Finishing Touches for Interior Design Frequent Questions

Over the past several months, Jennifer Snider, our interior designer, has been responding to your questions about church interior design. In this post, she wraps up the series by taking a look at two of the finishing touches you’ll want to consider for your remodeled or new church building: appropriate furniture and signage.

Embracing Furniture Flexibility

Archbold FurnitureYou can see in this first image, showing a seating area at Archbold Evangelical Mennonite Church, that they’ve set aside a place in their church building for people to gather for fellowship. In this case, they’ve provided ottomans instead of coffee tables. This allows for maximum flexibility, since each ottoman can become a seat to accommodate a larger group. They also chose individual chairs rather than sofas or loveseats, making it easier to rearrange the furniture to suit groups of varying sizes.

Gateway CON FurnitureFlexibility is also key in the café, as you can see in this picture from Gateway Church of the Nazarene. Here they have intentionally chosen to use square tables rather than the more common round tables. This provides flexibility since it’s easier to push a few square tables together to furnish a larger group.

Investing in Furniture Durability

Blue Grass FurnitureAnother element of successful church interior design is to choose furniture that is commercial grade. This seating nook at Blue Grass United Methodist Church, for example, uses commercial-grade seating, even though the chairs look as though they could have come right out of someone’s home.

Code requires church buildings to use commercial-grade materials. Commercial grade furnishes are also more durable and will last longer, which is essential given the higher volume of traffic a church can expect. The warranties of residential grade products will also be void if used in a commercial setting.

Making the investment in commercial grade is also good stewardship. You want your new church building or renovation project to stand the test of time, just like you want your church vision to continue growing your church community.

Welcoming Guests with Proper Church Building Signage

Gateway SignageAnother factor to consider in your church vision is how you welcome guests. If people walk into your church building and can’t find their way around, they won’t feel as welcome and may not return.

In this picture, also from Gateway Church of the Nazarene, the entrance to the auditorium is clearly marked. In addition to helping guests find their way around, such signage introduces them to your church’s vocabulary. “Auditorium,” “worship space,” and “sanctuary” could all be names used for the same space. Clear signage helps guests begin to understand your specific church vision.

One good way to find out where you might need signage in your church building is to walk in the front doors, pretending you haven’t ever been there before. Would you know where to take your children for children’s church? Would you be able to find the restrooms? Could you find your way to the worship center or sanctuary or auditorium? Whenever you aren’t sure where to turn, that’s a good place for signage.

More Church Interior Design Tips

We hope you’ve found this FAQs series helpful. If you want more tips on the best church interior designs or help understanding what makes a great church building, sign up for our free i3 webinar series (simply visit our website) or give us a call at 800-625-6448. We’ll be glad to help.

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The McKnight Group Exhibiting at Nazarene General Assembly

Stop by and visit The McKnight Group Booth #266 at the Church of the Nazarene General Assembly this week, June 21 – 25. This event will take place at the Indianapolis Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Church Interior Design Tips for Youth Spaces

In this post, Jennifer Snider continues sharing her ideas for your church building projects. Jennifer is our interior designer and recently posted some tips on creating children’s spaces with appropriate color and themes. But what about youth areas in your church building? No worries, here Jennifer answers that church interior design question with some helpful illustrations.

Helping Youth Feel Welcome and Valued in Your Church Building

Youth today see so many options from society for how to live their lives, and need to know they really belong in the church. This is why it’s so important to have specific youth areas in your church building.

Young people know they are welcome, and their presence matters, when you set aside youth spaces in your church. Youth tend to want social spaces, so it’s helpful to have a café with some tables where they can gather, hang out, and talk.

They also need the freedom to worship in their own way, so we recommend a dedicated worship space for them as well.

Finally, if space and budget considerations allow it, include a small group breakout area dedicated just for the youth as well.

Including Youth Zones in Your Church Interior Design

Gateway CON YouthHere at Gateway Church of the Nazarene, you can see an example of a single room that includes a coffee bar and a worship space, both just for young people. The tables between the coffee bar and the worship space provide a small group gathering area for discussion, or just to hang out.

You can see the worship space in the background. Notice that it includes trendy paint colors and that the two zones are delineated by a transition from a stained concrete floor in the café area to carpet in the worship area.

