If your church is about telling a story to the community, then what story does your building tell? Since your building is the most visible expression of your faith community in the local area, shouldn’t we make an effort to make sure the place of our worship is meaningful? I believe more pastors should consider maximizing the concept of using architecture to impact their brand. Greg Laurie’s Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California has created a public meeting place that looks like a cross between Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, and the city square. You can have lunch, buy a book or CD, drink gourmet coffee, or sit in the California sun and relax. The location has become so popular that people who would never darken the door of the church on Sunday gladly drop in during the week for lunch. The contemporary design welcomes visitors, and the practicality makes them feel at home.
Mega-churches in recent years have taken a lot of flak for building a coffee bar in the lobby, or expanding restaurants and shops, but the truth is, these churches understand the importance of building community as part of the brand. It’s making a particular impact among young people, who are trying to initiate connections of their own, and looking for places to meet.
The right tools – including your building – are the gateway to expressing your brand identity to the world. Whether you use church bulletins, highway billboards, websites, radio, television, podcasting, architecture, or more, using the wrong tools or using them ineffectively will blur your story, and contaminate your identity. Create a clear vision for your audience, and express that vision from the highest quality launching pad possible.
A great brand will always be hurt by poor communication, and without the right tools, you’ll never reach your largest potential audience. Shouldn’t your building be one of those tools?