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How to Bring Your Congregation Along in a Building Project
By: Michael D. Barnes

The success of any building project is based on getting your church to see your needs. In other words, it’s important to get your church parishioners to “see” the vision that God has imparted to you, the pastor. Without the ability to bring your congregation along, your building project can never be successful. Your people must understand that the building project you wish to start is more than bricks and mortar. It really involves seeing the actual ministry needs of your community.  Basically, it is seeing the hurting people around you like Jesus sees them.

There are four major steps in bringing your congregation along. Some refer to this as a “buy-in,” while others refer to this as “how to get your church to see your building needs.” The church as a whole cannot really embrace your vision for building until they “see” and “experience” the following steps.

1. See the Hurt
People of your community who don’t know Jesus are hurting and need ministry. All church building must be focused on ministry, and maximizing your ministry should be the No. 1 goal of any building project. Seeing the hurt merely means looking out at ministry opportunities in your neighborhood, your community, and your world. Mark 16:15 says, “Go unto all the world.  Proclaim the gospel to everyone.”

2. See the Need
Once your church understands the hurt by looking out at the world around them and defining their unique ministry, then you are ready to evaluate the need. In order to see the need, you must look inward. An evaluation of your existing facilities will shed some light on whether or not you are in a position to offer ministry to those that are hurting. 

In some cultures, like the Amazon, perhaps a grass hut along the riverbanks would be sufficient for a ministry. However, in our culture, ministry occurs within and is supported by church spaces and buildings. Identifying the needs and seeing the shortfalls of your physical facility can be quite apparent when looking inward at your physical facility in light of the ministry needs of your community.

3. See the Vision
Once your church has identified the hurt and then identified the need, it is important for them to see God’s vision for the church by looking upward. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write down the vision and make it plain.” The vision from the local church comes from God and is communicated from God to the local pastor and then from the pastor to the church architect when it involves building. The architect’s major goal in assisting the pastor is communicating God’s vision to the congregation through the design process.

4. See the Solution
Floor plans and master site plans are simply solutions to a space need. It is always the architect’s responsibility to work closely with the church to maximize your ministry. When a church sees that a building project is more than bricks and mortar, they will understand that the plans are a solution to your ministry challenges. 

Understanding that a church building program has its roots in evangelism and ministry always helps the actual building program.

May God bless your church as you continue to look out at the hurt, look in at your needs, and look up for God’s vision. Then, it will be important for you to contact an architect that specializes in churches in order to look forward and see the solution.

Michael D. Barnes, A.I.A., is a church architect and chief executive officer of Barnes Design Group, www.BarnesDesignGroup.com.
Photo credit: Calvary Revival Church in Norfolk, VA

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