Examples of Church Building Trends: Multi-Use 2.0

As church design leaders, we try to keep a close eye on church building trends. We know that it’s helpful for churches to hear about what others are doing to fulfill their mission within their communities. Earlier we highlighted many of these trends here on our blog, including one we’re calling Multi-Use 2.0. In this post, we’ll share more details, including some images, that can help you understand how the multi-use space trend has evolved.

Early Multi-Use Church Building Spaces

These first photos of NewPointe Church in Sugarcreek, OH were taken about ten years ago. This large church wanted a 1400-seat auditorium. They also had a strong existing athletics program, so it made sense for their largest space to be multi-use. As you can see here, the floor is wooden to accommodate a basketball court. Adding carpet runners between the sections of seating helped to make the auditorium feel more like a worship space.

Another consideration with multi-use spaces is the need to move the chairs every time you change the use. It’s easy enough to ask everyone gathered to stack their chair after worship, but setup can be more labor-intensive. It also requires a committed crew of volunteers who are willing to make this a weekly part of their busy lives.

Shifting to Multi-Use 2.0

This image from Cypress Church in Columbus, in contrast to the images above, helps give a sense of Multi-Use 2.0. This is one of the most common church building trends today. The floor is flat, because sloped floors make other uses more difficult and any step-down flooring simply won’t work in this space. The chairs are clearly removable.

In this church design, athletics have not been factored into the plan. Instead, this space can easily be rearranged for banquets or training events. As a worship space, it’s warmer, more performance-oriented and it resembles a traditional sanctuary more than the spaces being designed in prior decades.

Church Building Trends Still Allow for Athletics

The church design shift to Multi-Use 2.0 doesn’t have to eliminate athletics. In this photo of a smaller multi-use room at Crossview Church in Grabill, IN, you have to look very carefully to see the athletic components that have been built into its design. The square in the carpet actually defines the basketball court itself. If you look closely at the top center of the photo, you can see one of the basketball hoops, which has been cranked all the way to the ceiling. On an average Sunday morning, the hoops won’t be noticed, and the flooring pattern doesn’t scream “athletics” the way a wooden floor might.

Thinking Beyond Your Worship Space with Multi-Use 2.0

Another aspect of church building trends like Multi-Use 2.0 is that we’re thinking beyond the worship space for multi-use options. In these final photos (also of Crossview Church), you can see how even a foyer can be recruited to serve multiple uses. In the back right of the first photo, you can see a section of the foyer that has its own screen and lighting.

In the second image, you can see there is an operable wall which separates this portion of the foyer during worship, forming the space for children’s church. With this flexibility, the church has almost fifty percent more space available in their foyer when worship is over.

Flexibility is the key aspect of the Multi-Use 2.0 church building trend. The options are only as limited as one’s imagination. To learn more about all the latest trends in church design and construction today, we encourage you to join our free i3 webinars. If you have questions about how to engage Multi-Use 2.0 in your own church building, contact us today at 800-625-6448 or

2018-07-17T19:44:22+00:00 July 17th, 2018|Church Building, Church Design|

Answers to Church Funding Questions

Financing your church building project can be a challenge on many levels. In addition to learning all the finance terminology, church leaders need to consider how the realities of the construction market will impact their church funding. In a recent, free i3 webinar, we talked about the realities of financing a church building project in today’s economy. At the end of our presentation, there were some excellent questions about the material we covered. We thought those questions and our responses would be worth sharing here.

What’s the current rate of inflation, and how does that affect church building costs?

We track reports that show annual construction inflation for 2017 was between 4.25% and 4.75% and very recent data reports indicate a 2.91% cost increase through just the first two quarters in 2018. The specifics depend on your location. Here in central Ohio, the construction market remains very active and this translates to increased labor costs especially where there are not enough skilled laborers to fill available job slots. In other areas of Ohio, and of the country where construction is not booming as much, labor costs are increasing at a lower rate.

