Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


Locating a Meeting Place

  • Jim Townsley
  • Apr 5, 2008

Finding a place to meet can often be the most difficult task in starting a church. Zoning laws generally forbid the use of a private home and often local ordinances limit churches to specific buildings or locations. Since the church is not transparent it must meet somewhere and that somewhere will probably determine whether or not certain people will attend. Meeting in a dilapidated building will limit members to only the strong and dedicated or perhaps to those who don't care about the decor of the building.

Though the new church should desire to meet in the best place possible, the best place may still be inadequate or perhaps too expensive.A few months before the first service a meeting location must be secured in order to print advertizing and brochures. The obvious best location would be an existing church building. Very often this is unrealistic and unavailable. But, never say never until every possibility is pursued. Seventh-day Adventists meet on Saturdays as do Jews, and it may be possible to rent from them on Sundays and Wednesdays. Also mainline denominations may only use their facility once a week for an hour on Sunday morning, thus providing the opportunity to hold a later morning service and Sunday night and Wednesday services. They may also desire additional income merely to pay their utilities. Methodist, Congregational, and others churches may be possible meeting places. In populated urban areas it is not unusual for three or four churches to use the same building.

Realizing most will not have the possibility of starting in a church building, other avenues must be sought. Schools are excellent meeting places. The community will be familiar with the school and it identifies you with something well established in the community. Schools also provide meeting rooms for Sunday school classes and a nursery. The obvious downfall is everything usually must be carried in every service and removed following the service. Some districts do not allow churches to rent from them. Others may only charge a janitorial fee, which can be expensive as well. Usually revivals meetings and other activities are not possible and other restrictions can create challenges for the church planter. What may be a common meeting place in one part of the country may not be common in another. The growing population of some western cities often limit you to the use of a school since no other facilities are available. However, the school may be already used by another church group thus making even more difficult to find a suitable building. Cities that are growing and that are new very often have few possibilities making it almost impossible to locate a suitable place.

Another possibility is a store-front. A store-front provides a permanent meeting place which can be used all week long. Usually they are located in any easy to find location. Office and industrial areas sometimes provide rental space that will be an allowable use by the town or city. Yet the down side of a store front is that space is limited and sometimes expensive and renovation will probably be needed before the church can start. Also, bathrooms may be exposed to the main auditorium as well as many other problems which can be challenging for a new church. Other considerations are that a neighbor's activities may be objectionable or the location may be filled with crime and vice.

A common place to start a church is in a meeting hall owned by the town or by a club. The YMCA or the YWCA may have meeting rooms available during the times needed. The Moose clubs, the Elks, the VFW and other similar organizations may have meeting rooms that could be rented and used for the new church plant. In urban centers where space is limited it is usually a greater challenge to find a meeting place and every opportunity should be considered.

Some guiding considerations in evaluating each facility should include cost, location, accessibility, cleanliness, usability and consistency. Few places will prove to be ideal, but finding a suitable place is one of the most important considerations the new preacher will face. Though locating a suitable meeting place may be a difficult task for many church planters, remember that God is in control and the God who parted the Red Sea can open the door to the right place to start a new church.