Facilities – Meeting Places & New Churches

Through the years of church planting involvement as a strategist, coach, and planter, it is amazing how often the operational spaces of a new church become a major dilemma. Having a space demonstrates a degree of permanence and community investment for the otherwise “profile-less” church. As the members of the new community of faith increasingly function “as the church,” the recipients and observers of this thoughtful, unselfish service connect individual ministry to the larger body, in part, when they see the meeting place.

Some facilities are rented for only a few hours a week; whereas others provide a 24/7 ministry center.

The options range from schools to office park/warehouse spaces or shared church buildings … to retail space to community centers or hotel ballrooms or theaters. My personal conviction is that when a new church leases meeting space for a few hours per week it still needs a 24/7 ministry center and can have such without succumbing to the fortress mentality (i.e. it can certainly be “a church without walls”).

When settling on a facility, factors such as centrality, accessibility, visibility, security, parking, multi-functionality, expandability, zoning issues, build-out necessity and/or freedom, and signage regulations are wise to consider. Since it has been widely felt that a 24/7 facility affords many benefits long-term, consider these “upsides” that Joseph R. Krusinski, CEO of Krusinski Construction in Oak Brook, Illinois, identifies with the typical business park:

  • Ample parking especially on weekends shared by adjacent businesses
  • Lower site costs on average than in residential areas
  • Fewer barriers to future expansion
  • Potentially lower construction costs versus traditional church architecture
  • Easy Access since most business parks are strategically located near major arteries
  • Few traffic hassles as parks are designed to accommodate high traffic volumes
  • Ample infrastructure in terms of utilities
  • Minimal friction between church operations and immediate neighbors
  • A right of first refusal is typically given providing a low-cost way to bank expansion without purchasing it immediately
  • Future sale of the facility tends to be easier as conversion to non-church use is simple