In similar fashion, our church facilities of that era provided nothing more than an outdoor toilet behind the church building. After a few years, indoor rest rooms were added. We saw progress in facilities to adequately address the changing community expectations.
I still go into some church facilities that are nearly as primitive as the provisions in the days of my boyhood. Many church buildings still have rest rooms only in the basement. Some of the toilets are one step above the floor on a raised concrete pad so the plumbing will work. Others rest rooms are only accessible through the furnace room. Often the generic stalls are rotten or destroyed by abuse. Lighting is sometimes very dim and ventilation is lacking, producing a very uninviting environment. “Can I hold my breath until I can get out of here?”
Modern homes give high priority to the bathroom facilities. The size, furnishings, and decor reflect a high priority for what has become a very inviting room. These current expectations are brought to your church. The rest rooms are one of the foremost tests of the visitor’s evaluation of your church facilities. We must meet the expectations of the culture we are endeavoring to reach.
The main church rest rooms should be off the foyer or commons adjacent to the worship center. Lighting, inviting decor, and cleanliness are expected. Adequate privacy for the open door and adjacent stalls should be provided with appropriate room layout and manufactured stall dividers that are not rusted. The aroma of the room should be from air fresheners and cleanliness, rather than from medicinal disinfectant or wastes. Cleanliness is godliness.
Most building code jurisdictions now require rest rooms designed for access by the disabled. These requirements include door width, open floor space, larger stalls and special furnishings. In many instances, we must provide rest rooms on each floor level, even if there is an elevator in the building. If the code enforcement is lax, accessible rest rooms are still expected today in church facilities as in other public buildings.
The minimum recommended ratio for toilets is one unit for each 50 people in the building. With a much higher percentage of adults in the typical congregation, the required amount of rest room space is much greater. Adults usually don’t run into the rest room at the last minute and exit as quickly as young children. Don’t forget to give consideration to special needs within the rest rooms to make everyone as comfortable as possible through adequate care. A sick bay or lounge area is often helpful, especially in emergencies.
Give high priority to this current expectation.