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Taking a Step-by-Step Approach in Finding Your Church Vision

We have been posting a series of articles to help church leaders develop a clear vision for ministry in their community, leading to ways that vision can be reflected in a church building. Our prior post discussed finding ministries that are needed in your community. However, sometimes what’s needed isn’t obvious. At other times, these needs can appear so big that it’s hard to know where to start. In this post, we’ll address how you can refine your church vision in such cases.

Expanding Your Thinking about Your Church Vision

Sometimes it can be hard to see where God is leading you. In part, that’s because sometimes it can be hard to think outside the box—or, in this case, the church building. It’s not always easy to think about things in new ways. This is when it’s best to take things one step at a time.

At other times, you might think you have a clear idea about a church vision for ministry, but you don’t have anyone available to take it on. Your staff has their hands full already, and there’s no one with the time and passion to take it on. The good news is that, when the time is right, God will provide.

Oftentimes, that provision looks like a volunteer coming to you with a passion for something. It might be a passion for kids, or a passion for music, and those passions will fit in well with your church vision. As leaders, it’s then your responsibility to welcome those people, encourage them, build them up, and release them to start building on that vision.

Taking a Step-by-Step Approach

Over time, as that volunteer’s ministry grows, you will likely find that you need more space, resources, and volunteers, in order to help them. Fortunately, growth does take time. That means, as church leaders, you can take a step-by-step approach to meeting those ministry needs. Ask questions like, “How can we grow, and what can we do, for this season or this year?”

It’s important for church leaders not to get a mile ahead of the people they’re leading. If you get too far ahead with your church vision, others can’t see what you see. They can’t visualize the path you’re on. And when they can’t see, they won’t follow. So, it’s okay to take your time. As a leader, you need to have your full church vision in mind, but your role is to show others the next step they have to take at each moment.

Keeping Your Steps Aligned with Your Church Building

Of course, part of keeping that entire vision in mind applies to your church building. Keep asking how your current church building is supporting your church vision and noticing where it does not. Then, you’ll find yourself asking questions about where you are spending your money, and how your next church building can better reflect your vision. Are you going to spend money in achieving ministry space to reach a vision that’s all about you? Because you don’t want a facility that just fits the needs of the people you already have. You want a church building that’s going to bring more people to Christ.

We take a step-by-step approach with many of our free i3 webinars, because we know it’s easier for church leaders to follow our vision for their church building on a step-by-step basis. Learn more about our vision for churches like yours by signing up today for our upcoming i3 webinars.

2020-05-26T18:26:42+00:00 May 26th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Vision|

Translating Your Church Vision into Specific Ministries

In some of our recent posts, we’ve been taking a close look at how to develop a church vision for ministry and why it matters. Here we’ll shift our emphasis from how you develop a church vision to understanding how the specific ministries in your church building flow from this vision.

Ministries = Strategies

In our view at The McKnight Group, we see ministries as similar to strategies in the business world. Ministries are the specific actions taken to reach people based on your church vision, like the activities you offer in your church building and the choices you make about where to focus your time, energy, and resources to bring people closer to God.

Why Every Church Building Can’t Hold the Same Ministries

As you know, there are a lot of churches in just about every community in America today. If every church in each town had exactly the same ministries, a lot of diverse needs would not be met. For example, families with young children have different ministry needs than couples whose children have left the nest and are striking out on their own.

So, once you’ve decided on a church vision, you need to take a look at what other churches in your community are already doing. If you decide to minister to families with young children, is the need in the community being met by an existing good weekday childcare programs at other churches nearby? If so, you don’t want to start one that would put your church in competition with others in the area. Instead, you might choose to focus instead on a MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) program.

Examples of Specific Ministries that Can Fulfill Your Church Vision

Once you know which people you want to reach, begin to brainstorm the types of ministries that will meet their needs. Working parents might welcome an after-school program, but empty-nesters will have no interest in it. Single parents will have different needs from couples, and younger adults will have different interests than older ones.

Your church building is another important element to discerning the specific ministries that you should choose in fulfilling your church vision. Do you have meeting space to help address the social needs of your community? Perhaps your church vision involves addressing issues like homelessness or drug addiction. If God’s leading you to think more broadly about how your church building can become an effective community resource, new ministries like these can help bring new people into your church building, and potentially into your worship as well.

Every church’s situation is unique, but church building projects usually encounter similar challenges. This is why we began sharing our free i3 webinars about how to develop a church vision, and to construct or renovate a church building to help fulfill that vision. To learn more, sign up for our upcoming i3 webinars today.

