Thinking of a Church Building Project? Ask These 3 Key Questions First
Church building projects often grow out of a need for more space, or a desire to adapt existing space to better suit a church’s ministry goals. Leaders will often call Aspen Group with pressing questions—questions that relate to tactical aspects of adding on space, such as how much square footage to build, or how many seats to add in the sanctuary to accommodate growth.
The “how much” question is a common one because it addresses tangible parameters you can identify. Although this may feel like the natural starting point for a conversation for a church building project, there’s a better approach—and it starts with asking better questions.
Before Beginning the Church Building Process, Ask These Three Key Questions
Better Questions Lead to Better Buildings
When your church first engages in internal discussions about possible ministry facility expansion, your first conversations should not be about facility design, construction methods, or other related tactical concerns. Instead, we’ve found that the best church construction projects are those where the church has taken the time to turn inward and explore three key questions:
1. Who Are You?
What is your unique church DNA—the thing that makes your church your church? In an article and companion video, Pastor Kevin Miller describes the process his former church underwent to discover their unique characteristics.
One way to uncover your DNA is to ask, what is the thing people say they come to your church for primarily? In some churches, it’s the fellowship and friendliness of the congregation that attracts people. People like the fellowship so much, they tell others to come.
In "Before You Build: 3 Key Questions Every Church Must Ask," we offer some tips on how to discern your church's unique DNA.
2. What is Your Context?
Understanding the significance of a church’s context—its location—is every bit as important, if not more so, then the built space itself.
Every church needs to determine the context in which it is located and the spiritual needs of the congregation. What worked at Richmond Hill UMC in Georgia wouldn’t be the right solution for a church in Chicago, Indianapolis, or Savannah. These cities would demand a very different design ethos.
So have a look. Start gazing outside with new eyes and no preconceived notions about who is there and what they are like. You can do this through data-driven statistical analysis, walking around at the mall, or some variation of both. There are incredible tools to help you identify everything there is to know about your local area.
3. What is God Specifically Calling You To Do?
Calling is the sweet spot of ministry that comes from practical due diligence and prayerful seeking. This is the action part of your ministry that connects your DNA and context in a unique and powerful way. It answers key questions that churches often fail to ask:
- What is our acceptable seeker/saved ratio? That is, how many churched people to unchurched people is appropriate given our calling?
- How do we define success in the ministry God has given us?
By understanding who you are, where you’ve been uniquely placed to serve, and what your unique calling is as a church, you’ll be much better equipped to know what type of ministry space you need to build. You’ll also be better prepared to select a church building partner who can help you create space for ministry impact that’s aligned with your church’s unique gifts, your local mission field, and the vital mission God has entrusted to you.
About Pat Kase
Pat Kase, Senior Project Developer at Aspen Group, has applied his 20 years direct experience in both design and construction firms, working to ensure a smooth design, build, and furnish process for Aspen’s projects in the Southeast states. Pat, his wife, and five children, live on the Port Royal Sound in South Carolina.