The Church Lobby

Your church lobby tells new people in about 3 seconds the kind of people that your church wants to have. Okay, maybe just 2 seconds. It is really, really, really fast and most churches do not even know what they’re doing.

I walked into one church and this is what I saw:

  • Faded, worn out mauve carpet that “died” several years ago
  • Furniture that I last saw in my 80 year old aunt’s house – and she died 25 years ago
  • Bare walls on one side and pictures of old stuff on the wall
  • A chandelier

I looked around to see if it was a church or funeral home – everything told me I was in a funeral parlor or at least a place that my great Aunt Clara (born circa 1900) would enjoy. It was like a museum – okay, you get the picture. It was not a drawing card for 20- and 30-somethings. It was not even attractive to anyone under 60 – but most people had seen it for so long that they felt it was just part of the church. But anyone who was new to the church and walked in there was immediately turned off by what they saw.

Tomorrow morning – walk into your church lobby and look at it as you never have before. Look at the lighting, the walls and what is hanging on the walls. Talk with people about the furniture and ask them if that is something they would see in a home of a young family (presuming that family had some money to buy furniture they like).

Then, ask yourself if the kind of lobby that you have is representative of the age bracket of the people you want to attend. Or was the furniture put in there by an older generation because that is what they’re comfortable with? Be intentional about your lobby – it is one of the first impressions people will have about you. Make it a good one, a positive one that will make you look good. Spend some money; recruit some young women or men to be the interior decorators for that area (and then tell them to take on your bride’s room if you have one and update it!); AND then, in about 10 years, do it all again with yet new furniture.

Every time you update your look, you directly affect the age of people that come (and come back) to your church.

Lead On!


  1. “Every time you update your look, you directly affect the age of people that come (and come back) to your church.”

    – Where might I find some research on this to present to my church? I do not (traditionally) get anywhere with anecdote.


  2. Clay, I think the best way to get the point across is to find people that agree with that. I deal specifically with churches that have lost the touch. There is not support, per se, in the church. I often to point to restaurants and who goes to them. Some restaurants look more like heaven’s waiting room, and that is the clientele that they attract. Then there is Chuck E Cheese. Design with children in mind. In today’s gotta have it now consumerism, the church is no exception. The only difference is, we are competing for souls, and if the leadership doesn’t get that, then they should not be in leadership.

  3. Sipedo – great points!

    Clay – I don’t have specific, quantifiable numbers. I do have experience in three churches with renovating/rejuvenating the lobby area (one of the first impression places). Newcomers (and CEO members – Christmas, Easter and One other time) made comments about how “fresh” the church looks. Long-time members (some, not all!) felt proud of their church. In every case it attracted younger people – the target audience (as Clay points out).

    Thanks for the feedback. And thanks for making your church relevant to the current generations (not the ones already in heaven!).

  4. This article can go for every area of your church. Areas like your entry way, your nursery/kids area, and your worship center.

    Even if you can not spend a lot of money, a fresh coat of paint and do wonders!

  5. What would you suggest for a country church with historic architecture and a small vestibule instead of a modern lobby? We have new dark red carpet, matching upholstery on the formerly bare wood back pews and recently added brass chandeliers in the sanctuary to replace the hanging globe light fixtures. What would you suggest for a small vestibule, currently with information tables on both sides and a lecturn holding a guest book that rarely gets new names?

  6. Might I add another point ~ notice what your lobby smells like. My husband is a minister and often preaches at neighboring churches and one thing I’ve noticed at many of them (usually the smaller ones) is a musty, damp smell as soon as we walk in the door. If I was a visitor, that would be a huge turn-off. Spend some money on water damage repairs, repaint and use some sort of air fresheners. A clean smelling church is SO much more appealing!