Not All Church Design-Build Teams are the Same

PuzzleIn our last post, we talked about the benefits of keeping your church building budget in check by using a “design-build” rather than a “design-build-bid” construction approach. In this post, we’ll focus on the reasons why not all design-build companies are the same, and what that can mean for the successful completion of your church building project.

Do Church Architects and Building Contractors Really Work Together?

The first determination you should make is whether the design-build team you’re considering for your church building project really knows how to work together. We’ve seen a lot of church architects temporarily teaming up with general construction companies that don’t work on churches, or church building organizations that reach out to any old architect to do the church design work for them.

Just creating a working relationship doesn’t necessarily make for a good team. If your design-build architect and builder don’t have experience working together, there could be a lot of miscommunication, dropped balls, or mixed messages as the project struggles along. What you need instead is a team that knows how the other side functions—one that has worked together on a multitude of projects, where communication flows like a well-oiled machine.

Does Your Design-Build Team Really Understand Churches?

Communication is not the only consideration. There is much about churches that make them unique especially when it comes to the church building process. If you pick a team that doesn’t specialize in church work, but perhaps, for example, understands schools, they’ll likely get the children’s classrooms right, but they won’t have a clue about what you really need in your worship space.

Instead, you need a design-build team that has completed many church building projects too. One that is willing to be flexible and responsive to your specific ministry needs. The McKnight Group’s mission statement focus is: Enabling ministries with buildings that work. We understand that to grow your church it must reach the people God has called you to reach, the way he has called you to reach them.  That vision God has placed in your mind for how you minister to people means that you’re going to have some very specific needs for your church building that the average architect simply could never understand.

The McKnight Group Design-Build Team

Selecting the right design-build team doesn’t have to be daunting. The McKnight Group has a proven process that can give you the help you need. Usually we begin with a meeting, either with your leadership team and/or your building committee. At this initial consultation, we learn about your vision and the kind of facilities you need.  We begin to discuss the process of finding a solution to your facility need, whether it’s a new structure, or the remodeling of an existing site. We also share information with you on how we work.

Based on this initial meeting, there are a number of ways we can go—many of which we’ve outlined in our free i3 webinars. We can proceed with the full-blown design and build process or a simpler feasibility study. Perhaps you need a professional evaluation of a potential piece of land, or an assessment of the pros and cons for possibilities A and B. Or maybe you want some help envisioning what a church remodeling project might look like. Regardless of which direction you take, by using a well-established design-build team like The McKnight Group, that thoroughly understands churches and their needs, your mission and vision will be achieved and you will indeed end up with ministry buildings that work.

2016-08-24T15:07:37+00:00 August 24th, 2016|Advice, Church Building, Church Design, Uncategorized|

5 Common Stewardship Capital Campaign Mistakes

Erasing mistakeIf you’ve ever embarked on a major church project, you’ve no doubt learned that it’s almost impossible to go it alone. Whether your plans involve a multi-site ministry or starting a capital campaign for a new church design, you’re bound to need professional help along the way. That’s why we’re happy to help connect you with other seasoned professionals who can help make your new project a success.

One such group is Generis, a team of Christian strategists who know a lot about supporting churches with successful stewardship fundraising efforts. Recently, they shared some of the common mistakes they see churches make when it comes to capital campaigns. Below are five of the worst mistakes that you should try to avoid.

Mistake #1: Not Thinking Broadly Enough About Stewardship

The people at Generis think in big-picture terms, and we agree with them. Churches focus a lot of time and energy on teaching their communities about the need for funds. But if you stop there, you’re missing an even bigger opportunity.

Why not expand the conversation and talk not just about fundraising, but also about discipleship? Everyone needs to understand the importance of good stewardship in every area of their personal and professional lives. Teaching church members to think as lifelong givers will not only support your church in your current capital campaign, but also in your church’s fundraising efforts going forward.

Mistake #2: Not Understanding Today’s Giving Climate

Have you thought at all about the impact of Kickstarter and GoFundMe on your church’s capital campaign? If you haven’t, you need to.

