FOYERS - THE HEART OF THE CHURCH
One Sign of a healthy growing church is a congregation slow to go home. Visiting with old friends and greeting new ones usually takes place in the area just outside the sanctuary – IN THE FOYER. Therefore, we believe the foyer can be called the heart of the church. The foyer plays a big part in making visitors feel welcome. In small foyers people feel crowded and will rush to get out, prohibiting members from meeting them.
Churches are built for people. It is our job at STEPHENS &
BALDRIDGE ARCHITECTS to design them in such a way that
people will feel welcome and comfortable and want to return.
We must eliminate any barriers, whether visible or invisible,
that might keep visitors away. Let’s look at the foyer and
surrounding areas of the church to see how we can make
Areas associated with the foyer, such as the entrance make the first and maybe, most lasting impression. As visitors drive into the parking lot, handicapped parking signs and a carport shows them that the church cares about them. It tells them the church wants to protect them from inclement weather as they exit the car and enter the foyer. The carport should have adequate allowance for buses, vans, and trucks. When visitors see the barrier free entryway, they will realize that this church is a church that welcomes all people.
Coat racks seem like a small item but are a true necessity. They should be near the entryway, easy to find. They need to be out of the way, but open, to allow good circulation. Ideally, they are out of view of the entry doors. In some high crime areas isolated coat check rooms are needed.
Rooms must be clearly labeled to eliminate any embarrassment to our visitors who might become lost. The sanctuary should be clearly visible from the foyer, nursery and restroom areas.
In the foyer, the information center can be a major point of interest or it can be an eye sore. To the visitor, it is the best source of information available at a quick glance. A bright eye catching, inspirational, informative information center can make a visitor feel welcome without any words being spoken. On the other hand, a bare unkept center gives the impression of not much happening or an uncaring attitude toward the church.
Bulletin boards in the foyer serve as a point of information, and reminders to the members. It gives the visitor an idea of what is happening in the life of the church. Suggestions for bulletin boards are:
[ ] Church activities: the time and description of the event. Pictures from the same activity that happened last year encourages attendance again. They also bring plenty of smiles and warm memories.
[ ] A clearly drawn and labeled layout of the church building will quickly show people where certain rooms are. It can show where the person is now so he can decide how to get to where he wants to go.
[ ] Pictures of parishioners: It is easy to remember faces but hard to remember which names go with the faces we have met. This is a clever way of putting names with faces. Everyone enjoys seeing friends in print on a bulletin board. Many churches also include photos of missionaries that they support.
[ ] Past events, mission trips, church colleges, certificates, awards, memorials, and more, can be attractively displayed on bulletin boards. Some churches have electronic information boards flashing their information.
Whatever the congregation decides to do here is okay. The key is color and keeping it current, neat and attractive.
If the church is large enough, an atrium can enhance the area beautifully. An atrium is usually located in the center of the foyer. It is several stories high and is most often surrounded with lots of glass. A Biblical garden, containing plants mentioned in the Bible may circle the atrium. Mirrors on the walls and ceilings reflect the lush interior, giving the garden, or other interior design, an added dimension. A small waterfall and/or inspirational artifacts, such as sculptures and paintings, add to the overall effect. An atrium provides an unusual and interesting meeting area or lounge for small groups.
The foyer is a transition space from the outside noisy world into the sanctuary. An inner foyer, or narthex with subdued lighting will help in preparing worshippers as they enter the sanctuary. A foyer can also be used as overflow space, if ample room is provided. P.A. speakers will be necessary then, as well as glass panels or closed circuit TV to see the sanctuary.
Ushers and greeters work in the foyer area. This is an excellent place for storage of their supplies, either in attractive cabinets or in adjoining closets or rooms. It is nice to have a comfortable place to sit in the foyer while waiting for a ride home. Having a vestibule leading into the foyer cuts down outside air and noises.
The foyer has many important functions. It welcomes new and old friends, informs us of what’s happening and where, helps prepare us for our worship service, and finally bids us farewell as we leave. Truly, the foyer can be called the heart of the church.