Finding space for a church worship service can be a challenge. I’ve experienced this first hand over the last three months as my church, The Forum, has tried time and again to find a space that resides within our parameters that is uniquely us. Beyond finding a space that is both aesthetically pleasing and within a reasonable driving distance, there are other factors at play that influence what a church starter might deem as an appropriate space. These factors include: cost, room for children, availability on Sundays, visibility, parking, cost… The following is a list for church starters that I hope helps them think in and outside the box for possible worship spaces as well as weigh the possible costs.
Finding a worship space for your church can be tough, but when you do find that place that fits your people: build relationships. Churches have the privilege of being tenants and servants. The Church was made for mission, and what better place to being serving than with the folks who manage your worship space.
There are so many churches in Texas meeting in the schools that the most difficult part of renting a school (at least in my part of the country) is finding a school that doesn’t have a church meeting in it, or hasn’t for that matter. I talked with a few schools over recent months who had churches who weren’t very good stewards of their property and were far less open to the idea of having a new church rent space.
The cost of schools is moderate, and one of the best parts is that usually church starters rent rooms, and as they grow they can add more rooms. Every school district is different, but schools are a great place to start when planning a church move.
2) Going to the movies
Many major theater brands across the US cater to church starts. Many of them like Regal and Cinemark have church starting programs and dedicated consultants who work with church starters for the purpose of renting out a theater room for Sunday morning worship. The cost of these rentals is relatively high compared to some of the other possibilities I’ve listed. However, there is a fair amount of parking, and set up crews don’t have to worry too much about clean up as the theater takes care of that themselves.
3) Gyms, karate schools, dance studios
Need a plenty of empty space? Why not try a local gym or karate dojo? Often times, these places have limited hours on Sundays and are open to the idea of creating extra income when they aren’t using the space. You get (usually) tons of parking space, but maybe you’ll have to bring your own chairs. The cost for the use of spaces like these is typically lower than theaters or schools, but classroom space can be sometimes difficult to find and utilize well in a gym, and if a gym has too much heavy equipment, it may not be as suitable as you’d like.
My church met in a restaurant for two years. We loved it. It became a sort of part of who we are. Most likely, there are restaurants near where you’re planting a church that are closed Sundays. Check with these businesses and see if they’d be open to make a little extra money a month on a day that they are otherwise not. Renting a space from a local business like this can really give them a boost in budget and help them do other things that they’ve been waiting to do. Space can be challenging in a restaurant, but you already have plenty of available chairs as well as parking.
5) Other churches or religious institutions
This one may sound kind of weird, but you’d be surprised to know that there are some churches, synagogues, and temples, who are totally down with renting space to a church start. For already established churches, you may find that service times don’t conflict or there’s a student building that they don’t mind renting before or after their service. As for other religious institutions, some are open to sharing an interfaith space. They may be struggling to pay rent, and your facilities budget may be just what they needed. What better way to start a conversation on the gospel?
A long road
Finding space is difficult, but I hope this list was helpful. There is no church-bnb (though that wouldn’t be such a bad idea would it?), so we make concessions when we are out searching for the perfect place. My prayer for you is that God leads you not to where you want to be, but where you are needed to be.