Is your church leadership team considering a new church? This decision can be daunting. There is a lot of planning that goes into building. It’s a major investment. And you need to carefully consider if this is the direction God is calling you in your ministry.
If you’ve finally decided your ministry requires a bigger building or an updated space, here’s how to build a new church.
Step 1: Determine Whether a New Building is Necessary
Many major church building projects can be delayed or deferred with better use of existing space or physical expansion of key space (defined as space used most of the time and necessary for the church to operate). In other words, you may be able to get more out of your existing space by utilizing it more effectively. You could also just expand certain areas of your current building that get the most use.
One example is evaluating your current sanctuary seating. If your church has pews, switching to chairs will add 20% more seating capacity. This could potentially solve your space issues.
If you’ve already examined other options and have determined that a new building is the best way to proceed, follow the rest of these steps to plan out your project.
Step 2: Get Your Finances in Order
Before you do any other work on the project, you need to have a clear idea of your financial situation. It’s best to consult with a lender or an expert in church finances to determine how much you can afford to spend on the new church. While borrowing is often an option, you want to be careful. Too much debt can severely harm your ministry.
Some other options for funding a church build include cash savings and contributions from your members. Churches often hold special capital campaigns for building projects. Members can pledge a certain amount and pay it to your church in monthly installments. You might also be able to secure large one-time donations from church members with more resources.
Something else you should consider in this phase is whether you have enough room on your current property to build the new church. If not, you’ll want to factor in the cost of acquiring new land.
Step 3: Form a Church Building Committee
It’s helpful to have a building committee made up of members of your congregation who are invested in the project. These should be some of your most active, engaged members who know your church well and are involved in different areas of ministry. Since the new church will impact everyone, you need to have a diverse committee of people helping make the decisions every step of the way.
Step 4: Determine Wants and Needs
It’s important to distinguish between what you absolutely need from the new building and what you can go without. Your church building committee can help you in this area. Carefully evaluate your current ministry, including its pain points and opportunities for growth, and decide what you want your ministry to look like in the future.
Do you really need an extra classroom, or would the money be better spent on a larger stage? Or perhaps your old church hosted many events and was always running out of space for people to gather, so you absolutely need a fellowship hall. At the end of the day, invest in what you know will benefit your ministry. Be willing to compromise on the rest.
Step 5: Vet Potential Architects and Builders
Once you have a good idea of what you need from your new church, find an architect and builder who can provide that. A good place to start is asking for a referral from other churches in your area. You can also research online and read reviews from past clients. Make sure you choose professionals with a good reputation, honest business practices, and above all, experience building churches. A church building is very different from any other type of building. You want architects and builders who understand that.
Step 6: Choose the Right Architect and Builder for the Project
Each church’s situation is unique, but there are several different methods for building a church. You might first hire an independent architect to design the new building and then look for contractors who can oversee the construction of that church design. Or, you might hire a firm with both architects and builders on staff to handle the entire project. Either way, it’s a good idea to get bids from multiple firms and contractors. This gives you options and lets you determine what a fair price will be. That’s not to say you should go for the lowest price. Rather, choose the contractor who understands your vision for your church and will deliver quality work at a great value.
Step 7: Secure Funding
Before you officially hire a contractor and start your new building project, it’s important to make sure you have the necessary funding. This means that you:
- Have your loan approved, OR
- Your capital campaign has launched and you have sufficient pledges, OR
- You have the necessary cash savings (or a combination of all three of these)
Make sure you’ve obtained a final quote from your builder, so you know exactly how much money you need. It might also be wise to build in an extra cushion in case building costs run over the expected budget.
Step 8: Work with Your Builder to Plan Out the Project
Once you’ve selected a builder and finalized the design of the new church, it’s helpful to have a rough timeline of the project. Work with your builder to set deadlines for different phases. However, keep in mind that building projects are major undertakings. Expect some delays. The timeline is a loose guide to keep everyone on track.
Step 9: Check in with Your Builder Throughout the Project
One construction begins, keep checking in throughout the process so you can handle any issues as they arise. Of course, you need to trust your builder and let them do their job. But they will appreciate it if you’re engaged in the process.
Step 10: Prepare for the New Church Opening
Now that you’ve gone through the difficult process of planning and building a new church, take a moment to thank everyone involved in the project. Then start preparing for the grand opening. Post the opening date on the church’s website and social media. Plan an event to celebrate the occasion. Coordinate any church furniture or seating purchases that are needed, especially if you built the new church to accommodate a growing congregation.
New Church, New Seating
If you’re currently building a church or planning to do so, consider whether you need additional church seating. This may also be a good time to upgrade your current seating. ChurchPlaza has been serving America’s churches since its founding in 1986. Check out our selection of quality church chairs or speak with a sales representative to get a quote!
Updated Aug. 29, 2022.