If you were driving down a road in your town and saw this building, would you be intrigued? Would you want to check it out? As you look at that picture, who do you think this building is meant to attract? Who was the primary target to get sucked in by the design and amenities?
If you said MEN… then you would be correct. But not just any man… a mid “thirty-something” man. And why would a church focus on that age group and gender? It is actually pretty simple for the leadership at Northside Christian (designed by Visioneering Studios).
For many men, there is too much talk at churches about love, surrender, “feelings,” and a whole host of other words and songs that are just not appealing. Northside Christian wanted to change that, by creating a culture and environment where men feel comfortable enough to not just attend, but to also bring their families. They became intentional about communicating a story and message to the target they wanted to attract. They made the conscious decision to put “bait on the hook,” as they fulfilled their calling to be fishers of men.
The attractional elements of the physical campus were intended to be appealing to those they were trying to reach…just like the worm, lure, or minnow, are on a fishing hook. If you go fishing for bass, you would not leave the bait at home. Yes, it’s possible to catch a fish on a bare hook, but it is less likely, much harder, and far less rewarding. So why do we think it’s wrong to put “bait” on the hook when we are trying to attract certain demographics? While I am in complete agreement that the Holy Spirit will move in a person’s heart to take action, God also gave us eyes, ears, noses, and other sensory attributes that He uses to influence us.
Here are 3 ways Northside Christian designed an environment to attract its target demographic:
- Know your materials. With an understanding that men are more attracted to texture than color, Visioneering worked with Northside Christian to incorporate a variety of materials into the design of their campus. From the stone and wood grains to the exposed metal, every material was carefully chosen to make men feel more comfortable on campus.
2. Get creative with your concepts. Northside Christian and Visioneering wanted to tell the story of Northside Christian’s calling to become fishers of men through its design and architecture. To represent this mission, they built a pond for the public in front of their main building… and stocked it with fish!
3. Add amenities. Besides the “fishing hole,” Northside Christian was deliberate in the location of its exterior public spaces. Even if you are not interested in fishing, there is a place to sit outside by a gentle waterfall to read. The playground is also open to the public, and the outside sitting areas and tables are inviting to anybody just looking for a place to hang out with others.
Are you ready to go fishing for your community? Is your church more interested in “cleaning” fish or catching them? If it is the later, make sure you have the right bait.