News/Blog

Begin with Mission: Getting Your Church Building Right from the Ground Up

It’s either daunting or exciting — and sometimes both — to begin planning a church building project with a blank slate. You can dream big and imagine freely. On the other hand, you may be overwhelmed, not know where to start and tempted to copy the design of another church you’ve visited.  

The good news is that, in either case, we have some good advice you should follow to ensure your design works the way you need. You always need to begin a church building project focused on your mission.

Your Church Building is a Ministry Tool

We’ve shared before about how every church building should be a tool for ministry. This means that you have to design it well or it won’t function as you need it to. A saw without teeth won’t cut much wood. A church building that’s designed with only your big dreams in mind rather than your vision for ministry won’t help you connect with the people you’re called to reach in your community.

Think back for a moment to the churches built in the ‘50s and ‘60s. In that era, every church building looked the same. They had the same style, the same floor plan, and they were built from the same materials. You certainly couldn’t tell what kinds of people those church buildings were trying to attract. It’s why now, we always customize every church design right from the start.

Form Following Function in Your Church Design

You’ve heard that phrase about form following function – meaning something is designed with the end use in mind. Sometimes you will want the appearance of a traditional church design that echoes those from the ‘50s and ‘60s (though with all the modern conveniences like HVAC and state-of-the-art lighting and sound). That’s if you’re trying to attract people who are hungering for tradition. Sometimes you want a very contemporary church design to appeal to people in your community who are focused on living a life in modern times with modern values. Again, it all comes back to mission.

Never Copy, Never Settle

One thing that rarely works is copying the design of another church. Even copying a modern church building can cause problems. For example, a church design that attracts some demographics may not appeal to others. The successful ministry of a church downtown doesn’t mean those same ministries are going to attract people who live in the suburbs; they’ve moved there with different interests and priorities. This is why we always recommend starting with the church mission and creating a customized church design from there. It’s how, working together with church leaders, we enable ministries with buildings that work.

To learn more about how The McKnight Group puts mission first, and other important aspects of church building and design, sign up for our upcoming i3 webinars. In these free webinars, we share examples about how we customize buildings to meet the ministry needs of each individual church. Sign up today to learn more!

 

2019-05-21T18:23:40+00:00 May 21st, 2019|Church Building, Church Design|

The McKnight Group Announces Construction Start | Centerville, Ohio

PRESS RELEASE – Far Hills Church

The Far Hills Church purchased a local car dealership in Centerville, Ohio and chose The McKnight Group to remodel this facility into their church. The facility consists of 37,600 sf. A new front entry canopy is being added to the building.  The interior will have twelve classrooms, multiple restrooms, mechanical and green rooms, a large foyer and a 725-seat sanctuary.  A warming kitchen and pantry will be added along with a new office.  The upper level of the facility will be renovated to include an elevator, new stairs, children and youth worship space and two additional classrooms and breakout room on the second level.

Owner: The Far Hills Church, Centerville, OH
Design/Build Firm: The McKnight Group, Grove City, OH
General Contractor: McKnight Development Corp., Grove City, OH
Architect/Designer: McKnight & Hosterman Architects, Inc., Grove City, OH

2019-05-17T16:53:15+00:00 May 17th, 2019|Church Building, Church Design, Press Release, Remodeling|

Common Obstacles, Real and Perceived, to Remodeling Your Church Building

Remodeling your church is a big decision, one that can be difficult to make because of both real and perceived obstacles. In this post, we look at three of the obstacles we’ve seen church leaders face and discuss how they can be addressed.

Poorly Used Space

One common obstacle to church remodeling is the idea that you don’t have enough room to accomplish what’s needed, but our experience is that churches  may have space — they’re just not using it very well. For example, when extra classrooms aren’t being used, they can become storage locations or junk magnets. The space to expand existing programs might easily be found after a big rummage sale or a more efficient storage plan.

