Hopefully, the impact of difficult life events like recessions, inflation, and pandemics will be at a minimum in the future, but it’s unlikely that they will disappear. What’s important is that when these events occur, we at least learn from them. Here are some crucial lessons we’ve observed that can guide church leaders to create thriving church spaces, no matter what and if the future obstacle.
Plan Creatively and Constantly
One key attribute we’ve observed about churches that thrived in recent challenging times was that they were prepared to act on opportunities. Church leaders that constantly planned, and did so with an open mind, were able to quickly adapt to the difficult situations.
Rather than holding on to traditional approaches in church design, many church leaders instead embraced creative options. They were open to ideas like remodeling existing buildings, using smaller locations or spaces, or implementing multi-site strategies. Creative thinking can maximize the use of existing, less costly, resources and enable your church to adapt to changing circumstances rapidly.
Remodel An Existing Building
For example, existing commercial space often becomes available for purchase or lease during difficult financial times. Instead of constructing a new church building, consider purchasing an existing building that can be remodeled into a suitable church building. This approach offers several advantages, including cost-effectiveness, faster implementation, and the potential for a unique church design. We’ve helped many churches successfully transform old schools, car dealerships, movie theaters, and shopping centers into functional places of worship.
Don’t Wait for Prices to Come Down
Another important lesson is to not wait. While it may be tempting to delay a church building project in the hope of seeing lower costs in the future, it’s essential to recognize that construction prices won’t decrease much from where they are, if at all. The McKnight Group is in its 54th year of business and we have seen construction prices decline only once during that time. Waiting can also hinder the growth and momentum of a thriving church. Doing so could easily be more costly than saving a few dollars when and if interest rates or prices decrease.
Evaluate Current Ministries and Spaces
It’s also worth it to consider modifying an existing church design to accommodate your church’s needs. Not all ministries remain relevant over time, and church leaders shouldn’t be afraid of reviewing them regularly. If a particular ministry is no longer effective or aligned with the church’s vision, consider repurposing the space for ministries that are more impactful. This can sometimes be accomplished with little or no expense.
If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that change is constant and often unpredictable. Don’t get caught up in the belief that if it worked in the past, it would work in the future. As American theological scholar, Jaroslav Pelikan, eloquently stated, “Tradition is the living faith of the dead. But traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” Churches should honor their traditions while remaining open to new ways of ministering and reaching their communities.
Finally, take care of your existing church building. The best church leaders accept the responsibility to steward the resources and spaces entrusted to them effectively.
And be sure to attend our free i3 webinars. They provide in-depth insights into church design and building, covering many important topics. Sign up here!