Planning and oversight will help you avoid these five missteps

Churches that take on new building projects often fail to consider certain items that can result in a better-facilitated building project. Here are five of the most common mistakes churches make and the solutions for correcting them.

1. Form a complete team. Typically, churches do not spend enough time creating a team. The team includes the owner-pastor, architects, engineers, interior designer and builder. Take time to coordinate each of these parties and to schedule regular meetings and assign tasks. At each meeting, tasks should be assigned to every team member for completion by the next meeting. It’s imperative that you feel like all team members have the best interest of the church at heart. If you do not, then prayerfully consider changing your team.

2. Guard against inflation. Inflation has been growing by double digits, and churches are having a difficult time saving enough money to keep up. Thus you can’t allow the project to sit for long periods of time. For example, a $10 million project at 12 percent inflation will cost $3,287 a day, or $1.2 million a year. The inflation rate is higher than the interest rate, so it will save you money to move forward as quickly as possible. One way to move the project forward quickly—and save money in the long run—is to appoint only one person to coordinate all the parties and schedules. This person would be in charge of keeping all team members on task and schedule. See No. 5 for more on this.

3. Know your plans. As the owner-pastor, you should go through every set of plans with the architects and engineers and sign off on them if they are satisfactory. Because it can be very difficult to understand what is in a set of specs or plans, you should ask for samples of what items will look like or ask for pictures of what will actually be in your building. This will give you a better idea of what your building will look like. You must know everything you are getting!

4. Stick to your budget. Budgets are an integral part of driving a construction project. You must be budget-driven! And your budget must have an accompanying schedule. Budgets and schedules are like road maps—without either you will not know where you are going. Every item in the budget must be assigned a specific price. There usually will be 30-60 items in your budget. The church must understand the budget and schedule and stick to them! If you get rid of one thing to get another thing, you must make sure that the costs are equalized. Churches that do not do this always struggle.

5. Choose a representative. It is extremely important for you to select an owner’s representative—someone who can communicate with the architect, engineers and builder. This person will need to have enough knowledge to oversee the project and must be fair, honest and of impeccable integrity. You cannot have someone who could stir up trouble on a construction project; this person must be a problem-solver. The reason for this is that you will not reach perfection on a construction site. Allowable tolerances exist within the construction industry, but not all problems can be recognized in the initial design—and then reformulated for a second prototype. You have only one shot to build a new facility, choose a representative you believe will work to make it as correct as possible when it’s being built.

Building a new facility should not be a toilsome process that pits one team member against another. It should be an enjoyable experience with an ultimate focus of reaching out and ministering to a local community.


A pastor’s son, Charlie Daniels is also the owner and operator of Daniels & Daniels Construction.


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