Monthly Archives: March 2018

Having the Right Church Design Vision to Move Beyond the Status Quo

As members of The McKnight Group’s leadership team travel around the country, we find some churches lack a clear and compelling vision. We want to help change that as we believe having a cohesive vision for one’s ministry is instrumental not only for successful outreach but also as the foundation for an integrated, effective church design. Now more than ever, church leaders who are considering a new church building need to begin with a compelling vision.

Church Design: It’s Not About “Me”

Many churches today end up focusing on what current church leaders and members like. Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, speaks to this when he says “it’s all about me” has become the anthem of the dying church. In order to survive, says Rainer, American churches must reach into communities through outwardly focused ministries.

This can be tough for church members to hear. People get comfortable with what they like in a church. They’ve often “shopped around” for exactly that reason, and they like the status quo. When you’re in your comfort zone, you don’t want things to change. You don’t want it to be hard work. You don’t want to be uncomfortable. This is most frequently why churches stop focusing on a vision.

Supporting the Capacity for Change

However, Christianity is not about being comfortable, especially when that leads to churches getting smaller and smaller. History can provide real examples of how preachers spurred growth in the church by challenging people to change. Scripture talks about what doesn’t grow is pruned and trimmed, and the wastes are discarded, or thrown into the fire and burned.

Our country is splintering into smaller, often sharply defined, segments. We need to understand that what used to work in reaching people for Christ will not work as well today. Rather than focusing on those smaller segments, that look “just like us,” we meet today’s needs by reaching out into the community, as Rainer said.

Creating Unity with an Outwardly Focused Vision

We have seen churches grow and be successful by expanding their thinking, one step at a time. Look beyond your church building to discover the needs in your community. Your vision is also a key to unlock a church building that works. When you have a clear, concise and compelling vision, it lets both guests and members know where you’re going. It charts the course.

Your vision also helps people feel part of something greater than themselves, rather than retaining that smaller and smaller viewpoint. They feel like they are doing more than they could do individually. A good church design unifies people, giving them something to rally around. We hear a lot of stories about how people in churches sometimes nitpick and complain about the little things. But when churches shift their focus to a broader, unifying vision, a lot of those complaints simply disappear.

Take the Next Step

Are you ready to take a good strong look at your church vision? Is it time to focus on a church design that will grow your church for the future? In our next post, we will provide the three questions that will help you determine your church vision.

Meanwhile, we suggest you sign up for our free i3 webinar series, so you can hear more about what we learn as we help leaders create church buildings that support their particular vision and ministry. Just visit our home page, scroll to the bottom, and register for webinars that catch your interest.

2018-03-27T15:26:06+00:00 March 27th, 2018|Church Building, Church Design, Vision|

Church Maintenance Needs During Spring

Most of the time, church leaders associate spring with Easter and all the special activities that come with celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. As church building experts, however, we know spring also brings the need for church maintenance.

With the snow melting and leaves budding, it’s easy to forget that every church property needs attention year-round. Therefore, we want to remind you about various maintenance items to assist you in taking good care of your church and surrounding property.

Begin with Church Building and Roof Maintenance

We’ve already posted an article with suggestions for regular maintenance of your building and roof. Given the serious damage that water intrusion can cause to a church building, we suggest you begin by reviewing the facts and checklists found in that earlier post before moving on to the information below.

Yard Maintenance

Once winter is past, you will often find it has left damage behind. As spring brings new growth, plants and landscaping will need your attention—and the nicer weather can make this church maintenance feel like a pleasure. Here is a list of yard items that might need your attention:

  • Clean and trim flower beds. Watch for bulbs emerging and place new ones where bare spots become obvious. Once perennial plants have started to sprout new leaves, remove plants that did not survive the winter. Plant new annuals as needed.
  • Trim trees and bushes. Trimming encourages new growth, so don’t do this until the danger of frost has passed.
  • Clean benches and other outdoor seating areas and remove any trash. Also, now is a good time to re-varnish your wooden benches.
  • Check any watering systems for leaks and make sure all sprinklers and drip systems are fully operational.
  • Run a complete safety check on all children’s playground equipment.
  • Add mulch as needed.
  • Begin your weed-spraying regimen.

