Here’s my challenge to all pastors: Go outside your church, stand at the curb and look at your facilities through the eyes of a person making a decision to come in and “check it out.” It’s okay to be critical for once! Look for details. What do you see? Here’s what I see far too often as I observe churches: Paint peeling, mildew on the walls, messy landscaping, a front sign in disrepair and fading, potholes in the parking lot, fingerprints on the doors and windows.

Now walk around inside. What do you see? Walls that need washing or painting? How do the bathrooms look and smell? Is the carpeting worn? Check out the nursery (better take a clipboard and a pencil!) Will moms want to trust their precious babies to that place?

This adage may be old, but it is absolutely true—you only get one chance to make a first impression. For churches who are wanting to reach more people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the first impression they project is critical. It is not only critical for attracting people, it is critical to holding them.

Now I understand all the arguments about the church becoming materialistic and worldly … and the argument that people should come to church for the right reasons. I’m not talking about false impressions. I’m talking about first impressions. Don’t forget that unbelievers act like unbelievers. They may not be attending your church for the right reasons. Many will probably have a critical eye for quality. They are coming into your church with an expectation level of excellence that has been set by businesses, entertainment venues, and other public places that compete for their support. However, their first impression will actually determine if they ever make it past the front door and get a chance to hear the gospel.

A good first impression doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It can be achieved with cleanliness and a little creativity. Use your people to volunteer to clean, paint, landscape and handle renovations on a consistent basis. You can’t ever let up on this focus. It may cost some money, but the cost of not making a good first impression is immeasurable.

What are your thoughts? Is it worth the effort to keep your facilities well maintained, or should you just leave it in the Lord’s hands to bring the people in?