Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


Losing Your Meeting Place

  • Jim Townsley
  • Aug 19, 2015
Finding a meeting place is one of the most difficult challenges in starting a new church. Locating a vacant church building to rent is possible but very unlikely, therefore it will be necessary to find a school, an industrial condo, a store front, a VFW hall, or some similar type of meeting place. Visibility and accessibility are both important qualities in securing a place to meet, but equally important is the issue of usability. Find out if your prospective building is available for all of your services year round. If not, when will there be exceptions? Decide if their conditions are workable for you. If possible you will want a place for a nursery, accessible bathrooms, and Sunday school classrooms. Finding a place that meets all of your needs is difficult and it may be impossible, but every effort should be made to locate a building that meets as many needs as possible.
Developing a good relationship and testimony is crucial to develop a long lasting relationship with the landlord. Following the guidelines carefully laid down by the landlord is a must, but sometimes the church may lose its original meeting place even when every precaution is taken. There are many reasons why a building does not work out, but every effort should be made to keep the same location as long as possible.
If the day comes when the church is forced to move there are some steps that should be taken. The first step is to bring the situation before the entire church body. Call for special prayer meetings and ask people to pray. This is an opportunity for new believers to experience the power of God to answer prayer. Keep the spirits of the members strong and positive, believing and trusting God. While praying, take action by looking everywhere and inquiring everywhere. Eventually someone will provide a lead that will produce a feasible location to meet. Keep in mind that a new move may be God's will and He can lead you to a better situation.
Starting Central Baptist Church, the church I pastor, involved five moves in the first two years. That's a lot of moving for a church, but I was always promoting the new location and visiting people to remind them where we were located. In the end it gave me an opportunity to continually visit prospects to remind them to come to church. As difficult as it was, it also was a hidden blessing.
A temporary location has its drawbacks and ultimately getting a permanent place will be greatly appreciated by the members. Moving books, chairs, and tables every week is a great burden, but giving people a job keeps them involved and it gives them a sense of belonging. Setting up the temporary church can be a burden, but it also provides an opportunity for many people to serve and give them a sense of being needed.
The church is not transparent; it must meet somewhere. It can be a huge challenge to find a workable location. One option often overlooked is to meet in a liberal main line denominational church building. Most of them only have one service a week and if their service is early enough, your church could meet after they're gone and Sunday night and through the week is usually open. We met in a congregational church downtown for six months and it gave us a great opportunity to grow. Unfortunately we outgrew their congregation and we created problems that they could not live with and we were asked to move on.
Part of the spirit of church planting is the pioneering spirit that is pushing forward by faith in spite of the circumstances. Isn't every church supposed to live by faith? I look back on those days with great fondness. Some of the challenges seemed great at the time, but I would gladly and joyfully do it again.