BIG DAY – What First Impressions Are You Making?

Temecula, California is a beautiful place to live, but all that beauty comes at a cost: city ordinances.

Any new construction requires all sorts of red tape. Our five acre strip of land was a possible habitat for the kangaroo rat. An environmental study and a few thousand dollars later, we were approved to build on our land. Ordinances.

California is known for its earthquakes, so sheer panels are required almost everywhere. Around doorways, the nails are supposed to be one to two inches apart. By the time the nails are in, there’s no more wood left! Ordinances.

Other ordinances require all new construction to submit an exterior landscaping plan. The city officials count the number of trees and bushes, and require square footage of landscaping in proportion to your building and congregation size. This cuts down on building size, parking spaces, and general land use. But hey, at least it looks nice!

With all that dirt around our church, we have a lot of landscaping to keep up with. Inner city churches have their own problems to deal with, but landscaping is not usually one of them. For us, landscaping is a big deal, and we plan the lanscaping preparations just like we plan everything else.


Everything makes some kind of impression, including landscaping. If a bus parks in the parking lot, and the bus doors open right beside a three-foot tall weed, what kind of impression does that make? To me, it says, “Why didn’t someone pull that?”

Some people might think landscaping is “no big deal.” No one will care.

What about the people who DO care? I do not mean to get philosophical about weeds, but if weeding is “no big deal,” then why not plan to take care of it ahead of time? If planning a Saturday workday with your church is one more way to eliminate bad impressions, do it! If a teen has an “Ew” moment because of poor or neglected grounds, he has a bad impression before the preaching even starts.

Try to not start on a bad note by preparing your grounds for guests. Rather than think, “People are so shallow. They shouldn’t care about that,” think instead, “If we can eliminate ANYTHING that has the potential to distract from the message, let’s do it.”

Your grounds do not have to be perfect, but they should show that you have made an effort to be prepared for your guests.


How Our Church Prepares

Every year before the Preaching Rally, our church announces a Saturday work day. Church members come with shovels, rakes and buckets to pull weeds, trim bushes, rake leaves and do some general cleanup. If the building needs any maintenance (lights changed, touch-up paint, etc.) and workers are available to help, plan general maintenance jobs for them.

Some years, I have designated a landscape chief, and he prepared the grounds for several weeks leading up to the Preaching Rally. Weekly tasks might include mowing, edging, or bush trimming. Other ideas include the following:

  • Mop gym floor
  • Clean interior baseboards
  • Wash exterior cobwebs
  • Weed parking islands and flower beds
  • Spread mulch
  • Trim trees

Whatever your facilities, they can be clean and well kept, no matter how old or worn down they may be. All it takes is some foresight and planning. With a few volunteers, you can remove some of the issues people might find. Let people be offended by the Gospel, NOT by the spider webs in the corner!