Parking Lot Maintenance

Parking lots take a lot of abuse during the winter months. Here are some ways to restore your parking lots and preserve them from further deterioration:

  • Survey paved parking lots and fill in any potholes, cracks or depressions more than 1/4 inch deep. Remove debris such as rocks, gravel, mud or sand. Note where debris is coming from and, when possible, use landscaping material to block further intrusions.
  • Rake gravel parking lots, if any, and re-level them. Add additional gravel as needed to keep a firm base.
  • Check tire stops for deterioration, which can create rubble and tripping hazards. Replace deteriorating tire stops and repaint all tire stops in a contrasting color. Make sure to anchor all stops with fully inserted steel reinforcing rods. Keep at least three feet between tire stops.
  • Inspect curbing and repair any pitted, crumbling or settling portions. Repaint curbing around building entrances with a contrasting color to avoid tripping.
  • Repaint handicap signs on pavement and curb cutouts to ensure handicap access points are obvious. Check for any damage in handicap parking signs.
  • Clear parking lot drains and check that grates are firmly and safely installed.

General Church Maintenance

There are many smaller church building items that will need your attention as well. Here is a general church maintenance checklist:

  • Service HVAC systems for spring and summer use. This includes changing furnace filters, checking water lines, lubing fan bearings and moving parts, resetting thermostats and replacing batteries (if you didn’t do that in the fall).
  • Oil door hinges and any automatic opening/closing devices.
  • Check pew braces and supports and tighten or replace as needed.
  • Replace smoke detector batteries if this was not done in the fall.
  • Check for any carpeting snags or other tripping hazards.
  • Clean all indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures and replace burned-out bulbs.

Find Out More

Your church building, and property is a big investment. Proper care will extend its life and allow you to focus on your church vision rather than addressing emergencies.

If you have any questions about maintaining your church building, contact us today. Also, you can learn more about church design and building by visiting our home page and registering for our free i3 webinars.

2018-03-26T14:59:33+00:00 March 20th, 2018|Church Building, Church Maintenance|

Two More Church Building Trends: Security and Green Church Design

Over the past several weeks we have shared some of the interesting current trends in church design and construction from a recent i3 webinar.

The webinar covered many more trends (which is why we always suggest signing up for our webinar series), but there are still two we want to share before concluding this series: One is a common trend that impacts all areas of a church building; the other is commonly requested but seldom included in completed church buildings—for reasons that we will explain.

Keeping Your Church Building Secure

The first trend is a desire to integrate more security features into today’s church designs. This has become increasingly common and reflects the unfortunate realities in America today. Church leaders want to do all they can to protect young and old, guests and members, as they worship and learn.

The highest priority usually involves children’s areas. The chance that you have a parent in a custody battle come try and take a child they don’t have custody over is the most common risk a church will face.  Check-in counters are common, along with hard barriers and one-way glass in classroom windows so parents and staff can see what is happening in any room.

We are also now installing areas of protection, similar to those used in public buildings, though on a smaller scale. This includes volunteers at check-in desks and lock-down doors behind the check-in area. Even classroom doors can be designed with security in mind, as another layer of defense.

Other areas of church buildings are receiving security upgrades. We are installing more cameras, for example, along with a central control room for monitoring, usually by dedicated staff during the week and by volunteers on weekends. Cameras can be a deterrent for someone who sees them, however a camera mainly shows you what happened more so than keeping someone out.

Office areas are getting upgraded with emergency exits, and we are even beginning to install safe rooms in some churches. Safe rooms are hardened enclosures inside a church building where people can lock themselves inside during an emergency until help can arrive. In addition, some church designs are now including medical rooms, placed close to both public spaces and an exterior door for easy access to an ambulance.

Requesting Green Church Design Options

The other trend we’re seeing is more church leaders requesting green design options for their church building. Sometimes this is driven by a desire for energy efficiency, other times it’s due to environmental sensitivity. We receive requests most frequently for upgrades in heating and cooling systems, and insulation. Sometimes church leaders are also interested in geothermal HVAC systems or efficient solar power lighting.