Another situation we’ve seen is that a church’s ministries change in size, but the spaces don’t. This means that a shrinking ministry may still be using the largest room in the building while a growing ministry is outgrowing the space allocated to it. This is where a church remodeling discussion can be helpful. Focusing on your church vision for the future rather than the glory days of the past can help make needed changes clearer.

Finally, you can look beyond your church building to the land around it. Is that land being used efficiently, or might there be room to expand your existing church building to accommodate additional ministries?

Church Building Code Upgrades

Whenever you begin a church remodeling project, you need to know whether it’s a big enough project to trigger a building code review. If you’re just tearing out old carpeting or repainting, you’re most likely not going to encounter problems. But the moment you start tearing down walls or changing doors around, you’ll likely need to upgrade the part you are remodeling to meet current codes.  In some cases, you may cause an entire church building system (i.e. fire alarm, etc.) to need an upgrade to meet the latest building codes.

Not all code upgrades are expensive. Some can be made with minimal expense. However, the older your church building is, the greater the possibility of incurring an expense you may not have counted on to upgrade your facility to meet current building codes. Therefore, it’s always wise to consult with a church building professional before you begin any church remodeling project.

Lack of Unity about Church Remodeling

As we’ve said many times, your building is a tool for your ministry. People are the critical component for any successful church vision. A lack of unity around your church remodeling project can be a major obstacle to achieving your church vision. In the example mentioned above, if you take the larger space from the ministry that’s declining and give it to the ministry that’s growing, you can create some friction and hard feelings if everyone isn’t on the same page.

This means that one of the first tasks for church leaders when considering a church remodeling project is to get everyone on board with your vision for the future.

Vision is a key component of any successful church building project, so we talk about it frequently in our i3 webinars. If you’re ready to start getting your entire church community on board with a remodeling project or want to learn more about church building, sign up today for our next free i3 webinar.

2019-05-14T17:45:02+00:00 May 14th, 2019|Church Building, Remodeling|

The Latest Church Building Questions from Our Free i3 Webinars

One of the reasons that we host our free i3 webinars live is that it allows for interaction with our Internet audience. After each webinar, we make time for questions and answers about church building and design. In this post, we once again share our responses to questions from recent i3 webinars.

“Do you have somebody on your team who helps figure out sound and lighting design for church building?”

In responding to this question, we need to begin with some definitions. When it comes to lighting, there are two types of design. The first is what we call house lighting or floor lighting. These are the lights installed for everyday use in a church building. For your worship space, this will include the kinds of lights that are on in a theater when you first walk in and are trying to find your seat. For other areas of your church building, this includes standard lighting and some specialty lights, such as the types of fixtures you want in your café or restrooms. We assist you in determining the best lighting for your church building needs.

When it comes to stage lighting design, audio and video for your worship space or other rooms, we do not have a person on staff to handle them directly. Instead, we have several audio, video, and lighting firms that we partner with for these design elements. We recommend these teams because we have worked with them on prior church building projects and trust their expertise. If you have someone in your church community that you would like us to work with, we are also willing to partner with them.

“Do you often suggest tearing down a church building rather than rebuilding?”

No, we very seldom do that. As long as your church building is structurally sound, it’s much more cost effective to expand or remodel an existing facility. Think about it this way: You would have to pay someone to tear down the old church building, then pay someone to build the new building from scratch. So, if your existing church building is feeling cramped or outdated, the best first step is to have a conversation with us about how we might remodel your existing facility. Unless you are totally out of land and have no direction to go besides up—and the existing structure can’t support additional weight—we usually recommend remodeling your current church building.

“Does The McKnight Group handle all church building permit needs?”

Yes, we do, with the caveat that we like the church to be involved in the zoning process. We handle the building and site permits and such. With zoning permits, we find it’s important for church representatives to attend public zoning meetings. It gives church leaders a chance to share their vision and for community members to meet and talk with church attendees. It’s about being active in the community as a local church. You also get to hear the questions and concerns being raised and address them right up front.

