QuestionsIn each of our free i3 webinars, we always take questions from our attendees. Often, we are asked about church building sites and the space needed for a growing community, as well as what areas of a church design should not be skimped on. In this week’s post, we thought we’d pull the most common questions (and our best answers) and present them in one place.

What size site do we need for our church building?

This is an excellent question – one we’re frequently asked – and it’s crucial when looking for a site for your church building. A good rule of thumb is that you need one acre of land for every 100 people you expect to worship in your new building. The formula takes into consideration that you need a building footprint not only for your worship space, but also for your support ministry (things like classrooms, kitchens, and nurseries) and of course, parking.

How big should our worship center be?

When you think in terms of worship center size, you need to come up with a square footage estimate. Generally speaking, you need 10 square feet for each person in the congregation.  So if you want to seat 400 people, you’ll need a worship center of roughly 4,000 square feet.

This estimate, however, does not include space for your platform. It’s size is determined by how your church worships. Are you a liturgical church?  Do you have a choir?  How big is your choir? Do you have a worship band?  Decide how many people will need to be on your platform and apply the same calculation – 10 square feet for each person.

Add the space calculations for the platform and congregation together, and you’ll have a good idea on how much space your worship center will require.

What options do I have if the site isn’t “big enough?”

Sometimes, there just isn’t a site large enough to fit the needs of your church’s vision. Even if there’s less than one acre for each 100 members of your church, you still have options. The most obvious is having services at multiple times to serve more people without increasing the building size and the acreage requirement.

What about adding a basement?

People think basements can save money however most of the time that is not the case. Much of the cost depends on where you’re located in the country and the soil conditions. But, beyond that, church buildings with multiple stories are typically required to put in an elevator in addition to multiple sets of stairs because of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  By law, you’re not allowed to give able-bodied people access to a space that is denied to people who cannot navigate the stairs.  An elevator is a significant investment, especially when you want to stretch your church building budget as far as possible.

It’s almost always preferable and cost effective to build your building’s slab on grade and on one level. That way, no matter what entrance someone comes in, they’re able to access the whole building. It also makes the church building very handicap friendly and easy to navigate.

What areas of the building can we not afford to skimp on?

The answer to this question is typically very relative to the person asking it. The best answer will have a lot to do with your vision and your style.  For most churches, you don’t want to skimp on the worship space. While you don’t have to be overly concerned about what the walls or ceiling look like (with the right light package, all of that goes away), you do want to have great platform lighting.  You probably also want to invest in multimedia, to overcome some people’s short attention spans.

Another area to avoid skimping on is finishes. Avoid residential finishes – doors, hardware, fixtures and the like that are not designed for commercial use will end up costing you more in the long run. They tend to look bad and perform worse. For example, residential doors hardware will get a lot of use, and over a short amount of time will wear out handles, key ways, etc.  Hollow core doors can easily be broken and don’t do much in stopping sound transference.

Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers.

We always appreciate your questions and encourage you to reach out to us with any others you may have. We’re happy to answer them, and some might even use them to help pick the topics for our 2017 lineup of i3 webinars.

Speaking of which: If you haven’t signed up yet for our free i3 webinars, you should. Simply visit our website for details!