There are a lot of considerations when it comes to looking for a new home. A real estate agent will no doubt hammer home the importance of location, location, location! If you are new to the real estate market you might find it interesting that two homes that are practically identical in features can have drastically different values. What makes the big difference? Their location. Locations determine value.
This concept also applies in ministry. On a church campus, there are no doubt prime locations and less than desirable locations. Ministries that get the prime locations in buildings don’t happen by mistake.
What would be an example of a prime location? A prime location would be one with visibility, accessibility, and be near the heart of all the activity.
So the opposite would be true for the less-than-desirable locations. They would have little to no visibility, poor accessibility, and would be far away from the action.
Now ask yourself. Where is your Disability Ministry located?
As a ministry leader, one of your main responsibilities is to fight for your ministry. This is true too when it comes to where your ministry meets. If your ministry is meeting in the back corner of a building growth will be an uphill battle.
When a Disability Ministry has a prime location, it is a culture changer.
Why? Because location communicates value. The congregation will immediately know that this is something that the church and its leadership value. Increased visibility also provides opportunities for relational encounters. When people are in the same space hearts can and will change.
How to advocate for a prime location.
- Be an accessibility champion. Prime locations near the entrance and worship center are often the most accessible locations. Accessibility matters more for your Disability Ministry than for any other ministry. Help leadership to understand the importance of accessibility.
- Be a praise cheerleader. Too often leadership only hears about Disability Ministry when there is a problem. You don’t want leadership to equate your ministry with issues that need to be addressed or fixed. Don’t let a week go by without sharing a praise report with leadership. No victory is too small to celebrate. If your leadership continually hears praise reports they will begin to see your ministry in a different light. Something positive and exciting is something that will more readily be considered for a prime location.
- Be a good salesperson. Not all ministries are equal. And equality isn’t always fair. It is your job to sell your leadership on why your ministry needs to be in a prime location. To do this you need to learn how to speak the language your leadership speaks. Learn what your leadership values and craft your arguments. You may not like having to “play the game” but sometimes it is a necessity. Don’t forget that it was Jesus himself that instructed his disciples to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
- Don’t give up. Never take “no” as an answer. See any “no” that you get rather as a “not yet”. This is an area that you must be wise about. You don’t want to be annoying about it as it will set your efforts back. Rather resolve to continue being an accessibility champion, a praise cheerleader, and a good salesman. Ask leadership if you can revisit things from time to time. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease!
When it comes to your location size matters!
This is true in both real estate and ministry.
You have probably heard that fish can only grow as big as their tanks. While there are a lot of factors involved there is truth to this principle. If fish are kept in a small tank their growth will be stunted and they will not reach their full potential.
Now apply this principle to ministry location. The bigger the room the more potential for growth!
There is a similar and true rule in church growth. It goes like this… Once your worship center is 80% full it is has reached capacity and no more growth will happen. Once a church service inches close to 80% of capacity leadership must make a decision. Do nothing and growth will be stunted, stall out, and begin to die. Or consider adding a new service time or location to increase growth potential.
The same goes for Disability Ministry location size. Allow me to paint a picture for you as to how this played out at First Christian Church in Canton, OH where I was the Disability Ministry Pastor.
FCC Canton has a rich history of adult Sunday school classes. Believe it or not, they’ve had a class for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for over 35 years. The location of their class in our previous facility was less than ideal. It was located on the second floor with no elevator access. On top of that, it was only large enough to hold 10-12 people. It should come as no surprise that the class was never larger than 10 people for 20 years.
When the church relocated the adult class began meeting in a room with better visibility, accessibility, and a larger capacity. Though the room had a capacity of nearly 40 the class size stayed relatively the same. Why? Because the adult class did not have a champion, cheerleader, or salesperson. It was simply a class among a sea of other classes.
It wasn’t until the adult class was taken under the umbrella of the church’s Disability Ministry that its growth began to flourish. With staff leadership in place, a new sense of value was applied to this people group. Along with other programming and community outreach, the class saw its attendance jump from 10-12 to 30 literally in one weekend. What happened? The Saturday night before the boom in growth we had our first ever adult Jesus Prom. At the prom we let our disability community know that we had a place for them on Sunday mornings and that they were not only welcome but were wanted.
With this boom of growth, we were inching near that 80% capacity mark in our current room. In the coming weeks, we consistently were pushing capacity and we were forced to begin looking for a new space. As the only actively growing adult class in the building, we had options. Remember leadership embraces positive stories.
We jumped on the opportunity to move into the most prime location in our entire building. At the time it was called the Hospitality Suite. It was located directly behind Welcome Center right off the front doors. Accessibility, check! Visibility, check! Near the heart of all the activity, check!
While in the Hospitality Suite attendance jumped from 40 to 75 in a hurry. The room’s capacity was around 80. We were busting at the seams but did not want to move because of the prime location. At the end of the day, we were forced with the decision of stunting our growth or making another location change in the hopes of continued kingdom growth. We moved into our Heritage Hall which has a capacity of over 200. While the location lacks some visibility because of its location it allowed us to continue to grow. Below is a picture of our adult group with over 150 in attendance.
The story at FCC Canton can be your story too if you are willing to fight for it!
Location, location, location! It matters in ministry as much as it matters in real estate. Your Disability Ministry needs you to be a champion for it.
We can help! Schedule a FREE consultation today and we can help you position your ministry for growth and success.
It is Ryan’s passion to equip and empower churches, organizations, and individuals to reach their disability communities for Jesus. Ryan comes to Ability Ministry with 15+ years of ministry experience. He previously worked at First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio as their full-time Disability Pastor. He also worked as a Church Consultant for Key Ministry. Micah 6:8 and Proverbs 31:8 best describe Ryan’s commitment to life and ministry.