As you can see, there are many aspects involved in thinking through every church building project. This is why we offer our free i3 webinars and encourage you to come and bring your questions. Sign up for our next i3 webinar today.

 

2019-05-07T18:59:31+00:00 May 7th, 2019|Advice, Church Building|

Re-purposing an Existing Warehouse with a Creative Church Design

Sometimes your church vision changes so radically that you need a new church building to hold it. However, that doesn’t mean a new building needs to be constructed. Here is another situation where an existing structure, built for another purpose, is converted into a functional church building.

We’ve talked about converting big box stores and school buildings. In this example, we worked with a church to convert a warehouse for church building use.

A New Home for Linden Life Fellowship

Linden Life Fellowship is one church community with two histories. In 2014, two different churches in the Columbus, Ohio, area merged to form this new community. Each group had a small existing church building, but they needed something larger in order to worship together. After they approached The McKnight Group for help, we looked at available buildings in their area. We found a carpet warehouse and drafted a creative church design to meet their ministry needs.

From Warehouse to Church Building

As you can see here, small outside changes transformed this church building from less industrial to more attractive. But in this situation, we focused most of the time and money in the interior church design. As pictured, the prior warehouse had an unfinished interior, which meant clearing the space for its new use required less work.

We subdivided the warehouse to create classrooms, restrooms, and a kitchen, along with the foyer, which you see here. This entry area includes some nice seating areas and a fireplace (the focal point) that encourage guests and attendees to sit down together and get to know each other. We carpeted the entire church building with neutral shades and created a color palette that blends with the building’s façade. Bringing the same style of stonework from the entryway into the fireplace created a cohesive feel for the entire church building.

A Modern Church Design for Worship

A welcoming space for worship is one key component of any good church design. Here, you can see we designed a bright room that seats about two hundred people. It includes a sound booth and a simple, very flexible platform that draws the eye to that portion of the room. Ceiling tiles and a modern light system now cover the building structure that were once visible in the interior pre-remodel photo above.

Converting this warehouse into a functional, attractive church building was a case of good stewardship for this newly merged community. Remodeling other types of existing buildings with a good church design is always one possibility for any church community. We’ve seen car dealerships, grocery stores, strip centers, and school buildings transformed into functional church buildings.

To learn more about creative church design possibilities, sign up for our free i3 webinars, where we share the latest information on a variety of church design and building trends and innovative ideas. To learn more, visit our webinar page.

2019-04-30T18:14:01+00:00 April 30th, 2019|Church Building, Church Design, Remodeling|

Supporting a Church’s Vision for Children with this Creative Church Design

Here’s another schematic church design that illustrates how to support a vision for ministry with creative church building solutions. In this post, we’re looking specifically at how one church addressed its vision to attract local youth.

The Church Vision of Grove City Church of the Nazarene

This church building example comes from Grove City Church of the Nazarene in Ohio whose church building is located directly across from a public high school. So, their vision for ministry in the community naturally includes reaching out to young people who are seeking a fun and safe place to hang out after school. They want to draw youth in and get them accustomed to thinking of church as a cool place to be.

The Schematic Church Design Solution for Weekdays and Weekends

As you can see from this schematic design, we worked with Grove City church leaders to draft a creative solution to a space problem they were having. They had a thriving children’s church program on Sundays and wanted a stage that could incorporate elaborate sets. They also wanted to attract youth from the high school to come hang out during the week, both after school and after ballgames in the evenings. So, we created a two-sided multi-use room that could use the same seating area for two types of events.

On the left, we built a stage for children’s church that could accommodate those elaborate sets and allow them to stay up week after week. This permitted the kids to experience a consistent and engaging ministry with no weekly setup and tear down for the adults. On the right side, we built a second stage designed for youth performances with mood lighting and band equipment that also didn’t need to be taken down every weekend either. An arcade was also added (orange arrow in the schematic and pictured left).

