28 May 2014
As we work in the creative areas of ministry, we can get so wrapped up behind our computers that we ignore the atmosphere that we’re setting for our congregation. For both Sunday services and events throughout the week, environment plays a huge part in connecting with people. With some intentionality, you can create a space that takes guests’ minds off of the outside world, promotes focus on what’s important, and leaves them excited for what’s next. Here are a few secret tips that can make all the difference when creating engaging environments for your ministry:
1. Create Critical Mass
No environment screams boring louder than a half-empty room. If you want to create a “something big is happening here” buzz, allow just enough space in your room for a slightly crowded feel. The term for this has been coined as critical mass as your space always has just the right amount of crowd for a successful event. “Standing room only” is always a better experience than feeling like nobody else showed up. A great tool for creating small spaces in larger venues is simple pipe and drape.
2. Big or Small – Never Medium
For events, services, and everything in between, you should always avoid medium. When you go big, you pull out all the stops. The music is loud, you’re prepared for a large crowd, and you focus on the lights-camera-action side of things. Big communicates excitement. When you go small, you scale back the production to a minimum. The music is acoustic, you focus on one-on-one relationships, and scrap as much technology as possible. Small communicates intimacy. People love both big and small environments because they seem intentional. But, medium leaves people wondering if you’ve properly planned, are capable of doing either correctly, and generally communicates mediocrity.
3. Draw Eyes Away From Imperfections
Even in the nicest spaces, there will always be spots that would go better unseen. Since it’s often outside of your budget to correct every imperfection, you can go a lot further by distracting from them. For example, we recently hosted a series of social events in a high school library. (You read that correctly.) Half of the room was filled with book cases that we were unable to cover. To draw eyes away from these, we intentionally placed a lot of eye-catching items within just enough distance to steal their show. This is also really easy to accomplish by projecting visually-compelling imagery on your screens or by strategically positioning stage lighting.
4. Avoid Awkward Silence
Whether big or small, every environment benefits from at least some light background music. This one simple step has the power to make or break your guest experience. For Sunday morning services, make sure you’re ready to go for pre and post service with a great playlist. (Here are some great playlists from Brady Shearer for Sundays.) I also recommend having music in your lobby, for outreach events, during the social times of your small groups, and in any other space filled with silence. (Here is a fun playlist we use for social gatherings at our church.)
5. Define Your Best Case Scenario For Guests
Start with the end in mind by compiling a list of what you want guests to walk away with from your environment. You may decide you want people to leave feeling excited, connected to new friends, and further committed to your church. To accomplish these goals, your environment might include bright colors and fun music to generate excitement. You could serve coffee and other refreshments that bring people together and strategically place outgoing hosts to spark conversations. Your environment might include booths that showcase photos or videos of what it looks like to get further involved and allow guests to sign up. By starting with the end in mind, you’re able to build your environment to foster those results.
Do you have any other tips that you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!