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  • Writer's pictureSteve Baker PhD AIA

What Should You Consider When Building a Church? Brief Guide and Checklist

Building a church is a lot more complicated than it may seem. Due to the importance of various religious themes and symbolic images in every aspect of the project, there’s an entirely new layer of complexity compared to standard projects. 

To help ensure you handle your church building project effectively, we’ve put together this guide on what to consider when building a church

Let’s get started.

1: Budget

The first thing you should consider when building a church is budget.

Your budget is important for any type of construction project, but with a church, you have to be able to fit a lot more requirements into your budget which we’ll be talking about shortly.

This makes budgeting the project even more important because any mistake can force you to make changes that sacrifice the overall quality of the finished project.

What to consider when building a church - budget.

This can be difficult, but if you hire a contractor who has worked closely with churches in the past, they can help you determine the budget you need to incorporate everything your church project requires.

2: Expected Size of the Congregation

The size of the church is a key consideration. Since the church will likely be maintained financially via contributions from churchgoers, it’s important to ensure that the church isn’t much larger than it needs to be.

Funding repairs, bills, and other costs for a large church with a small church body are nearly impossible, and the last thing anyone wants is for the church to close due to funding issues. 

Luckily, determining the right size for your church project is fairly easy. Since churches mostly support the needs of their local communities, it’s important to determine the population of Christians from your denomination within the community before planning the project. 

This helps ensure that you build a big enough church to support the community’s needs, but you don’t build a massive church for a small congregation.

3: Standards for Your Denomination

Every denomination has its standards regarding the layout, symbolism, and various features of its place of worship. It's essential to consider these factors when building a church.

It’s crucial to get this right not only from a religious standpoint but also to ensure that churchgoers resonate with the church and it meets their expectations

For example, Catholic churches tend to be the most complex and luxurious. The design philosophy behind a Catholic church is that the church should be the closest worldly structure to heaven in terms of its beauty and grandness.

This is accomplished through grand architectural design choices and symbolism infused into every aspect of the church's design.

While the Catholic Church has relaxed some of its standards, there remains a robust list of integral components in the church-building process.

In comparison, a Methodist or Baptist church tends to be fairly small and humbly built with design aspects that aren’t too detached from modern architectural standards.

Many churches in these denominations look very similar to upscale office buildings or the old-school churches of rural America. 

Understanding the expectations of the denomination being served will help guide the budgeting process, design choices, and more

These details must also be gotten right because, from a religious standpoint, they’re a core part of worship.

4:  Extracurricular Activities of the Church

Few churches simply open on Sunday for service and remain closed the rest of the week. Beyond many churches holding multiple services per week, you also have to consider any extracurricular activities you might plan for the church. 

Traditionally, churches a community pillars, and they actively engage with the community beyond presenting sermons.

They host weddings, operate food pantries for the impoverished, host summer programs for children, and many more activities that benefit the local community and the church itself. 

Those services aren’t practical if you don’t ensure that the church has the infrastructure in place to support them

For example, a food pantry requires a lot of storage space and ample refrigeration to ensure food products are kept safe and prevented from spoiling.

General use areas are often used for wedding receptions, summer camp activities, and church get-togethers, and whole kitchens are often required on top of that. 

Consider this and work the needed infrastructure into your design plans to ensure that your church can serve the population and its needs beyond normal services.

These are things that are difficult to accommodate properly later, and they need to be thought of during the design process.

5: Location and Local Regulations

Location is another thing you should consider when building a church, as it will impact two major factors behind its success.

Architects choosing a location for building a church.

Firstly, churches tend to thrive the most when they are centrally located within the community they are supporting.

Not only will potential congregation members learn of the church’s existence far more easily if it’s in a good, visible, location, but it will be easier to access. Thus, more people will routinely show up as much as possible. 

However, it can also greatly impact the cost of the church

Different local regulations can dramatically increase or decrease the price of the project due to fees, zoning restrictions, land preparation, and more. It’s important to consider this to avoid overspending while still making the church accessible.

6: Your Contractor is the Most Important Decision in the Project

Finally, the most important thing you need to consider when building a church is who is going to handle the project. While any good contractor service can put together a reliable structure, you’ll need seasoned church architects to handle this type of endeavor.

A contractor who has only worked on office buildings, homes, and other modernized structures is unlikely to understand the importance of various small details that are crucial for a church. 

Even if they have a religious background, the complexity of it typically requires a well-versed theological mindset to get everything right the first time. 

That means that you need a contractor who works exclusively with churches and understands what is needed to make them the best they can be. 

For your church building project, contact Baker Architects.

We’ve helped design, build, and furnish countless churches, and we understand both the religious and construction-based aspects of your project at a professional level.

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