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How to Avoid Stagnation with an Outward-Looking Vision for Your Church Building

A vibrant and compelling church vision for ministry is critical to reaching people in your community. It’s something we frequently mention. Over time, however, church leaders and attendees can lose touch with their church’s vision and become satisfied with—even attached to—the status quo. This can lead to stagnation in your church building and among your church leaders.

Recently, one of our free i3 webinars focused on how to create a strong church vision, including what happens when churches just maintain the status quo.

What’s Wrong with Being Comfortable in Your Church Building?

We all like things that make us comfortable, be they soft jeans, worn-in shoes, or a worship service that’s familiar and makes us feel at home. While there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with being comfortable, it can lead to complacency and stagnation. This is what happens when people are happy to show up, week after week, at your church building, expecting the same thing, over and over. Without a clear and compelling church vision, we become comfortable with the status quo and the church can stop growing in Christ.

What’s Wrong with the Status Quo?

The problem with the status quo is that it’s about “me.” In the words of Tom Rainer, Founder and CEO of Church Answers, “’It’s all about me’ is the anthem of the dying church.” It’s the song we sing when we don’t want anything to change. It can happen when we like our church building the way it is, for example, even if that church building appears outdated and doesn’t look inviting to potential guests who are seeking for community and meaning, and a way to connect with people on a Sunday morning. Unless church leaders and attendees can turn the focus outward, onto Christ and a community that’s hungry for Christ, Christianity won’t thrive.

What’s the Answer to an Effective Church Vision?

George Barna, founder of The Barna Group, a market research firm that specializes in studying the religious beliefs and behavior of Americans, as well as  the intersection of faith and culture, says that, “the things that got you where you are today will not be the things you need to get where you need to be tomorrow. In order for the American church to survive, it must reach into the community with outwardly focused ministries.” Rather than worrying about how to maintain what you currently have—in terms of church building and programs—you need to be reaching for something beyond what you currently have. That’s where a compelling church vision comes in.

There are many different types of church building examples around North America, ranging back over 200 years. But ministry has changed quite a bit over those 200 years and reaching people has changed a lot from when each old church building was built. This means there are a lot of facilities that speak to yesterday instead of representing the vision of a church for tomorrow that’s compelling and exciting. In order to bring guests into your church community, you need a rousing church vision, and a building that shares that vision, to draw them in.

In future articles, we will discuss the elements of a compelling church vision that can help your church to avoid stagnation. We know what works because we’ve been constructing church buildings for fifty years. Sign up today for our free i3 webinars, where we share more of the wisdom we have learned from that half-century of church design experience.

2020-04-21T20:26:45+00:00 April 21st, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Vision|

Get a Clear View on Church Safety with These Church Building Exterior Examples

Church security is an important component of the best church experience, for both guests and attendees. In one of our free i3 webinars, we took an in-depth look at many elements of church safety, from hardening the church building exterior to protecting internal children’s areas. Many of those elements have been presented here in our blog.

One theme emerges from all these church safety components; they can seamlessly and beautifully be incorporated into a church design. As we conclude our church safety series, here are some church building examples which illustrate the ability of an aesthetically pleasing design to dually serve a safety purpose.

Choosing Church Building User-Friendliness

Many church leaders are opting to keep the exterior of their church building focused on user-friendliness. This first example is from a Florida church design we recently completed. You can see it has a car canopy to protect attendees on rainy days, and lots of natural light flowing into the foyer on sunny days. The leaders of this church do allow people and cars to come right up to the building, in contrast with some church safety recommendations, but a bright foyer allows their security team to keep a good eye on everyone coming into the church building.

Choosing a Strategically Located Second Exit for Church Safety

In this second example, from another recent McKnight Group church design, you see again that lots of light comes into the building from the glass-walled front entryway. This allows people to see what’s going on in the foyer area of the church building. A second entryway with a car canopy is visible on the left side of the lower image. This is certainly convenient for the elderly and parents with young children, who can get into the church building quickly on days with rain or snow.

