This is the second article in a three part series. It paints an example of your church undergoing different processes when it comes to building a facility. For the purposes of the article, we have used Growing in Christ Fellowship (GCF) as the example for your church, and these are the hypothetical experiences you can expect when undergoing this process.
Last month you were given the opportunity of a lifetime. Your church, Growing in Christ Fellowship (GCF) was taking all the right steps to becoming a mega-media church of the 21st century. The pastor has seized the vision and prepared himself and his leadership for the future, and the funds to build your new plant are there. Together you have all sought God’s will, and now have confidently contracted a team of architectural design consultants who can make your vision a reality.
Your programming meeting was held four weeks ago, and today is your first review and negotiation session. You all have had a week to read over the Programming Document, aka; The Programming Report. Your first shock came when you were presented with the fact that your budget will get you something less than what you expect and this much larger figure is what it will take to get you what you have asked for. During the week you have had the conversations about whether the design team is being realistic in their budgets, and have come to grips with the fact that there is nothing to be gained by them with larger numbers. Their contract fees are already settled. In addition, you have all seen the sincerity of their interest in your success, and accept that they are only bringing you the honest, albeit sad, truth.
Now come the tradeoffs. How do you reconcile your $26 million budget with their $31 million estimate? This is called horse trading. It is the tit-for-tat weighing of priorities that is the real world. $1.5 million has been found by deciding that you can defer the fitting out of the wedding chapel, although you intend for the design and shell construction to be completed and the remainder to be built in a few years. You also decide that some of the infrastructure planned for a long range expansion on the new land will be cancelled, although it will be more expensive to do it later.
Another $1 million will be available by reducing some of the architectural amenities, such as the fountain in the courtyard that would make a statement about the Spanish American heritage of your community. As with the wedding chapel, the infrastructure will be built, only the fountain itself will be deferred for a few years. The remaining $2.5 million will be found by offering bonds to the denomination annuity accounts division at better than attractive interest rates.
At today’s meeting things went smoother than you expected. When you came back with the above changes, they were met with enthusiasm by the design team. This was basically what they were planning to suggest, and the intelligent foresight by your team presented not only a good solution, but cemented the understanding that the client/consultant relationship was on a solid foundation for your new building project.
Another surprise was the size and shape of the new sanctuary. Even though you had all visited several churches with facilities the size you were planning, you are still amazed at just how much it takes to support your particular vision. At first you thought it was extravagant to plan a 70 foot wide stage with all the support systems of a theater. Then you were reminded that your drama and musical performance ministries have already been using the civic theater for special presentations, and have found that relatively modern facility inadequate. Along with that surprise came the word that because of the room size requirements, sightlines, and other considerations, the sanctuary would hold just over 4,000 people, instead of the 3,500 you had expected. Actually, this came as a pleasant surprise since you had begun experiencing a growth spurt as soon as your construction plans were announced.
The AV design consultants had warned you that the 3 main sanctuary Image Magnification (I-MAG) screens are a major expense. They will be 35′ wide 16X9 high definition screens, with the center one being able to be “flown” above into the stage housing when not in use. Since it will be almost two years before you are settled in, you have elected to build a high definition video system. You are aware that by the time you are in full activity in this new plant, the expectations of your congregation will already be shaped by the availability of high def in the marketplace. You have long ago resolved that even though your message will never change to accommodate the marketplace, your means of delivering that message will always be changing and advancing to meet the expectations of that same marketplace.
A budget of $4.5 million will be required for the entire AV package. That is almost 15% of the entire cost of your new facility, and you know of churches twice your size that have not spent that much for AV. Including broadcast grade production and editing capabilities for the DVD’s which you will be producing for distribution, and the streaming video internet presence which you want to have in place on day 1, you know that instead of a 4,000 seat facility you are building a ministry which can reach many times that number of people, and it will require the presence of 4,000 people in that sanctuary for the rest to be possible. The media budget is the single largest cost item apart from the land development and building structural system.
It has been five seemingly long months, but today at last, is the groundbreaking for your new facility. The basic architectural designs have been completed, the structural engineering reports are approved, and the various construction specialties such as sound and video systems are out for bids. What is not mentioned to the general congregation is that you and the architect are still negotiating with the city for the permits for the project. In principle they have approved the project, but such things as parking spaces, restroom accommodations and Americans with Disabilities Act issues are still unresolved. Your design team has assured you, as have the two city councilmen who have been your advocates, that all will be worked out, and no officials will be offended by your continuing ahead.
Now, two more months later, construction has begun. You never could have imagined how many things still needed to be dealt with. It seems as though every time you visit the site there are new issues to be resolved. Most of these problems are minor, but a few are real headaches. Answers were found for each question, and in a few cases you swallowed hard and signed change orders that added to the spending. It looks as though that 13% budget contingency that the architect insisted had to be there will be used up after all.
The bids are now coming in for the later phases of construction. The media design consultants have designed the facility, and basic infrastructure, such as electrical and conduit systems, and even long cable pulls were included in the electrical contract, so they are done in coordination with the overall building schedule. Three AV contractors were offered a chance to bid for the new facility. All three have good reputations, but one in particular is recommended by the design consultants as especially experienced on your type of facility.
Great news! The preferred contractor, BigMedia Contractors (BMC), have come in with the lowest bid, and it is $3.9 million, over 13% below budget. Even in the short period of the project so far, significant price reductions for some big ticket TV items and competitive pressures have benefited Growing in Christ Fellowship.
The roof is on the building, the dry wall is mostly in, and the AV/media contractor is on site. It will be another 3 months before you are ready to begin checking out systems, but already you are very glad for a decision that was made at the beginning of construction. Every month your video crew has spent half a day on the job site videotaping the progress. Each month you have produced a fifteen minute video and presented it in all services, showing the progress. This has headed off one of the real headaches in church construction, the natural desire for people to visit the jobsite to see for themselves what’s going on. Now you can politely tell them that OSHA will not allow it, and at the same time ask if they have been watching the progress reports on Sunday morning.
Next month we’ll see what your big media budget has bought you, take you through the installation process, and commission your new facility. Growing in Christ Fellowship will have their first worship services in their new home.