Church Planning Principles

Articles pertaining to our Church Planning Principles


How many churches have you heard of giving all their money to the contractor and then the contractor running off? Or how many projects have you seen the church accept this wonderfully low bid only to have, during construction, the contractor rack up change order after change order after change order? This happens all the time and I feel Continue Reading


How many churches have you known that have received bids from their contractors only to realize the bid prices are significantly higher than what they have to spend?  As previously stated there are many reasons this happens.  It is not easily avoided, but with the right information and management, especially during the preparations of the construction documents, it can be hopefully controlled.

To avoid the “unknown” numerous churches have tried many of the new construction relationships that are currently at their disposal.  Some have been successful, some have not.  It is hard to say with factual certainty that one process of construction is better for a church than another, however, I personally prefer Continue Reading


How many churches have you dealt with that had construction documents prepared for a facility that is much larger than they can afford or justify?  This happens every day.  The lack of communication or understanding between the architect and the church about their financial ability concerning the project budget is the cause.  I have been asked, but I strongly urge against starting the construction document process until the capital funds campaign (CFC) has ended its pledge drive and a financial lender has met with the church to give them an idea of their borrowing potential.  I have had churches want to jump the gun for the sake of the “schedule” and request me to prepare detailed construction drawing for a phase one scope of work prior to knowing what the phase one financial resources will be.  Many churches and architects fall into this trap which leads to frustration, finger-pointing, delays and expensive drawing revisions.

On the other hand I have met with churches that Continue Reading


How many churches have you met with that have never spoken with their architect about their financial ability? How many churches have you met with that do not understand the difference between construction costs and project costs? Too many times I am faced with a committee that does not want to share their finances with me or for that matter has never even discussed their financial ability with the finance officer of their church. How is an architect supposed to design a feasible solution to meet their needs if no one knows how much money there will be to build with? Or for that matter Continue Reading


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 Continue Reading


How many times have you heard of a Lending Institute receiving a phone call from a church looking for funds for their newly designed facility that seats 1000 people in the sanctuary when their average attendance is less than 250? Or hear of a church that has spent a bequest to install an elevator only to find out a few years later that the only direction their property will allow a new education wing to be built is right through that elevator; Or that a church had a design build firm add on a wood frame education wing to their masonry and steel structure drastically limiting the ability for that church building to expand in the future without serious expense due to this reduction of building type; Or meet with a church looking to take the next step in facility expansion that requires a complete alteration or reconfiguration of portions of the building they just built a few years earlier.

Too many times I am called in after the fact, after, a church with good intentions has Continue Reading


How many times have you heard of a Lending Institute receiving a phone call from a church all excited about a property they have just found and need to borrow money right now or they will lose this wonderful opportunity?

Usually the church has never had anyone look at the property for them or even investigate the property’s potential to see if a church would be allowed to be placed on that site or in that Zoning District.  The times of a church buying whatever piece of land they want, putting up a sign and starting to worship on that site is gone!  The government ordinances and regulation that have been placed by zoning and land use requirements has restricted the potential of churches in many areas.  The attitude of these governmental departments has turned to the idea that churches are Continue Reading

Over the past number of years the traditional role of the Architect when dealing with Church clients has disappeared.  Unfortunately, in many cases what has replaced it has not been beneficial to either the church or the lending institute they are working with.  This shift in roles has led to the architect becoming less involved, only a draftsman for the church, being paid for preparing drawings, but turning control of the project over to a General Contractor, Construction Manager, Design Build Firm or even the Trustees.

I have heard of and have been called into consult for many cases where the Church has been left flailing after an architect has come in and designed a facility far greater than any amount of money that church could ever raise, or hope to borrow.  These churches sit there with great quantities of Continue Reading

Throughout scripture we see references and prophecies to God’s plan for His creation.  We also see references in relationship to the futility of man’s plans.  However, consistently the Bible supports the plans of man which are in line with and committed to the work of the Lord. 

As churches look at committing their facilities to the ministry needs of the Lord and plan for the future growth and education of His kingdom, they also need to be Continue Reading

It took our Founding Partner, Rev. L. Gordon Bucy three pastorates and four different building programs to realize that when it came to church architecture there was an absence of any logical progression of priorities in Master Planning by architects and little awareness of the need for a functional, transitional use of spaces by church planners.  Thus resulting in church facilities scattered all over the United States that were confusing mazes of different construction phases that never took into account the previous phase or the future needs of the congregation’s ministries and how they would relate one to another.  This revelation challenged him to find a general model for church planning that would function as a tool for any congregation desiring to create a quality, functional facility that would meet their ministry needs and financial ability.

In his research to determine the best approach for a congregation just starting out as well as an established one with an existing facility, Gordon focused on Continue Reading