Sometimes a church building can seem eternal, but there comes a time when what once seemed like the perfect church design just isn’t meeting your needs today. Therefore, we are covering various reasons that church leaders might need to transform their existing church building, or find a potential new space, to meet their church vision for ministry. One of those reasons, and one that is extremely popular today, is converting an existing commercial space into a church building.

Thinking Beyond the Traditional Church Building

Fifty years ago, most church design was similar and church buildings looked a lot alike. But the churches being built in the twenty-first century don’t usually have tall steeples or stained glass. Instead, church leaders are focusing on functionality, and are paying attention to the many ways that a church building can be an effective tool for ministry. So, when you’re running out of space or your beloved church building is too impractical to remodel or becoming too expensive to repair again, it might be time to think outside the traditional church box—and look at other commercial buildings.

Why Commercial Structures Can Be Good Investments Today

We’ve discussed before some of the reasons why an empty big box store or other commercial structure could become a useful “blank slate” for your next church building. They’re built in high-traffic areas, they’re easier to remodel in a relatively small timeframe, and they come with lots of parking. But there are other reasons that make these structures an even better option in today’s market.

Right now, the cost of construction in general is soaring because of the demand created as the country and world emerge from the effects of the pandemic, making it difficult for contractors to get supplies and labor to complete their building projects. This can lead to unforeseen delays and increases in cost, which could mean you end up with less new church construction than you had planned.

Another reason is availability. The pandemic has led many big box stores and other retail structures to close their doors and go out of business. This means there are many more kinds of structures in interesting locations that could work very well for your new church building.

Examples of Transformational Church Design Options

Here are a few examples of church design transformation projects that we’ve helped church leaders make with big box structures. We’ve transformed an old 5000-square-foot carpeting warehouse into a worship center with foyer for a smaller church that needed to seat 200 people. We were able to include a kitchen and multi-purpose room as well. In another example, we took an old car dealership and transformed it into an amazing gathering space, putting all those existing windows and natural light to exceptionally good use.

Another option is an outdated school building. Especially as the pandemic has many school administrators rethinking the best way to educate the next generation, more traditional school buildings are becoming available that still have lots of life left in them. Gymnasiums make great worship centers, and classrooms are naturally easy to come by. Especially if you’re looking to focus care and attention on families with young children, consider purchasing an old school building to convert with a creative church design. 

Naturally, as you think about transforming any existing space, you will need to factor in the costs of that transformation, beyond the purchase price of the building itself. Part of the reason that we keep sharing our free i3 webinars is that there are many elements to completing any successful church design and remodeling project—everything from smart budgeting to the right finishes. Sign up today for our next free webinar to find out what else we’re suggesting these days.