Church Building

Why an Early Partnership with Church Building Professionals Makes All the Difference

Church leaders working within limited timelines and with limited resources may be tempted to “go it alone” when it comes to church design tasks or church building projects. However, to ensure that your ministry is fully understood, and your goals are fully achieved, we always recommend involving professionals as early on as possible in the process. Whether it’s The McKnight Group or another church design specialist, we truly believe that having a partner that cares about your God-given mission, stewards your resources well, and has vast church construction experience can make all the difference. Here’s why.

It’s Never Too Early to Call in Professionals

As experienced designers, architects and church construction staff who are involved in and committed to our own churches, our goal is to understand you, your ministry, and what God has called you to do on a deep and personal level. In fact, church building projects begin well before any drawings are created. Sometimes churches feel that they must have it all figured out before connecting with professionals. But we want to help you strategize your project from the beginning and work together to get you to your optimal final destination. Church design and construction is a journey, and you may not know exactly what you need right off the bat.

Decisions, Decisions

Church building projects involve many decisions, some of which may have a major impact on your congregation and its mission. Should we relocate or stay where we are? Should we choose this property or that one? Should we remodel an existing building or design a new structure? These are not decisions you need to make blindly, or alone. We can help you analyze your options to make educated decisions that align with your church’s calling. Our team is experienced in creating comparative drawings for properties or structures. We can help forecast zoning and utility needs, as well as the costs of multiple options. And we can offer advice based on the challenges and successes of other church design projects with which we’ve been involved.

Is It Feasible?

Another reason to involve a professional early in a church build or remodel is the opportunity to perform a feasibility study. Often, we recommend feasibility studies to help a church decide if it should stay in its current location or relocate. Whether you’re weighing the pros and cons of two properties or four, we can provide data, as well as design concepts, to help you make the best decision for your church right from the start.

Don’t Forget the Sprinklers

While it may seem like a miniscule detail, we use sprinkler systems as an example of why early collaboration with professional church builders and designers is so important. If you’re looking at a facility and it doesn’t have access to public water, or doesn’t already have a sprinkler system installed, it’s likely out of compliance with state and/or local zoning law. Right from the start, you’d face a significant cost that could bury a project before it gets off the ground. That’s just one really good reason to call us early!

Even if you are in the beginning stages of a church building project, don’t be afraid to reach out to our experienced professionals for help. It’s never too soon to collect information and begin to plan for the future. Another way to learn about the process and get help is through our i3 webinar series. We invite you to participate in these topical conversations and look forward to supporting your church in its next building, design, or remodel project.

2021-02-23T18:42:33+00:00 February 23rd, 2021|Church Building, Church Design|

How Do You Make Stewardship a Priority with Your Church Design?

There’s some balancing to consider with a new church design or church building remodeling project. While you want your church building to be attractive to guests and to meet the needs of worshippers, you also need to keep your project within reasonable budgeting parameters. The key to maintaining the necessary balance is understanding one of the principles of a solid church design: good stewardship.

One Example of Good Church Building Stewardship

Sometimes the easiest way to understand a principle is with a good example, so let’s begin there. If you’re working on a new church design, you’ll want to maximize the available and usable space within the walls of your new church building. But once you’ve maximized that space, you also need to make sure that every inch of that usable floor space is covered appropriately, with the best materials you can afford within your budget.

Why the best materials? Good stewardship includes the best use of resources. If you’ve ever carpeted your home, you know that there can be a wide range of costs associated with carpeting, depending on the quality and durability of the materials you choose. The same is true in a professional setting and given the large number of people walking on your church building carpets every Sunday, high-quality, professional grade carpets are worth the investment. You might decide good stewardship also means saving money, and be tempted to choose a cheaper option, but if you have to pay to replace all the carpeting every three years, have you really saved any money?

