I know many churches that have been blessed with a wonderful location. Churches that are in a good location are easy to get to, easy to see, and have an aesthetic appeal to them. People may drive by them and think “there’s a church I’d like to visit” just because they see it in a good location.
However, some churches are in a terrible spot. When you have to make 7 left turns and one right turn by the log that looks like a spatula right past the “holler”, you’re in a bad spot.
I think about our church right now in West University. Theoretically, we’re in a wonderful location. We’re literally a stone’s throw away from one of the largest churches in the world, Joel Osteen Ministries Lakewood Church. Tens of thousands of people gather to worship there each Sunday. However, he also meets in a former NBA arena, and it is a high profile spot.
Our church sits along a busy Bissonnet Street almost in the heart of Houston, TX. Hundreds of cars pass by our place each and every day. However, we are located in a spot of town that at the heart of rush hour, people avoid like the plague. We are near the Highway 59/Interstate 610 loop interchange. We’re also near the Galleria. While these may be places that a lot of people are located, they are very transient areas. These are areas that people are going away from, not an area people are coming to.
So on Wednesday nights, our 6:30 service is very low in attendance. Its not because people don’t want to come, but after people leave work at 6, they want to be able to go home. If they wanted to come back to service, they would have to get back out in the terrible traffic, that sometimes can add up to an hour on your commute home, and they would be right in the thick of it. We’ve had teachers that have called and said they can’t make it due to traffic, that by the time they got here, the service would only have 15 minutes left.
But, on Sunday mornings, there is no traffic. You can breeze in on any interstate or major highway, 288, I-45, 59, 610, 10…you name it, no traffic. It actually takes you less time to come from a long distance on the interstate than from 5 miles away in the city, due to all the redlights.
So at times, we have a good location, and at times we don’t.
But at some point, a church has to realize that they may be in a bad location. Sure you want to minister to everyone around, but you have to understand that if you building is located in a less than desirable area, people may not come, no matter how positive the message is.
If your church is located next to a prison area, it may scare people off. If you church is in a high crime area, people will be reluctant to park their cars there. If the building is hard to get to, then people won’t come. There are many reasons why you church may be in a “bad location”. If you’re in a bigger city, and you haven’t experienced much growth in a while, you may need to consider that you’re no longer in a fertile area. This chapter dealt heavily on these things.