There’s a second reason for this canopy-covered entrance which is specifically related to church safety. In this particular design, the hallway which leads to this entrance is where the church security and medical offices are located. This allows security teams to direct ambulances to the entrance that’s closest to the medical office, without disturbing other guests and attendees by pulling up to the front entrance of the church building.

Choosing a Church Design that Welcomes Guests

In these final examples, you can see that church leaders have opted for lots of light in the front facades of each church building. Both buildings have tall sections of the foyer filled with glass. This makes it easy for guests to see that people are gathered in this church building. When they see that lights are on and people are inside, they know that this is a safe church building for them to visit. All that glass also makes it easier for Sunday volunteers and weekday receptionists to get a clear view of who is approaching the church building.

Obviously, there’s a lot of thought that goes into church safety elements in any church design. To learn more about how you can incorporate security components into your church building, contact us today. You can also learn about what else we consider to be priorities in church design by signing up today for the next in our free i3 webinar series. You can learn more about what we’re focusing on here.

2020-04-14T19:14:39+00:00 April 14th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Safety|

Support Church Safety with a Well-Placed Church Building Security Office

There are some other areas that should be considered when integrating church safety into your church design, like the need for a well-placed church building security office. One that doesn’t stand out but does function well within the overall church design. Here are some key points to equipping and placing your security and medical offices in the best possible location of your church building.

What Does Your Church Safety Office Need?

An effective church safety office needs to be well-equipped to meet the needs of your security team. This means it should be wired for camera monitoring and recording. We further recommend that anytime a service is going on, there is somebody from the security team monitoring cameras and watching public areas, making sure they have an eye on what’s going on in your church building.

Your church safety office should also be located next to a medical office or storage room, that can hold medical equipment like an AED, or automated external defibrillator, as well as standard first aid equipment. Ideally this medical room should function like a small doctor’s office and have an attached, dedicated restroom. If that’s not possible, it should be located near a public restroom in your church building.

Where to Locate the Security and Medical Offices in Your Church Design

These two church safety offices should be centrally located in your church building so that security teams can quickly and easily see and access several key areas. As you can see from this church design, the prime location of this security office gives the team a view of the entire foyer and the main entry to your church building. Through the glass entryway, they even have a view of most of the parking lot through a large, one-way window that faces the foyer. For the public, from the foyer, that window appears to be a mirror, while security staff can easily see out from the inside.

In addition to the foyer, the security office has a clear view down the corridor on the left side of the church design, which leads to the children’s wing. They also can easily see both the welcome center and the main doors into the worship space. The corridor to the right, past what’s labeled as the nurse’s office, leads directly to an outside door with a canopy, which would be where an ambulance is directed for easy pickup from the medical office. You can also see the dedicated restroom, which allows for medical treatment and cleanup in a more private and secure location.

How Else Can Your Church Building Benefit from a Security Office?

In addition to serving as a central medical location and monitoring station, your security office can hold supplies that you will need for various church safety situations. In addition to a defibrillator and first aid equipment, storage space in your security suite can hold ice melt or salt and shovels for winter storms, traffic cones for various occasions, and other useful safety equipment.

As you can see, we’ve given a lot of intentional consideration to every facet of church design. We are glad to share this information with you, which is why we host our free i3 webinars over the course of each year. Click here to learn more and sign up for our next free webinar.

2020-04-07T17:23:16+00:00 April 7th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Safety, Security|

Spring Church Building Maintenance in a COVID-19 Impacted World

Normally, we’d remind you about the importance of spring maintenance at this time of year. This year, with COVID-19 impacting our nation and the world, church maintenance is taking on additional meaning and necessity.

We know that many churches are temporarily closing down or canceling services as a precaution against spreading the virus and in keeping with government guidance. While this is challenging for your church community, it also provides you with an excellent opportunity to thoroughly address spring maintenance. Now might be the best time to clean, repair, check, and maintain your church building.

