April 30, 2009
Church Lessons from HGTV
What our design says about our values.
I was sick in bed, my poor wife by my side, during a class reunion weekend in South Carolina this past weekend. I usually make sure I get the remote control quickly in hand, so I can steer the programming toward the exercising of my mind: ESPN and Fox Sports are two of my top choices. But my wife beat me to the coveted piece of gadgetry in our hotel room. So I spent the day watching or hearing HGTV design shows. I had nausea when they started, but after awhile watching design shows, I told my wife it was getting worse.
Really I did like some of the shows, like Color Splash by this cool Asian guy with tats on his arm. But the take away after a saturation of design tips and styles were some thoughts on how design is a reflection of us, how we see ourselves, and who we want to become.
Have you ever wondered what your church space says about you and God? We often pick our cars based upon our personalities. (Is that why we get so offended when someone cuts us off? In the Middle East and Asia, this happens every two seconds. They don't seem to care.)
We can look at our homes and see what type of people we are by the way we arrange furniture, paint or don't paint walls, the type of art we have, what we use as our focal point for guests to see, the rooms that we care about usually get more resource dollars.
How about the church? The truth about design is that it reflects values, perspectives, priorities and beliefs. Design is also a good way to define the reality of your heart. When many of the early missional movements began, the focus was on resourcing the people in optimum settings of growth with tools to enable them. The focus in these movements isn't physical structures as much as it is human beings.
Again, questions may lead us to answers. Instead of just giving a few thoughts on what I believe about space perhaps some questions may guide us to a reality that we didn't know existed. It may be different depending upon the culture we live in. We may soon discover as we ponder these questions, termites have been quietly eating away the very values we said our buildings were built with and some fissures have appeared in that firm foundation.
Here are some questions that can help define reality:
? Do people mostly refer to your building as the "church?"
? What does the design of our space tell us about where and how we see the maximum growth happening?
? What does the allocation of the dollars you spend on your space indicate about your priorities? Is it where you want it to be? How does this jive with movements historically?
? How does the Internet reshape your values towards space, especially since the emerging generation doesn't see a difference between their on-line and off-line life?
? When people look at the design focal points of your facility, what do they feel you focus upon? Is this where you want the primary focus to be?
? What creative space around you - outside the walls of the facility you rent or own - can you use for free or very low costs?
? Do you need pastoral offices?
? Can we show better stewardship in how we share space with our people?
? Do you have a room for innovation? In the past, people created "WAR rooms". I think it may be time for some new metaphors as well. How about rooms for Creativity, Innovation, Research, Design and Development? Can you think of new rooms or spaces that would clearly articulate what you value?
? Are you reduplicating what Disney can do better? Is it necessary?
? Do the spaces in your church represent a passion for a Volunteer Revolution? How?
? What parking space do you park in at your facility? Where is it?
? What building or space are we to focus on designing anyway?
There was an incredible statistic an entrepreneurial kingdom-minded friend, Bernard Moon, sent me. Did you see it? Here it is: The church spends an average of $347,000 per baptism.
Okay, I know souls are priceless. But this number begs for us to look at how we may have gone down a road we didn't really want to take. Nike spends $100 per customer for what they call customer acquisition costs. What do you spend to see a life radically transformed?
Flip the Script
What if we turned this thing around and understood the primary buildings we are called to build are the living temples walking around us? What would happen if we put as much emphasis in actually equipping our people with customized assessments, close mentoring, residencies, tools, and other experiences that may not be captured primarily inside a weekend experience or a large group setting or one space?
Maybe it's time we do a hard assessment of what we've already designed and let an outsider or a group of them come in, people who aren't Christians and ask them as they walk around your facility what does your space say about your values. You may be surprised at how your design really does define what you believe.