In our last post, we explored pre-engineered metal buildings, or PEMBs, which incorporate standardized structural components that can simplify and accelerate the building process. While not suitable for all situations, PEMBs have some very real advantages, including large clear spans, which remove the need for columns. This means that every member of your congregation would have an unobstructed view in your worship space.

Church Design Options with PEMBs

While not completely customizable, designs employing PEMB construction do offer a good range of options.  The most economical and therefore the most common PEMB shape is often a square or rectangle, but by combining the PEMB structure with convention construction, a facility can take on a more interesting shape than just a square box.  Frequently you can use the pre-engineered structure as the skeleton adding more variety in what the final church building actually looks like. Metal siding, for example, can be replaced with other materials or a higher sloping roof could be incorporated using the pre-engineered rigid frame rafter and purlins.

People also might assume that because PEMBs can be less expensive to build, they are an economical option for church buildings between 5,000 square feet and 50,000 square feet. In fact, we tend to use them for the larger churches that need bigger worship spaces. Often, for smaller churches under 5,000 square feet, the economies of scale involved with PEMBs just aren’t there.

This is why it’s important to differentiate what we do here at The McKnight Group from the approach of the standard pre-engineered metal building dealer. If you ask them for a church design, they’re going to think about how they can fit your design into what they manufacture already. It’s like all they have is a hammer, so they view everything as a nail. We start with the church’s vision, create a church design that fits that vision, then determine whether or not a PEMB can work well with the design that we have created together.

Examples of Church Buildings That Incorporate PEMBs


It’s difficult to say, “X percentage of the buildings we designed incorporated PEMBs,” because every situation is different. But to give you a sense of what we can do with PEMBs, consider the examples below from our Projects page.

With Crossview Church, some of that metal skin does show, but the building doesn’t look like a warehouse at all. Eaton Church of the Brethren is spacious and welcoming without any sense of being a pre-engineered space. And with Whitewater Crossing Christian Church, a PEMB was part of the answer to lowering the overall cost while still providing them with an amazing church facility.

Each church design has its own unique challenges and opportunities, and we understand that. When it comes to creating the perfect one for your ministry vision and budget, you can rely on the creative insight and experience of The McKnight Group to solve the particular challenges that each church community faces.

To learn more about how our experiences and insights have helped churches build and grow, sign up today for one of our i3 webinars, or contact us to begin a discussion about how we can help your church’s vision become reality.