Gone are the days when church was one of the primary places where people contributed money. Nowadays, there are a lot more opportunities out there to give, and every church has to think about how to stand out in a crowd of meaningful projects.

Mistake #3: Not Building Momentum for Your Capital Campaign

Just because you’ve been thinking about your new church design project for months, you can’t assume that others are going to jump on board right away. You need to allow time to share information about the project and captivate your audience. By helping them understand the church’s needs, you gain buy-in from all your church members.

Mistake #4: Not Understanding Church Giving Patterns

For capital campaign specialists, it’s not about “location, location, location” like it is for real estate agents. Instead, it’s about “data, data, data.” You and your fundraising team have got to take the time to analyze the giving trends in your congregation. Otherwise you can’t reliably understand what it will realistically take to raise a certain amount of money. If you don’t understand the giving capacity of your community, you’re setting yourselves up for failure.

Mistake #5: Not Sharing Enough Information About Your New Church Design

It’s critically important to share ample information about your church building or renovation project before you ask people to commit to a capital campaign. If people don’t understand the reasons why you need a new building, or the project doesn’t make sense to them, they will be unwilling to commit.

Learn More Mistakes to Avoid —And Best Practices to Remember

These five mistakes are the biggest ones and just a portion of what Generis shared in their recent article on capital campaigns. There were six more stewardship mistakes to avoid. To read about them, click here. And if you want to discover other useful information for your new church design or renovation project, visit our website. There, you can sign up for our free i3 webinars.

2016-06-15T11:57:13+00:00 June 15th, 2016|Advice, Church Design, Financing, Stewardship, Uncategorized|

Eight Principles for a Successful Church Building Project: A Focus on Finances

finances-church-building-tipsWe continue our series on the eight principles of a successful church building project, developed by our vice president of architecture, Philip Tipton. The goal of this series is to help you understand the different aspects of church architecture and other planning that goes into a church building project. In this part, we’ll focus on the financial aspects as they relate to the eight principles.

Get Leadership Communicating

Committees are, in general, an integral part of church leadership. The larger the church, the more likely that there will be multiple committees responsible for different aspects of church life and vision. That’s fine—as long as these committees talk with each other. However, if your church building committee doesn’t have a clear understanding of the church’s vision or isn’t talking with the leaders that outline your vision, and neither of those groups is running ideas by the finance committee, you’re likely going to end up with problems.

You see, any church architecture design or building project is only as good as the communication amongst its leadership. This is why we always recommend that you have a member of the finance team sit on the building committee. That way you can be certain that the dreams you dream are built on a solid financial footing.

Count the Cost

It’s important to be realistic about what a project will cost. Philip talks about how potential clients still call him wanting to find a way to build a new church building for $30-$50 per square foot. However, that’s just not possible in today’s economy. $100 – $140 per square foot is much more realistic, and if you’re looking to build in urban areas with a strong union influence, the cost could be in the range of $150 – $180 per square foot. This is where Luke 14:28 rings true: You have to count the cost before you build, and you need a realistic understanding of your church’s financial potential before you even commission that first church architecture design.

Keep Your Financial Options Open

There are some creative financing options available today, not just a capital campaign. So it’s a very good idea not to box yourselves—and your church—into a corner when it comes to financing. Philip once worked with a church that publicly committed to proceeding with the building project once they had commitments for 50% of the funds (the other 50% would be financed). The problem was that they got stuck at 47%, and refused to consider financing that other 3%. It took them an additional six months to raise the missing commitments, during which time inflation rose by more than 3%, so they really lost money by sticking to their original fundraising goal.

Consider Building that Dream Church in Phases

Another solid financial option is to complete your new church building or renovation project in phases. While it’s great to have a big dream of the perfect church, the reality is that few churches can afford to build all they dream of, and installation of top-notch equipment or features—all at once. Many times it’s can work out to figure how to create a functional building in phase one and put off the installation of those top-notch features, items not integral with the function of the facility, until a later date. When your church’s vision is being lived out through your new building, your church will grow, bringing in the financial potential that you need to fund the next stages of your church design and building project.

