As ministries grow, expand and change so does the need for new, larger or renovated facilities. At some point, most pastors will face the difficult decision to renovate current buildings, expand their facilities, move to new location or begin a new campus in a different venue. What class in Bible school or seminary prepares pastors to discover, digest and understand all the variables involved in making the right choice? Of the schools I have known, none.
Having survived three building projects in the 20 years of serving as a pastor, I learned one very valuable tool every pastor needs—a good building partner. Someone who can come alongside him/her, their staff and/or building team and help them, educate them, lead them and provide them information to make wise, informed decisions. A partner who will be honest with them about the realities of what they can or cannot do, what they can or cannot afford, and walk with them in faith for what may be seemingly impossible.
This partner must be more than a building contractor, more than a great architect, more than a ministry consultant. To be a truly useful tool in the hands of a pastor or building team, this partner must understand ministry, church design and construction. Your partner must be willing to walk with you—often on a long journey—to assist you in determining the best course of action for growing your ministries with your facilities, sanctuaries, classrooms, coffee shops, bookstores, even restrooms. When thoughtfully designed and constructed, these become tools to help churches accomplish the ministry God has called them to fulfill.
It is imperative, when you have limited resources, to make the right decision the first time. Far too many churches have spent significant money on designing and planning facilities that their financial resources will never allow them to build. The process can be frustrating, humiliating and even cost pastors their entire ministry. A great building partner will help you design and plan a project that will fit within the financial means available to you. They understand the cost of every phase of construction as you are designing and planning.
With the right partner, pastors and church building teams can dream, vision and plan with all the needed information that will chart a course that will lead them through the process to success. Your partner should understand the culture of your church and ministry. They should ask you questions about who you are as a church, how you do ministry and what your mission is in the kingdom before they ask you what you want to build or how much you want to spend. When your vision and mission are molded into the design, plans and phases of a project, you are building with a purpose.
Pastor, if your vision is to grow your ministry, facilities are resources you must have. Put a great building partner in your tool box who is willing to walk a journey with you to help you succeed.
Rodney James served as executive pastor, then senior pastor at Tulsa Sequoyah Hills Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During his ministry, he led and completed multiple building and renovation projects. In 2012, he joined the Churches By Daniels Construction team as director of business and finance and now manages the business.
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