Giving Old Spaces New Life for Young People

If you’re remodeling an existing church building, you can sometimes repurpose old spaces for new uses with creative church interior design.

Westerville CC YouthIn this image, you can see the lobby of the youth space at Westerville Christian Church. This youth zone was their old chapel, and you can see how we’ve been able to make the space work well for young people. There’s a coffee bar as you enter, the worship space is in the back, and there is room for groups to gather behind the wall to the right, where the tables are located.

Following Your Vision

Just as you want children to feel at home in your church building, you also want to include youth in your church interior design plans, whether you’re starting from scratch on a new church or undertaking a renovation project. As always, we recommend that you keep your church vision in mind when considering your interior church design options.

To learn more about integrating people of all ages into your church building, sign up for our i3 webinar series. These webinars are free, and their goal is to provide you with ideas, insight, and innovations for designing and constructing a church building that fulfills your vision. Simply visit our website to sign up.

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More Answers to Church Interior Design Questions: Platform Flooring

After over 40 years of building churches, we have learned that church leaders have a lot of questions—very reasonable questions—about church interior design and the best ways to help a vision come alive within one’s church building.

In this post, Jennifer Snider, our interior designer, is answering more of the interior design questions you’ve asked—this time, focusing on platform flooring.

Carpeting is a Great Choice

First Church of God PlatformAll of the flooring in a church must be commercial-grade. Also consider warranty and work with a reputable company for any of your church flooring. Beyond that, when it comes to platform flooring, carpet is a great choice and there are several advantages to it. Carpet is quieter than a hard surface, and a cut pile carpet will easily flow up the stairs, as you can see in the picture from First Church of God in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Neutral carpets like this one will easily blend into the rest of the space if you want to keep the focus on worship leaders rather than the platform itself.

If your church vision pulls you toward dressing up a carpeted platform a bit, you can upgrade the feel with a band of wood along the top of the platform. You can also use a contrasting color of carpet to help the platform stand out. However, it’s best to use a solid carpet rather than introducing a pattern on the platform, which might draw the eye away from worship.

Church Interior Design Options with Wood

Parma Baptist platformHere, at Parma Baptist Church in Parma, Ohio, a wood laminate platform was chosen. It dresses up the space and gives the platform more of a presence.  It is more expensive than carpet, but can make a dramatic statement.

In addition to dressing up the space and making the platform stand out, a hard surface will also change the platform’s acoustics. So, if you’re looking at wood flooring options, make sure to consult with your A/V folks and include them in your decision-making process, because their audio system will interact differently with harder surfaces. In some cases, a hard surface is preferred based on acoustics.

Choosing Theatrical Platform Flooring

Another church interior design option for platform flooring involves a more theatrical look, as you can see in this picture from Gateway Church of the Nazarene in Oskaloosa, Iowa. This flooring is also constructed with wood, so acoustically it will have a similar “live” feel as a hardwood or laminate platform—and will require input from your A/V folks.

There are a couple of advantages to theatrical flooring. First, if you often use sets or other decorative elements, you can screw them into the platform itself for added safety, then easily remove them and use simple black paint to freshen up and cover any holes or scrapes.

Second, you can contrast the theatrical black platform with carpeted steps to both minimize noise and “ground” the platform to the church interior design of the rest of the worship space.

More Church Building Information and Answers

We’ll answer more frequently asked questions about church design soon. Meanwhile, check out our free i3 webinar series. One or more will provide ideas and assistance as your church begins a new church building or renovation project. Accessing the webinars is easy: Simply visit our website and sign up!

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Answers to Church Building Questions Continued: Worship Seating

Once again, Jennifer Snider, our interior designer, answers your church remodeling and new building questions.

One question that always arises at some point in the church building process is the following: What type of seating should we use in the worship area?

There are several options available, and in this post Jennifer gives you her opinions about the three main types.

Pews: A Time-Honored Look for Worship Spaces

While we think of pews as the “traditional” choice for churches, in fact, the earliest churches had no seating options at all; worshippers stood instead.

Parma Baptist SeatingToday, of course, every church building comes with seating of some sort, and pews are the most traditional. This means that if you’re looking for a traditional feel in your worship space, pews might be the answer, as you can see in this illustration from Parma Baptist Church.