 

2020-05-19T20:14:05+00:00 May 19th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Vision|

Three Questions for Defining a Clear Vision for Your Church Building

Sometimes, even for church leaders, it can be difficult to find the right words. One such time is when you need to clearly and concisely define a church vision for ministry in your community. If you ever find yourself struggling to better define and articulate your church’s vision, here are some questions that–once answered–will help you do just that.

Who Are You Trying to Reach with Your Church Vision?

The best place to start with defining a clear church vision is with the question of who you are trying to reach. The answer will be different for each church. Some will say they want to reach everybody. That is the great commission however in our society that can prove exceedingly difficult because different people have different ways to connect with God and different experiences in a church.

Here are some possible answers to this question. You could be trying to reach Generation Y or Millennials. You could be focusing on young singles, or families with young children. You might want to reach unchurched people. You could be focused on seekers, or on those who don’t even realize they need God in their lives. Once you define what types of people you want to draw into your church building, you’re ready for the next question.

How Do You Reach Them with Your Church Design?

Next, it’s time to explore how to reach them. Take, for example, families with young children – to reach them, you need to know their needs. You could speak with parents with young children who are already in your church and find out (1) what drew them to your church building and (2) what they need from your church.

One possible need for these parents might include a weekday preschool program. If there isn’t another preschool program nearby, starting one at your church might draw in other families with young children. If that’s too much of a stretch for your budget, you might be flexible by starting with a Mother’s Day Out ministry that provides a safe place for children to play, and the chance for their mothers to attend bible study. Also consider fathers, and perhaps whether Father-Son activities could bring more families into your church.

What Church Building and Program Changes Do You Need to Make This Happen?

Once you have a clear church vision for who you’re trying to reach, and you know what they need and are looking for, then you can begin to assess how your church building and programs can work together to meet those needs. For example, if you’ve got an older church building that has some excess school rooms left over from half a century ago, might you plan some remodeling and set up a preschool in that building?

Of course, in newer church buildings, there may not be space for such a plan. In that case, you might look for other ways that your church building and property can support your church vision. Perhaps you can install a basketball court or baseball diamond to attract fathers and sons for weekend games. Maybe it’s time to expand a small part of your church building to add an indoor play area for preschool children, near an existing room that their mothers can use for bible study.

As you can see, answering questions like these can be very helpful in focusing your attention to define a better church vision. We’ve discovered the answers to a lot of questions over fifty years of building churches. To hear what else we’ve learned, sign up today for one of our upcoming free i3 webinars.

2020-05-12T18:36:05+00:00 May 12th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Vision|

How Will Social Distancing Standards Make My Church Look?

The talk of easing social distancing standards has begun, although the timing and specifics are still to be determined. As a church leader, you will probably find the guidelines on how to reopen your church building to be confusing. Some state standards might be specific, others’ vague. How do you figure out what is safe and practical for your church?

Potential Scenarios

Here are some possibilities you might be considering: having your greeters wear masks and greet with gloves on, having hand sanitizing stations set up around your building, placing people in seats and later dismissing them in an orderly fashion in order to keep safe distance. These are all worthwhile considerations.

When it comes to seating, you are probably going to remove rows of chairs or block off rows of pews or theater seats to create distance between attendees. The real question is how many people is it safe to let into your church building and worship space?

We know from the Federal guidelines issued during different stages of the COVID-19 crisis that gatherings will be limited to certain numbers of occupants. Many churches have already prepared for this by adding more worship times to limit crowds at each one. But just how much space is needed to properly socially distance members and guests during worship? We have looked at the math – here are a few church design scenarios to consider.

Let’s Do the Math

Picture a circle around each person in your church. We’ll use some grade school geometry and the formula for calculating the size (area) of that circle. Here’s a link to the formula to help refresh your math class memory from those days.

Assuming the current virus safety standard requiring a 6-foot separation between people remains, the radius of each circle (the distance from the circle’s center to its edge) would need to be 3 feet so that everyone would remain 6 feet apart without overlapping. Using the area formula for a circle, each person would require 28.27 square feet to remain physically distanced from others. Except, there would still be all kinds of wasted space between everyone’s circles, like the spaces between coins laid out on a table. It’s space you can’t really get back.

More realistically, and more simply, everybody would just be on a 6′ grid, which would be exactly 36 sf/person, plus 10-20% for aisle space, to maintain at least 6′ when entering/exiting. So, in the end, more like 40-45 sf/person. This church design diagram shows what that might look like.

Of course, this model uses center-to-center distancing, which really doesn’t provide 6’ of distance between individuals. If two people are seated 6′ apart, center-to-center, then their shoulders would only be about 4′ apart. So, to maintain 6′ CLEAR, an 8′ grid would be needed, amounting to 64 square feet per person plus aisle space, so approximately 70-75 sf/ person.

