Like various other churches who contact you, we are
developing our church building to enable more use by local people.
Our focus is on worship, as you mentioned recently, but we are wary
of those new uses' overrunning that focus. Do you have suggestions
that are not just about the self-interest of
MOST churches have times when nothing happens in their
buildings; so there is an opportunity to create good management of
your church to maintain its focus on worship.
Establish a few principles. First, you could establish that
Sundays are primarily church days, with occasional bookings if they
fit in. There can then be availability on all the other days (not
that I would encourage a free-for-all).
The church, through the administrator, clergy, or PCC, can
identify the main festivals of the liturgical year - those that do
not fall on Sundays - and, at the beginning of each year, the
church can "book" the necessary days for those festivals.
If your church regularly has funerals that might have an impact
on some bookings, then make this clear on your booking forms. Most
groups who are local to the church will have great respect for
funerals, and will not mind losing a week's booking; equally, you
may find that undertakers, when booking funerals, can also offer
Weddings in church tend usually to be on Saturdays, and are
often booked months in advance. This should create no problems with
events booked on Saturdays for the church or for local groups. It
just means that sometimes the later arrivals have second choice
over the date.
If you expect some day-long events from local organisations or
businesses, ensure that there are no clashes with the smaller
user-groups, perhaps keeping certain weekdays free from small
groups so that day events remain possible. Once a group has made a
booking, that booking should be honoured.
It is reasonable that small groups, even for recurring
activities, book on a monthly basis, and make a deposit for their
booking. This will reduce the likelihood that they will drop weekly
activities on a whim, and fail to pay for "implied bookings".
"So-and-so is always here on Wednesdays" is not a booking: a
filled-out booking form with a deposit is.
Setting up a good financial system, with pre-set rates, will
help to keep bookings in order, too: only those who pay in advance
can book space; only those who leave everything clean and in its
proper place get their deposits back; and only people who have paid
the fee get to use the church. In this way, you won't end up with
Also, have a clear understanding that, after every activity or
event, the church has to be returned to looking like church: chairs
facing the chancel, the holy table with its weekday covering, and
the general layout welcoming to those who would like to drop in to
pray. To return the church to church could be made part of the
conditions of use for each event organiser. Only when a non-church
activity is in progress should the place look different, and, even
at these times, you may keep the chancel in proper order.
And, of course, do hand out a leaflet telling other groups why
the altar, the furniture, the font, and the various fixtures and
fittings are special, so that they are able also to respect what is
worthy of re- spect because of its function in worship.