How to “Man-up” Your Ministry Space Blog Feature

By: Dave Wilde on September 24, 2014

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How to “Man-up” Your Ministry Space

Church Design | Church Construction

Last week, I examined why men hate coming to church and how your church design might actually be the reason they’re staying away. But can the design of your facility help you attract men? Yes, definitely!

It’s no secret that men are visual. When a guy walks into your building for the first time, he will take clues from your décor, color scheme, music—everything—and determine whether or not it passes the “masculine test.” At Churchformen.com there is a “guy-friendly test” that can help you understand how men may perceive your facility and ministry. Take a look at the test and then look around your church. How do you score?

Here are a few of my own dos and don’ts for creating a “man-friendly” space:

Do Include:

1. Upbeat music in the gathering spaces. Let them know they’re not walking into a library.
2. Three to five masculine colors (i.e. black and strong blues and greens).
3. Comfortable furniture and a rustic fireplace.
4. Normal coffee; it doesn’t have to have funny names.
5. Motorcycle parking. (Ok, I own a Harley; I’m biased.)
6. Incorporate industrial type materials.

Don’t Include:

1. Wallpaper and wingback chairs.
2. Funeral home carpeting. (I’ll come help you tear it out now.)
3. Anything pastel blue.
4. Flowery knick-knacks.

In author Michelle Van Loon’s blog post “The Church Deserves Better Than Ugly Decorations,” she points out that “girly décor” is every bit as off-putting to women as it is to men. And when John Eldredge’s church redecorated their prayer room to feel more masculine, he says the women said they liked it too.

According to Murrow, women are comfortable entering guy spaces, but men avoid feminine spaces. “For example,” he says, “my wife is perfectly content at Home Depot, but I hate going into JoAnn Fabrics. So if your church has a guy-friendly decorating scheme, you’ll make everyone feel welcome. But if your worship space is decorated like Aunt Polly’s parlor, don’t expect men to feel comfortable there.”

Ultimately, my team at Aspen strives to design ministry space that will appeal to men and women. My colleagues have written, for example on how to create a dad-friendly first impression and how to design with moms in mind. But as Van Loon suggests, “maybe it’s time to ask different questions before we bring in either Granny's doilies” . . . or a moose head.

“What is the purpose for this space? How does the space function both horizontally, in welcome of others, and vertically, in connecting our physically gathered community with a holy God?” These are the questions she thinks churches need to ask about their space, and I agree.

And though the answers to those questions may lead us in a different direction than our own tastes might, as Van Loon suggests, churches still need to consider whether their décor is creating a barrier for people—men especially—to finding their place in the church.

Is the decor in your church creating a barrier or an invitation to enter?