Incorporating Good Stewardship into Your Church Design

Here’s another example: your church building HVAC system. These also come in a range of options with differing cost points. If you invest up front in a more expensive and durable HVAC system, it might last you 20 or 30 years. However, if you purchase a cheaper system, it might not be as efficient, and you might find yourself having to replace it after five or six years. Add in inflation, and it could mean the cost saving now will be offset by installing several systems over 30 years.

Honoring God as an Element of Stewardship

As we’ve talked about before, your church vision will also drive the church design decisions you make. While you want to honor God with your church building, you also need to consider who you’re trying to reach for Him. What is appropriate, in terms of how fancy your church building will be? What church design is going to appeal to the guests you want to attract? You want to make a wise choice on where you spend your resources, especially when items can be expensive.  Stained glass, café’s, children’s theming, technology can be pricy features in your facility so you want to make sure they will help you connect with the people you are trying to reach and not just assume these items are what every church needs.  How can you make the most of your resources so that your church building can be the best tool for your ministries?

As you can see, making the right stewardship choices is not always simple. This is why we share updated free i3 webinars every year. These webinars give you the latest information that can guide you in making the best church design decisions for your particular situation. We encourage you to sign up today for our next i3 webinar.

2021-02-16T21:21:53+00:00 February 16th, 2021|Church Building, Church Design|

How to Make Facility Decisions in Today’s Age

Making a decision about a church building in today’s world may be the last thing any church leader wants to do. But perhaps before the lockdown, restrictions, riots, and elections, a plan to consider expanding or remodeling your church building was beginning to form, or even had come together. Yes, the last 12 months probably pushed church design ideas to the background. But now, with a hope for the end of restrictions in the next 12 months, or maybe sooner, it’s time to consider those facility needs once more. Let us help you by giving some direction on what needs to be considered in today’s age.

Now Is the Time

Why should you think about facilities with everything else going on in our country today? Well, it can be a long stretch between your first conversation about needing a church building, remodel, or expansion, and the day you dedicate that facility. 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, and then finishing it in style by addressing everything from carpeting and furniture to the landscaping.

It’s very common for this whole process to take a few years. If you wait to see where things are then, you might find yourself in a situation that will make your church’s ministry coming into the new age more difficult.

Where to Start

The first thing you should do now is reassess your facility need. If your building was outdated and you were thinking of remodeling it, that need is still real. If your facility had infrastructure issues, HVAC, window replacement, roof replacement, and alike, those will still be there for you to deal with. If you put projects like these on hold, it’s time to proceed with them again.

Oh, and if you were out of space before, you will likely still be out of space and won’t have the room to carry out your ministry. In this case, it’s a no-brainer that you should be moving forward. Of course, this decision might be more difficult for churches who have seen half their congregation go online. How do you assess what to do?

What to Compare?

One thing the pandemic lockdowns have disrupted is data for comparison. Many churches won’t want to compare their 2019 attendance numbers with their 2020 ones. Some churches’ offerings have increased, while others have decreased since the pandemic began. The point is data comparison of attendance and finances will not provide much help in making decisions for the next few years.

But can you wait two more years to start planning? Buildings are expensive these days, so you do not want to delay if you don’t have to. You also do not want to take on a major project if you don’t have to, either.

How Can Decisions Be Made Easier?

First, make sure you have unity within your leadership for the mission and vision of your church. Everyone should have a realistic view of the post-pandemic world.

Like it or not, we have had some major shifts to the world we live in. The mission shouldn’t change, but the experiences of the past year and the outlook for the future may have you adjusting your vision. Make sure your leaders are unified with these new thoughts. When you have mission and vision in place, the goals and strategies will come out of that. This is where you can identify facility needs.

Faith has always been important but will be even more so in making these decisions. It is clear that people have opinions, and in today’s world they divide us more than ever. Even with a clear vision and unity of direction, you need to be prepared for conflict no matter what path you choose, and faith will help resolve it.