Another issue that will impact construction inflation is rising costs for materials. Last year, we talked about how costs for basic construction materials, such as gypsum and lumber, were on the rise. Recent news about tariffs on steel has already led to an increase in prices. Red iron steel went up 7% in March alone, while metal stud and sheet metal prices have risen a few percentage points each month this year. All signs say inflation is likely to continue to rise, and to affect church funding, budgeting and building costs.

Is church funding through bond sales a good idea?

During the 1980s, when interest rates were in the double digits, many churches funded building projects using church bond programs. In essence, it was a way to self-fund a church building through the sale of bonds that have a lower rate of interest than lending institutions were willing to give. Today we have the opposite problem, because lending interest rates are relatively low, so selling bonds would require offering them at higher rates of interest.

Another challenge is that a church selling bonds can confuse people. Because the typical church funding package includes donations, pledges and institutional loans, church members can be confused about why church leaders are also trying to sell them bonds. For these reasons, we discourage the idea of bond programs under current circumstances.

What tips do you have for successful fundraising campaigns?

We believe the primary key to a successful church funding campaign is always good leadership. There are two levels to this. We’ve recently shared our thoughts about the value of engaging a professional consultant for your fundraising campaign. However, that consultant isn’t being paid to do all the work. Instead, he or she will empower and train volunteers in the church community to undertake the fundraising campaign.

Within the church community itself, you also need good leadership to fulfill that campaign as it’s being directed by the consultant. A good “internal” fundraising leader is someone in your church who is organized, gets along well with people, and understands what’s happening with your church building project. With an enthusiastic leader, your church funding campaign is much more likely to find success.

Do you have more church funding questions? Reach out with your queries at We also encourage you to sign up for our free i3 webinars, where we might answer more of your church building questions.

2018-07-10T16:01:52+00:00 July 10th, 2018|Advice, Church Building, Financing|

Church Funding Lexicon: Understanding Lending Terminology

Every new adventure brings with it new experiences—and sometimes new terminology. For example, if you decide to begin rock climbing, you’ll need to learn the difference between an anchor and a carabiner, among other terms.

When it’s time to construct a new church building or renovate an existing property, you will also encounter some specific terminology—having to do with church funding and financing.

To make the process easier, we have gathered together some of the more common and useful terms you may encounter when seeking funding for construction projects. We often use these words in our free i3 webinars, so this list will hopefully also make our webinars more accessible to you as you pursue your church building vision.

Church Attendance

This is the number of people in your church or congregation. Lenders want to know if your weekly attendance is growing, the age of your attenders, and the geographical area they come from. The age of the congregation is important because, for church funding purposes, different age ranges represent different giving habits, as well as different financial responsibilities that might affect people’s giving potential.

Giving Units

The number of different groups and individuals who are giving to a church is expressed in terms of giving units. Usually a giving unit is a family—even if both parents work, the family commonly gives one gift to the church, so they are considered one giving unit.

Annual Revenue

Annual revenue is the amount of money a church brings in over one year. The number includes not just money that has been given to the church but also other sources of revenue, such as church building rentals for birthday parties, income from schools or after-school programs, etc. Lenders will want to see three to five years’ worth of annual revenue numbers to get a sense of trends and what types of income are growing or decreasing.

Appraised Value

This is the amount that the lender thinks your new or remodeled church building will be worth when the work is done. Lenders will generally loan only about 80 percent of the appraised value—and that value will likely seem low. That’s because appraisers factor in the resale value of a building, and since a church building is usually seen as a “one-use” property, they anticipate it will be harder to find buyers.

Debt Service

The amount to be paid on the loan for your church building project is called your debt service. The amount of these mortgage payments over a year should not exceed 35 percent of your annual budget (or 35 percent of your annual revenue), except in a few very extraordinary circumstances. Many lending institutions also believe a church’s annual debt service should not exceed $1,000 per giving unit per year.

Dodd-Frank Act

The Dodd-Frank act was passed by Congress in 2010. It set strict guidelines for how appraisers did their work, requiring documentation, backup support, and historic resale information on similar types of buildings to justify their valuations. This caused problems for churches, since most church buildings are sold for a relatively low value.

