The successful church building program is directly attributed to project preparation. It begins with an objective, methodical, and detailed process that includes a checklist of issues and factors, appropriately weighted and prioritized for the church’s specific situation and needs – and the best checklists emanate from a strong initial project planning team organization that may include the building committee, contractor, architect and the fundraiser.
To ensure that the process comprehensively reflects the long-term objectives and requirements—from congregational growth, to music and fellowship needs, and even community outreach, several preliminary questions should first be addressed: What are the objectives, criteria and identified specifications? We start with a survey of the congregation and lead staff from choir director, organists, to missions and fellowship, and more. Do you require a new location? Or, may we work with what we have and adapt some areas for other uses and build an addition in another?
The team works together, identifying and engaging members across all church functions to ensure that all requests are considered. This may be a written survey across all committees, a focus group, or round table discussions of key membership and potential stewards. All information is reviewed by the team and after a consensus is reached, preliminary designs and budgets are prepared. Included is another important initial step: to develop a project timeline that is realistic and meets church expectations, as well as meets milestones as needed from local planning approvals and inspections to fundraising and financing.
At times, once the project foundation is in place, it is necessary to review all the potential factors that may influence the success of the project. Sometimes the needed funds are not met at crucial times for the entire project. When that occurs, a Phased Project is prepared. The phase project takes the plan and creates “chunks” that can be completed at various times as financing and growth permits.
Phased projects vary, often greatly, by church need, growth expectations, and function. There are potentially hundreds of factors that could be compiled into a master checklist of a church’s need that would cover every scenario—and each church is different! We can put them into possibly four categories: Church Operation and Growth, Music and Choir needs, Fellowship and Community Outreach.
Church Operation and Growth
Access: Internal with stairs, elevators, and external access canopies, covers, parking
Narthex and Entryways
Utility (power, fuel, water/sewer, sound and AV)
Support services and amenities: bathrooms, kitchens, halls
Meeting rooms, Sunday school rooms, lounges, coffee areas
Events: weddings and funerals, services
- Music and choir needs
Organ and Instruments
Kitchens and access
Tables, chairs, storage, flow
Youth rooms and needs
- Community Outreach
Reading rooms and Movie and Social media
Successful church building projects are the result of the optimal balance of church need. What is most important to the project is to ensure that the team of church committee, contractor, architect, and fundraising is brought together early! When that occurs the church itself—from building committee, to lay leaders, and the congregation, make informed decisions that makes a church vision a reality.