A Pastor’s Guide to Church Construction Planning

Everything You Need to Know to Master the Pre-Construction Planning and Management Phases of Your New Church Building Project

Building a new church takes a lot of work. And a lot of planning.

As a pastor, church board, or a church building committee member, it might feel daunting to embark on the journey of building a new worship and gathering place. You want a transparent and clear plan to build a new church or renovate your existing space. Seems simple, right?

You may have already discovered that the problem with this seemingly easy process is that most commercial construction companies don’t stick to a budget, or they don’t understand your specific needs when designing and building a church. They forget the need for a place to gather for fellowship. The need for a holy space. It’s a unique challenge.

Joining together to break ground at new Church Building Location

The solution to this problem?

What does this mean?

At Churches By Daniels, we offer pre-construction management services. We’ll help you plan and manage every step of the process, from fundraising to zoning, to construction schedules and choosing high-quality design features and craftsmanship, we’ll assure your church construction project is completed to your total satisfaction.

Even if you’ve done your research, there’s a great deal of thought that goes into planning a new church. And with it? A lot that can go wrong. It can go over budget, it can take too long, and it can end up not being what you had hoped for. Your capital campaign can go awry. It might not feel prayerful or your congregation may not be on board. A church building committee can divide and conquer to determine the needs of your congregation, with an eye towards faith and your church’s values:

Why Construction Management Is Vital
  • The sanctuary
  • Administrative offices
  • Educational spaces and classrooms — for children, youth and adults
  • Music, sound and media equipment and spaces
  • Parking lot and grounds
  • Interior design and furniture
  • A church kitchen
  • Multi-purpose spaces

Our advice is to start with a church building committee and a checklist to ensure you’re prepared. Then, Churches By Daniels can walk you through the entire church pre-construction process so once you’re ready to build, everything is in perfect order.

What are the Benefits of Planning a Church Construction Project Using the Design-Build Process?

What are the Benefits of Planning a Church Construction Project Using the Design-Build Process?

After careful consideration and a lot of prayer, the most important decision you can make in your church pre-construction management is how you plan to go about it. A new, modern church can be a huge asset to your ministry and breathe new life into your congregation, with faithfulness and vibrant spirituality—if it’s done right.

A design-build process with a qualified firm offers all kinds of advantages that will save your congregation time and money. Why is this? When you work with a design-build contractor, it’s a one-stop-shop. The firm that designs your church is the same one that builds it. Everything is done in-house, which makes for a much more cohesive process than one that is cobbled together with a separate architect and a large assortment of individual contractors who don’t all have their eye on the same goal.

With a church-focused design-build firm, your church construction planning happens under one roof. Here’s how you benefit:

  • You get a streamlined process with one timeline, which makes for fewer delays.
  • You work with a design and build contractor that eliminates the need to talk to a long list of people to solidify details or get updates; you talk to a single contractor.
  • You work with a church design-build construction company that understands the nuance of building a church. They’ve handled projects that are somewhat similar to yours and they’ll get your needs.
  • You collaborate with a design and build contractor who will know what delays to anticipate, and they can plan accordingly to avoid them.
  • You expedite the process. Your new church will likely be completed faster with one team overseeing the entire project.

Additionally, with a design-build contractor that has experience in building churches, you can protect the financial health of your church. A church contractor understands what churches need—like this one in West Monroe, Louisiana that was struggling to bring their new church vision to fruition.

Unlike architects who work separately from contractors, design-build contractors give you a church construction plan ahead of time and build it themselves. This way, they can give you a more accurate cost estimate. Also, without delays or slips in communication, your congregation will save money over time.

A faith-based design-build contractor who is devoted solely to building new churches can lead you through the ideation and execution of creating a new church. They’ll help you avoid common mistakes like these and others:

  • Forgetting that prayer is an important part of your project
  • Leaving the congregation out of the process
  • Fundraising and managing a capital campaign on your own
  • Coveting more than you need
  • Not having an understanding of a realistic timeframe
  • Designing a space solely for Sunday service
  • Forgetting essential tools, furniture, fixtures, and equipment you’ll need
  • Not considering all the costs
  • Forgetting about the need for fellowship in a church
  • Not building the church in phases

At Churches By Daniels, we’ve seen it all. We’re here to support the spiritual and physical growth of your church through the creation of a new space, and we can ensure you don’t make these critical mistakes, but instead have a design-build process that’s purposeful.

