Church architect, Philip Tipton, is an integral part of The McKnight Group team. He is our vice president of architecture, having received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Cincinnati. Philip is a member of the American Institute of Architects and holds a National Council of Architectural Registration Board certificate, as well as current registrations in numerous states.
Philip joined the McKnight Group in 1995. His primary responsibilities include client relationships, schematic design, and architectural staff management. He is an active member of the Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.
Recently in one of our I3 webinars, Philip outlined his eight principles of a successful church building project, honed from his many years of experience helping churches. We have summarized those principles here, and in future posts will provide some more of Philip’s insight on church architecture.
Gather Appropriate Leadership for Your Church Building Project
The first principle is the need for a building team that understands the vision of your church. Construction experience is a plus, but it’s actually less important than putting together a committee that understands your church’s needs and how this project is going to achieve them.
Be Realistic About Your Finances
You need to be in the ballpark, financially, when estimating the costs of your project. Common current constructions costs range from $100 – $140 per square foot for the building alone. There are a number of reasons this number can vary, and we’ll tell you about those variables in a future post. For now, take a good look at your church’s financial situation and ask yourselves if you can afford your new building based upon its design specifications.
Call in the Professionals
Experience counts. You want to select a church design specialist who understands ministry and understands you. Church architecture is a specific niche in the industry, so you don’t want a company that specializes in, say, building hospitals to construct your church. They won’t understand your priorities, because they’re used to thinking in terms of medicine dispensaries and beds, not worship centers and children’s art stations.
Understand That Your Building Is a Functional Tool
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “The person who is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.” Your ministry will be shaped by your building, so it’s critical that the design of your church architecture reflects the needs and vision of that ministry. How do you convert your vision into architecture? We’ll be talking more about that later.
Be Wise Stewards
Stewardship is critical when it comes to church architecture and building design. This means investing in quality, especially for such elements as flooring and carpets, so that your church maintains its appeal to visitors long after the mortgage has been paid off. We’ll talk more in a future blog about “life cycle costing” and other concepts that can help you make wise choices.
Examine Your Budget and What You’re Paying For
Money is always a tricky subject, and church leadership has to be realistic about what can be afforded. For example, not all price quotes mean the same thing. You need to dig deep into the numbers, asking questions like, “What level of service are we getting for this cost?” In a future post, we’ll talk about what important services might—and might not—be included in budget proposals.
Maintain Christian Integrity
Your new church building isn’t just a tool for evangelism when it’s finished. There will be lots of people working on your construction project, and they are your captive audience as they work. This means you always need to remain Christian and treat them with respect, even when problems arise—which they will!
If You Build It, They Will Come—Once!
“Once” is the critical word here. You see, everyone in the neighborhood will be curious about your new building, and visiting on Sunday morning is the best way for them to satisfy their curiosity.
If you want them to come back, you need to be enthusiastic, not exhausted, on opening day. This is really not the end of your church construction project, but the beginning of your next phase in ministry. When we wrap up this series, we’ll talk about some of the important ways to prepare for opening day.
Meanwhile, feel free to keep learning more about church building projects. Simply visit our website and sign up for our informative i3 webinars—they’re free!