New Church Building- how to begin? Step 1

Perspective sketch of masing at Covenant United Methodist Church, Albuqureque, NM
Master Plan Vision Sketch

Step 1:  Vision and Mission

The first step in any church building project is to recruit the building committee. I have earlier posts regarding the makeup of the members and how many should be on the committee so I will not repeat that here but the building committee needs to be prepared for a potentially long process and be made up of strong members ready to make decisions for the good of the church community.

Next is to solidify the Vision and Mission of the church. Sometimes these get confused or combined but they are different statements and serve different purposes.   The vision is more than a welcoming statement and less detailed than a Mission statement.  The Vision needs to inspire and set goals for the community that are truly worthy of a ministry in service to God.  The Vision should be able to be used as a filter for decisions made by the building committee on a philosophical level.  The Vision is not full of metrics but is verse that can be easily put to memory.  The following is a good example of a vision modified from a church here in Kansas City:

Aerial View from East of Maser Plan Model Covenant United Methodist Church, Albuquerque NM
Master Plan Model

“Our vision is to be a church that transforms lives in our community, a church that can be counted on during times of crisis and one where people can celebrate their joys and life’s special events. A church that is welcoming, comfortable and inspiring where the word of God is related to our everyday lives so that we can grow in our faith. A church that works together to build a better community and a better world.”

The Mission should be much more specific and include measurable goals to achieve that are broadly described in the Vision.  These measurable statements of intent should be achievable with hard work and then adjusted to a new higher goal or modified all together.  The details of the mission can have a great effect on the design of the church and should be considered carefully.  In the example below measurable tasks or events can be listed to be reviewed on a yearly basis to gauge progress towards achieving the goals of the Vision and Mission.

Transform peoples’ lives by inviting them to join in meaningful worship, education, fellowship and special activities.

Build and maintain a facility that is welcoming, flexible and sustainable, that is usable as our church and by the greater community for public events and in times of crisis or need.

Heal ourselves and our community through a strong relationship with Jesus, self and others.

Change our lives and the lives of those in our community through Christian discipleship and service.

Master plan vision for future growth at Covennat UMC
Vision for Future Sanctuary

With the Committee Vision and Mission in hand the next step typically is to hire a Capital Campaign consultant to aid the church in determining if the congregation is ready to embark on  a building project and to test the ability of the giving to support the costs of a building program.  There are many professional consultants that handle this sensitive and complex task and are well worth the fees associated with their services. This is also a potential long-term relationship as most growing churches will undergo several capital campaigns building out a master plan.

John E Freshnock- WSKF Architects Inc.


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