5. Clean and Repair
RESTAURANT: Filthy kitchens, rotting food, thread-bare carpets, cockroaches, rats and decades-old décor are the norm for failing restaurants. The excuses are always the same. We don’t have the time or money to keep things up.
And the answer is always the same. How much money does soap cost? How much time does clean-up take if you do it regularly?
CHURCH: Even most dying churches don’t have filthy facilities. If yours are, take care of it immediately. But for old, dying churches, the biggest facility issue isn’t usually dirt, it’s clutter and décor.
I’m no style maven, but when you drive by many dying churches, you can tell immediately what era it was built in ... and that it hasn’t been updated since.
Walk in the building and suspicions get confirmed. Worn-out pews from the ‘70s sit on purple carpet from the ‘80s, surrounded by mauve curtains and foil wallpaper from the ‘90s, accented by fake plants from the turn of the millennium.
These are not quick fixes. I know. My church had a red brick façade from the ‘80s until just four years ago. One of the very big differences between your church and a TV show is that no one is going to show up with thousands of dollars to renovate everything overnight.
But if you own a building, start with what you can do for free or cheap. Clean and de-clutter. Pull weeds, scrub the floors, toss the fake flowers and pastel artwork. Remove curtains to let the light in. Strip the wallpaper and paint the walls. Once you start, you might be surprised at the talent, time, and money people will be willing to invest in it.
6. Do What No One Else Is Doing
RESTAURANT: Don’t be the 75th pizza place in a two-mile radius. Be the only gourmet burger café. Then offer those burgers with unique style and great customer service. Not everyone will like them, but those who love them will tell their friends.
CHURCH: Do you know what makes your church unique? Do you know what makes the other churches in your neighborhood unique? Until you know those two facts, it’s possible everyone is duplicating each other. No, we’re not competitors, but we shouldn’t be duplicators, either.
Look around your neighborhood. What do people need that no one is providing? Look at your church. What do you do well? Now match those up.