When you think of the Dallas Cowboys you probably don’t immediately think of coworking spaces.
Yet Jerry Jones, the iconic leader of the Dallas Cowboys organization recently announced that the Dallas Cowboys facilities will be the new home to Formation. A coworking space designed for entrepreneurs and executives to work out of the Cowboys Front Office. They will sell memberships and early reports indicate they’ll be pricey. Really pricey.
So why would Jerry Jones do this? Let’s consider.
- Coworking spaces don’t require much in the way of capital or startup costs. A large open space with well designed aesthetics. Free Wifi. A few tables. Comfy chairs. Decent coffee. The occasional networking or lunch and learn event.
- Coworking spaces allow you to build community around your brand. Want to engage with your best potential customers? How better than hosting them in your own office. Can you imagine how much your fandom increases if you’ve gotten to say hello to Jerry Jones as he walks to his office in the morning?
- Attendance is Lagging. – The dirty little secret of the NFL is that ticket sales are plummeting year over year. People aren’t attending games like they used to due to technology making the in-home experience a superior product. A coworking space gets people to the stadium on a regular basis and makes them feel comfortable there. The goal of this move is that the stadium is just a part of their regular life. Not some big event. Breaking down mental barriers of entry will probably lead to higher attendance.
If you’re a church leader you need to seriously consider what this seemingly innocuous piece of news says about the way your church uses (and could use) your facilities in the future.
The same reasons Jerry Jones would use the Dallas Cowboys front office to create a coworking space, are the same reasons you should consider it for your church.
Let’s consider this from the perspective of a church.
- Coworking spaces don’t require much in the way of capital or startup costs. –If you’re a modern style church there is a good chance that you already have a fairly open style lobby with chairs, free wifi, and a coffee station. Add a few hi-top tables and bar stools, schedule a weekly leadership/entrepreneurship talk with a local business leader, and you’re 90% there. Consider this. Current membership in a WeWork space is $45/month.What if your church offered practically the same service for $15/month? You’d cover your costs entirely and maybe have some extra to put towards a charitable cause that your church supports. People would scramble for memberships because you would have a better business model than WeWork or any other co-working space. You can cap memberships to your facilities capacity. For some churches that maybe 100 members for others it maybe 1000. Just like a gym, not everyone will be using the space all the time. If you want to invest more resources and charge more you could do that too. Have free space in Sunday School classes or conference rooms?Allow people to schedule meetings in those spaces. Want to set up a print/copy room? Give a raise to an administrative assistant to also serve as a the help desk liaison?All are possibilities.
- Coworking spaces allow you to build community around your church. What types of people use coworking spaces? The median age according to the 2017 Global Coworking Survey is 35 years old. When the first coworking spaces began in 2011 the people using coworking spaces were predominantly freelancers and creative entrepreneur types. But the trend is moving towards employees and even small businesses using coworking spaces as a hub for their business. Eighty-Six percent of those who use coworking spaces have at least a Bachelor’s Degree, and Forty-Five percent have a Masters Degree or higher. The top fields represented in coworking spaces are IT (programming, software engineers, web design), PR/Marketing, Writing, Consulting, and Business Development, and Design. Translation. The types of people your church usually struggles to recruit and get into volunteer roles are the exact types of people who use coworking spaces. If you’re looking to attract bright, creative, financially stable individuals and families into your church, a coworking space is like a bright light to a moth. Getting this demographic of person to have casual conversations with your pastoral staff, having them be around your facilities, building friendships, all in your home is a gold mine of potential. These demographics of people often struggle to find deep meaningful community. They move at break-neck speeds and have careers that keep them busy nearly all the time. A coworking space is a great way to meet these people where they are most of their time. Work. Technology has made our social lives flimsy and anemic. Millennials (yes age 35 would be a millenial) and Gen-Z feel this deeply even if they do little to cure the problem in their own lives. A church is at its core a community. A group of people bonded together by the shared experience of life change through Jesus. It makes sense then, that the church would be the place where culture could re-learn what true community is all about. If businesses like Wework and even Jerry Jones can see the need for bringing community into people’s lives through some creative methods then why shouldn’t the church?
- Attendance is Lagging. – Unfortunately just like the NFL most churches have attendance problems. Only about 20% of Americans are attending church on any given Sunday. That number is down significantly over the past forty years.Simply put the church has an attendance problem. Often churches are utilizing the same strategies that they’ve been trying for decades to attract new people with abysmal returns on their investments. Paper mailers, Facebook Ads, SEO, billboards, overpriced swag, invite-a-friend campaigns. Most of these are colossal wastes of money and time for churches. They at best hope to convert at 1-2%. What if instead you spent that $10,000 in direct mailer fees to startup a coworking space? You would probably see more guests as a result and you’d actually begin recouping your money instead of seeing 99% of your money go in the trash. If you’re looking to boost attendance a coworking space housed at your church could be a great place to start with a killer return on investment. Just like for the NFL, the goal of this move is that the church building becomes a part of the regular life of people in your community. Not some big event. For so many de-churched and unchurched people it is a massive mental hurdle to even consider coming to a church. It’s an experience filled with complicated and often negative emotions. What if your church could break down these initial barriers and make you church lobby feel as comfortable as the local Starbucks? That comfort level could lead to higher attendance and an opportunity to see the gospel spread to more people in your community.