Next, decide how urgent your facility needs are. Is it a long term need or an urgent one? Realize that the planning process will take time, so even long-term needs require addressing well in advance.

Following a Process Leads to Peace of Mind

Once you’ve followed this process and make a decision to move forward, you can feel at peace knowing you have acted in faith. It is not blind faith, but action made given the facts, so you know you’ve made the best decision for your church. Taking action now could provide a great leg up coming out of the pandemic to reach your local community in ways you couldn’t imagine.

2021-02-09T19:27:12+00:00 February 9th, 2021|Church Building, Church Design|

What Effect Will the Pandemic Economy Have on Church Building Costs?

2020 presented unique challenges to churches along with the rest of the country, and many of those challenges will continue into this new year. While the restrictions placed on public gatherings and safety, and their impact on churches, have been widely covered, the pandemic’s impact on the economy, specifically building costs (including church building prices) may not be as well documented. It can be hard to generalize how church building is affected because we see a wide divergence in different parts of the country in terms of restrictions, labor force and material supply. However, there some big factors that will have a definite impact.

Inflation and New Challenges

Let’s begin by looking at the construction costs in America before 2020. They increased a little less than 5% in 2019, and over the last four-year period inflation has averaged around 5% per year. As for 2020, the pandemic makes determining good comparison numbers difficult, much like the challenge most churches would have trying to compare attendance in 2019 with 2020. The national average has been reported to have regressed about ½% in 2020, but we have not actually found this to be true in our operations.

What we did see this past year was that specific products spiked at certain times. For example, in summer of 2020, wood products more than doubled in cost within a few weeks of time. The price has since receded from that level but is still much higher than before the spike. Electronic products have also been in short supply, as well as other materials that are put together in factories, as restrictions have slowed production. As 2020 wound down, steel prices had been increasing at a 4% rate each month. Now copper and other metals’ prices are climbing.

The construction workforce also remains a concern. As baby boomers reach retirement age, much of the skilled labor work force is leaving and 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%.

Inflation as the Ramification

It is very likely in the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2021 that we will see the biggest year-over-year growth in GDP and inflation of any year on record because of the simple math comparing 2021 to the lockdown economy in 2020. Another inflation factor is the continued printing of money and debt that our government takes on. This has to result in inflation, and we are just starting to see the beginning reach us now. So many factors are swirling around that it is hard to predict, but at the very least we believe construction costs will increase again this year.

What Does This Mean?

Construction inflation can be substantial, but other factors coming into play may make the rise even larger 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 to get the process started. The road ahead can take longer than you might anticipate, and construction inflation means that a church building project could also be more costly than you planned.

2021-02-02T20:16:19+00:00 February 2nd, 2021|Church Building|

Keep Your Church Building Options Open with a Flexible Attitude

Working with church leaders on church design and construction projects over more than fifty years has produced many experiences, some good stories, and some cautionary tales. Here is one of the latter, one that teaches a lesson about why it is good to “keep your options open.”

The Importance of a Good Church Building Plan and Good Flexibility

We often emphasize that a successful church building project requires good planning. This includes understanding costs and being realistic about what your church can afford. But once a plan is in place, try not to etch it in stone, as things can happen that will test the plan.

The Cautionary Tale

One of our past projects involved a large church embarking on a genuinely beautiful church design project. Part of the plan involved making a commitment to their attendees that church leaders would not move forward until they had secured 50% of the project cost in cash, and 50% committed in pledges.

Over a three-year campaign, the church raised cash up to 47%. At that point, however, they were completely tapped out. Everybody had given sacrificially, given till it hurt. They just could not seem to get that last 3%, and the project stalled.

We had a conversation with the church leaders at this point and pointed out that if they just finance the remaining 53%, the difference in the mortgage payment amount was virtually pennies. It was an exceptionally large, healthy church that easily could have handled the difference. However, church leaders felt they had to stick to their initial promise and spent another 6 months reaching their goal.

