I love to walk into a really nice restaurant (if you could see all the McDonalds receipts that I rack up, you would be laughing right now) and listen to live music playing in the lobby. It helps to set the stage for the evening. In fact, for me at least, it gives a feeling of anticipation. It gives me an excitement that things are going to be incredible.
Building off that idea, at my last church we’d occasionally have a flute trio in the lobby of the church, playing as people came into worship service. It’s very simple, if you have two music stands and some woodwind players, they can play straight from the hymnal, with very little modification. But the addition is pretty extraordinary. Just imagine …
It’s raining in the parking lot of the church. A young mother has had to cajole the kids out of bed on a Sunday morning, dress them, feed the crew, plan for the rest of a busy Sunday. By the time she comes into the foyer of the church building, she has everything else going through her mind, but then she hears beautiful music. It speaks to her and reminds her of the sweetness of the relationship with Christ. She has had an honest-to-goodness, Psalm 34:8 moment where she has “tasted and seen that the Lord is good.” If we can touch lives before they make it to the sanctuary
with worship – that’s a good investment in time and talent.
If you don’t have flutes or other woodwinds, consider a guitarist. Or maybe a guitarist perched on a stool and another person singing sweet songs of our faith. If music won’t work, consider banners, art, or other ways to make the space that people walk into before entering the sanctuary sacred.
I have actually organized a quartet to serenade Sunday School classes. Near Christmas time, I sent out groups of carolers into the hallways of the education facility. It can be a really wonderful moment of taking the ordinary and making it sublime. However, this may all be somewhat impossible to many churches.
I’ve been to many worship areas that the first space that you walk into IS the sanctuary, and the sanctuary is the Sunday School area.
Consider doing something in the parking area. Maybe a new landscaping theme, some new flowers, perhaps a cross, something to readily remind us of His love and His grace. On a pretty day, have a bluegrass group on the lawn as people come in. Oh that we could make our church facilities as welcoming as our Savior certainly is to remind our brothers and sisters that it is truly good to fellowship under the shadow of the cross. Take no place for granted, take a fresh look at things. In a later article, I will be giving you a checklist to think about when regarding your physical space, but for right now– beautify.
Finding ordinary spaces and making them sacred takes some creativity, but it sure can be done, and done beautifully. It blesses those around you, and our efforts always bless the Lord!
JOHN FRANCIS / MBC Worship Specialist