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Develop Successful Church Building Projects

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2002 5 Jul
Develop Successful Church Building Projects
Are you running out of sanctuary seats and parking spaces during weekend worship services? Do you have to cut your education and ministry schedule due to a lack of classroom space? If so, your church might be planning a building project to construct a new facility or expand or renovate your current one.

Building projects can easily overwhelm congregations. But God will successfully lead you through the process if you trust Him to do so.

Here are some ways you can develop a successful church building project:

  • Establish and maintain consistent, dedicated times of prayer. Pray for wisdom for your clergy and laypeople, unity within your congregation, knowledge of God's vision for your church, knowledge of the specific action steps you all should take to follow that vision, knowledge of God's timing, and provision for all the resources you'll need to complete the project.

  • Define your church's mission and vision, then write them down. Remember that God's ultimate purpose for a new church building isn't just more space, but the ability to achieve more in ministry. Ask God to reveal His specific purpose for planting your church in your community. Then discern your vision - specific ways in which your congregation intends to live out that mission in the future, serving your community.

  • Clearly and frequently communicate your mission and vision statements to everyone in your congregation during each stage of your building project, helping them understand how the project will help your church fulfill its mission and vision. Carefully listen to feedback and consider it.

  • Handle conflicts maturely. When people disagree with you, treat them with respect, and seek to preserve peace and fellowship as much as possible. Make relationships a top priority that shouldn't be compromised by the building project.

  • Determine your church's ability to pay for the project. Study your current budget and figure out how much money you could potentially borrow. Don't go into debt to the point that your congregation owes more than it owns or can't manage the cash flow necessary for making payments on time. But don't limit your potential for future ministry by avoiding all debt if God has called you to expand your vision. Plan to put at least 20 percent of the entire cost of the project down in cash to qualify for a loan, and allocate about 30 to 33 percent of your church's net revenue to pay your mortgage. Also, factor in maintenance costs for your new building when making financial plans.

  • Think and pray about what type(s) of financing will work best for your particular church. Consider an internally generated bond program' a bond program organized through an outside provider, a commercial bank loan, a loan from a denominational organization, a capital fund drive, or a "pay-as-you-go" construction plan.

  • Establish a building committee of no more than five or six trusted people, with each person representing specific ministry needs.

  • Select a site through God's guidance. Make sure your site is visible and accessible so newcomers can easily find your church and get to it. Estimate the minimum amount of land you'll need by multiplying the number of sanctuary seats you intend to have by 200 square feet, then dividing the result by 43,560 square feet in an acre. Another principle to keep in mind is to plan on building your sanctuary to about two-and-a-half times its normal capacity to keep pace with normal growth. Remember to factor in land for parking, topography, open space required by your county, etc.

  • Thoroughly research the municipal codes and requirements that might affect your building plans. Consider local zoning laws, permits, etc.

  • Conduct an informal survey of your potential new neighbors to determine whether or not they support your plans. Strive to establish friendly relationships with them.

  • Hire a master planner, architect, and building contractor. Consider their skill, experience, reputation, references (thoroughly check these), and the rapport you have with them. As they work, continually ask them questions, working closely with them to ensure that you all have clear and frequent communication.

  • Pray for the fruit of the Spirit (such as patience and self-control), and strive to demonstrate that fruit to others you interact with during the building project so you can be a good witness for Christ throughout.

Adapted from Proven Concepts of Church Building and Finance: A Step-by-Step Guide to Successful Building Projects, copyright 2002 by Patrick L. Clements. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.kregel.com, 1-800-733-2607.

Patrick L. Clements (M.B.A., Golden State University) is president of Church Extension Plan in Salem, Or., a church-financing ministry that assists in church planting and facilities financing. Currently Clements serves on the board of the Christian Management Association and is a trustee for the Stewards Foundation.

Is your church planning to construct a new building, add to your current one, or renovate? If so, how are you going about it, and why? What challenges are you facing, and how is God helping you overcome them? How do you anticipate that your new building will better help your congregation fulfill the ministry God has called you to undertake in your community? What encouragement and advice would you like to offer people from other churches who are planning new buildings? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.

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