The Continued Evolution of Grove City’s Church Building

This multi-use configuration worked well for quite a while. Over time, as the church continued to grow, it built a new space for the children’s ministries and this multi-use room was reconfigured to serve the growing Christian school and the youth ministries. The children’s church platform on the left was torn down and the space was converted into bleachers. The arcade has also been updated (right).

These changes were made to keep the church building current and relevant for teens. It also means that the kids who once attended children’s church in this space still find it to meet their needs a dozen years later.

Any church design should be revisited periodically and updated to meet your church’s vision for ministry. Modern and attractive church building spaces will draw people in for the church to minister to. This is one of the underlying themes that drive many of our free i3 webinar presentations. We know that any church building must be periodically reviewed and possibly remodeled to make sure it is still able to support your evolving church vision for ministry in your community. Sign up for our next i3 webinar and join us to learn more.

 

2019-04-23T17:15:01+00:00 April 23rd, 2019|Church Building, Church Design|

Creating the Church Building You Need: Another Schematic Design Example

A church design can be as good as a photo in illustrating what’s possible with your church building vision. Once again, we’re examining a church building situation using a schematic design to help illustrate how church leaders refocused their historic church property and created a design that meets their vision and needs for the future.

Historic Wayne Street Methodist Church, St. Marys, Ohio

Wayne Street Methodist was worshiping in a 100-year-old church building, but they were having problems. The building’s foundation was crumbling, cracks were appearing, and engineers determined that it would take almost half-a-million dollars to correct the problems and keep their historic church building standing. We met with the church leaders to talk about what they could do and about what other options might be available to them for that amount of money.

Looking at their property overall, we noted they had an empty field to one side of their main parking lot. We suggested creating a new worship center church design from scratch and re purposing their existing fellowship hall (pictured)to meet their needs, designing a modern, inviting church building space that incorporated portions of the existing building.

A Church Design for a Modern Church Vision

The new and remodeled sections of the Wayne Street church are shown in color on this schematic design. At the top, in purple, is the existing fellowship hall. As you can see in these photos, the older hall was in good shape and serviceable but not exactly welcoming. It was also bordered by a hallway that was used to move between the old worship space and the fellowship hall.

We converted both the hallway and the old fellowship hall into a new multi-ministry room that serves as a foyer in addition to its traditional function as a fellowship hall and dining space. This area is now brighter, warmer, and includes a café that makes good use of the existing kitchen facilities. New restrooms are accessible from the fellowship hall and are right outside the doors to the worship center.

A New Worship Center and Welcoming Church Building Entrance

In addition to transforming the fellowship hall into a more appealing and functional space, we built a new worship center free from structural concerns and a limiting, historic church design. As you can see in this image, we incorporated some of the stained-glass windows and other features of the former church building to maintain the church’s connection with its history.

Finally, we incorporated a new main entry point into the church design. This photo shows how seamlessly the entrance weaves together the new worship center to the left with the existing fellowship hall building on the right. The vestibule leads into either the fellowship gathering space or into the worship center itself.

Do you have an aging church building that no longer meets your modern church vision for ministry in your community? There may be more innovative church design possibilities than you can imagine. Contact us today to discuss how we might help transform your church design to meet your needs and sign up for our next i3 webinars to learn more about designing church buildings that work.

2019-04-16T15:28:18+00:00 April 16th, 2019|Church Building, Church Design, Remodeling|

A Church Design Blueprint Is Worth a Thousand Words

Pictures can be worth a thousand words and when it comes to church design, so can blueprints. In this post, we discuss small church design renovations making a big difference in a church building and show you the both the before and after blueprints and pictures of how things changed.

Bridgetown Church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio

Bridgetown Church showed its age. The four-decades-old church design, which was modern and appealing in the 1970s, no longer met the needs of the community. The building had a lot of stained glass; a steep, swooping roof; and a general outdated appearance. In order to attract today’s guests, Bridgetown’s church leaders knew that they needed some changes. They also knew that they needed to be good stewards of their limited funds. They turned to us for help.