We are happy to help churches think through some of these financial elements. One area The McKnight Group specializes in, is master planning. We can help you devise a plan that will logically prioritize what needs to be accomplished right away, versus what can be completed in future phases. So give us a call today with your questions. You can also sign up for our free informational i3 webinars to learn more.

2015-07-01T14:19:14+00:00 July 1st, 2015|Advice, Financing, Uncategorized|

Starting at the Floor Level with Church Interior Design

church-interior-design-flooring-optionsWhen you’re thinking about welcoming people into your church, you probably don’t start with the floors. It’s probably a bigger-picture vision of what you want your church building spaces to feel like, and what you want to catch visitors’ attention as they walk into your lobby or worship space. But flooring is—perhaps naturally—the best groundwork for good church interior design. When you have that strong foundation, everything else naturally flows. Therefore, let’s talk more about the importance of floor coverings and some things you need to consider when creating an integrated and welcoming church interior design.

Working From the Outside In

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Therefore your lobby is the most important place to begin discussing your flooring options. Naturally, because it’s the entry space, your lobby floor is subject to the punishing effects of local weather brought inside. It could be snow, rain and salt—or the fading effects of sun and sand if you live in a desert area. We recommend creating a “walk-off” area inside the door, and installing commercial grade walk-off carpet tile in this area. Walk-off carpet eliminates the need for rugs, which can be a tripping hazard. And it performs better than a rug when it comes to cleaning the bottom of everyone’s shoes as they walk through the area. Individual tiles can also be easily replaced if they get too worn or stained.

Adding Pattern and Color to Your Lobby

The depth of this walk-off area will be determined by the amount of wet weather in your area. As you transition in to the lobby, you will want to add additional colors and/or a new pattern to your lobby floor. You can do this by selecting a patterned carpet tile or installing a broadloom carpet with an interesting pattern. In making your decision, you will also want to consider whether you’re going to include a café— in that case you will likely want to consider a hard flooring surface rather than carpet.

Protecting Your Carpeting Investment

This is another reason why we always recommend going with commercial grade flooring for all areas of your church interior design. Residential flooring is not designed to withstand the volume of traffic your church building gets every Sunday, not to mention all your weekday activities and residential materials don’t meet code requirements. We also strongly suggest that, in the name of good stewardship, you consider warranties, which for carpet are often defined as “limited lifetime.” Make sure that the warranty covers edge ravel, de-lamination (the connection between the front and back of your carpet), zippering (when a snagged carpet thread just pulls up, taking the entire weave with it), excessive wear and stain resistance.

Thinking Outside the Carpet Roll for Your Church Interior Design

Of course, carpet isn’t your only option when it comes to flooring. Vinyl flooring has come a long way since your grandmother’s kitchen floor. Rather than sheet vinyl, a newer vinyl product available is referred to as LVT (luxury vinyl tile) and can look like wood or stone, is easily cleaned, and doesn’t need to be stripped and re-waxed. This makes it ideal in cafés, church school classrooms, and other areas that are more likely to encounter spills. Still other options are porcelain tile and stained concrete. Just remember that no flooring is truly maintenance-free. For example, while porcelain tile will wear forever, the grout will stain. This is why it’s important to ask questions about what’s required to maintain each type of flooring, so that you can make choices that fit your church’s maintenance patterns as well as your vision.

To learn more about church interior design, and to see great examples of each type of flooring discussed here, sign up today for our free i3 webinar series.

2015-06-03T17:50:35+00:00 June 3rd, 2015|Advice, Church Design, Interior Design, Uncategorized|

Church Interior Design: Children’s Spaces

church-interior-design-childrens-spacesThere are a lot of details to consider when your church is planning a new building or renovation project. You’ve got lots of decisions to make, including everything from the number of parking spaces to gas versus electric appliances.

Some of those decisions will have more of an impact on growing your church than others, so it’s particularly important to get those right.

