Home » Religion and Spirituality

Church Construction... Is It Faith Or Finance?

Nov 26, 2007
One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been the ability to see God work in other people's lives and ministries. I have had the good fortune to see God show up in ways that only could be God, because the project couldn't have been done without Him. Many times the outcome was so miraculous it made chills run up and down my spine.

On the other hand, I have had the misfortune of seeing inexperienced pastors who absolutely knew God was telling them to buy land, develop it, and design facilities that were so magnificent that they would make Donald Trump blush. Only to subsequently fail.

What makes the difference between a project that allows God to work in your ministry and a project that is so presumptuous upon God that it borderlines on irresponsible behavior?

One lesson that we all should give heed to, is the lesson God gave Moses. While God gave Moses a vision of going to the promise land, it took him 40 years of wandering in the wilderness to realize the full potential of Gods promise. Too many times we think that God is giving us the whole vision and that it all will be accomplished immediately. Sometimes he gives us the big picture, but wants us to take one step at a time.

When you are looking to design a new church, and to construct new facilities there are some rules of thumb that I have found to keep the proper balance between "Counting the Cost" and "Keeping the Faith".

Know Your Total Budget

There are multiple costs that go into creating a realistic total project budget. You have ALTA surveys, environmental studies, traffic studies, civil engineering costs, architectural fees mechanical, electrical and HVAC engineering costs, permit fees, impact fees, off site development fees, mitigation costs, closing costs,the list can go on and on dependent upon your particular project. What novice construction owners don't usually realize is the fact that only about 60%-65% of their total project budget will actually go into construction of their building.

Design A Phased Project

Just as Moses, didn't get the opportunity to see the promise land in the first year of his journey, you may not get to build the entire campus in the first phase of your project either.

It is very important that when you sit down with your church design and construction professional that you have prioritized your ministry space, programmed the right sizing of your buildings, looked at structural requirements for phasing of your project, and have developed a comprehensive master-plan for your site, and kept all of these components within the reach of your current budget.

Let's say that you have plans to build a big modern sanctuary that seats 800 people, an administrative space, and a family life center. If you design the buildings in a way that they all have to be built at the same time, without consideration of phasing possibilities, it is very possible that your architectural drawings could turn into "cartoons" that could never be built because the building costs become prohibitive. However if you have designed correctly and phased the projects into bite sizes that you can afford, you are well on your way to a successful project. If God shows up in a way that allows you to build all four phases of your project at once, great, but if not, you haven't let your people down, you haven't wasted Gods resources on architectural plans and feasibility studies that now have to be done all over again.

Remember that building a "House of Worship" is God's work and that a successful project requires the proper balance of faith and finances to make it all work.
About the Author
Bruce Anderson is a seasoned veteran and highly acclaimed expert in church design and construction. He has consulted with over $200,000,000 in religious facilities. For more information you can email him at bca@brucecanderson.com, or go to http://www.brucecanderson.com
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