The Old Church Building Blueprint

Here is a blueprint of the old church building, along with some photos illustrating Bridgetown’s issues. As you can see, the entrance to the building was small, dark, and not very appealing. Their lobby was a wide-open space that wasn’t very functional, and they had repurposed an old coat closet to hold a table filled with canisters of coffee and a desk, which didn’t reflect a café theme. All the restrooms were outdated. Only a women’s restroom (circled) existed in the front portion of the church building, and any man who couldn’t climb stairs had to use a restroom at the back of the church.

The New Foyer Church Design Blueprint

The changes we made don’t alter the footprint of the church in a major way, but they make a big difference when it comes to these issues—and more. The blue color is the footprint of the old foyer, and the yellow area shows our additions.

At the front of the building, we included full, handicap-accessible, and modern men’s and women’s restrooms—a necessary element of good hospitality. We also planned a large café with a serving counter, as you can see in this photo. We integrated attractive seating areas around the foyer for conversation that build relationships between guests and attendees. A brighter, more open, and welcoming entry space, which, as you can see here, takes full advantage of natural light, surrounds all of our new church design.

We built a check-in zone for children before they go downstairs to children’s church and added a cry room with views of the worship space. We installed an elevator to allow anyone, regardless of mobility issues, to access both floors of Bridgetown Church.

Finally, in this image, you can see the outside of Bridgetown Church and how the entire church building shows a modern, welcoming façade. All these small changes transformed the underlying church design into an upgraded appearing and appealing church building.

If you would like to talk with us about your church building challenges, contact us today at 800-625-6448 or request@mcknightgroup.com. We also encourage you to sign up for our next i3 webinar, which will give you more ideas and insights for innovation of your existing church building.

2019-04-02T16:14:43+00:00 April 2nd, 2019|Church Building, Church Design|

Here’s Your Annual Spring Church Maintenance Reminder

Ready or not, spring is arriving. Whether it seems the Mother Nature is really cooperating or not, it’s time for spring church maintenance. Previously, we posted a general spring maintenance checklist that covers yard, landscaping, and parking lot maintenance in addition to the church building maintenance itself. Now, we’re expanding on the idea, adding more items to the checklist and suggesting that church cleaning and maintenance be made a communal affair by scheduling a spring-cleaning party.

Deep Cleaning as Part of Church Maintenance

One key to effective church maintenance is periodic deep cleaning. Your church building is a major investment and a good cleaning will help it stay in top shape and full functional order. A great way to ensure a good spring cleaning is to organize a volunteer spring cleaning day, weekend, or series of Saturdays depending on what will work best for your community.

While not all the items on these checklists will apply to your church building, they will be good inspiration for areas to look after. Make certain beforehand that you have enough supplies on hand for your volunteers. If you have a church leader who’s a particularly good organizer, she or he can send out lists of needed tools and invite volunteers to respond with what items they can bring. This will help keep the spring-cleaning costs to a minimum, which is always good stewardship.

Outdoor and Overall Cleaning Checklist

  • Reserve a power washer ahead of time
  • Clean and power wash patios and outdoor gathering places
  • Clean and repair windows and screens
  • Power wash the church building siding
  • Clean out gutters.
  • Check roof for debris that may have damaged flashings, plumbing vents, HVAC equipment during winter storms.
  • Check outside lights and replace burnt-out bulbs with high-efficiency, outdoor bulbs

Attic and Basement Cleaning Checklist

  • Check basement areas for damp floors or walls
  • Check downspouts to make sure they have not pulled away from the drains after the winter or becomes clogged with debris.
  • Clean and organize attic and basement storage spaces, making sure that no fire hazards have developed

