How many churches have you seen that have started the construction of their facility without the financial resources in place to complete that facility. They will tell you, “the contractor is in the midst of building phase one of our facility”, and you find that what they are calling phase one is the foundation and hopefully the slab of the new building. Phase two is proposed as being the structural walls, then hopefully the roof of the new facility, and so on and so on…
This is not the proper way to phase construction of a building. This is the result of a church attempting to build much more than they could ever afford or for that matter use. True phasing is very simple. Phase one is based on the immediate ministry needs of the congregation and their financial ability. I did not say wants, I said needs. A lot of churches want a big sanctuary, have to have the sanctuary, but they only have eighty people worshipping on a Sunday. This would fall into a want, not a need.
During the preparation of the Master Plan, I do two things that weigh heavily on the process throughout the project.
1) I work with the committee to create a budget, not just a construction budget for the building, but a project budget that will estimate the church’s giving/borrowing potential and the total cost for the project.
2) I also encourage the church to hold a congregational retreat that allows all the participants to share what they feel the most important need of the church facility is and then they all vote by a show of hands so as to prioritize those needs.
It is then the committee’s and my charge to make sure that phase one meets the financial limitations of the church while providing as many of the top ten prioritized needs of the congregation. This is not always the easiest balance to achieve. Too many times members of the committee cast their eyes on the master plan and cannot bring themselves to limit phase one to only what they can afford. Other times giving and fundraising are just not what they were projected to be and the projected phase one is unfortunately reduced. But no matter what, when this balance is achieved, the resultant project is one that provides the needed ministry space without financially burdening that ministry with debt.
John W.G. Rosecrans, AIA is the Owner and President of DIMENSIONAL DYNAMICS, Architects and Planners, Inc. located at 455 Old Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, PA 19317. phone: 610.388.0755 fax 610.388.2761 email: firstname.lastname@example.org webpage: www.dimdyn.com