Finally, family units need to be taken into consideration, and this helps the space needed. People who live in the same home and drove to church together can sit together, and do not have to maintain distance from each other. So, you could have clusters of chairs together bringing the area requirements back closer to the 40 – 45 square feet per person. Here’s a church design layout of a worship center with both family and individual spaces.

Practical Examples

If your Worship Center/Sanctuary holds 500 people on a normal Sunday, then it could hold 120 – 125 people using the 40 – 45 sf/person metric. Using the 70 – 75 sf/person model you would only be able to seat 65 – 70. If guidelines for reopening after the virus peaks allow for assemblies of 100, which seems likely, you could make either scenario work.

Another option: Nothing is preventing you from having different types of sections in your church building. For example, one section could be a family section where families sit together but distanced from other families, Another could be the 6’ social distance section and yet another, the “I’m not taking any chances” section using the 75 sf/person model.

One last thing to consider, what if your building has multiple venues? Can a separate crowd be put in each? Unfortunately, this is a question for government regulators to answer, but if it’s allowed, the same metrics above should work.

Let Us Help

For those churches we have worked with in the past, we most likely have your plans on file and can develop a layout and dimensions plan that would be the most efficient for you. These could be customized for every room. 

If we haven’t worked with your church, we have some floor taping diagrams that can help you plan for typical 400-450 seat worship centers. Contact us for details.

2020-05-05T18:17:06+00:00 May 5th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design|

Connecting Your Church Building with Your Vision for Ministry

Whether you’re consciously aware of it or not, your church vision for ministry in your community influences the choices you make about what you do for worship on Sunday and how you use your church building to support what you envision. This is why every church needs a good, concrete, and up-to-date vision.

This is the definition we use for church vision: a clear, shared, and compelling picture of the preferred future into which God is calling your congregation. While God seems to always be calling us forward, what vision is, or isn’t, is not the same for everyone.

Your Church Vision is Not by Committee

Every church has the same mission, to lead people into a saving relationship with Christ. However, each church will do that differently, and each church building will support that mission in different ways. A church vision needs to address the culture and demographics of the community and those who attend the church. (This is one place where a mismatched or outdated church building can definitely hinder the fulfillment of your church vision.)

It also has to mesh with the spiritual gifts of the church leadership. This is why you should not borrow another church’s vision for ministry. The vision needs to meet the needs of the folks where your church building is located. Ultimately, a church vision comes through prayer, not handing out a survey to the congregation. It is God-given, not wrestled out during committee meetings as a compromise between multiple human agendas.

Focus on Methods, Not Message, and Include Your Church Building

Pastor and author, Rick Warren says that we should never confuse the methods with the message. The message must never change, but the methods must change with each new generation. No vision is eternal. This is why church leaders must tie theirs to a clear understanding of what needs to change in their programs, outreach, and church building. Only then will the church speak with a unified vision.

The shut down and stay in place orders of COVID 19 clearly illustrate just how important the need for change can be. Most churches were forced to change within a week or two. Now many churches have ways of reaching people that they didn’t think they could just a month or two ago. 

Understanding the Church Vision Life Cycle

So, if the methods must change for the message to be effective, it is important to understand the life cycle of every church vision. What happens when you achieve your church vision? We might think the church doesn’t die, but some churches do.

When a church reaches their vision, people stop striving to go above and beyond. They can think they’ve reached the mountaintop and they become complacent. That’s when a focus on comfort and the status quo starts to creep in. Once a vision is reached, over time, the energy for that vision fades away.

The good news is that God then gives a new vision, a new direction, to someone in the church leadership. It’s important to recognize that this will happen and to be ready for it, and be open to His direction, even including major changes to a church building.

With that new vision comes a new energy, which helps everyone move forward. It is that energy that we wish to support with our free i3 webinars, where we share the information you need to develop the best church vision for your community and to remodel or construct the best church building to support that vision.

2020-04-28T19:37:24+00:00 April 28th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Vision|

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|

The McKnight Group Announces Construction Completion | Centerville, Ohio

PRESS RELEASE – Fearless Church

A former local car dealership in Centerville, Ohio has become the new Fearless Church, when what was originally known as the Far Hills Church chose The McKnight Group to remodel this facility into a new worship space. The building consists of 37,600 sf. A new front entry canopy was added to the building.  The interior has twelve classrooms, multiple restrooms, mechanical and green rooms, a large foyer and a 725-seat sanctuary.  A warming kitchen and pantry along with a new office were included.  The upper level of the facility was renovated to include an elevator, new stairs, children and youth worship space and two additional classrooms and a breakout room.

Owner: Fearless Church, Centerville, 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

2020-03-26T17:42:16+00:00 March 26th, 2020|Church Building, Church Design, Press Release, Remodeling|

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|