Pews might also be the right choice if your church remodeling project involves working with a sloped floor, as was the case with Parma. Lots of older worship spaces have a sloped floor, especially if pews were initially installed in a bigger worship area.

You might find that simply reupholstering existing pews gives you a nice, clean look—but don’t expect it to be less expensive than removing the pews and installing chairs. Reupholstering involves not just new fabric, but also new padding, and of course labor.

Theater Seating: A Variety of Styles for Your Church Building

Grove City CON SeatingAnother option, if your church remodeling project involves a sloped floor, is theater seating, as you can see here at Grove City Church of the Nazarene.

Because theater seats aren’t movable, they also can be installed on a sloped floor. Advantages to theater seating include a variety of styles and accessories to choose from.

Notice, too, how Grove City also places chairs in front of its theater seating. Such an arrangement allows the church to remove those chairs and have a larger, more flexible area up front to allow flexibility for your ministry.

Chairs: The Ultimate in Flexibility

Brooke Hills SeatingAt Brooke Hills Free Methodist Church, metal worship chairs were installed in the multi-ministry space, as you can see here. This allows Brooke Hills to easily rearrange the space to accommodate different types of activities, such as banquets, breakout sessions, or to remove the chairs completely.

We understand that the goals of many church remodeling projects include increased flexibility and a more modern feel to the worship space. In those cases, chairs are usually the first choice for church leaders.

We do want to note a couple of things in this photo. First, you will see that at the end of some of the rows there are a few chairs with arms. These chairs are helpful for people who need the leverage provided by arms in order to stand and sit.

You may have also noticed that these chairs have fully upholstered backs. Most chair catalogs focus on the front of the chair, but when you walk into a worship space, as this picture shows, it’s the back of the chairs that you’re going to see first. Spending a little extra on upholstered backs gives a nice, clean look to the worship center.

Archbold SeatingAnother more elegant seating option is wood framed chairs, shown here at Archbold Evangelical. While more expensive than metal chairs, they look much nicer, still stack for flexibility and can be a bridge between pews and metal framed chairs. Wood framed chairs work best in places like chapels and sanctuaries where the look of metal chairs just isn’t that appealing.

Watch for More Church Remodeling and Seating Posts

There is a lot to talk about when it comes to seating options for your church remodeling or new building project, so look for more information in future posts. Meanwhile, we suggest that you sign up for our free i3 webinar series to learn more handy tips about church building and renovation projects. Simply visit our website to get involved.

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More Answers to Church Building Questions: Restrooms

In this post, we present more answers from Jennifer Snider, The McKnight Group’s interior designer to questions we frequently get about church building projects.

One of the key elements of good church interior design is making a positive first impression, as we shared in an earlier post in our series. This is just as important in a room that isn’t meant to stand out at all—the restroom.

If you’ve ever wondered, “How should we update our restrooms?” when working on a church remodeling project, the following information from Jennifer is for you.

Seeing Your Church Building’s Restrooms with Fresh Eyes

One of the difficulties with becoming comfortable in your church building is that you begin to take things for granted. You walk into the restroom, take care of business, and walk out again, not paying much attention to how things really look because you’ve been in there dozens of times before.

This becomes an issue when your church restrooms get cluttered or aren’t well cleaned. You might not notice such things … but your members and guests will.

We always suggest that you regularly walk into the restrooms and really look around—with the eyes of your guests, as it were. This allows you to better see something that might need to be addressed or to recognize when a deeper cleaning should be scheduled.

Leaving Themes Outside the Restroom Door

Restrooms are more likely to feel clean and nice if there is minimal décor. We will show one slight exception to that rule, but for the most part, you don’t want a thematic focus for your restrooms.

Instead, the church interior design goal is for your restroom to feel welcoming without having it stand out. You don’t want to decorate it like the restroom at your grandma’s house. The restroom is not the reason guests come to your church in the first place, so don’t feel as if you need to make a big statement with your décor.

Restroom Church Interior Design Examples

Parma Baptist RestroomThis first image, from Parma Baptist Church, shows an example of an updated restroom. Prior to the renovation, the restroom was mauve—everything from the tiles and toilet partitions to the countertops. The color scheme was clearly dated, so we came in and replaced the mauve with a neutral color. We also expanded the size of the stalls, to give people more room to maneuver.

