While opportunity costs are impacting what church leaders can do in terms of a new church design, saving money as costs rise isn’t the only opportunity to consider as COVID-19 impacts churches. Even if a new church building isn’t an option right now, there are alternatives. In this post, we’ll look at ways to save money and still support your church vision for ministry in your community.
Revitalize Existing Church Building Facilities
Over our fifty years in business, we’ve visited a lot of older churches. Not all of them need replacing with a new church building. Some need a little bit of work. Others have space currently being underutilized. These are potential areas to focus on when times are tight, and a new building would be prohibitively expensive.
For example, walk around your church property as if you’re a guest, arriving for the first time. Are there cracks or mold in the walls or pavement? Is the landscaping well-trimmed or overtaking your church building? Is the property well-lit at night? Are safety exits blocked with furniture or bolted shut for “security”? Attending to issues such as these can prolong the life of your church building and make it more welcoming.
You also want to maintain the infrastructure of your church design. HVAC systems are very difficult to find parts for these days, much less entire new systems. Keeping all systems clean and maintained will keep them functioning well for a longer period of time. Then look at rooms that aren’t being used. How might they be used in new ways once they’re cleaned up with a new coat of paint, and with accumulated clutter removed?
Understand the Pandemic Math
You may have heard that 60% occupancy is the new 80%. With social distancing post-COVID-19, people are reluctant to sit close to people they don’t know. This means you can fit fewer people into your worship space and foyer for each service. Some church leaders automatically think about building a new worship space, but there are other alternatives. This may be the time to shift to multiple services to allow for comfortable social distancing. If you’re already scheduling multiple services on Sunday, consider Saturday night. We’ve also seen a resurgence in Wednesday evening worship in recent years.
We’ve been building larger foyers for 35 years now, and we’ve seen them put to a lot of good uses. Church leaders are using large foyers for receptions, small dinners, and other get-togethers. The important thing is to think outside the box with your church design to address what your community needs.
Examine Other Church Design Opportunities
Speaking of “outside the box,” one unfortunate side effect of the pandemic has been a lot of churches closing or merging. This means more existing church buildings are available for sale—for a lot less than it would cost to construct a new church design. While you might not get exactly what you’d dreamed of designing, take a creative look at what’s available. Another church facility might address some of your church vision needs, especially if you’re looking to start multi-site worship, which is trending these days.
Other types of existing buildings might also meet your needs. We’ve helped church leaders remodel existing commercial, retail, and office buildings, and even auto dealerships. Older school buildings also present creative opportunities, especially if your church vision includes a daycare or Christian school ministry in your community.
Obviously, even when times are tight, there are lots of options for fulfilling your church vision. For other creative ideas, sign up for the next installments in our free i3 webinar series.