From the very beginning, our vision for our facility was somewhat unique. We said we wanted our facility to be used by the community 24 x 7. We were not going to have the kind of building where we lock the doors on Sunday afternoon and reopen the following Sunday morning. We wanted the kind of campus that people came to throughout the week for all kinds of different reasons.
While I would acknowledge that most churches these days aren’t only using their buildings on Sunday, I would say that most are very particular about the use of their facilities.
- Most charge for the use of their facilities. We do not. That’s right. We don’t charge anything for anyone to use the facilities. There are sports teams, community service groups, kids drama clubs, Boy and Girl Scouts, birthday and other parties for kids and adults, and, of course, all types of small groups. Basically, as long as the requester is in our “local community” and not promoting a business or something like that, we say, “Yes!”
- Most reserve space for “internal” people. We reserve space for “external” people. Early on, we identified a couple of days per week that we would set aside for internal usage. The rest of the time, we set aside for external usage. As time went on, few internal people took advantage of the time we set aside, so we filled it with external activities. Now, there’s not really much order to it. If the space is available, you can pretty much have it.
Is this a painful strategy? You bet. Imagine having hundreds of people with access cards and security codes using the facilities at all times day and night. Sound crazy? It can be.
But, it’s worth it! When people find out that we don’t charge for the use of our facilities, they do a double-take. They don’t believe it. We’re saying, “No. We really want you here, and we don’t want a little thing like a ‘fee’ to stand in the way of that.”
We’re earning a reputation in the community as “the church that lets the community use its facilities for free!”
I can’t tell you how many times at a baptism service I’ve heard, “We first came here to bring our son/daughter to a birthday party.”
Pretty cool …