Make the most of your building


Greater London, CLAPHAM, St Mary

Your church, chapel and meeting house has the potential to be even more amazing than it already is.

By taking small steps you can use your building to articulate your mission, and offer it as a space for your community and visitors to use, enjoy and learn from. If you decide on a large development project there are examples of best practice across the country, and lots of experience you can call on for inspiration and advice.

Looking pragmatically and practically at what you already have, examining carefully what your congregation wants to do, and consulting openly with your community and other organisations will all help you to make the most of your building.

Spend some time thinking about your building. When was the last time you really looked at your building and how it functions? What does your building say about you? How does it speak to you and how does it speak to others?
Start thinking about how people engage with your building: What does it mean to your congregation? Is it a millstone using up precious funds, or is it a spring board for wider engagement?
Create an opportunity for the congregation to think about and talk about what the building means to them.
What does it mean to the wider community? Try and understand the sense of ownership that others in the community may have for the building. It may be that for most of the wider community, it is the church building with which they connect and have an emotional attachment.
Then start thinking of ways of getting people into your building and asking them what they think about the church and if they have any ideas on wider uses.
Becky Payne, Arthur Rank Centre

Most churches, chapels and meeting houses were built to be at the heart of their communities, to be busy and used by all. There are many ways to ensure that this is still the case. There is also a resurgence of interest in local history, and a growing number of people visiting churches to discover their or their community's past. This section contains advice about how to make the most of your building and encourage people to use it, and also how to open your doors and welcome visitors.

Church Build: millstone or springboard health check

Make do and mend

Starting doesn’t have to be complicated, time consuming or expensive. Your building is already a resource, for you and your community. Making the most of what you have, keeping it in good repair and using it as inspiration for future development is a great place to start.

National Churches Trust: making the most of what you have

Polishing your gem

A church building can have a variety of uses sitting alongside each other. To make the most of opportunities you identify you may want to make small or large changes to your building or the things within it.

National Churches Trust: enhancing the space