In this post, for example, we want to focus on your children’s spaces—not the floor plan, but the interior design. A bright, cheery, welcoming children’s area is a clear message to parents that their children matter, which can make all the difference in bringing new families into your church community.

Quality Materials

It’s certainly true that you get what you pay for. As a result, we tend to preach quality in both materials and furnishings for church buildings, and especially for children’s spaces, which will be subject to more wear and tear than the rest of your church.

This is why we believe it’s important to be a good steward and invest in quality, commercial-grade furnishings that will last longer and not look shabby, even after years of use.

Color, Color Everywhere

Any church interior design that focuses on children should make the space look like it’s been designed just for them. Color is a relatively inexpensive and very clear way to show off children’s spaces.

There are many ways you can add color to children’s areas. The most obvious is paint on the walls, but don’t forget to also think about your ceilings, since children are more likely to look up and notice what’s above their heads. Even the floors can be brightly colored, and if you choose a flooring that’s multi-colored, you can repaint the walls with a new theme and still have them match the floor.

Plan Easy Replacements into Your Church Interior Design

Since it’s pretty much guaranteed that messes will happen at some point, you might want to consider vinyl or carpet tiles, as individual tiles can be easily replaced without having to tear up the entire floor. These tiles also allow you to form interesting patterns on the floor, and spills won’t absorb into the carpet as easily.

Investing Even More in Children’s Spaces

If you’ve got a bit more money in your budget, you can purchase, and even custom-design, vinyl wall graphics that add accents to your painted walls, or even cover entire walls with bright, exciting images.

For higher-traffic spaces, or craft and snack areas that might be subject to spills, look into some of the newer vinyl options. There are vinyl sheets that look like wood, water, and stone, which can complement the images on your walls. And don’t forget to complete your theme with props and signs.

Contact Us!

If you want to learn more about church interior design that’s focused on children’s spaces, visit our website today and sign up for our free i3 webinars, which talk in great detail about this, with lots of colorful examples. Also, if you have specific questions, you can always give us a call at 800-625-6448.

2015-05-21T07:42:50+00:00 May 21st, 2015|Advice, Children's Spaces, Church Design, Interior Design, Uncategorized|

How to Prioritize Your Church Interior Design and Maintain Your Vision

church-design-prioritizationIn our previous blog post, Jennifer Snider, our interior designer, outlined the five steps you should take in order to successfully integrate your church’s interior design into the rest of your remodeling or new church construction project.

In this post, Jennifer details how to prioritize your church interior design projects to make certain that you address the most important areas first. With a master plan in place (which we discussed last time), you can be certain that all areas will seamlessly integrate with each other, regardless of the order in which you do the work.

Begin with the Floor of Your Lobby

While many of us might think that the highest priority should be the worship space, Jennifer recommends starting with the first impression space, the lobby. Yes, the worship space is important, but there are other places visitors see first, and if they are turned off by what they see there, they might not even make it as far as the worship space. Therefore, the first place to begin with is your lobby.

Think Quality and Consistency

It’s important to ask questions like, “What do we want our space to feel like?” Jennifer suggests you visit other buildings in your area and pay attention to what you like.

Also, use commercial-grade materials and furniture, because your interior church design will experience a lot of traffic over the years. And make sure that the colors and finishes you choose will look good in the various spaces of your building, large and small.

You don’t necessarily want to spend money on the most expensive options, but quality does equate to stewardship. The best stewardship involves making sure all of the products you’re considering are of a high enough quality that they’re going to last.

Prioritizing Your Church Interior Design Projects

As we mentioned earlier, refinishing your lobby is a top priority, because you want to make a good first impression on those visitors who you’re trying to reach for Christ. For the same reason, you should also give special focus to the children’s areas, as you want them to send a message to visiting parents that their children are a priority.

Jennifer also recommends putting restrooms high on the priority list; think about how many times you’ve judged the quality of a business or building by the state of its restrooms!

Finally, of course, we recommend that you focus on the worship space, since this is where adults will spend much of their time in your new or remodeled church building. It should reflect your style of worship and be a tool in drawing people to Christ.