Church Safety and CDC Cleaning Recommendations

The Center for Disease Control has a thorough webpage that details  recommendations for environmental cleaning and disinfection to prevent the spread of any virus. When doing so, it’s important to understand the difference between cleaning and disinfection. Cleaning removes dirt and germs, but does not kill the germs. Only disinfecting kills germs on surfaces. Therefore, both cleaning and disinfecting, in that order, are important at all times, but especially during this time of COVID-19.

All surfaces that people touch should be both cleaned (using a detergent or soap and water) and then disinfected on a regular basis. High-touch surfaces in your church building include counters, tabletops, desks, chairs, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, HVAC interfaces, audio-visual control modules, tablets, etc.

For disinfection, the CDC recommends using diluted household bleach solutions (4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water), alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and/or most common EPA-registered household disinfectants. A list of available products that the Environmental Protection Agency deems effective in killing viruses such as COVID-19 can be found here.

All cleaning and disinfecting solutions should be chosen with the surface in mind. For example, bleach may be effective on bathroom counters, but it can damage wood and other surfaces. Always read product labels carefully, use gloves, and ensure proper ventilation during cleaning and disinfecting. Wash your hands once you have removed and disposed of gloves.

Regular Spring Maintenance for Your Church Building

In addition to cleaning and disinfection, given the current circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to address the regular spring maintenance needs of your church building. We have checklists that include outdoor and indoor elements of your church building—everything from screens to patios, light bulbs to gutters—from attics to basements. We also feature suggestions for painting and refinishing, organizing and decluttering, and also keeping your roof and gutters clean and clear of debris.

Do You Need Spring Maintenance Help for Your Church Building?

Of course, all this spring cleaning and maintenance can feel overwhelming. Some of it may also be beyond the capacity of your staff and/or cadre of volunteers. Sometimes, especially with roof or HVAC maintenance, it’s a good idea to call in the professionals. Here at The McKnight Group, we’re glad to help out. Learn about the church building maintenance services we offer here.

We also offer our church building expertise, free of charge, through our i3 webinars. To learn more and register for our upcoming free webinars, click here.

2020-03-24T20:25:02+00:00 March 24th, 2020|Church Building, Church Maintenance|

Examples of Church Building Offices with Multiple Safety Layers

Last post, we described some of the church design safety and security measures that might help protect and secure offices in a church building. Here are some examples of how those measures have been incorporated into projects we’ve completed for church leaders like you.

Incorporating Layers of Church Safety into Your Church Design

One important security concept for any church design is to think in layers. While we might think of a church building as a single entity, it is made up of numerous parts. Church safety elements can be implemented into each part of your church building, such as doors, windows, rooms, etc. This means each door can serve as a layer of security, because it can be locked. A window allows people in one room to see into another, and so on. When considered in this fashion, it’s clear that you can do a lot to keep staff and church leadership safe while they are in your church building.

One Church Building Office Area with Three Layers of Security

In this first church building example, you see an office reception area that is very friendly. It’s well decorated, clean, and looks appealing. It also incorporates three levels of security. There’s a door to the left (the doorframe is just visible in this photo) that includes a window, which allows the receptionist, sitting at the desk, to have a direct visual connection with whomever is outside. The door is also locked, so the receptionist must buzz visitors through the door after speaking with them and looking at them through the window. This is the first level of church safety.

For any visitor to move beyond this reception area, they must pass through two more levels of security. The first is the counter, with a volunteer or staff member. That’s level two. Beyond the counter, out of sight to the right, is another door that leads into the actual office complex. That’s level three. Most visitors will just see a beautiful little room, but those who are thinking about church safety will recognize three levels of security built into this one element of the church design.

Another Example of an Office Area Church Design

Here is another church building project, for a very large church. This lovely two-story office entry area is part of a four-story office wing for a church building we designed. It’s a bright and open space with a lot of glass, which makes it appear very welcoming. But there are also many levels of security incorporated into this church design. First, the main front doors are controlled by the staff receptionist, who has a direct view through the glass front doors. As in the first example, people can be buzzed in (a first layer of security) but cannot move beyond this two-story lobby without passing the receptionist (a second layer of security).

