Time: The Fourth Dimension of Space

Buildings come with limitations—then again, they bring options we often overlook.

Time and its implications for your church campus is a more significant issue than you may realize. Retail stores understand time better than we do, while online support services sometimes don’t.

What am I getting at? Well, we all think in three dimensions when we consider the use of space. Look at McDonalds. I’m old enough to remember when they offered only a takeout window along with a few benches outside. They added indoor dining decades later. Then drive-through, now with two lanes.

During COVID, they added home delivery while churches primarily began streaming sometimes boring services online, adding perhaps a fifth dimension to this discussion. But let’s stick to four. A few wise leaders posted various times for their congregations to gather online in interactive meetings for more traditional services and small groups.

One issue emerging as the pandemic subsides is that people we’ve recently met in our Sunday meetings are returning to their jobs and are now unable to make it to church. This somewhat negative consequence of reopening spells opportunity if you’re looking for it.

After handing off the big church in Hawaii, a few of us older folks planted in a movie theater. The church began with 80 people, including a surprise handful of Millennials. We rented three auditoriums which gave us access to a large lobby. As we grew to around 120, we contracted for two more auditoriums and a second lobby, giving us more space for children and after church food and fellowship. The fourth dimension was time—they allowed us just 5 hours, including setup and teardown, though we fudged a sixth by arriving earlier to set up.

All this effort and cost ($500/hour) went into a single service. Then one man told us he had to stop attending because his job rescheduled him. Here was where time came into focus. We launched an 8 AM meeting to accompany our regular 10 AM offering—just for one person.

We announced that the new service would allow Children’s Church workers an opportunity for worship alongside our single guaranteed member. Then we went to prayer. It was easy for whoever would preach to do a warmup in the early “service,” but we had no one to lead the singing. After several announcements, lots of arm-twistings and much prayer, an Austrian man stepped forward. Then we began praying for at least five people to show up on the launch day. Eight came. That crowd of eight quickly turned into 80 persons who found the modified schedule allowed them to get to church and work or the beach. Our worship leader even taught us to sing “A Mighty Fortress” in German.

My previous churches maxed out with seven services per weekend. But, today, I would add something on Thursday night and perhaps a midweek morning. People have different schedules, and we would benefit ourselves along with them by accommodating their needs. One of my mentors led a megachurch that offered a 5 AM Sunday meeting for people who worked in bars. Their workplaces closed at 2 AM, and they would leave by three after cleaning up. This allowed time for breakfast and then church at five before heading home to sleep.

Time, the fourth dimension, is there waiting for you. The question is, what will you do with it? BTW, did I mention that our little church of 120 pretty quickly grew to 300+ and our rent was effectively cut in half as soon as we spread it over two meetings rather than the original time slot?

What have you experienced?

Have you, or someone you know, made creative use of space by modifying the way they utilize it over time? Did I omit something you think should have been included in this short blog?

Remember the comment you leave can bless a hurting leader—sharing is caring!

To catch the companion video try https://youtu.be/LWGhf7auYAE