The Secret of Effective Church Building
The secret to efficient and cost effective church design is proper
process. As I detail in the
book, Preparing to Build, an already
difficult task becomes quite painful when you don’t understand and
adhere to a good building process.
Church design is a step in a church building program, but it is not
the first step. The design of your church must follow after
the prerequisite steps of understanding ministry needs and financial
ability. Until you have a qualified and justifiable understanding
of what your church really needs to build, and a realistic understanding
of what it can afford to build and how it will pay for it, no church
design process will be valid.
In a building program, the goal of church design is to create a church
floor plan or church building plan that, while sensitive to the history
and heritage of the church, focuses on meeting future needs. When
the church design process proceeds forward without an objective and
measurable understanding of what the church needs and can afford to
build, bad things happen: the initial church building plans drawn up by
the architect or church designer exceed the church's financial ability
to build, or, the design of the building does not meet the objective
ministry needs. In either case, you did not get the proper results
from your church design.
Remember, functionality is far more important than appearance.
This does not mean you need to design your church to be ugly, but that
subjective appearance must be made subservient to objective need.
The best way to get these issues in balance is through a
feasibility study that will provide an objective, qualified
understanding of the church's needs so it may have good information on
which to begin the church design process.
The following is excerpted from the book "Preparing to Build:
Practical Tips and Advice to Prepare Your Church for a Building Program"
a needs and feasibility study tends to create a more satisfactory
Quoting from the 2006 FIRSt study done
by the Rainer Group, “We did find a strong correlation in overall
satisfaction with the building project if a feasibility study was
conducted. The disappointment, however, is that only one-third of the
churches conducted a feasibility study.”
When a consultant says there is a
strong correlation, the implication is that of cause and effect. In
this case, the operative phrase is “if a feasibility study was
conducted.” This then squarely identifies the causal relationship
between proper preparation and maximized satisfaction. They were
satisfied because they conducted a feasibility study.
According to the study, 33% of the
churches conducted feasibility studies, which correlates closely to the
35% that considered the building process as “excellent”, and the 40%
that indicated the building program created no conflict in the church.
planning is also at the heart of cost overruns and financial duress.
Failure to properly research and understand the needs of the church and
its financial ability can cause the church to build facilities that are
too small, too large, or otherwise inadequate. Failure to take adequate
preparation in hiring the architect or builder can yoke the church to a
poor performer or an improper relational fit. Failure to ask the right
questions during the planning process will cost the church
time, effort, and money…or worse.
The Cost of Project Changes
If we divide the building process up
into three sweeping categories, they would be:
Research & Planning, Design,
the following chart demonstrates, the further along the church is in the
building program, the higher the cost of implementing change:
The cost to affect changes in the
project increase dramatically as the project progresses.
The cheapest and easiest time to make changes is before you get
too far into the design process.
the church’s ability to cost-effectively control the outcome of the
building program decreases quickly.
What these two
diagrams clearly demonstrate is that the church achieves the most impact for the least cost
early in the planning and design
process. Unfortunately, this is the area in which the majority of
churches most often elect not to get professional assistance. This
decision results in changes and corrections getting pushed into the more expensive
part of the project, thereby raising the total cost of the project. Sometimes
changes cannot be effected because the church is too far into the
project to make cost effective changes.
Excerpted from the book, "Preparing
to Build". All
Church Design: Conclusion
In summary, we see that the church should
implement an objective process that will properly define its needs and
financial ability before proceeding into the church design process.
Doing so will lower the cost of the building program while improving the
church's satisfaction with the design and building process. It
will most often be in the church's best interest to engage an outside
consultant with the tools and experience to assist the church in
objectively determining needs and ability. Click here to learn more
about a church needs and feasibility study
as part of the church design process.
Preparing to Build,
by Stephen Anderson. Available in eBook or Paperback editions.
on Achieving a Positive Church Construction
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