Every door in the rest of the office area, on both the first and second floors, can only be accessed using key fobs. So, while there are clearly many doors that can be accessed from this lobby, visitors can’t get anywhere beyond this reception area without an escort who has a key fob. Once again, one church building reception area holds at least three levels of security.

These examples demonstrate that church safety doesn’t have to appear grim or threatening. Instead, it’s about thoughtful incorporation of church safety elements into each layer of your church building. To learn more about what we’re thinking regarding church building design, sign up today for one of our upcoming webinars.

 

2020-03-17T18:34:19+00:00 March 17th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Safety, Security|

Integrating Church Safety into the Office Portion of Your Church Design

The prior post in this series of articles on integrating church safety and security in your church building shared a church design example of the children’s areas in one of our recent church building projects. But children’s areas aren’t the only ones that need to be kept secure. Office areas in your church design also need safety elements to protect church staff.

Integrating Visual or Video Access Control into Your Church Design

We’ve established in this series that the days when a package delivery person could show up at a church office, push a button, and talk with a receptionist over a speaker system are gone, because audio systems don’t provide enough security. The best church safety protocols require direct visual or video, as well as audio input, before someone is allowed into your church building. The receptionist or volunteer can easily see, for example, whether the delivery person is wearing company-logo clothing and actually carrying a package.

There are additional ways to protect church leaders through access elements in your church design. Providing a separate, private entrance for staff members that leads directly to the office area of your church building means they have a choice about whether to walk through public areas.

Considering Office Rotations and Safe Rooms to Promote Church Safety

One church safety strategy that we’re hearing about lately is the office rotation. This means that the senior pastor plans to exchange offices with another staff person once a quarter. While we have not yet incorporated this feature into a church design, we are open to doing so. We understand that there’s another level of church safety involved when an intruder cannot easily presume to know which office belongs to which church leader or staff person.

Another level of safety which we have researched and discussed with customers is a safe room. This is a room that has dedicated power and ventilation, and which serves almost as a concrete bunker within your church building. While we haven’t yet included a safe room in a church design, it is an option some churches are considering.

Keeping Funds and Files Safe in Your Church Building

Beyond protecting people, which is always critical, it’s important to incorporate ways to keep both money and information safe in your church design. Another type of “safe” room would be a room that holds a safe, such as the counting room where ushers or other volunteers and financial officers can securely count, store, and prepare offerings for deposit. Any financial offices should also be difficult to access from public spaces, locked, and well-protected. The same should be true for the file storage and server rooms in your church design.

In our next post, we’ll share an example of an office entrance area church design that includes multiple layers of security. Meanwhile, we continue to present additional free i3 webinars on a regular basis. Find out what other church building topics we’re talking about here and sign up today.

2020-03-10T18:41:27+00:00 March 10th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Safety, Security|

The Latest Look at Rising Church Building Costs

We’ve posted before about the adage “time is money,” especially as it relates to the construction industry. Here’s another one: “time waits for no one.” Both simply mean that the longer you wait to create a church design and construct your new church building, the more it’s going to cost.

In 2018, we laid out the rising construction costs leading up to that year. Well, it’s been two years and costs continue to rise. Here’s an update on what to expect.

Inflation and the Church Building Process

Since we last wrote about it, there has been no slowdown in rising construction costs. This inflation rate can have a significant impact on your budget and your new church building’s bottom line.

We want to draw attention to the fact that time is a critical factor. It can be a long stretch between your first conversation about needing a new church building or expansion, and the day you dedicate that new building. After all, there are many necessary steps: developing a vision, drafting an appropriate church design, getting everyone in your church on board with the idea, raising funds for the building, securing a loan for the difference between the budget and your cash on hand, obtaining the various permits necessary, carrying out the construction project itself, then finishing it in style, addressing everything from carpeting and furniture to the landscaping. It’s very common for the whole process to take two to three years. The costs at the start of the planning will certainly be lower than the costs at the end of construction.

Inflation and new challenges

According to The Turner Cost Index, construction costs in America increased 4.82% in 2019 and over the last four-year period inflation has averaged around 5% per year.  Of course, the actual numbers in your community will be affected by the pace of construction in your part of the country, but nevertheless we are seeing increases in construction costs everywhere.

