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  Planning to Build a Church? How to Get Started

"I just don't know where to begin... " That's an honest admission, and it is also a very good place to start. Pastors often find it difficult to admit they need help since they are usually the ones in the problem-solving, advice-offering role day-in and day-out. So in order for a project to really take off, the pastor usually has to come to a point where he admits to himself that he has limitations of time, experience, and training in real estate, finance, architecture, engineering, construction, and more. By calling in experts, the pastor relieves himself of a great burden and multiplies his effectiveness to lead in the truest sense. The pastor can coach and inspire while his team of experts push down the field toward the goal.

Next, you need to work with people that you can trust. Someone once said, "Getting answers is easy; it's knowing the right questions to ask that is the hard part." Experts have the benefit of experience, (hopefully they've learned from the mistakes of others), and they should draw on that experience to keep the church out of trouble. However, an unscrupulous builder may have learned over the years a hundred ways to take advantage of church clients. Church design and construction involves complex issues and risks, so it is imperative that the church works with a design/build team it can trust.

Often the best first step is admitting that we need help... and the best kind of help is professional help from people we can trust.


Finding the right architect is a critical first step in any church building project. Look for an architect that has ample experience with the type and size of facility that you are planning. Obviously, an architect who designs only schools or shopping centers will probably not be the best choice to design your church. Find out who designed other church facilities that you admire. These facilities should be fairly new since the personnel and operation of a firm can change over time. Inquire about the experience that these churches had with their architect.

Contact the architect directly and make arrangements to meet face to face for an interview. Try to arrange to meet with the person who will be assigned to work with you through the planning, consulting and design processes. Assess your ability to communicate comfortably and effectively with the architect. You should be persuaded that the architect has your best interests at heart and is looking for a design solution that meets your needs, rather than his own. Contact as many client references as possible. Select an architect who is active in his church and faithfully serves the Lord.

Determine the level of service that you can expect from the architect. How busy is he? Can he meet your schedule? What human resources does he have available for your project? How are the fees determined? Be certain to clearly understand what services he will be providing for his fee and whether those services match the unique needs of your church.

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