside stuff matters. Preach the gospel, reach the unreached, point people to Jesus. But don’t let a cruddy exterior keep people from seeing what’s on the inside.


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