Approach Church Interior Design like a Newcomer

There are also those little things that, because you’ve been worshipping in your church for a while, you may not even notice anymore. To better detect them, Jennifer recommends that you try to walk through your church building with the eyes of a visitor in order to see what catches your attention and really needs to be addressed.

Is there a corner that has collected junk, a corridor with badly scraped paint, or a coat rack that has held the same umbrellas for six months? These smaller details can be moved higher up your priority list simply because fixing them can cost little or nothing and yet make your entire church building look appreciably better.

For more on making the best decisions for your church building or remodeling project, visit our website and sign up today for our free i3 webinar series. Interior design is just one of the subjects covered in this year’s webinar series. There’s much more valuable information waiting for you to view!

2015-05-06T08:22:34+00:00 May 6th, 2015|Advice, Interior Design, Uncategorized|

5 Steps to Successfully Planning Your Church Interior Design Project

planning-interior-church-design-stepsIn the design world, we call the interior paint, and flooring, “finishes.” While this means that these items put the “finishing touch” on a successful church building project, it’s important to realize that you should not leave the planning of these finishes to the end of construction.

The church interior design plays a key role in your outreach program, so it’s important to think about the finishes at the beginning of the planning process, rather than waiting until construction is finished. Jennifer Snider, The McKnight Group’s interior designer, recommends five steps you should follow to successfully integrate your church interior design into the rest of your remodeling or new church construction project.

Define Your Vision

You may think that your church’s vision isn’t directly related to the finishes of your building, but it should be the first thing you consider when you embark on an interior design project.

It’s important to consider, first and foremost, who you’re trying to reach for Christ. This vision should drive all of your decisions, throughout the entire process.

Without having a clear understanding of the purpose of your project, the results will be inward-focused rather than being focused on the overall vision of your church.

Assemble Your Church Interior Design Team

For putting together a church interior design team, Jennifer recommends finding three to five people who each have a clear understanding of your vision. As you assemble your team, you’ll want to consider who has been able to understand, and express, that vision. If you have a larger church, this may be a staff-driven team. If not, then you will likely be asking people to volunteer their time.

Create a Master Plan

Don’t be afraid to have your church interior design team think big at this stage in the process. You need to determine your scope and your budget up front. Some of that may evolve as you go along, but you’ll want a place to start so you can plan accordingly.

Your budget may require that you prioritize and work on the design in phases, but having a master plan will help you keep the end goal in sight. It will also help ensure that everything is coordinated, so in the end you’ll have a completed project that flows from one area to another harmoniously.

Work with Professionals

If you’re doing a new building project, then you’re obviously going to need an architect to put those plans together for you. If you’re remodeling an existing space, without moving walls, then that may or may not require an architect.

But you still want to consider consulting professionals when choosing flooring and other such materials. This will help ensure that you are making the right decisions in the beginning and prevent you from making mistakes that could be costly in the future.

Based on their own experiences with other church interior design projects they have successfully completed, professionals may also give you insights and ideas that you may not have even considered.

Select Interior Finishes

Finally we come to what many of you probably expected to be step one: actually selecting the finishes.

Jennifer suggests you may want to plan site visits to places you’ve seen that have a feel similar to what you’re trying to convey. You might also want to take pictures that express the ideas of the various members of your team. Then you can share what each team member has collected and use those as a starting point to envision how you want your church spaces to come together.

These five helpful steps come from one of this year’s free i3 webinars. If you find them to be helpful—and we believe you will—visit our website and sign up today for other webinars in our series.

2015-04-23T07:47:05+00:00 April 23rd, 2015|Advice, Uncategorized|

Important Questions to Ask First as You Begin Your Church Building Design

church-design-questionsWe’ve all seen it happen, whether it’s at a family gathering or a church potluck: Some young person — or one who’s young at heart — literally takes more than they can eat, or bites off more than they can chew. When a child does it, we are prone to laugh,  but usually with adults we’re more likely to make a lighthearted comment about their expanding waistlines.

