Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Church Construction Planning - Understanding Needs & Feasibility

A Church Needs and Feasibility Study is the Critical First Step in a Church Construction Project

Several years ago, the Rainer Group was commissioned to study the impact of building programs on churches. From their study of 321 churches came several interesting facts that must be taken into consideration by any church planning to build.

Point 1: Many church leaders expressed concern after their building program, feeling that their builder had encouraged or guided them to build facilities that were too small. 
  • Seeking counsel from a builder on church construction issues is wise, but how many builders or architects have the financial expertise and in-depth understanding of the church’s financial situation to direct the church on how much building it can afford to build? The answer pretty much rhymes with "hero."
  • To be honest, in church building programs it is much more common that the builders and architects have to be “reigned in” to stay within the budget than to recommend too small of space. After all, the more they design or build, the more money they make.
  • The problem here is perhaps these churches lacked an objective understanding of what they could truly afford to build and what the best church building solution would be within their budget. The building budget and prevailing construction costs determine the size of the building while ministry needs dictate the layout of the facility.
Point 2: The Church’s level of satisfaction with construction was much higher with multi-purpose buildings or multi-building solutions and lowest with dedicated fellowship halls.
  • Quoting again from the study, “The lowest level of satisfaction tended to be the result of building a fellowship hall that did not have function beyond fellowship gatherings and meals. The highest level of satisfaction surprisingly took place in multi-building projects in a total church relocation.” 
  • This concept was presented again later in the report, “Multi-purpose buildings bring the greatest satisfaction to church clients after the fact. Before the fact, many churches may lean toward single-use facilities.”
  • The dissatisfaction of many churches in building may often be due to a lack of understanding of the true church building requirements (both long and short term) and the possible solutions that may be implemented to meet those needs. 
  • This issue, like the preceding one, comes down to understanding what must be built, why it must be built, what it will cost, and how it will be paid for - all before the church starts to build. This understanding is the fundamental purpose and goal of a feasibility study
"A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power. For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory." Proverbs 24:5,6
Point 3: A church needs and feasibility study tends to make for better church building programs and happier outcomes.
  • Quoting from the study, “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.”
  • While strong correlation that does not necessarily mean causation, the implication is that they did enough further research to validate cause and effect. In this case, the operative phrase is, “if a feasibility study was conducted.” This then squarely identifies a causal relationship. They were satisfied because they conducted a feasibility study.
church needs and feasibility study
Determining Needs and Feasibility in Church Construction
Despite the best of intentions, churches typically lack two critical qualifications for conducting a church needs and feasibility study: experience and objectivity.

With isolated exceptions, most churches do not have the across the board experience in ministry needs analysis, financial analysis, projection, church design or church construction to be effective in performing a church feasibility study. 

This lack of experience prevents the church from:
  1. Knowing the right questions to ask.
  2. How to properly evaluate the answers to the questions they do ask.
  3. Being able to translate this into an actionable plan.

Improve Your Chance of Success:

Follow the link to for more information on determining church needs and feasibility in church construction.

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