In 2019, we experienced a new challenge that contributes to these rising costs: a trade war involving tariffs. Electronics and light fixtures imported from China make up a very high percentage of controls and lighting fixtures used in construction today. The tariffs on Chinese goods increased the price of these items 20 – 30% overnight!

More concerning than tariffs is the construction workforce.  As baby boomers reach retirement age, much of the skilled labor work force is leaving. It’s not being replaced at the same rate. According to a labor study by the business research group Conference Board, since 1995 the number of men aged 16 to 24 in blue collar jobs has dropped by 10%. 

Accompanying this drop is also a slowdown in labor productivity.  Less work getting done in the same amount of time will contribute to rising construction labor costs.

What Does This Mean?

Construction inflation can be substantial, but other factors are playing into the inflation, which will increase the rate in coming years. We’ve said it before, and it’s truer now more than ever. If you’re having conversations in your church, or even just among church leaders, about how your church building is hampering your growth or not meeting your ministry needs, don’t delay. Building a church will take plenty of time, even if you don’t procrastinate, and some elements of the process—like inflation—will always be outside of your control.

Start planning now. Reach out to have a conversation with us and get the process started. The road ahead can take longer than you might anticipate, and construction inflation means that it could also be more costly then you planned.

2020-03-03T20:54:20+00:00 March 3rd, 2020|Budgeting, Church Building, Church Design|

Putting It All Together: Church Safety Example for Children’s Areas of Your Church Building

We’ve focused on various ways to protect sensitive parts within a church design, especially children’s areas. For example, we’ve talked about interior hardening and modern safety technology, their applications ranging from doors to glass. In this post, we will show how these various elements, along with other safety precautions, can be incorporated to create multiple layers of safety within one church building.

Church Safety for the Nursery Area

We’ve labeled the nursery area with a 1 on this church design. In this space, there is an initial layer of security with a pair of doors leading into the nursery check-in area. That wall and opening is almost all glass—glass doors, glass windows—but all the glass is covered with a ballistic film. The doors also have an emergency lock-down feature, so if there’s any kind of threat, somebody inside this nursery check-in area can hit a button and the doors will immediately close and lock.

Inside this check-in area is a volunteer, providing another layer of human security. Each of the four classrooms has a classroom door, with a check-in counter and another door located in the check-in area, with another volunteer present. This means there are four to five layers of security in an area that looks quite friendly and feels open because there’s a lot of transparency. There’s not a sense of being closed off, but still there is a significant level of security.

Church Design for Security in the Preschool and Elementary Area

In the preschool and elementary area, labeled 2 in this church design, there are even  more layers of security. Initially, there’s the check-in area with a volunteer—that’s layer number one. As in the nursery area, there is a similar set of glass doors and windows with ballistic film that is layer number two. Down the corridor is the elementary worship area, with lockable doors that create a third layer. There are volunteers and staff in the worship area, which is layer four. Finally, each classroom off the central worship area (“Garage”) has a lockable door and is staffed with a volunteer. This means a total of five to six layers of security for these children when they’re in those interior classrooms, which is extremely reassuring.

Keeping Children Safe and Also Happy in Your Church Building

Keep in mind that all these layers of church safety are built into a children’s area that is themed for kids. The church building still looks fun. Kids have no idea about the many levels of security that have been built into this church design. Parents, however, can rest assured that their children are as safe as they can be while they are in your church building. Your security team will also be more confident in assuring families that your church leaders are taking all possible precautions to protect those who worship and learn within your church building.

To learn more about the latest in innovative and secure church design, sign up today for our forthcoming free i3 webinars. Learn more and register here.

2020-02-26T15:14:04+00:00 February 25th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Safety, Security|

How Door Hardening Helps Improve Church Safety in Your Church Building

There are many areas of a church design that can include hardening to increase safety. The outside of your church building can be “hardened” with the use of attractive and functional bollards to control access to your exterior building perimeter. We’ve discussed the ways interior windows and walls can also be hardened to resist intrusion, especially when applied to protect children’s areas of your church building. Another church safety element to consider is door hardening.