The same is true with the commitments we make as adults.  When it’s time to take the next step in your church building design process, it’s important to make sure your church doesn’t bite off more than it can chew, or build more than it can afford. Many churches have a vision that exceeds their budget, so it’s critical for church leaders to get expert help in order to ask some of the tough questions.

Because we are experts in both ministry and construction, we know the right questions to ask at the start of the church design process. Here are some important ones:

How do we learn what we can really afford?

The answer: Complete a financial feasibility assessment. Any lending institution is going to look for certain metrics and criteria that will tell them how much you can really take on. This includes things like church size, finances, and leadership.

We at The McKnight Group understand those metrics, using them to prepare a financial feasibility assessment for clients considering a new church building design so that they can determine what they can reasonably afford.

The last thing we want is for you to end up overextending yourself on a mortgage or having to spend ministry money on a building that exceeds your needs.

How do we decide what to do first?

When it comes to your church’s vision, everyone has their own ideas about what’s most important, so prioritizing is critical. The answer to what gets done first is answered by another question: “What’s most compelling from a ministry standpoint?”

After all, if you invest in a certain type of ministry space, whether a church design from scratch or a remodel of existing facilities, you have to know that you’ll be successful in reaching new people that will in turn expand your financial reach and fulfill the next steps in your church vision.

How do we reach new people with our church building design?

This really is the key question, and it’s different for every church. If you’re going to prioritize and bring in new people who will hopefully help fund the next stages of your vision, you need to create the right kind of atmosphere, something that interests — and  meets a relevant need for — the people who you’ve yet to reach.

We’ve got a lot of great ideas on how to do this, and they’re available for free through our i3 webinar series. Visit our website today and sign up to learn more about how to bite off just the right amount each time.

2015-04-16T17:28:30+00:00 April 16th, 2015|Advice, Uncategorized|

Building Children’s Security into Your Church Design

church-design-childrens-securityAll parents want to be certain that their children will be safe when they drop them off at children’s church on Sunday morning. That’s why The McKnight Group pays special attention to security in children areas when we create a new church design or plan the remodel of an existing structure. Here are some considerations and designs we use to ensure children’s safety.

The Check-in Desk

Naturally, one of the most important features of a secure children’s area is a check-in desk. Parents want to see the faces of the people they are trusting with their children, and the staff or volunteers who are caring for those children want a clear method in place to track the children. With a check-in desk incorporated into your church design, there is one central place where children are dropped off and picked up.

A computer system can be used for check-in that commonly prints a pair of stickers, with one put on the child and the other given to the parent. Parents can walk children to the classroom, or a barrier can be put in place which only allows the children to go past the check-in desk and into the children’s wing and classrooms.

The View

When possible we recommend designing children’s areas with classrooms surrounding a “pod” which contains the check-in desk and a lot of room in front of it for parents and kids, with diaper bags in tow, to come up to the desk. Behind the desk are the doors to the classrooms—usually 4 to 6 per pod. They are easily visible from the check-in desk, so parents can watch their children walk into the right classroom.

Of course, parents also want to be able to see what’s going on inside the classrooms. We allow this in our church design in a couple of ways. First, we can install one-way glass windows so that parents can see into the classroom without their presence being disruptive to a child’s concentration on children’s church or other activities. Second, in buildings which include a sprinkler system, building code allows us to use Dutch doors, which are the doors that are cut in half across the middle, allowing people to look in and even speak with those inside, while still keeping the bottom door closed to prevent young children from getting out.

No Reason to Leave

When we draw up children’s areas in each church design, we make sure to include restrooms, changing areas, storage closets and even indoor play areas so that there’s no reason children need to leave the secure area until their parents return to claim them after the service. The one issue that sometimes arises, however, is that building codes are less concerned about children’s security and more concerned about having plenty of egress options in case of fire. When we draw up a church design, we can incorporate doors with exit devices, commonly referred to as ‘crash’ or ‘panic’ bars that will allow children out in case of emergency, but which can otherwise remain closed.

