The sense of arrival. Psychologically, it symbolizes the completion of a journey. Excitement is present when a destination is achieved and the experience of what lies ahead is in store. Upon arrival to a church facility, people process through a series of motions as the experience of arrival is achieved. Together, site and building work to complete the sense of arrival and enrich the experience.
Here are FIVE things to consider when contemplating how to create or improve this experience:
1. Site parking and amenities establish a precursor to the architectural experience within the facility. Is parking easily found? Are you creating touch points in the parking lot for your guests and regular attenders?
2. Looks really ARE everything. To many first-time guests, the look of a church not only makes a first impression, but a lasting one. People want to feel comfortable in a place. Is your campus clean & well kept? Do you have nice landscaping? Is the building well kept? Do you have pleasing materials that are relevant & complimentary?
3. If the parking lot is 80% full or more, guests will drive right on by. Why, the message is that you have no room for them. It's a barrier to entry and arrival. If they can't park, it won't matter what the building has to offer, they'll never come inside!
4. Excitement of SPACE! The "front door" experience needs to be warm & inviting. Make sure your church has a generous lobby or atrium-type space where people can connect, sit down, and have conversations or grab a cup of coffee. Materials should be warm with textures and relevant. This space should tell your church's story.
5. Leverage technology to share & experience. Church is not a "show", but it is an excellent opportunity at least 52 times a year to communicate what matters, Jesus and His love. Use this power as much as you can to enhance the arrival. Technology can be used on the outside and inside of your buildings.
Recently conducted surveys of first-time church-goers concluded that a church has just 5-10 minutes to make a first impression. Within this amount of time, the average guest has concluded whether or not they feel welcome and comfortable. More importantly, if they're likely to return!
That's why the sense of arrival and the experience during this progression is so important. There's a growing trend to enhance and embrace this journey through the site and building using architecture as a prime driver. The image and activity within the spaces create this sensory experience.
What’s the art of arrival like at your church? Does it say what you want it to say?