Church Safety through Door Hardening

Most residential doors have a hollow core and easily penetrated. In contrast, there are commercial solid-core wood door options that make good sense for a church building where safety is a priority. Metal doors are another option for improving church safety. In addition to the doors themselves, the door frames can be upgraded from wood to metal to present a stronger defense in case of intrusion.

Modern doors, especially in children’s areas of your church building, can also be installed with an emergency lockdown feature, like those found in many public schools. These allow someone to push a button and have the doors immediately and automatically close and lock. Especially when there is also ballistic film installed over any windows in the doors or walls, humans will find it very difficult to get into one of these well-protected rooms in your church building.

Integrating Lockdown Hardware and Shades into Your Church Design

Another option for securing doors that lead to sensitive areas of your church building, like church offices and children’s classrooms, involves lockdown hardware that is manually engaged. As you can see in these photos, lockdown hardware at the bottom of a door can slide into a specially reinforced section of the floor, keeping the door from opening. There are also sleeves that can be installed over a door closer, preventing a door from being opened until the sleeve is removed.

In addition to door hardware, window shades can prove an effective deterrent to intruders. Simply release the Velcro, let the window shade close, turn off the lights, and it will now appear from outside that the room is dark, empty, and unused, since nothing can be seen inside the room.

Putting Together the Church Safety Pieces

There are clearly a number of interior elements to the church safety picture. In our next post, we will put them all together to give you a good sense of how best to keep the interior children’s areas of your church building safe. Each of these elements was discussed in detail, with illustrations, in one of our free i3 webinars. To keep apprised of the latest ideas, insights, and innovations in church safety and church design, we encourage you to sign up for our upcoming church building webinars.

2020-02-18T20:08:18+00:00 February 18th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Safety, Security|

Church Safety Tips for Integrating Interior Hardening into Your Church Design

Continuing our series on church safety and security, we recently addressed ways to harden the outside of a church building. Now we shift indoors to highlight various ways you can integrate “interior hardening” into your church design to keep people, especially children, safe.

Understanding How Ballistic Film Can Increase Church Safety

One of the more interesting safety products available these days is ballistic film. This material is not bulletproof but puncture resistant. The film is applied to windows and anchored in the window frame. It will resist bigger items that might be used to break glass, such as a block, brick, rock or even an ax.

How is this possible? When a rock is thrown at a window or a glass door that has ballistic film, the glass will shatter. However, the ballistic film holds the shattered glass in place, so it doesn’t fall out. Instead, the glass stays stuck to the film, which is anchored in the window frame. This delays potential intruders for many minutes, and even longer. You can find examples of ballistic film being tested on the Internet, and we have recently helped some churches install it on interior windows in their church buildings.

Should You Consider Bulletproof Windows for Your Church Design?

Some church leaders may want to consider upgrading from ballistic film to acrylic bulletproof windows. This option is available but is rarely implemented.

Bulletproof windows aren’t frequently used for interior church safety due to their expense, and because in order for them to be effective, you must “harden” the rest of the area you’re protecting; whether it’s your children’s spaces, church offices, or other sensitive areas of your church building. Otherwise, an intruder can simply move to the side of your bulletproof window and kick a hole in the drywall next to it, and then gain entrance to that area of your church building.

Hardening Walls in Your Church Design

There is, of course, a solution to this problem. To harden an entire area of your church building, you can invest in wall hardening as well. Wall hardening can involve selecting stronger building materials like concrete block, or installing plywood behind drywall, or even steel plates or similar types of bulletproof barriers behind drywall. This prevents anyone from quickly penetrating an interior wall and gaining access to a secured space.

There are many elements of your church design that must be considered in maximizing church safety. In the next installment of our church safety series, we will discuss how you can lock down doors in sensitive areas of your church building. Meanwhile, see what church design ideas we’re discussing now by checking out our free upcoming i3 webinars.

2020-02-11T19:52:46+00:00 February 11th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Safety, Security|