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Church Strategy

Tools and Trends for Strategic Planning

What’s the connection?  The Holiday Inn redecorates.  Miranda Lambert sings a country song.  Northwestern plays football at Wrigley Field.

As you form the soul of your church, remember that space and place should match your church's personality. (Image from

Give up?  The common thread is the importance of space.  The space in which your church meets doesn’t need to be costly, but it does impact the way that your people worship and grow.

Carolyn and I spent the last couple of years building a home for our family.  Drawings and decisions and “date nights” at Lowe’s.  And it paid off.  By God’s grace, we created the perfect space for our family.

The Holiday Inn Redecorates.  The Wall Street Journal reports that the Holiday Inn has realized that its hotels – essentially have no soul.  (Holiday Inn to Make Bar a Social Hub, October 28.)  And so they are giving the lowly hotel bar a facelift, trying to create better space – space in which people actually want to stay and connect.  That involves changing the space – adding game rooms and business centers.


Miranda Lambert Sings.  Country star Miranda Lambert performs a beautiful song – “The House That Built Me” – written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin.  In the song, Lambert revisits her childhood home and reflects on the ways that the space shaped her.  Housecraft as soulcraft:

“Up those stairs in that little back bedroom / Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar / I bet you didn’t know under that live oak / My favorite dog is buried in the yard / I thought if I could touch this place or feel it / This brokenness inside me might start healing.”

Northwestern Plays Football at Wrigley.  In “Look Out, Wall!  Misplaced Games Rock” (Wall Street Journal, November 22, 2010), Jason Gay discussed the recent trend toward playing games in offbeat venues.  Hockey in Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field and Fenway Park, football at Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium.  The same game, in a different place, has a completely different appeal.

What It Means for Church.  I spent most of my youth worshipping in gyms.  I loved it.  I felt at home on a basketball court, so worshipping on one felt natural.  It drew a casual crowd that emphasized the Gospel and pragmatism over aesthetics.  Make no mistake: those churches in different spaces would have drawn a different congregation, which would have needed different teaching, and would have created a different kind of community.


How Can You Shape Your Space?  First – let’s get this out of the way – when you DO have a construction project or renovation to do, don’t screw it up.  But let’s assume that you’re – right now – not building or renovating.  How else can you shape your space?

You can do it with interiors.  (Check out the beautiful church interiors at watra.)

You can do it with lights, video and audio system.  (Check out the pros at Mankin Media.)

You can do it with pews or windows.  (Check out my favorite stained glass guy, Frank Llorens.)

You can do it with flowers or banners or altars or kneeling rails.

The point may be beauty, or sacred silence, or joyful celebration, or simplicity, or contemplative darkness, or brightness, or reflection on nature, or use of technology.  But it should reflect your church and your personality.

Space and place matter and shape souls.  Think carefully about yours.


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