Congress has recently rolled back many of the Dodd-Frank restrictions (on all but about 10 of the largest banks), so more lenders may be willing to work with churches in the future. We’re waiting to see what the practical effect will be for this rollback.

New Webinars for Your New Church Funding Vocabulary

We will keep you informed about the effects of updates to Dodd-Frank as we learn them, so keep an eye out for future posts. Also, Dodd-Frank and other facets of church funding and construction are frequently discussed in our free i3 webinars—which is why we encourage you to sign up for them today. Simply visit our home page to register.

2018-06-26T16:02:16+00:00 June 26th, 2018|Church Building, Financing|

Overly Generous Funding: The How and Why to Avoid it

In an earlier post, we talked about the importance of finding a lender that understands churches to insure getting the best possible church funding. As you put together the various parts of a funding package for a church building or renovation project, it’s important to find lenders who understand the particular issues and needs of churches.

Every so often, however, church leaders can find themselves in a situation where a lender is eager to be supportive and offers overly generous funding terms which a church can’t realistically afford. That may sound like a classic “good problem to have,” but it can cause serious repercussions down the road. Here are some considerations to help keep your church financially healthy in the long term while borrowing money.

Understanding Church Funding Maximums

After more than 40 years in the church building business, we’ve learned there is a general rule of thumb for how much debt church leaders should take on during a construction or remodeling project. This guideline is typically used by lending institutions that are experienced and well-acquainted with making loans to churches.

The formula is this: The loan amount should not exceed three times the church’s annual revenue. For example, if your church brings in $300,000 a year in revenue, you should take on no more than $900,000 in debt for your church building or remodeling project.

Factors That Influence the Maximum

Bear in mind, though, that the above formula is used only in “ideal” situations. Other factors can alter that optimum situation.

These include whether the church is well-established; the type of growth the church been experiencing both in attendance and the amount of giving; and church leadership factors like the senior pastor’s length of service. If any of these aspects are less than ideal, the amount of church funding will be adjusted downward by the lender to fit the relative risk involved in lending money to the church.

Why Avoid Overly Generous Funding for Your Church Building Project?

If a church is thriving and has a great vision for its ministry in the community, occasionally a local lending institution may want to be supportive by loaning more than the established standard of three times annual revenue—say, maybe four or five times.

As attractive as that may sound, it could also adversely affect the church’s debt service for that loan. Debt service is how much a church has to pay on all its debt each month. If that number goes over 35 percent of a church’s budget, the church runs the risk of not having enough money left over to pay bills, salaries, and other costs necessary to minister to the community.

Learn More Through Our Webinars

We’ve seen a lot of church funding proposals over the years while working with churches to help them find that balance between their vision for ministry and the financing necessary for a church building that will support their vision. One way we share what we’ve learned is through our free i3 webinars. To register for one or more webinars, simply visit our home page.

2018-06-19T15:52:55+00:00 June 19th, 2018|Church Building, Financing|

Getting Professional Support for Your Church Building Projects

We, at The McKnight Group, have been immersed in the church building business for over 40 years. We’ve walked alongside church leaders as they’ve sought funding, developed innovative church designs, and successfully completed many, many renovation and building projects.

Among the professionals those church leaders often work with are church funding consultants. Read on to learn how such experts can improve your chances of success, and about other professionals you may want to consult with to ensure your new project is completed according to your specific church vision.

Why You Should Use Professionals for Your Church Building Stewardship/Capital Campaign

In our prior post, we discussed the importance of finding the right lender for your church building project when you seek traditional funding. Another aspect of the church funding process is often the stewardship campaign. A stewardship campaign lets you reach out to your church community and invite them to invest in your vision for future ministry.

Engaging professional church funding consultants for the campaign makes a big difference. In our experience, we’ve seen that professionally led capital stewardship campaigns can raise two to three times the amount of annual giving pledges over the course of a three-year church funding process. Churches that self-direct their pledge campaigns, on the other hand, typically raise up to one times the amount of their annual giving pledges.