The Consequences of Not Keeping Your Church Design Options Open

Unfortunately, during those six months, construction costs inflated by about the same 3%. This meant that their plan was still off, and it took them several more months to catch up and get ahead of inflation. If they had just been willing to finance that extra 3% on a short-term, three-year loan, they could have easily just moved ahead with their church building project and saved the money that they ended up paying through inflation that hit them over that six months.

The moral of the story? Avoid painting your church building plan into a corner. Keep options open instead, especially by not making promises you might regret.

To hear other cautionary tales and positive church design and building stories, sign up for our free i3 webinars. We share lots of examples along with our ideas, insights, and innovations.

2021-01-26T20:42:13+00:00 January 26th, 2021|Church Building, Church Design|

How to Build a Realistic Cost Estimate for Your Church Building Project

If you are planning to take on a church building or church design project in 2021, one important question to ask is, “What is it going to cost?” Having a ballpark estimate of the financial requirements of a project is the first step to understanding your realistic financial potential and how current economic factors may impact decision-making.

The McKnight Group’s Philip Tipton, our VP of Architecture, with over 25 years’ church design experience, recently discussed creating an accurate financial estimate in an i3 webinar. Here are the costs you might expect when undertaking a church building or design project in 2021, as well as some of financing options he discussed.

Church Building Construction Costs for 2021

In 2020, as a general rule of thumb new church construction in the Midwest costs approximately $125 to $150 per square foot. This is for a typical modern church.  It can cost a great deal more depending upon your options or a little less if you want to be spartan with your building.  This estimation is dependent on the church building project location and includes the building alone. Additional costs to consider include site work, drawings, permits, furniture, audio, video, lighting systems, kitchen equipment, etc.

If erecting a new church building, construction costs including all new infrastructure, utilities and parking, architecture, engineering and permits will be about $200 to $250 per square foot. But purchase of land is not included in this estimate.

Be aware that remodeling projects might cost either less or more than new-build estimations, depending on the layout of the building, its materials, and the complexity of your church redesign.

COVID’s Impact on Church Construction Costs

As we enter 2021, another consideration is how the pandemic might impact the building costs and timeline. While construction is booming, both access to and the costs of materials continue to fluctuate. For example, the cost of lumber has nearly doubled in the past year. We recommend that churches have realistic expectations about how COVID could affect resource availability or inflate the prices of materials.

Financing Options for Church Building Projects

The most important advice we give to church leaders that are considering how to finance a church building project is to know their options. Churches must determine what is best for them, as well as both their short- and long-term goals. Realistic financing requirements set the project up for success before construction even begins.

A capital stewardship or fundraising campaign is one popular financing option. In the past, we have worked with many churches participating in a fundraising campaign to acquire the resources needed to undertake a church building, design or remodel project. We have also collaborated with several capital stewardship organizations that help churches plan and execute these campaigns. See our outline of the key elements of a successful stewardship campaign for more details.

Other frequently used sources of funding for church building are banks or lending institutions. We can help provide the needed materials to apply for and secure a traditional loan.

Additionally, since the 1980s, we have become familiar with various unconventional financing options, such as bond programs. Although bond sales are not common any longer, we can help our church clients navigate the details of these options.

For more information regarding costs and financial options for church building projects, and other information on church design, we invite you to participate in one or more of our i3 webinars. For 2021, we’ve thoughtfully designed these topical conversations to help you interactively learn as you prepare for the future.

2021-01-19T19:23:06+00:00 January 19th, 2021|Church Building, Church Design|

Q&A: Not Having a Clear Vision and Master Planning in a Church Building Project

One of the most beneficial aspects of participating in our i3 webinars is the ability to ask questions. We always try to cover the most relevant details of church building and church design in each webinar, but sometimes it takes a question or two from individual church leaders to address particular needs about what’s best for a specific church. 

Here are two questions we recently received.

