Developing Clarity & Consensus in Your Building Program
What Is a Needs & Feasibility Study?
Church building today is both complex and expensive. The first step every church should take is to objectively understand what it needs to build and determine what is feasible to be built on the land and within the church’s budget. The goal of a Feasibility Study is to identify and understand the current and future needs of the ministries and translate those needs into land and building requirements along with a plan to make it happen.
Proverbs tells us that “counsel establishes every purpose” and “the plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance.” The Needs and Feasibility Study is an effective tool for developing a plan and building consensus for the church that is unsure about what to build, if it is ready to build, or even able to build.
Unfortunately, many churches lack the broad base of experience to know all the proper questions to ask or to translate facts into an effective building plan. Usually, building committees lack the “across the board” combination of church growth and financing experience to bring a building program to its optimum conclusion. While architects have some capability in this area, they lack our breadth of expertise in the areas of visioning, financial analysis, demographics, or church growth dynamics, all of which are all critical parts of a Needs and Feasibility Study.
How Does it Work?
The study is kicked off with the collection of several types of information about the ministry, the congregation, and the community. Historical attendance, current member demographics, and ministry financial information is collected and analyzed. In conjunction with a site visit, personal interviews are conducted with church leaders and workers to solicit their input on the needs of each of the ministries, and to understand the culture, goals, and vision of the church.
Additionally, a congregational survey is conducted to solicit the views and priorities of the membership, while concurrently, information on the current or proposed location is reviewed. All the collected data is then analyzed and reviewed through the lens of our experience. Recommendations based on experience and sound church growth practices are then put forth to answer the questions of:
- Does the church need to build?
- What does the church need to build and how was this determined from our needs?
- What can the church afford to build and how will it pay for the building program?
- When is the right time to build with consideration to need & financial ability?
A report is provided to the church with a recommendation on the most feasible solutions and a suggested timeline for moving forward.
Better Results with Less Effort
A recent independent study showed that those churches that performed a feasibility study prior to their building program had much higher overall satisfaction with the outcome and experienced less conflict during the process. Practical experience also demonstrates that proper planning makes for an overall smoother and less expensive building program.
The benefit of this process in developing confidence, unity, and widespread support cannot be overstated. A proper process that solicits the input of the congregation and then presents a coherent plan to meet the need is a unifying force. Typically, once the congregation votes to adopt the recommendations, the church enjoys the endorsement and support of over 90% of the congregation in a church vote.
Benefits of a Building Program Needs & Feasibility Study
While each church is unique, every church should realize many of the following benefits:
- Increased overall support for the building program.
- Understanding of what the church needs to build and how this was determined.
- Congregational unity on appropriate action and timing.
- Reduced conflict in the planning of church facilities.
- Increased confidence in the plan, timeline, and budget.
- Reduction in time commitments for the church leaders and building committee.
- Elimination of dead-end ideas that waste time, money, and effort.
- Reduced stress on the leadership and building committee.
- Reduced cost in architectural and engineering fees.
- Reduced cost by avoiding preventable errors or omissions.
- Reduced risk: financial, legal, and relational.
- More realistic expectations for the building program, a major factor in overall satisfaction.
- A faster, easier, and more efficient building program.
Let Us Know How We Can Help
We would welcome the opportunity to minister to your church in this important work. We recommend that a Needs and Feasibility Study be done as early in the planning process as possible. Certainly, the best time is before you invest a lot of money in design and as early as 2-3 years before you build. Doing so will ensure you get the most value and the maximum benefit in reducing the effort and cost of the planning, design, and construction process.