A Further Impact of Engaging Church Funding Professionals

Using professional fundraising services has another, less obvious, benefit. Traditional lending institutions will typically look more favorably on a loan application if they know that professional consultants will be working with the church to raise funds to pay back their loan. This can lead to a more advantageous financing package than a church might receive if it were intending to raise all the funds on its own.

Where to Find Church Funding Professionals

Naturally, finding honest and effective professional consultants can be a concern for church leaders, especially since church funding isn’t necessarily their area of expertise. That’s why we’ve developed a resources list where you can find a number of reputable capital stewardship organizations.

Groups are on this list because church leaders we have worked with have had successful working relationships with them. To be clear, this does not mean that we endorse the organizations, nor do we have any official affiliation with them. Based on the successful work we’ve seen them do, however, we feel they can be helpful resources with which to discuss your church funding needs and what might be a good fit for your particular church building project.

Additional Resources Available on Our Website

Beyond our Capital Stewardship list, you’ll find lots of other useful information on our website’s Resources page, including links to church funding resources, audiovisual professionals, and church health consultants who can support and guide you through every stage of your church’s development.  

This is also where you’ll find a link to our i3 webinar page. Our free webinars on the church building process provide you with church design ideas and share other innovations you can use when considering a church remodeling or building project. Visit our webinars page today to learn more and sign up.

2018-06-12T15:57:17+00:00 June 12th, 2018|Church Building, Financing|

The McKnight Group Announces Construction Start | New Albany, Ohio

PRESS RELEASE – Jersey Baptist Church

The McKnight Group has begun a remodel project for the Jersey Baptist Church in New Albany, Ohio. The exiting 1983 building and game room will be remodeled into adult classrooms, restrooms and a new entry area.

The new entry and wing remodel includes a canopy, adding additional men and women’s restroom, an expanded serving kitchen, improved circulation to the existing wing with an expanded corridor to better serve the adult education ministries.

Owner: Jersey Baptist Church, New Albany, 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

2018-06-27T14:38:04+00:00 June 7th, 2018|Press Release, Remodeling|

Doing Your Due Diligence: Preparing for Church Funding with Traditional Lenders

Unless you’ve received a truly magnificent bequest, if your church is thinking about a major church remodeling or new building project, funding has to be part of the picture. When it comes to modern church funding, know it will likely involve a mix of different options. In this post, we will take a closer look at traditional lending.

Different Sources of Financing

While some of your church project funding will come in the form of outright gifts, much of it will come in the form of pledges that will be paid over time. Still more of it will come in the form of a loan that covers the balance of the funding so that you can begin work on your church building sooner rather than later. If you wait until you have every dime in hand to begin building, and this will take years to achieve, your church will miss out on opportunities to live out its vision for ministry in the community today, not to mention having to deal with rising costs of construction over the time it takes to gather all the funds.

Finding a Knowledgeable Church Funding Lender

The most important component to maximize the chances of getting a church funding package is to find a lender that understands churches. Not all traditional lenders will.

When you are a church leader, you know well that there are many different kinds of churches. Not just different denominations, but also churches in various stages of health and at different places in their life-cycle. These variations are not so obvious to many traditional lenders. That is why before you do all the work necessary to get loan approval, you should be sure the lender you are working with understands all the nuances.

If a lending institution thinks all churches are alike, it can be problematic.  For example, if a lender has read some national statistics about how some traditional denominations are losing members, they might think that all churches are dying and want to be hard-nosed about the terms for a loan. If they don’t understand the difference between a stagnant church and one that’s active and growing, you are not going to receive the most favorable of church funding packages.

On the other hand, by finding a lender who has helped various churches successfully fund a church building project, you are much more likely to receive favorable terms and develop an encouraging, supportive relationship for the duration of your church building project.

Find the Right Lender, then Prepare the Right Documentation

Once you’ve identified a traditional lender who understands the unique aspects of lending to churches, you can move on to preparing the documentation that will be needed to secure the funding. We’ve covered some of the preparation you’ll need to do with a funding checklist here.