Question #1: When there’s no clear vision, how does The McKnight Group move forward with a client and its church building project?

As we’ve elaborated in our recent blog posts on church vision, having a clear vision promotes unity and is key to a successful church building or remodeling project. Importantly, vision saves time and money, allowing for simpler decision-making in the church building and construction process.

If we encounter a client that does not have a strong vision, The McKnight Group’s team tries to act as a catalyst to help create one. We start by asking a series of questions to bring clarity to the project’s purpose and goals. These conversations also set priorities for the project, helping you determine what is most important and why.

Additionally, if you are struggling to determine a clear vision for your church design, building or remodeling project, we frequently send church leaders to our website to gain inspiration from our other clients and past projects. Over the years, we have collected a vast portfolio of church building, design and remodel projects—including new builds, renovations, additions, etc. Seeing these examples may help you see what is possible, dream about how the elements of these projects may translate to your church, and craft a vision for your church’s future.

Question #2: Can our church building project start small and build as we grow?

Absolutely! At The McKnight Group, we are strong advocates of master planning, a multi-phase church building process that breaks projects into realistic stages based on your goals and resources. A master plan serves as a roadmap. And because it is not set in stone, the master plan can flex and adjust as your church changes and grows.

The first phase of the master plan is often the most important. Its goals are based on what you can presently afford and the immediate needs of your church. Phase one serves as a momentum builder for future phases and allows church leaders to garnish excitement for and commitment to the “what could be” of future phases. It also helps you and your church see and believe what is possible.

It’s essential to remember that every master plan is different, and the master plan should be tailored to your church’s unique needs and capabilities. Whether you’re building a new facility, renting and renovating a facility, or anything in between, the master plan ensures each phase is appropriate for your church. It also can easily be adjusted as your goals and priorities evolve.

Whether you are creating a vision for your church’s building, design or remodel project or are ready to establish a master plan for future growth, asking questions and getting tailored advice is important to success. For 2021, we’ve thoughtfully designed our i3 webinar series to help you, as well as the church leaders you lead alongside, learn interactively as you prepare for the future. We invite you to participate in these topical conversations and continue to ask the questions that will help you lead your church through its next church building, church design, or church remodel project.

2021-01-12T20:57:50+00:00 January 12th, 2021|Advice, Church Building, Church Design|

Why a Church Vision is So Important

The McKnight Group speaks often about vision. We talk about it in our i3 webinars. We talk about it here on our blog. We even talk about it when church leaders reach out to us about their church buildings. We do it so frequently because we know how important a clear vision is when seeking to build your ministry on the right foundations. And we recognize that the right vision is a key foundation for any successful church building project.

What Does a Church Vision Do?

Imagine that an overcrowded sanctuary has become an issue for your church’s attendees. When sharing a church vision for ministry and your new church design plans, you’re giving those attendees hope for the future, that the overcrowding won’t last forever. When you share your vision, people also become engaged with your plan for the future, and thus more involved with your church. You can more easily bring people together around this vision for ministry.

The Impact of Not Having a Church Vision

Another reason every church should have a vision is because of what happens if you don’t. Without a shared church vision, everyone tends to think their ministry is the most important. Ministry leaders can begin to question why another ministry is getting preferential treatment or a better meeting place.

With a clear church vision and explanation of the people you want to reach for Christ, each ministry leader knows where their particular ministry fits within the overall plan. Some might not be happy about it, but they will have trouble making waves about it because everyone else is on board. Publicizing your vision can serve as a tool to help spot the people who want your church to go in a different direction. Then you can explain the reasons behind your church vision and help to bring them on board.

We also recognize that one church cannot do every ministry, so it’s possible that the process of sharing your church vision might cause some people to go elsewhere. There will always be other churches, and other ministries, and that’s okay. There’s a limit to the ministry that any one church can effectivity provide — and a church vision will clarify those limits.

