We continue our series on the eight principles of a successful church building project, developed by our vice president of architecture, Philip Tipton. The goal of this series is to help you understand the different aspects of church architecture and other planning that goes into a church building project. In this part, we’ll focus on the financial aspects as they relate to the eight principles.
Get Leadership Communicating
Committees are, in general, an integral part of church leadership. The larger the church, the more likely that there will be multiple committees responsible for different aspects of church life and vision. That’s fine—as long as these committees talk with each other. However, if your church building committee doesn’t have a clear understanding of the church’s vision or isn’t talking with the leaders that outline your vision, and neither of those groups is running ideas by the finance committee, you’re likely going to end up with problems.
You see, any church architecture design or building project is only as good as the communication amongst its leadership. This is why we always recommend that you have a member of the finance team sit on the building committee. That way you can be certain that the dreams you dream are built on a solid financial footing.
Count the Cost
It’s important to be realistic about what a project will cost. Philip talks about how potential clients still call him wanting to find a way to build a new church building for $30-$50 per square foot. However, that’s just not possible in today’s economy. $100 – $140 per square foot is much more realistic, and if you’re looking to build in urban areas with a strong union influence, the cost could be in the range of $150 – $180 per square foot. This is where Luke 14:28 rings true: You have to count the cost before you build, and you need a realistic understanding of your church’s financial potential before you even commission that first church architecture design.
Keep Your Financial Options Open
There are some creative financing options available today, not just a capital campaign. So it’s a very good idea not to box yourselves—and your church—into a corner when it comes to financing. Philip once worked with a church that publicly committed to proceeding with the building project once they had commitments for 50% of the funds (the other 50% would be financed). The problem was that they got stuck at 47%, and refused to consider financing that other 3%. It took them an additional six months to raise the missing commitments, during which time inflation rose by more than 3%, so they really lost money by sticking to their original fundraising goal.
Consider Building that Dream Church in Phases
Another solid financial option is to complete your new church building or renovation project in phases. While it’s great to have a big dream of the perfect church, the reality is that few churches can afford to build all they dream of, and installation of top-notch equipment or features—all at once. Many times it’s can work out to figure how to create a functional building in phase one and put off the installation of those top-notch features, items not integral with the function of the facility, until a later date. When your church’s vision is being lived out through your new building, your church will grow, bringing in the financial potential that you need to fund the next stages of your church design and building project.
We are happy to help churches think through some of these financial elements. One area The McKnight Group specializes in, is master planning. We can help you devise a plan that will logically prioritize what needs to be accomplished right away, versus what can be completed in future phases. So give us a call today with your questions. You can also sign up for our free informational i3 webinars to learn more.