When Scents Make Sense For Church

What does your church smell like? Is it a pleasing aroma? Research shows that a visitor will be able to recall the scent from your service far longer than the look of the building.

Gary Zandstra  ·  December 19, 2017

Page 1 of 2 pages 1 2 >

When scents makes sense. (stop stinking on Sunday)

I am headed to a local Hotel/Convention center for a business gathering in about an hour.  As I visualize what ballroom we will be meeting I also can almost smell what the room will smell like. 

Now this really is reverse scent marketing.  In scent marketing you would be somewhere and a comforting or familiar scent will cause you to have an emotional response.  It’s like the friend of mine who told me that every time he smells pipe tobacco, he is carried back to great memories of sitting on his Grandpa’s front porch.

The hotel I am heading to has made a conscious effort to create a “brand” scent.  This is designed so that the minute you walk into the doors of that hotel brand, anywhere in the world, you will recognize the smell and in theory, be comforted or welcomed by it. 

Believe it or not scent marketing is big business.  Retailers have discovered that to motivate customers they need to engage in multi-sensory marketing with scent being a very important ingredient.
In reality, the church has been one of the places where scent marketing has been used for years.  In a lot of traditions incense is used.  The most notable use is by the Catholic church.  On a forum I was reading the following question was asked:

“I can be ten feet away from the doors of any Catholic church and all my life they have all had the same distinctive smell. There is nothing bad about the smell at all. In fact, it is the most comforting smell that I can think of. It is so universal that I don’t think it has anything to do with certain churches using incense at certain times, although I guess I could be wrong in that. Could it have something to do with the holy water at the entrances? Seriously. I have been to many different churches, some more orthodox than others, and this is the one and only consistent thing I notice. Does anyone else notice this or have an explanation?”

The most common answer in the forum was the Eucharist (the bread and wine).  Whether it is that or the candles or the incense is not important to me.  What is intriguing is that for the Catholic church this scent is almost universal, in the old and the modern churches.

Page 1 of 2 pages 1 2 >


Communications · Guest Services · Design & Construction · Design · Facility Management · Blogs & Opinion · Experience · Facility Management · Guest Services · Outreach · All Topics


Gary Zandstra
Gary’s newest venture The Experience gives him the opportunity to help the local church using his vast experience in facilities and production.
Contact Gary Zandstra: ·  View More by Gary Zandstra

Support and Enhance the Worship Message

The latest strategies for sound, lighting and facilities can help you better attract and engage with your congregation. With Worship Facilities’ insights on leadership, communication and administrative tools, each issue shows you how to design and maintain your facility and how to adapt it to meet the changing needs of today’s members.
Explore the success stories of others, and find ways to enhance your weekly services. Get a free subscription to Worship Facilities magazine. Subscribe today!


By Judicia1 on January 18, 2018

It has facilitate many articles for the users with scents make sense for church. The details are issued for the australian assignment services and article writers. Thanks to all of them for issuing great essays and worship facilitators.


By Elke Weiss on December 20, 2017

Hmmmm, scents are very necessary at spiritual places, so is cleanliness. I am glad you people are keeping a heads up regarding it because no one wants to visit a dirty and smelling place. Peace


By gzandstra on February 10, 2017

Thanks for the question.  Retail sales are where alot of the studies are conducted.  I read numerous articles and surveys.  This white paper is the one I referenced in the article


By cwaldie on February 9, 2017

What study did you reference? Could you link to it? Sounds intriguing.


By gzandstra on February 1, 2017


Excellent point.  I would never suggest that a church use “cheap scents”. 
The hotel I mention is a national brand and in all of their premium locations they use a scent delivery system. If a church is looking to add a scent they should pursue a professional system.

As I state in the article, I strongly believe that the scent must be part of the church’s DNA, like the smell of fresh ground coffee at the church I mentioned.

One other note scent should never be used to try to cover up a smell.  The smell needs to be eradicated or it will always smell like you tried to spray floral scent in a con on top of it.
Thanks again for the good point!


By pete robertson on February 1, 2017

Please don’t suggest that scents should be added at church.
I have asthma and cheap scents like incense cause me to react badly. Please follow up on this article and post a warning.
Thanks, Pete