Following The Signs
By Jeremy Squires
Ever followed the signs in a hospital parking lot or inside a large facility only to find that the signage was out-of-date or incorrect? Or have you ever needed a helpful directional sign, but there simply wasn’t one?
Imagine this same frustration among your church guests trying to find their way to your services and activities. Often, we forget that guests don’t know their way around our church like we do. And the larger the church, the easier it is to make this mistake. Guests have to find their way not only to the worship center but also to the classrooms, bathrooms, nursery, etc.
Do guests in your church know which parking lot is closest to the worship center? Do they know where to go after they’ve parked? What about once they’ve entered your doors? Signage—both inside and outside—is crucial to not only helping guests find their way around but also to making them feel less like outsiders and more like friends. No one likes to feel lost and confused. And chances are your first-time guests would rather not ask someone they don’t know for directions to the bathroom.
Put your guests at case with effective signs and banners. Make sure they’re able to park in a convenient spot, drop off their children in the nursery easily, and find a seat in the worship center without a problem. Feeling comfortable during a first-time church visit can be the deciding factor for whether or not a guest comes back the next weekend.
As you consider enhancing or creating your church’s outdoor and indoor signage, check out the suggestions below for making your guests feel more at home.
Making the Connection
Outdoor signs should provide directions to specialized parking areas or events. They need to be clearly labeled in bold lettering and also lit at night.
Because too much information can be confusing, only directions to the main areas such as the sanctuary, chapel, main entrance or day school should be indicated on parking lot signs. Motorists should be able to find these places within a matter of seconds.
If not all of yours entrances are handicapped-accessible, be sure to post signs indicating which parking spots are closest to accessible entrances.
Consider “way-finding” stations at each entrance with ‘maps that let people know how and where to enter each part of your building. Include a “you are here” arrow or graphic.
Indoor directional signs must use standardized names for everything— be consistent. Every hallway, intersection, classroom, elevator, etc. should have a sign.
Use three-dimensional signs where possible so guests can see them without having to be directly in front of a door or wall.
Use changeable signs and banners for meeting spaces and classrooms. This allows you to customize for events.
Create a professional-looking facility map of your church. Have the maps available at your welcome/information center for guests.
Is it time for new signs or banners for your church? Check out these Web sites:
• Cokesbury.com – Outdoor and indoor signs, including specialty signs for bathrooms, classrooms, etc.
• Outreach.com – Four-color, customizable banners and indoor/outdoor signage
• Signsplussigns.com – Changeable outdoor and indoor signs, including LED signs
• Stewartsigns.com – Changeable outdoor and indoor signs, including LED signs
Jeremy Squires is pastoring of inviting ministries at Brentwood United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excerpted from Group Magazine Nov/Dec 2005
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”