Comes from Ed Stetzer and looks at how meeting in a non-traditional setting impacts attracting new people:
First, you have to ask the question, "Will the unchurched visit a church that meets in a non-traditional venue?" Survey results indicate that they will.
To a majority of the population -- and particularly the unchurched -- it doesn't matter. While I was at the Center for Missional Research at the North American Mission Board, we asked 1,200 people if knowing a church meets in a traditional church building would negatively affect their decision to visit or join a church. Nearly three quarters of those surveyed expressed that whether or not the church met in a traditional church building made no difference. (This blog is an adaptation of an article I wrote on the subject while working there.)
More precisely, we asked, "If you were considering visiting or joining a church, would knowing that the church does not meet in a traditional church building impact your decision?"
The responses told an important story:
* It would not make any difference - 73%
* It would negatively impact my decision - 19%
* It would positively impact my decision - 6%
* Not sure - 2%
One can hope that this helps to defuse the notion that you have to have a churchy looking building to be a real church. Many church planters have the goal of getting out of non-traditional (and far cheaper) settings and become a real church by buying a building. If we are really about the business of making disciples, it seems that the presence of a traditional building is not only not helping, more than three times as many people (19% vs 6%) say it hinders them than encourages them! Traditional church buildings are comfy places for people comfortably cocooned in American cultural Christianity but they are uninviting places for many people who don;t have that background, the very people I thought we were trying to reach (by insisting they come to us?!)
I thought this was especially interesting:
As you might expect, lily-and-poinsettia church attendees (those who come just on the holidays) reacted more negatively to the idea of coming to a non-traditional church building. (Often the reason they attend church on the holidays is to make some connection with traditions of their past.) Six times as many holiday church goers preferred traditional locations to non-traditional ones.
So traditional churches are super appealing to those who want to show up occasionally somewhere and feel religious. They are not part of the church universal in any sense but they have a place to go where they can reconnect with their traditions and then move on. Church buildings are designed for people to receive anonymous religion instead of being part of a community of believers. This is a great study but one that I am afraid will have little impact on the traditional church and its stubborn and prideful insistence on how "church" should look.
We should seek to attract people to Jesus, not to buildings.