Bigbox1In a recent post, we presented some important considerations for church leaders when choosing a pre-existing building for a new multisite facility. Now, let’s look specifically at what’s involved when converting one of the most popular types of existing commercial structures into a church building: the big box store.

Lots of Workable Space

Of course, as the inside picture of this vacant building shows, one of the big advantages to a big box structure is a minimum of necessary demolition. Unlike an office building, there aren’t lots of meeting room walls and offices that have to be torn down. This is one reason why it’s often less expensive to remodel an existing commercial building to fit your church’s ministry needs. Such a remodeling job can also take less time, so you will be worshiping in your new church building sooner than if you start from scratch.

BigBox2With this open floorplan, sightlines are generally pretty good, basic wiring is already installed, and drainage and other site issues have already been addressed. In addition, all the utilities are in place and there’s plenty of parking. Even the loading docks can be used to your advantage, whether you’re bringing in a new stage set or storing dinner tables and extra chairs.

High Community Visibility for Your Church Building

Another advantage to big box structures is that people are already used to traveling to that part of town. They’re familiar with the area and they’ve shopped there before. This gives you a distinct advantage over a church that’s in an unfamiliar part of town or hidden away from community gathering places.

Using a big box church building also creates opportunities for outreach to the community during the week, especially when there are other stores still active in the complex. You can set up new “ministries in the marketplace” that are specifically designed to catch the attention of shoppers. Whether we’re talking after-school programs where kids can hang out while parents shop, or groups for moms with young children, the prospects are only limited by your imagination.

Some Limitations to Big Box Structures

As with every existing structure that you might consider as a new church building, there are possible disadvantages to consider. Sometimes big box stores are located away from surrounding neighborhoods, thus limiting your pool of potential guests. You are also limited to the existing space and the building’s footprint, which can make future expansion more difficult. It will be important to make sure you’re purchasing a building that’s big enough to handle an increase in attendance—and that you work with a church building and renovation contractor like The McKnight Group. One that understands ministry needs and can design an interior that provides maximum flexibility and the capacity for future expansion within the church building itself.

These helpful considerations came from one of our recent free i3 webinars. If you want to learn more about what it takes for a successful church design and building project, be sure you sign up for all our webinar presentations.