This article series is meant to be a guide to those in the Church who find themselves involved in the planning of a new facility for their Church family. It is my desire that the information contained in this series will be beneficial to you as you minister in this capacity. I consider it a privilege and a blessing to share with you about church design and construction.
Much of the information in this series comes as a result of sixteen years experience in the Church Design and Construction Field, as Vice-President of Chapelstone Developments Inc. Chapelstone Developments is a company that has devoted its efforts to assisting churches and church-related groups through their building projects.
A building program, if carried out properly, can be one of the most exciting events to take place in your Church. It will serve to unite your congregation in a spirit of co-operation and will speak to your community, town, or city of growth and life within the church.
Planning To Build?
The first question we have to ask ourselves is, “Do we need to build?”. There are many legitimate reasons for entering into a building program:
1. Need to change location
2. Need a new building because the existing one is in need of extensive and costly repair.
3. Need for more Christian education and other facilities.
4. Need for more seating in sanctuary.
There is a rule-of-thumb that seems to have proven itself to be accurate. “When a church grows to within 80% of its facility’s capacity, it stops growing”.
Once you and your Board are convinced of your need to expand or rebuild, it is time to go to your congregation to receive permission to proceed with research that will produce the following:
1. The forming of a Building Committee.
2. The forming of a Finance Committee.
3. A report to the congregation of possible options and a cost estimate of these options.
This is the kind of work that can be done with minimal cost.
It is important to keep your congregation informed of the progress. Do not wait until you are ready to start construction to ask your people to approve the spending of large amounts of money.
In order for your research to flow smoothly, there is a process that must take place.
The Minister is the key person in the building program. It is not necessary that he be the chairman of the Building Committee or that he be responsible for the total building project. In fact, I would advise against that. That would only serve to hinder his ministry to the church and society. However, he must be sold on the project and 100% supportive of it or it will not work. He should be aware of each step and decision as they are taking place. The reason the Pastor should fill this role is because he has been placed in the church as the spiritual leader. Your building program will play a very important part in the spirituality of your church.
An effective Building Committee should be put in place. This committee can be made up of Church Board members or not. If your building committee is required to go back to the Church Board, the majority of your committee should be from your Board of Deacons.
Because you know your church and its people better than anyone, you will most adequately be able to decide who should make up the building committee. It should be made up of not more than five (5) people and they need not be professionals.
Your Committee should be made up of:
1. Christian members of your church who support with their finances and attendance.
2. People who know the heartbeat of the church.
3. People who are convinced of the necessity of the building program and, along with the Pastor, have a vision of their church moving ahead.
These people, whether professionals or not, will best serve the Church in this area.
The work of the Building Committee will be to:
1) Establish and list the facilities needed.
2) Choose possible sites.
3) Work with the Consulting Company to develop the desired product.
4) Choose a company to work with in the design and construction of a new church building.
This Committee will stay in place until the completion of the project.
A Finance Committee should be formed at the same time as the Building Committee. For this committee, much the same qualifications would be true other than the members should be business oriented and have a knowledge of finances. One of the members should be the church treasurer and one other member should be from the Building Committee. This committee can be smaller, maybe three (3) members.
The work of the Finance Committee will be to:
1) Determine the church’s present financial standing.
2) Determine the church’s future financial goals. (These goals should be realistic & attainable.)
3) Determine an approximate budget that should be adhered to in the design and construction of a new building.
After the Building and Finance Committees are formed, a meeting place should be established. Many people think that this is unimportant so they meet in a Sunday School room in the basement of the church that is too small and with no ventilation. Many hours will be spent in meetings during the project and it is important that a room be adequate in order to have productive meetings. It should be roomy, ventilated and well lit. It should be able to accommodate an overhead projector and chalkboard.
If you do not have such a meeting room in your church, the front pews of the sanctuary will serve just fine. Wherever you decide to meet, if possible, the location should be consistent. That way, all parties know what the room accommodates and will not need to ask instructions on how to get there.