In our free i3 webinar series, we talk about finance and other real church building issues that are facing leaders today. Please go to our home page now to register for our upcoming webinars.

2018-06-05T14:55:32+00:00 June 5th, 2018|Church Building, Financing|

Responding to Some of Your Church Building and Design Questions

Most of the time, in both this blog and our free i3 webinars, we give you information we hope will help support your church building and remodeling projects. This time around, however, we’re going to switch things up and take instead of give—take your questions, that is.

Sources of Your Church Building Questions

In our i3 webinar series, we share a lot of useful information about the latest trends, as well as our ideas and suggestions for best practices in church design and construction. After the webinars are over, we frequently get questions.

Some of those questions are very specific—related to particular situations in which church leaders are ministering—but sometimes they’re general enough that the answers can be beneficial for everyone. In the spirit of getting the information out, read on for answers to two of your questions on recent topics we’ve covered both in our i3 webinars and here in our blog posts.

Can a Church Vision Be Too Broad?

The first question we’ll address relates to the scope of one’s church vision. It arose in response to our church vision series, where we discuss the importance of crafting the best vision for your ministry so that a church design can be created to specifically meet the needs of that vision.

The question reads as follows: “Is it important to define your vision as specifically as possible? Can it be too narrow, or too broad?”

We believe the best church visions are broad, not narrow. Also, there is a subtle, but very important, difference between being clear and concise about your vision versus being overly narrow and specific.

You don’t want to leave people out of your vision because you focused it too narrowly. The best way to find that sweet spot between broad and narrow is to try out your church vision message on the leaders in your church and see if it attracts interest, attention, and energy. If your vision resonates with your leaders and they get excited about it, you’ve got a right-sized church vision.

What Is the Trend in Church Design for Seating?

The second query we’ll address, generated by our discussion of church building trends, is about worship center seating. This is a complex issue in many churches, because a church’s history and tradition can challenge modern church design priorities.

Here’s the question: “We have pews and are thinking of changing to theater seating. What is the trend, and what are the advantages? I’ve also heard that, practically speaking, you can fit in more people with theater seating, since they’re willing to sit closer.”

Certainly this church leader is right about people being willing to sit closer with individual seats than with pews. With pews, people like to have space between each other, and often place a Bible or purse on the pew to ensure that space. With individual chairs—whether stackable or theater seating—people are willing to sit in one seat and be comfortable with someone sitting in the chair next to them.

There are important differences between theater seats and stackable seating. With either, you will gain about 15 to 20 percent in seating capacity compared to pews. However, theater seats are much more expensive: $250-$275 for theater seats versus $50-$100 for stackable seating (with wooden chairs being more expensive than metal ones).

If you have a flat floor in your church building, we recommend stackable seating for its flexibility. If your church design has a sloped floor, you will be locked into theater seating as a replacement for pews.

Answering Your Call

Our free i3 webinars are filled with practical, useful information like this. To learn the latest about church design trends and best practices in church building, visit our home page and register for any webinars that catch your interest. And keep those questions coming—we’re happy to help.

2018-05-22T15:05:58+00:00 May 22nd, 2018|Church Building, Church Design, Vision|

Dream Your Church Vision: Phasing in Your Church Design

We’ve covered much lately about the importance of a church vision for ministry. The examples we’ve shown illustrate how church leaders can use their vision to transform ministry opportunities in the community through a well-thought-out church design.

Clearly, a church vision is a powerful thing—it can inform designs, building trends, even the future of a community, as you will see below. In case you’re having a hard time articulating your church’s vision, below you’ll also find some basic, but fundamental, questions for kick-starting your own visioning process.  

What if Money Wasn’t an Obstacle?

Here are two questions we feel are very important to ask, especially at the beginning of any church visioning process:

  • If you knew you could not fail, what would you do for the glory of God?
  • If you knew that money was not an obstacle, what would you do to build God’s kingdom?

