Things To Consider in a Church Building Program

Save Your Church Money Blog

Things to consider in a church building program. Due to space, only bullet points were included. For further amplification of these and other issues, contact Jack Berry at

Address church health issues.
• Spiritual Health
• Financial Health
• Missional Health

Plan properly.
• Ministry Planning
• Financial Planning
• Site Master Planning (build for growth)

Address money issues.
• Teach stewardship on a regular basis
• Know how to use debt
• Know the difference between an “expense” and “investment”
• Go to the bank early
• Check the budget at every design phase

Protect the church leadership.
• Don’t leave the ministry of the Word and prayer to wait tables
• Delegate, delegate, delegate
• Maintain chain of command and proper communication

Prepare yourself as a client.
• Learn to read drawings and specifications
• Ask lots of questions
• Demand clear answers
• Stay fully involved

Choose the appropriate Project delivery method.
• Design-Bid-Build
• Construction Management
• Design Build
• Bridging

Build the right thing for the right reason for the right time.
• Poor Site/Poor Facilities (building alone won’t solve problem)
• Poor Site & Good Facilities (building won’t solve the problem)
• Good Site & Poor Facilities (building is needed)
• Good Site & Good Facilities (need a good reason to build)

Some of the most important spaces in a church facility.
• Parking
• Worship space
• Lobby space
• Nursery Space
• Women’s restrooms

Follow a logical design and decision making sequence.
• Site feasibility
• Programming (space needs analysis)
• Master Planning
• Schematic Design Phase
• Design Development
• Construction Documents Pay attention to the legal issues
• Read contracts carefully
• Hire an attorney early
• Don’t sue believers, use Christian arbitration
• Keep the architect accountable to the budget

Be a good neighbor.
• To the zoning department
• To the building department
• To the community

Hire church experience.
• Architect
• Contractor
• Consultants

Think before you “self perform” any work.
• Is there really a cost or time savings?
• What about warranties and sub par work?
• Don’t interfere with the G.C.’s “critical path”

Beware of changes/substitutions.
• Changes made early are cheap
• Changes made late are expensive

Know your property.
• Get a thorough survey (utilities, easements, accuracy)
• Know the zoning restrictions
• Consider a feasibility study prior to purchasing land

Don’t listen to the wrong people.
• Listen to experience
• Beware of “agendas”
• Get references

Know what your project really costs.
• Does it include site work?
• Does it include FFE (fixtures, furnishings, equipment)
• Does it include AVL (audio, video, lighting)
• Does it include all fees, permitting and utility costs?

About “cutting corners”.
“It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little.  When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that is all.  When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.  The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done.  If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run.  And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.” John Ruskin (1819-1900)