Church Buildings: the Neighbors

Why rent on the bottom floor?

It seems most house church problems are neighbor problems. So when renting a house (residential space), it is important to pick a place where you think you can minimize disrupting neighbors with your services.

The easiest way to do this is to minimize the number of neighbors. If you rent on the bottom floor of an apartment building, that eliminates those who suffer most: the downstairs neighbors. Side note: in many apartment buildings, the bottom residential floor is actually the second or third floor, with the floors below part of a storefront commercial space. Since most businesses aren’t bothered by church noise, the result is the same.

Another neighbor-saving device to look for in a house is one where the living room has ‘buffer rooms’ on either side. If you can find one of these rare houses, your auditorium won’t share a wall with your neighbors. The other reason that renting on the bottom floor avoids neighbor problems is that it cuts out the traffic – especially elevator traffic. Nothing makes for frustrated neighbors like a five minute wait for an elevator because the house church just finished services.

How much noise is too much noise? Well, there seem to be two lines in the sands of time. Some people want you to hush up by five. Usually old ladies watching hawk-like over some homework-crunching adolescent. But for the most part they only lose their minds over the shout-to-make-yourself-heard noise. But around nine or so, everybody would like a little peace and quiet.

Another reason for renting low is the people you’re hoping will come to church. Students will tell you that they don’t mind hiking up five or six flights of stairs to come to church, and there’s often a price break when you get up in the nosebleed apartments (most buildings with eight or so floors don’t have an elevator). But older people and people toting a kid aren’t likely to be as sweet-spirited about it.

Again, these criteria really narrow your options. But if you look, they’re out there. The three churches here all rent in the bottom residential floor of their building (one on the first floor, one on the second, and one on the third!). One of them are in a building with an elevator, but it’s easy to opt for the stairs if the elevator’s on hold! Two of them are lucky enough to have ‘buffer rooms’. So far… neighbor problems have been minimal.

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