The issue with each of these options is that they require a significant up-front investment. While increases in energy efficiency for factories or office buildings may pay that off in five or ten years, it would take 15 to 20 years for a church to get paid back because the hours of operation are much different. Churches usually find that their budget just won’t allow for that initial investment on top of the primary expenses involved with purchasing new property, constructing a new church building, and relocating from their previous location.

Think of it this way: When you’re planning a church building from scratch and have the option of either installing geothermal heat or having an extra 200 seats in the auditorium, the extra seats usually win out. As a result, while green design solutions may be frequently requested, they’re not commonly implemented in the final church design.

There are many products that are environmentally friendly, that are affordable, and that are used every day in church buildings. The most common are siding, flooring, and even some light fixtures and HVAC controls.

Learning More: A Trend That Never Goes Out of Style

We hope this series of church building trends has been helpful. Our goal with these posts, and with our free i3 webinars, is to provide valuable information for your own church renovation and construction projects.

We encourage you to register today for our upcoming free webinars—just visit our home page to sign up. And don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-625-6448 with any questions you may have.

2018-03-13T16:37:33+00:00 March 13th, 2018|Church Building, Church Design|

What Is Third Place Church Design?

In recent posts we’ve shared a variety of church building trends that are pretty straightforward and easily understood. Multi-use, remodeling and technology integration are a few of the church design trends church leaders find easy to communicate to members. In this post, we’re looking at a trend that’s name is a little less clear, but still one that many churches are looking to embrace: third place design.

What is “Third Place” Design?

The “third place” concept first arose in conversations about community building. The idea is that people need a third place to gather, beyond the first (home) and second (work or school) places where we spend most of our time. In recent years, church leaders have recognized that the church building can serve as this kind of a community gathering space. They realize that providing a gathering place is a natural way to get people into a church building and a great catalyst for inserting church into the culture.

A word of caution before we talk about specifics: This trend can require a large investment in terms of staff, facilities, and upkeep. Even large churches which take on these projects sometimes do not break even. Instead, they trust that the benefits in bringing people into their church building are worth the investment in the community. This can be a big commitment and therefore should be considered carefully and thoroughly before you commit.

Many Types of Third Place Church Building Options

Churches are investing in all sorts of third place features beyond the common ones we’ll focus on in a moment. Some churches target families with young children through indoor and outdoor play lands, full-service restaurants and birthday parties. Others target youth and young adults with rock climbing, skateboard parks, and athletic fields. Some target active adults with recreational facilities and gyms with weight rooms, cardio, and other kinds of fitness centers. Others reach out to the community with medical and family wellness centers, including exam rooms with community nurses on staff. Some churches reach out to people of all ages with walking paths and bookstores.

Third Place Church Design Key 1: Community Spaces

In addition to these varied ways, there are two approaches that are so common that we think of them as key elements of this trend. The first is community spaces.

Once upon a time, the foyer of a church building was simply the place to shed your coat and pick up a worship flyer. Those foyers were quite small, about one-third of the square footage of the worship space it serviced.

Today, that gathering space or foyer is much larger, ranging from half the size of the worship space to the same size as the auditorium. The reason for this is twofold. The first is to give your church community a comfortable, open place to greet guests and have conversations. The second is to have a space large enough to hold third place events that are open to the entire community.

Third Place Church Design Key 2: Cafés

Going along with the gathering space, cafés are very common in a church building today. They are intentional relationship areas, even if your church design isn’t fully intended to be a third place. If you want people in your church building on Sundays, some kind of café can be a very good draw. Some are full-service coffee bars, including name-brand coffee chains. These can be expensive and difficult to staff, so again, the investment in a full-service café is a big decision.

Other times, churches both small and large decide instead to integrate serving counters for free brewed coffee into their church design. These are tables or areas where free coffee pods and machines are set out for anyone to help themselves.

The bottom line with third place church design is the same as with any other trend: you must decide which trends will work for your church’s vision. To learn more about what we’re seeing in church design today, be sure to sign up for our free i3 webinar series.

2018-03-06T10:43:40+00:00 March 6th, 2018|Church Building, Church Design|