Building Committee Milestones

Your building committee is in place and you’ve clearly defined their objectives. Now, you are ready to start the journey to discover, design, fund and build a facility that meets your ministry needs. Everyone is excited, but you might find yourself wondering, where do we go from here? We’ve all heard stories about a church that’s had a building committee for 10 years, but still has no building to show for it. Without a map and a guide, building committees can wander in the wilderness for years without making any tangible progress. Over the last 35 years, I’ve guided hundreds of building committees through the critical milestones necessary to build a facility that brings glory to our Lord and maintains unity in the body of Christ.

When the building process is executed correctly, each step builds upon the previous step to systematically produce a facility that provides ministry solutions. Some believe the building process is simply designing and building a facility based on what they want. However, I have found facilities built on perceived wants rarely address the core ministry needs of a church. When churches build based on feelings instead of facts, the product can be disappointing. I believe in using a holistic ministry focused approach where church leaders are provided with greater insight into the strategic, operational, financial and facility obstacles limiting Church growth and gospel advancement. Wouldn’t it be great gain strategic insight and clarity as the byproduct of your facility expansion project!

1. Discover

Discovery is foundational to obtaining the right solution to your ministry challenges. As leaders, it’s important that we solve the right problem. Unfortunately, I’ve seen building committees all across the nation spend time and money solving the wrong facility problem in their church. Discovery is all about asking the right questions to the right people with a holistic view of ministry. The first step of the discovery phase is to select the right team to ask you the right questions. The questions asked must demonstrate the ability to lead your team in all aspects of ministry advancement. Competence, Chemistry, Cost and Process should be a part of selecting a partner.

Once a firm has been selected the next step is to unpack the reality of your situation as a ministry. What is the real problem you are trying to solve? This step of the process commonly called programming but, in my experience, standard architectural programming does not unpack the ministry components that unearth the real problem that needs to be solved. The approach to programming will be a major difference between firms offering to provide programming services. Ministry focused architectural programming is a structured research and problemsolving process used to identify, examine, and elaborate upon the various needs of the ministry. During programming, it’s also important to gain a preliminary assessment of the feasibility of the project. A written program should provide a designer with criteria for a creative, meaningful and ultimately useful architectural solution. Based on the program, the designer creates a conceptual designs that meet the budget and render the space graphically. Once a concept is selected, you are ready to move on to the next milestone.

Discover Phase Checklist:

  • Select a teammate
  • Determine project feasibility
  • Create a written program
  • Concept design selected

2. Design

Using the written program and conceptual design, the design team moves from sketches to hardline drawings. The first step of the design milestone is schematic design, where scaled drawings and actual measurements are developed. The schematic design should show sufficient detail to define the general scope, scale, functional relationship and traffic flow of your project. Typically, schematic design includes a floor plan, site plan, elevation plans, and conceptual estimates of cost.

Once the schematic design has been approved, the architect moves to the next step called design development. In design development, systems and engineers are brought to the table for their input. As they contribute ideas and the design develops, it is typical for minor changes to occur. While the project is still in development, it’s important to evaluate a comprehensive estimate of probable cost. Establishing realistic capabilities and realistic cost at this stage will prevent significant delays and costs down the road. Design/Cost balance is a major reason we recommend selecting a collaborative team of architects and construction professionals to designbuild your project. Once you’ve successfully balanced your budget with the probable cost, you are ready for the next milestone.

Design Phase Checklist:

  • Select a schematic design
  • Develop the design
  • Estimate probable cost

3. Fund

Every building program comes down to your ability to fund the project, which is directly shaped by your beliefs and financial culture. Finding the sweet spot between uncomfortably stepping out in faith and appropriate risk is critical to the project. Financial lending standards prevent churches from significantly overextending themselves, but I have seen several churches impose their own conservative standards which limit their ministry’s ability to grow. Paralyzed by fear, these churches have missed opportunities, squandered resources and became less effective in their community. Money challenges us all, but when conservative tendencies mesh with a lack of vision, we begin to dig holes. A commitment to a vision is the key to unlocking resources. The first step in the funding is to confirm your financial plan balances with or is close to your probable construction cost. The next step is to prepare your marketing materials for your Stewardship Campaign. A well planned campaign will help generate excitement and momentum in your ministry. Once the pledges are gathered you are ready to substantiate your financial plan and move in into final milestone.

Fund Phase Checklist:

  • Balance your financial plan with the probable cost of construction
  • Prepare marketing for a stewardship campaign
  • Execute the stewardship campaign
  • Substantiate the financial plan

4. Build

The building phase is not just about brick and mortar. In this phase you get the chance to implement the vision of the church in  a real and tangible way. Your first step will be to complete the architectural portion by moving from design development documents to Construction Documents. These Construction Documents will be used by the contractors to bid and build the facility. Once the project cost has been confirmed you are ready to begin construction! Vision is the key to unlocking resources.

Build Phase Checklist:
  • Complete the construction documents
  • File for the permits
  • Bid the project and confirm the price
  • Begin construction and pray for the ministry opportunity.
  • Attend project meetings, stay informed, and encourage the workers.
  • Complete the punch list and get authorization to use the facility.
  • Dedicate the project to the Lord.

Successful building programs systematically work through the four milestones outlined above. Each milestone builds upon the last and strategically positions the church for the next milestone. When executed well, the final solution has the power to impact a ministry and its’ community for years to come.

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Posted on October 13, 2022

Todd Brown is the CEO of Brown Church Development Group. He is responsible for providing the overall leadership of the company. In 1988, after completing his career as a Nebraska Cornhusker and professional football player, Todd returned to his hometown of Holdrege, Nebraska, to join his father, Jim, who began Brown Construction in 1962. Todd took full control of the operation in 2000. Under Todd’s leadership, the company has completed hundreds of commercial and church projects in 15 states. Brown Construction leads the industry in redefining the typical construction process. The Brown commitment is a customer promise to walk through the construction process, keeping it simple, clear, and to the point.
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