Church Building Ideas: Making Sure Your Building Matches Your Mission
So, you’re thinking about building a brand new home for your church. Perhaps you own (or are searching for) land to build on. Or maybe you’re considering expanding or retrofitting your current building. Maybe you’ve been renting a not-quite-right facility while saving funds for your building project.
Whatever has brought you to this point, the fact is that your existing facility doesn’t quite fit your mission any longer. So how can you bring your physical structure in line with your mission and vision? Not every building is fit for a church, and certainly not every church property is fit for your church’s needs.
As you start the process of discovery and design for your new church building, here are three questions you should answer.
What is your ministry about?
Getting specific and getting back to the heart and intent of your church’s purpose is undoubtedly mission-critical. There are an endless number of “nice to haves” when it comes to any construction project, but honing in on your principal objectives can help you prioritize and stay true to that mission.
Is your mission about community outreach and helping the less fortunate? If so, that will have a large bearing on your location, and you’ll want to make sure the design itself accommodates those activities. For example, you may want to include a large professional kitchen in the budget.
What are the various ministries and how can a church design best support those ministries? If you have a large children’s ministry, that will have certain requirements, as will a preschool or daycare (such as Dutch doors or doors with windows). Do you need space for a youth ministry, or an area where adults can gather for study during the week?
Consider including spaces that promote fellowshipping opportunities, such as a large foyer, cafe or lounge area. Think through all the ways your members use your church currently, or how you envision the members and ministries to have access to certain church functions and facilities.
Certainly not every interaction requires a dedicated space. Some spaces can be multi-purpose, and that should be carefully thought-through, as well.
How do your members worship together?
Although every church is different, there are some essential sanctuary design elements, including a pulpit or stage, choir loft, baptistry, and so on. You may not include these things — again, it goes back to your mission, of which worship is a fundamental part.
If music is an important part of your worship, how can your sanctuary design be used to carry the music and make it be felt by every member of the congregation? Your sanctuary design and acoustics should take music type into account: Does the musical part of your worship largely involve a choir, or is it more band- or instrument-focused?
Have a plan for expanding or adding seats or pews to include more worshippers when needed, as well.
Who will oversee the church building design process?
We’ve been talking largely about a vision for a church building and how that might come together. This question is more about execution.
Many churches establish a church building committee to oversee and manage a new church build project. In addition to making sure the design meets the church’s vision and mission, it is also responsible for establishing and maintaining a budget, working with architects and contractors, and reporting on progress to others on the board or leadership team.
Your church building committee could be made up of pastors, board members, and members of the congregation. While no one on the committee needs to have construction or design credentials, they will be charged with working with those professionals and trades to ensure successful execution of the plan.
Although there are many logistical questions to be answered, as well — everything from location to zoning to which architect to choose — starting your building project by defining and holding yourself and others accountable to your specific church’s mission will help you build on the right foundation.