When Do We Build?
- Michael Duduit Editor of Preaching magazine, who has had his share of building projects
- 2008 5 May
It's exciting for pastors and church leaders to see people coming to Christ on a regular basis through the ministry of their church. It’s also a joy to have new people choose to join your church as they move to the area or experience other life changes that call for a new church home. But with growth come challenges: finding additional leaders for classes and programs, dealing with parking stresses, and the big question: when do we build?
Any church experiencing growth faces a big question: at what point do we need to consider building additional facilities? There are lots of questions that churches need to face as they consider building. Here are three:
Are we using our present facilities efficiently?
Before taking on the cost of constructing additional facilities, churches need to seriously consider whether they are getting the maximum value from their current space. It can be far more cost-effective to reorganize or even renovate existing space rather than immediately jumping to new construction.
Do a serious survey of your worship and educational facilities and how they are being used today. Before you build, ask:
- Should we add an additional worship service to make better use of our worship space?
- Should we shift some of our educational or ministry programs to alternate times to use our space more efficiently?
- Can some of our programs be done in other locations to relieve pressure on this facility?
- Can we move some things around within our existing space to be more efficient?
Sometimes renovations are needed in response to changing times and trends. For example, if your church was built in the 1950s, there’s a good chance that you have lots of tiny classrooms; after all, that was the norm for educational programs then. Today, however, classes tend to be larger and need expanded space. It may be that eliminating some walls will solve some problems. (Just make sure those walls aren’t load-bearing!)
Are we building the right facility?
Sometimes churches tend to build what they already have, just bigger. But if you are at the planning stage, take time to step back and decide just what kind of space will help you best accomplish your mission and vision as a church.
When Atlanta’s North Point Church was reaching the limits of their worship center space, many would have assumed that they would simply build an even larger sanctuary to accommodate the growth. But after looking at their situation, leaders decided instead to build a second worship center that mirrored the first, with the platform areas backing up to one another. Each room was then equipped with state-of-the-art video equipment, so that when pastor Andy Stanley is preaching in one room, he appears via video in the other room. (In an interview, he told Preaching that the projection quality is so good that some folks in the second room think he’s actually there.) This solution doubled their worship space at a lower cost than simply building an expanded room – and gave the church additional flexibility for the future.
So don’t forget to think creatively about your building needs.
Are we building in the right place?
Before simply expanding your present facility, consider whether your current location is where the need for your ministry will exist in the long-term. Instead of a bigger building where you are, could it be that you should open a second site in another location? Or could it be that your church needs to move to another site that offers greater opportunities for growth and service?
Before you spend the first dollar on bricks and cement, spend some time asking yourself some tough questions about your church’s needs and future.