3 Reasons Why NOT To Build
Coming from a guy who has spent his entire adult life working with churches to plan, develop and maintain facilities, this may seem like a very odd post. For several years I taught a workshop entitled “Why Build When You Can Grow?” I am a firm believer that as a Church (big C) we spend too much time worrying about planning and constructing our buildings instead of exploring how we should minister to the people that we are supposed to be ministering to. As a result, the buildings become a ministry to themselves and we lose focus on “Why” we are the church.
So here are some reasons why you should NOT build a new facility:
1. A church should not build if its reasons for building are wrong: Can you think of any reasons that would be wrong why to build? Have you ever heard this: “The Methodist down the road built and we’ll lose all of our kids if we don’t build a gymnasium”. Or, “‘First Baptist on the other side of town built and we’ve got to keep up with them”. OR ,one of the worst is “It will rejuvenate our church” ( just like having a child will save your marriage). So if your reasons are wrong, you shouldn’t build.
2. A church should not build when there is a better way to meet space needs. Do you have any empty space on the campus? Have you considered multiple services? Can any aspect of the ministry function off-campus (like offices, some adult classes, video venues for worship). Are all of your spaces being used as “multi-purpose”? Have you looked at the size of the furniture being used…and does it meet your current programmatic needs? Do your teaching methods maximize your available space? Are there current ministries or initiatives that need to be eliminated? Tough questions…but these need to be asked and answered before a new facility is contemplated.
3. A church should not build when building will increase the risk of financial bondage. Not that long ago, I had a meeting scheduled with a church and in preparation of the meeting asked for a copy of their financial records. One of our main objectives in consulting with churches is never take a church into financial bondage. We like to look at the financials first to make sure they don’t have unrealistic expectations of what they can afford…and thus build. So the pastor sent us their financial statements for the last 3 years and in his note he says, “If it looks like it is going to stretch us some we can cut back on our missions’ giving.” REALLY?!?!? Something’s wrong here. If you have to cut back on staff, missions, benevolence and so on, you should not build.
With that said, and I am sure there are lots of other reasons why NOT to build a ministry facility, if you have asked and answered the above and you are clear that you are not seeking to build for the wrong reasons and have exhausted all your space and programming options (it may require some out of the box thinking) and have confidence that you are not putting the church in financial bondage…then there is a right way to plan, design, finance and construct your facilities. If you find yourself in that position, then contact us to learn about how to move forward with your facility planning…we have solutions that will keep you out of trouble and on the right path throughout this process.