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
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
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.
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,