We at The McKnight Group emphasize the importance of having an expansive vision for the future of your church, because we know that if it’s not broad enough, you might end up short-changing what’s possible. The example below illustrates how a comprehensive vision can enhance a ministry’s potential.

Church Design and Vision: The Master Plan for Grove City Church

We’ve been working with Grove City Church of the Nazarene in Grove City, Ohio, for a long time. Back in 1985, they averaged about 400 in attendance, purchased a 27-acre “blank canvas,” and had this master plan. As you can see, they started by thoughtfully designing the important multi-use church buildings at the bottom of the plan. They also had a grand church vision for much more, including a Christian school and an assisted living facility.

This second master plan was developed years later. At this point, they’ve purchased additional property and expanded their church vision to include a high school, lots of athletic fields, and an enlarged mission for their assisted living facility. Also, because they’ve focused on the needs of the community, their church has grown so much that this master plan includes a 3,200-seat worship center.

Expand Your Own Vision

While the images above aren’t your typical before-and-after photos, they clearly illustrate what can be done when church leaders have a clear vision for the future of their ministry in the community.

That’s also why we encourage you to sign up for our free i3 webinars, where our photos and discussions of church design and other topics give you a clear vision for what’s possible. Just go to our home page, where you can sign up for the webinars that interest you. And if you haven’t had a recent conversation in your church about your vision for the future, consider doing so—it could be transformative.

2018-05-15T17:00:26+00:00 May 15th, 2018|Church Building, Church Design, Vision|

How the Right Church Vision Turned a Disaster into an Opportunity

We have been sharing some real-life examples of churches that have used their vision to drive the construction or renovation of their church building.

Often such transformations occur as a natural reaction to changes in the community or ministry. But as you will soon see, they can also be in response to catastrophic events—with uplifting results.

Catalyst for Change: Realizing a New Church Vision

Sometimes disaster leads to opportunity. This was the case for First Church of the Nazarene in Oskaloosa, Iowa. After their church building was destroyed by a fire in 2006, church members sought to recover from their sudden and catastrophic loss.

That’s when they realized something: God had given them a catalyst for change. They had an opportunity to take a good strong look at their various ministries and discern what the church could do differently. Through this process, church leaders began developing a new vision for their ministry in the community.

First Church of the Nazarene Becomes Gateway Church of the Nazarene

During this time, they also realized and accepted the fact that the neighborhood around the church had changed. They began talking about whether they should rebuild on the old site or look elsewhere for a location that better aligned with their new, emerging church vision. As a result, they eventually decided to move to a different part of town.

Starting from scratch, they were able to develop a church design that fit their newly focused vision. With that design in mind, they then constructed a new church building that specifically met those newfound needs. Like a phoenix from the ashes, First Church of the Nazarene became reborn across town as Gateway Church of the Nazarene.

A Church Design Focused by Vision

As you can see, Gateway wanted a focal point for their church building. Their new design makes the entrance obvious—and the fact that it’s a church is clear from the start.

Once you walk inside, the bright, airy foyer clearly conveys that gathering for conversation and developing relationships is a high priority of this church. Moreover, the restrooms are clean and elegant, making for good first impressions.

You can also see that the new design includes a nice café and seating area to encourage conversation. Through the glass walls behind the café there is an indoor play area that serves multiple purposes, giving children a place to safely play while adults get to know each other over coffee.

Such a church design sends the message that families with children are a priority. What’s more, the café and playground setup allow the church to rent the space to families in the community for children’s birthday parties. By bringing new families into the building this way, Gateway is able to reinforce its vision of ministering to couples with young children.

Change, Like Knowledge, Is Good

While not every church has the opportunity to start from scratch, it’s worth considering when looking at revising your church vision. Just as neighborhoods change over time, so do churches and their ministries.

That’s another reason we suggest you visit our home page to sign up for one or more of our free i3 webinars. After all, change happens in the church design and building industry, too and these webinars offer the perfect opportunity to stay on top of the latest trends and information.

2018-05-08T15:40:16+00:00 May 8th, 2018|Church Building, Church Design, Vision|