As you can see, we pay a lot of attention to many important details when we draft a church design. There’s a lot to the perfect building layout that you might not think about until you begin a church construction or renovation project. This is why we share our free i3 webinars each year—to help you learn more about what you need to know to create a church design that will meet your specific needs. So sign up for our next webinar today, and contact us directly with your specific questions.

2015-04-08T11:14:28+00:00 April 8th, 2015|Advice, Interior Design, Uncategorized|

Worship Seating in Your Church Design, Part Two: All about Chairs

church-design-seating-chairsIn Part One of this series, we discussed the three types of seating options to consider when you’re working on a church design or remodeling project. Pews are the traditional choice, but they have a number of drawbacks, including the cost of refinishing old pews and the fact that you can’t rearrange them to use your worship space for a dinner or other type of event.

Another seating option that’s very comfortable, but also very expensive and not movable, is theater seating. Theater-style seats require a sloped floor or risers, and are usually only used in a large, dedicated worship space.

By far the most popular seating choice among our clients is chair seating, which is why this second part of our two-part series provides an in-depth focus specifically on this option.

Integrate Chair Size and Style into Your Church Design

When opting for chair seating, the first thing you need to decide on is the width of your chairs. The standard chair seat is 20 inches wide, but we encourage our clients to choose a 22-inch chair because it’s more comfortable and helps people feel like they’re sitting next to each other rather than on top of one another.

Naturally, those extra two inches add up, meaning that you only get 10 chairs in a space that otherwise could hold 11. So you’ll need to carefully manage your church design concept to make sure you can fit everyone into the space!

Details matter when it comes to choosing chairs, and there are a lot of elements to consider. Do you need a book rack, or a cup holder? Do you want arms on any chairs, to help people who might need some assistance standing? Do you want to pay a slightly higher price in order to have fully upholstered backs? Those will look nicer when you enter the worship space.

Another important consideration is finish—do you want wood or metal? Wood can look nicer, but it’s more expensive, although it is a good option if you’re transitioning from pews or mixing chairs and pews in the same space.

You will also want to consider going with a heavy-duty fabric for your chairs—the patterns may not be as attractive but they will have a long life, which is important to your investment.

Dare to Compare

Sitting on those chairs is a very important part of integrating the right one into your church design. Manufacturers will typically send you a sample chair for free or for a nominal charge that can be credited toward a future purchase. Get those sample chairs and try them out in a well-used meeting or class room so that your leadership gets to try them out for an hour at a time, not just a few seconds in each chair.

Don’t just compare how each chair feels. Take a good look at how well they are put together. Does the fabric fit well? Is there any warping? Are the glides on the bottom of the chair legs strong enough to protect your flooring? Are there air holes underneath the seats that allow the foam to breathe? This will increase the life of the foam.

Also, consider asking for large swatches of each fabric you’re considering, rather than the typical one-inch squares, so you can drape them over the seats to see what each option will look like.

And don’t forget to compare warranties. The frame and structure should have a 25-year warranty, and the foam a 10-year warranty. The warranty should be in writing.

Pre-Planning and Delivery

It’s a good idea to be doing all of this early in the church design and building process. To get the fabric and finish you want, you may have to order them rather than selecting from a limited in-stock inventory. Be sure you know the lead-time of your order and where the chairs are manufactured and assembled. Some companies get parts oversees, so be aware of potential delays.

You also want to double-check whether delivery includes unloading. (It would be tough for whoever’s at church on delivery day to have a truckload of chairs suddenly arrive, only to have the truck driver say, “It’s not my responsibility to unload them!”) On the other hand, if a fee is charged for unloading, you could assemble a crew of volunteers on delivery day and save yourself that cost.

As you can tell, we’ve had the seating discussion quite a few times with our clients. If you’d like to learn more from our experience, visit our website today and sign up for our i3 webinar series. It’s free!

2015-04-01T08:17:30+00:00 April 1st, 2015|Advice, i3 Seminar Notes, Uncategorized|