It probably wouldn’t be overreaching to say you’ve visited a lot of churches. How many do you remember? Which ones drew you in? Made you feel at home? What about the churches you visited where the building didn’t attract you at all, or where the furnishings seemed rather old and tattered? Maybe you don’t even remember those at all.

As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. We take that adage very seriously at The McKnight Group. Over the next several blog posts starting with this one, we’ll demonstrate the importance of first impressions for visitors to your church, and show how your church design can go a long way toward attracting people. Because we believe in the work we do, the examples we’re going to use are of church building spaces we have completed.

Gateway Church of the Nazarene

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We’re starting our blog series with the lobby, because that is most often the first thing a visitor sees when walking into a church. Gateway’s lobby is a bright, open space that naturally draws visitors toward the Welcome Center, where they can get all their questions answered. Signage provides additional information about the most commonly used areas: the worship space (Auditorium), restrooms, and children’s ministries. The lobby also includes an inviting seating area that encourages conversation.

Eaton Church of the Brethren

great-church-space-lobbies-3The lobby at Eaton Church is bright and expansive, allowing people to gather easily in the large space. There is plenty of room for good traffic flow, and they have made fellowship a priority with groupings of comfortable, commercial-grade furniture. It’s important to invest in commercial-grade furniture. Residential furniture is not appropriate for commercial use because of durability, warranty, and code concerns. We talk in more detail about this in our free i3 webinar series, and we encourage you to sign up in order to learn more.

Grace Gathering

great-church-space-lobbies-4One way to extend the life of your lobby furniture is to choose armless chairs, as Grace Gathering did. This is because the arms on chairs are usually the first areas to show the wear and tear of use. At the same time, you have to keep in mind that some people will need to use the arms to help get in and out of the chair, so a mix of styles may be the most practical.

The lobby at Grace also makes it clear who they are as a worship community. A mix of warehouse and warmth, it exemplifies their modern worship style through a welcoming space that includes a stone fireplace and nearby café. In fact, we’ll be talking next time about how many great church building spaces are putting an emphasis on hospitality through the addition of cafés.

Meanwhile, if you have questions about how to create your own great church building space, don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-625-6448 or And you’ll always find more details on great church building ideas by signing up for our i3 webinars.