Cypress Wesleyan RestroomThe restrooms at Cypress Wesleyan also have a neutral tone and feel to them. In this case, there was a little bit more room in the budget, so they placed porcelain tiles partially up the wall, both inside and outside the stalls, as you can see in the back of the picture. This dresses up the room a little while still retaining a clean, neutral feeling in the space.

Evangelical UMC RestroomHere in the restrooms at Evangelical United Methodist you can see that they have extended their Tuscan theme into the restrooms. They have done it very simply, however, just upgrading the mirrors and adding a single painting to the wall. This allows the restroom to retain its clean appearance, while subtly tying it into the rest of the church building.

Blue Grass UMC RestroomThis final church interior design example is the restroom at Blue Grass United Methodist. These church leaders chose to invest more in their restrooms, installing granite countertops and placing porcelain tiles all the way to the ceiling on every wall.

Glass tile adds a decorative feature without making the space feel cluttered. If your budget can handle upgrades like this, your restrooms can really shine, clearly showing guests that you’ve invested in their comfort.

One final note about restrooms. If space allows, it’s wise to incorporate a family restroom into your church interior design. This allows moms and dads with young children, as well as adults with older parents, to have more privacy. It also demonstrates to guests and church members that their welfare and comfort are important to the church.

More Questions? We Have More Answers!

We hope you are finding this Q&A series helpful. Please return soon for answers to other commonly asked questions. And to learn more about all aspects of the church building and remodeling process, check out our i3 webinars—simply visit our website and sign up. They’re free, so you have absolutely nothing to lose (except maybe a few questions).

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Craft Your Budget with Rising Church Construction Costs in Mind

Rising costsThere are multiple factors that influence the construction of a new church building or the process of a significant church renovation. Visioning, planning, budgeting, financing, and many more elements will impact the progress of your building project.

In this post, we want to add another to the list: church construction costs.

Understanding Church Construction Costs

You might think that constructing a church building would not be impacted by the ebb and flow of construction in other sectors, but that’s simply not true. For example, last year skilled labor was in short supply due to greatly increased industry activity. This made it more expensive to hire qualified labor, thus raising overall church construction costs.

This year we are facing increases in the price of many basic building materials, which are used in the construction of both residential housing and church building projects. For example, gypsum prices rose 5.3 percent in February. Gypsum is a non-combustible mineral that is ground into a powder and becomes the center of “gypsum board,” the standard material used for walls and ceilings in just about any building or renovation project.

Another contributor to rising church construction costs is a lumber trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada. This has resulted in a one-month increase of 4.8 percent in the price of softwood lumber, while costs of other types of lumber have risen by as much as 30 percent.

Items such as particle board and concrete are also rising in price, probably due to an increase in demand thanks to the ongoing residential construction boom.

Understanding the Church Building Planning Process

What do these church construction costs mean for your project? Let’s start by talking about the planning and budgeting process.

Church construction projects are not conceived in one week and begun the next. First, a need is observed and discussions are held to develop a church vision. Committees or teams are formed to study various issues and propose solutions, then develop a budget and timeline to implement those solutions.

But once you have your solutions, budget, and timeline, you still are not ready to put a shovel in the ground.

Your next step is to secure funds. This will probably entail a special fundraising campaign. Drawings and engineering specs must be completed so you can request permits from appropriate local agencies. Only once funds are in place and permits are granted can you finally begin to build.

Understanding the Impact of Inflation and Rising Costs

On average, about 18 to 24 months will elapse between the time you begin to identify your church vision and needs and the moment you finally start actual construction.

During this time, the budget requirements you envisioned a year or two ago may have changed. For example, a 2017 church building project envisioned two years ago could be impacted by both the labor and materials increases outlined above.

In fact, in the 47 years The McKnight Group has been building churches, we have consistently seen construction inflation outpace consumer inflation every year, except for the recession of 2008-2009. This means that if your budget is two years old by the time the first shovel hits the ground, you can expect your church construction costs to have increased by 10 percent from your original estimates.

Plan Now—and Take Action

Yes, this is not easy news to receive. We believe the lesson is this: No one knows with certainty what inflation is going to be in any given year. What we do know is that prices are on the rise and you need to make sure you are planning accordingly.

