David McKnight, President


The McKnight Group has designed and built churches for more than 40 years. During this time, we have walked alongside churches during everything – from casting vision and rallying the church body to building the dream.

Good decision-making is key to any successful project – but it can be difficult to choose the right path if you have little or no experience with large-scale projects like church building. This week, I’d like to talk about a few of the mistakes I’ve see church leaders make, and how you can avoid them. Here are five smart ways to keep your building project on track.

Understand your financial resources and realities

We’ve all heard stories about churches that took on too much debt and couldn’t pay the bills once the project was complete. This is the obvious bad choice. I’ve also seen the opposite: to avoid borrowing too much money, church leaders have made promises to the congregation to not spend over a certain limit, or to delay construction until so much money is in the bank. And that kind of fear can prevent a building program from ever starting. Which leads me to…

Avoid making promises over issues you can’t control

There are so many factors you can’t control: inflation, economy, and the government, just to name a few. When promises are made to a congregation, it can feel like the hands of church leaders are tied. And when that happens, you limit God and lose your options as leaders – and the building your ministry so desperately needs can’t be started. Some church leaders become more focused on keeping a promise made to their people than getting the facility built. Life is full of adjustments and compromises – you and your members should always keep this in mind.

Try to maintain project momentum

Once you’ve committed to the project, do your best to share information, make informed decisions quickly, and stay on schedule. I’ve seen decisions that limit God and stop positive momentum in a church. The church then is faced with restarting momentum or coming up with another way to overcome the building hindrances they face. Many churches fail to overcome this and, as a result, become less effective in their ministry.

Don’t try to do this alone

As a church leader, you must always do your homework. But you should also seek wise council from experts and people who have been here before, and keep your options open.

Look to the Bible

The Bible is full of examples of effective leaders who made many right decisions that allowed God to bless them. There are also many examples of God’s leaders who made poor or rash decisions that crippled or hindered their ministry. The example I always think of is King Saul. The poor guy always seemed to make the wrong decision. 1 Samuel 13-15 is full of Saul’s rash promises and blunders. With God’s trusted guidance and your own effort, we can all learn to make smart decisions – for building programs, and all other aspects of church leadership.