The Financial Effect of a Church Building Vision

Finally, a church vision is especially important in determining the scope of any church building project. It gives you a template that helps you check what you’re spending, how big you’re making spaces in your church design, and what your priorities are for the new church building. It also makes those tough decisions easier. You might have a church design that costs $5 million if you were to build everything at once, but you can only afford $1 million. With a church vision and church design master plan, you can easily determine your highest priorities, and select which part of your new church building to begin first.

There’s much to consider at every stage of a church building project. This is why we share our free i3 webinars every year. Our latest lineup is available here and you can register for upcoming webinars here.

2021-01-05T16:29:48+00:00 January 5th, 2021|Church Building, Church Design, Vision|

Three Tips for Church Leaders to Bring a Church Building Vision to Life

Having a compelling vision drives the success of a church building or remodeling project, but success requires more than simply having vision and writing it down.  

A vision statement is not designed to collect dust on a shelf. As a church leader, you’ve already demonstrated that you have what it takes to rally an organization around a bold initiative. It’s what makes someone a leader.

So, when it comes time for a church building project, it’s important that you consistently communicate the purpose of the project, the timeline in which the vision must be sustained, and that you also remind church attendees of that vision in a captivating way. All of this will lead to project unity. Here are three tips to make it happen.

Tip 1: Communicate a Clear and Compelling Church Vision

A new church building, and even some church remodeling projects, can take more than a year to complete. However, you have a limited amount of time to get everyone on board with your church vision for ministry. In order to prevent any misunderstandings, it’s important to have a clear and concise church vision statement. We always suggest that the vision statement is written down and shared frequently.

Think about it this way: church leaders get excited about new projects. It’s possible to then talk about them for days, sharing all the details and eventually, possibly, overwhelming people or turning them away. A compelling church vision that can be communicated in a single sentence or paragraph is helpful to give clarity to everyone. It also helps keep everyone on the same page.

Tip 2: Build Unity Quickly in Your Church Community

Unity is critical to the success of any church building project. Getting and keeping everyone on the same page helps your church community keep moving forward. A church building is expensive these days, so it’s rare that everybody gets everything they want the first time around. Instead of arguing over whose ministry is most important and what most needs to happen, church leaders need to help staff, volunteers, and attendees understand that you’re working with a long-range plan.

With a long-range church vision and phased church building plan, everyone understands the vision, the big picture, from the beginning. Then priorities become much clearer. People can see how the first step is needed to support their ministry, which might be in the second or third phase. They understand where their specific ministry plays a role in the overall church vision.

Tip 3: Support Shared Sacrifice During the Church Building Process

As we noted above, any church building project will take a while to reach completion, especially if you’re implementing it in phases. Another key tip to successful implementation of your church vision is clearly describing the end result. When church leaders make the vision compelling, attendees understand what’s going to happen. They know where you’re going. This allows people to put up with disruption for a while longer. They will sacrifice in the present because they know where the church is headed. When they’re inspired by what lies ahead, they’ll put up with the challenges that come with any church building project. They feel part of something bigger than themselves.

As you know, we share tips like this throughout the year, using our free i3 webinars to communicate ideas, insights, and innovations for the church building process. Our 2021 lineup is available here and you can register for the first three upcoming webinars here.

2020-12-22T15:49:51+00:00 December 22nd, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Vision|

The McKnight Group Announces Construction Start | Logan, OH

Press Release – Hocking Hills United Methodist Church

The McKnight Group has started work at Hocking Hills United Methodist Church in Logan, Ohio.  Construction of a 18,963 sf new one story church facility to include 450-seat multi-ministry worship center, platform, foyer, drive-under exterior canopy, bookstore area, café, kitchen, offices, classrooms, 45-70 seat large group space, restrooms, and miscellaneous storage and mechanical spaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owner: Hocking Hills United Methodist Church, Logan, 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

2020-12-22T13:57:22+00:00 December 21st, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Press Release|