If your church is sensing a need and seeking solutions, don’t procrastinate. Begin the conversations. And feel free to contact us for assistance in thinking through the first steps of your church building or renovation project.

Also, don’t miss our ongoing i3 webinar series, which will provide additional support for you and your fellow church leaders as you consider a renovation or new building project. Simply visit our website and sign up—they’re absolutely free, so you have nothing to lose.

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Answering Your Church Building Questions, Part Three

With this post, we continue our series on church building and renovation frequently asked questions. The McKnight Group’s interior designer, Jennifer Snider recently responded to some questions church leaders ask about church construction and renovation in a free i3 webinar. We’re bringing some of her answers to our blog. In the first two parts of the series, we covered questions about getting started with your church building or renovation project and how to prioritize the work. This post will focus on the question of style and give some examples of different approaches.

How to Determine Your Church Building Style

Many church leaders feel stumped when it comes to picking a style for their interior design. The most common church building styles are traditional, transitional, contemporary or modern. Whichever direction is chosen, its tone is set with the very first space your guests encounter, usually your foyer or lobby—and that’s why it’s so important to determine the style of your church building at the outset of your renovation or new construction project.

It can also be difficult for church leaders to separate personal feelings about style from the statement their church needs to make. It’s important that your church building style is rooted in your church’s vision and its ministry in your community. Your style must speak to that vision or you will fail to draw in the types of people you seek to serve.

Sample Foyer Styles

Eaton COB StyleIt is often easiest to explain what we mean with photos. This first image, from Eaton Church of the Brethren, shows how you can add some traditional flair to a modern space. We show this partly to illustrate that “traditional” doesn’t have to mean “old-fashioned.” The carpet pattern here conveys a sense of tradition without being dark and stuffy.

Gateway CON StyleContrast that image with this more modern look at Gateway Church of the Nazarene. The pattern of the carpeting creates a very different feel in the space, along with the sleek leather seating. The dark ceiling and deep paint colors also contribute to a modern style that clearly speaks to a modernistic church vision, while the light from lamps and candles maintain a welcoming warmth in this seating area.

Bethany WC StyleNext are the foyer and café area at Bethany Wesleyan. Here the modern element is clearly present in the industrial look of the ceiling. Notice how the white color and style of the ceiling create a very different feel from the Gateway experience. The multi-level ceiling draws the eyes upward, while the pattern in the carpet appears to mimic the layers and industrial style of the ceiling.

Grace Gathering StyleFinally, we have Grace Gathering. Here you can see a blend of modern style elements. There is the carpet pattern, and also the very high metal wall panels. While you might think those metal panels would cause echoing and make the space loud, those panels are actually an acoustic product, created to give an industrial look without the noise. This illustrates how you can use elements of a certain style without creating a space that’s uncomfortable for guests. The fireplace, with its natural stone finish, is another way to add a cozy feel to an industrial style.

Learn More with Our Free I3 Webinars

We hope our responses to common church building questions are helpful. We’ll answer some more of these queries in future installments in this series coming soon. Meanwhile, you can continue to learn about church building and renovation with our free i3 webinars, so sign up today.

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Answering Your Church Building Questions, Part Two

Question markWith over 40 years in the church building business, we’ve learned that church leaders have a lot of questions. This is why we devoted one of our recent free i3 webinars to that very issue, sharing the frequently asked questions we get about church building and renovation projects.

This is the second installment in a series that will flesh out the answers we gave to some of those questions.

In our first post, we introduced Jennifer Snider, The McKnight Group’s interior designer, who has worked with us for more than a dozen years on 75 church building and affiliated projects. In that post, Jennifer tackled questions about getting your church design started. In this post, we’ll cover Jennifer’s recommendations on the question of how to prioritize what’s most important in your church building or remodeling plan.

Making a Good First Impression

When it comes to prioritizing, we believe you should begin by concentrating on making a good first impression. Certain areas and the way they look show guests and members what matters in your church, and believe it or not speak volumes… without ever saying a word.

Here are areas we believe are most important when it comes to making a good first impression:

  • Lobby and Foyer

Obviously, the first places that people see are going to heavily influence their first impressions. Which is why we believe your lobby and foyer are key. Your lobby needs to be easy to navigate, feel welcoming, and reflect your vision.

People need to get a sense of who you are as a church community and what matters to you. Guests who walk in need to easily get a sense of what your ministry is about.

