Getting Your Congregation to See That Now Is the Time to Build
By: Michael D. Barnes
You are a growing church and you have already gone to two services. Your Sunday school classrooms are maxed out and your children's and youth ministries are all ready feeling the strain of lack of space.
It is time to build.
But the pressing question that many pastors and leadership of churches have is this: How do you get your congregation to see that now is the time to build?
Perhaps the most important foundational aspect of the church design, building and construction process is getting the entire congregation on your team. Without your congregation saying "now is the time to build," you, your leadership, and your building committee are merely wasting your time. If you are out trying to lead and no one is following, you are only taking a walk!
So the question is…how do you get your congregation on board to build?
To begin with, the congregation must be in unity and harmony with the leadership. It is important that the congregation catch the vision that the pastor has for the church. Each building project takes finances, which often involves equal sacrifices of your church body. That doesn't happen unless your congregation is on your team.
There are four strategic steps a church leadership team must take in order to get your congregation to see that now is the time to build.
STEP 1: The Vision Quest
There are two important steps here:
See the Hurt
See the Need
One of the most important parts of this Vision Quest phase is the initial "buy-in." It is our experience that questionnaires don't work. Only person-to-person, quality communication early can produce buy-in. The design professional and the leadership team must establish a healthy dialogue regarding the perceived ministry needs, the ministry opportunities, and the importance of maximizing the church's ministry. This can take place in either small group meetings or large church meetings where an open discussion can be established. This process most always produces an early buy-in of the entire congregation.
STEP 2: The Vision in Focus
Seeing the vision requires looking up because God gives the vision to the church, so it is important to acknowledge Him when defining such. When your church has identified the hurt and then identified the facility need to accommodate that ministry, it is important for them to further clarify God's vision for the church by looking upward.
The architect works closely with the church to document all goals and objectives in a written format. According to Habakkuk 2:2, it is important to write down and document the vision: "Write down the vision and make it plain."
As church architects, we believe that vision for the local church comes from God. It then is communicated from God to the local pastor and then from the pastor to the church architect. One of the architect's major goals in serving the pastor and a church is assisting in clarifying the vision.
Understanding the client's dreams, desires, hopes and aspirations during the early phases of a project will ensure that the resulting design (in step 3) accurately reflects the client's major needs. This will ultimately produce buy-in and will assist you in getting your people to see that "now is the time."
The importance of documenting all ministry needs in writing and sharing them with the congregation in small or large group meetings is critical because:
* It keeps the building project "ministry-focused."
* It keeps the design professional accountable.
* It keeps the congregation focused on the need and it keeps them on your team.
STEP 3: The Vision Formed
Church architecture grows from the foundation of ministry. The architect takes the vision, hopes, dreams and goals of a church, and merely puts skin around them. The architect takes all of the gathered data from Step 2 and puts it in the hands of a design team where floor plans and site plans are developed. The look and feel of the building is established and design concept is formed. The master plan is also an important part of this process and should address the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of the church's future.
Once the design concept has been accepted by the leadership, the drawings are put into a presentation format, often including 3D digital renderings as well as short animation movies that powerfully convey the completed design.
STEP 4: The Vision Told
Remember all architectural design elements should reflect the early ministry goals that were originally comprised by the church in small group meetings. When the church understands that a building project is ministry-focused, they in turn will embrace the project.
Remember the very first step in this process was The Vision Quest. The church was intimately involved with the leadership and the architect in establishing early ministry goals. In this final phase, The Vision Told, the church sees for the first time the architecture that embraces the ministry and allows the church to stretch out into the community.
When a church sees that a building project is more than bricks and mortar, they will understand that the plans are solutions to your ministry challenges. Understanding that a church building program has its roots in real-life evangelism and ministry will always help the congregation see that "now is the time to build."
Michael D. Barnes, A.I.A. is a church architect and chief executive officer of Barnes Design Group, www.BarnesDesignGroup.com.