Painting, Staining, and/or Refinishing Checklist

  • Check caulked joints. Remove and replace caulking that has pulled away for the building
  • Obtain paints, stains, brushes, tarps, covers, ladders, rollers, and handles ahead of time
  • Stain or paint decks, porches, and gathering areas
  • Paint, clean, and organize any garages and storage units
  • Paint or stain all doors and exposed woodwork
  • Paint the church building siding as needed

Indoor Cleaning Checklist

  • Obtain the following supplies and tools: bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners, rags, sponges, rubber gloves, wood polishers, glass cleaners, wall-cleaning sponges, wall erasers, buckets, large garbage bags, brooms, dust pans, handheld and full-sized vacuums, kitchen shelf lining, and ladders
  • Deep-clean restrooms
  • Dust light fixtures and remove bugs
  • Clean and polish church pews or clean and vacuum chairs
  • Wipe down walls
  • Clean and straighten any wall hangings
  • Sanitize light switches, switch plates, and door handles (consider making this a more regular task during cold and flu seasons)
  • Sanitize and organize nursery rooms and children’s areas
  • Clean and organize offices and classrooms
  • Wash windows and storm windows; clean blinds and curtains
  • Clean furniture and repair where needed
  • Remove clutter and clean all public areas
  • Vacuum and/or scrub or mop floors

Spring cleaning can be a lot of work, but good fellowship and calling it a party helps the work go faster and seem more like fun. Organize a spring-cleaning event to preserve the life of your church building. If you’re looking for more tips and pointers on good stewardship of your church building and more, sign up for our upcoming free i3 webinars.

2019-03-26T16:35:48+00:00 March 26th, 2019|Church Building, Church Maintenance|

Answering Questions from a Recent i3 Church Building Webinar

The McKnight Group strongly believes that sharing information about the church design and building process is good stewardship of our time and talent. That’s why we write about it here and present information through our series of free i3 webinars – so that when it’s time to design your new church building or remodel an existing church property, your work as church leaders will be much easier.

Here are some questions that were asked in a recent i3 webinar. Sharing these questions and their answers is another way we can help in that process.

What’s the Cost for an Initial Conversation for a Potential Church Building Project?

Depending on where you are in the country and what type of church building project it is, we can often hold an initial meeting and give you our initial opinion at no cost to you. This would involve coming to meet with you, taking a look at your existing church building or potential location, and talking about your church vision and what you hope to do with your new church design. We also may be able to make a few initial recommendations. If there is a cost, it will just be to cover our travel expenses.

Some church leaders would like us to do a presentation to the church board or church building committee. If you’re interviewing potential church design and building companies, we’re happy to come and meet with you. During such presentations, we explain our process in great detail: how it works, the fees and time frames, etc. This also is potentially at no cost, depending on the location and project type. Again, if there is a cost, it will just be for our travel expenses.

What’s the Average Time Frame for a Church Design Feasibility Study?

The short answer is that once we have all the information we need, it will usually take us between one and a half and two months to complete a feasibility study.

The information that we need depends on the kind of church design or building project. If you’re trying to decide between two different buildings or properties, we would need the deeds for the existing properties, along with any utility information that may be available. We can research some of that information ourselves, but if you know what utilities (power, water, gas, sewer) are already available on the property, that information is helpful. Also, a survey of that property is also helpful if it’s available.

If you’re looking to remodel an existing building, we would need the information above and also the existing drawings. We would also like the chance to come visit, to see the site and take photographs. Once we have gathered all that information, we can begin our process. From that point, we can usually complete your feasibility study in one and a half or two months.

Focusing on the Available Wisdom in Our i3 Webinars

As you can see, our i3 webinars give you an excellent opportunity to get answers to your church design, remodeling, and building questions. “i3” stands for ideas, insights, and innovations, which are what we provide in each webinar. This is why we encourage you to sign up; there’s always more to learn!

2019-03-19T15:44:24+00:00 March 19th, 2019|Church Building, Church Design|