  • Restrooms

Think about the restrooms you visit at a restaurant. If they’re not clean and well stocked, you might find yourself worrying about what the kitchen looks like. If the décor in the restroom doesn’t match the theme in the rest of the establishment, you might wonder about the vision for the place.

The same is true of the restrooms in your church building, especially those right off the foyer. If they are not clean, well-cared for, and reflect the interior design of your foyer and worship space, guests might wonder if you really care about the people who come to your church.

  • Children’s Area

If you have a brightly lit, clearly themed, colorful and welcoming children’s center, you are telling guests and members that you care about the next generation. You are telling them that your church vision includes children, not just the adults in your worship center.

  • Worship Center

And speaking of the worship center, naturally, this beating heart of your church building should clearly show the vision your church has for ministry to guests, members, and the surrounding community. Your worship center needs to function well, have the technology necessary for worship, and make everyone feel comfortable and at home.

Church Building Renovation Versus New Construction

How you tackle your priorities will vary depending on whether you’re renovating an existing church building or starting new construction. With new construction, you will be working with an architectural firm that will have a design team to assist you in the process. With church remodeling or renovation, it’s important to involve a professional firm that understands how church buildings work and what’s necessary to implement your vision.

That’s why The McKnight Group offers consultations on interior design for church remodeling projects. We can give you guidance that will help you understand the people you’re called to minister and what they are drawn to. This is essential for defining your church’s style—which will be the focus of the questions we answer in our next blog post.

Find More Answers

Meanwhile, we suggest you sign up for our i3 webinar series so you don’t miss the insights we’ve learned from our 40 years of church building experience. Simply visit our website and sign up. They’re free, so you have nothing to lose (and all sorts of knowledge and inspiration to gain).

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Answering Your Church Building Questions, Part One

Infinite question marks on a plane, original three dimensional iWe here at The McKnight Group are called upon to answer a lot of different types of questions when church leaders decide to embark upon a new building or church remodeling project. Recently, Jennifer Snider answered many of the common questions we get in a free i3 webinar. Over our next several posts, we will share some of her responses

Jennifer is The McKnight Group’s interior designer. With a degree in interior design and more than 20 years of facilities planning and interior design experience, Jennifer has been working with us since 2004. This means she has provided interior design services for more than 75 church building and related facilities projects—and she has certainly responded to a lot of questions over those years.

Begin at the Beginning

In this post, we’ll focus on one question we hear frequently from church leaders, “Where should we start?”

We certainly understand why we hear this asked so often. When you’re starting to consider a church remodeling project or constructing a new church building, it can feel quite overwhelming. So, let’s talk about the three important elements that will get you to the starting line.

1. Defining a Vision and Assembling a Team

You’re not going to get very far if you don’t know where you’re going. If your church doesn’t have an agreed-upon vision for the future, you don’t know the ways in which your church building can help get you there—or hinder you from accomplishing those goals. So, step one is to define what that vision is.

You also need to assemble a team that has embraced the vision and has the energy and drive to get you there. They need to have the internal discipline to ask, “Does this help us reach our vision or not?” Because if the answer is no, it shouldn’t be part of your church building project—even if the members of your team think it might be a great idea.

2. Creating a Master Plan

The second starting element is to create a master plan. That’s because it’s important to think broadly at the start. This is your church’s chance to dream big, put everything on the table, and imagine an ideal church building.

You should involve more people at this point because you want to hear the ideas of all your church leaders. You need to know what each part of your church leadership believes is critical in order to achieve your church’s vision for the future.

3. Prioritizing and Budgeting

Once you have all the dreams out on the table and a master plan in place, you can then start to prioritize.

If you’re fortunate, you might be able to afford to do everything at once, but most churches find they need to choose the most critical elements for now and save other parts for later stages in the master plan.

Often this is due to budgetary concerns, but other times it may be because one element of a church building or remodeling project is clearly a necessary first step before the other pieces of the plan can fall into place.

More Questions … and Answers

Hopefully, now you have a good idea where to start. We will be answering more of your church building and church remodeling questions in future posts, so come on back. Our next topic: Which areas are most important to focus on first?

We also answer many questions via our various i3 webinars. To sign up for our webinars, simply visit our home page. They’re absolutely free!

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