What Does a Typical Church Construction Planning Timeline Look Like?

There are all kinds of factors that influence a pre-construction timeline. What is the general planning timeline for a new church construction? What leads to church planning delays?

To start, remember that this is a spiritually-based process. It’s easy to get tied up in the details, but as Psalm 127:1 states, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Having a timeline allows you an opportunity to work with mindfulness and intention.

Here’s what your timeline should look like:

Vision

Plan the vision of what your church should be like; what you want it to do for your congregation and your ministry

Budget

Plan within your means and determine your overall costs

Fundraising

Explore fundraising and determine how you will fund your construction project

Construction Company

Hire trusted professionals

Location

Choose the right location

Architect & Design

Collaborate with your architect and contractor to come up with a design that serves your ministry

Construction

Build your church in carefully-prioritized phases to avoid surprises and protect your financial interests

What does it mean to build in phases?

Working in phases allows you to raise funds for each part of your new church one phase at a time. It’s taking a huge budget and a massive project and turning it into bite-sized pieces so you don’t have to finance the entire amount or build the whole church all at once.

Debt-Free Building in Just 3 Years

Here’s how we built a new church for the World of Life Church in Flowood, Mississippi, with a two-phase plan that will allow them to be completely debt-free in three years:

Phase 1

We started by building a 1,900-seat sanctuary with theatre seats, gathering area, bookstore, and coffee bar on their existing property. This was all new construction and was done while the church was still making use of their old space. These communal spaces revitalized the church.

Phase 2

Once this was completed, we set out to turn their old sanctuary space into a new children’s area. We renovated this space to accommodate their youth population, but only after we finished the first phase of the project.

There are other ways to build in phases. You can add on to your church as it grows and expands. You can consider adding on in the following ways:

  • Add a gathering space or multipurpose space to connect
  • Revitalize or build a children’s area
  • Build an outdoor pavilion for a gathering or worship space
  • Update your signage
  • Renovate your sanctuary

Fundraising Best Practices for Your Church Construction Project

It might feel awkward to talk to your congregation about raising funds at first. Sometimes, it feels easier to talk about life’s most challenging problems than it can to talk about what we plan to do with God’s money and how it can benefit your entire ministry. So what church fundraising efforts can you take to include your congregation in the effort with transparency and grace?

First of all, you can’t build without vision, and that has to come with divine inspiration. Only once you have a clear vision from God will you have the clarity and the focus to embark on building a new church. And, with His guidance and vision, you’ll be able to share these ideas with your congregation. It won’t just be a new building to house your church; it will be a new ministry.

Once you have this ministry, hiring a knowledgeable, faith-based consultant to help you through the planning, fundraising, and building of your church is an invaluable step. Not only will they have a better idea about creating a budget, but they can help you plan how you will raise funds and unite your ministry as well.

Capital Campaigns

Some congregations respond very well to church capital campaigns, and others prefer a different process. As a leader, you know your church and you know what will resonate most with your people. Remember: Lead how you are led.

You can have a successful capital campaign as long as it is specific, tangible, and time-based. It also doesn’t hurt to work with outside partners who can bring experience mentorship and guidance to raising funds. Other helpful ways to ensure a thriving, faith-based capital campaign?

  • Have a tangible plan that inspires your congregation to take action
  • Be specific about what kind of difference certain dollar amounts can make
  • Develop educational materials to inform and enlighten your congregation
  • Connect with individual donors while being mindful of everyone’s individual situation
  • Keep your eyes on the spiritual work that comes with raising funds with prayerful reflection and put trust in God’s provision as a community
  • Choose the right construction company to handle the design and building of your new worship space with as much intention and faith as you would — this makes for a more spirit-filled process and it will also help maximize the use of your funds

Crowdfunding

A new era in fundraising means you have new ways to energize your congregation. There are common crowdfunding resources like GoFundMe.com or FundRazr.com, but don’t assume that this means you won’t have to put in work to make it happen. You can share your goals with a broader group of people. What can you do to ensure that you use crowdfunding effectively and spiritually?

  • Make it easy to access and understand
  • Include your specific purpose, your vision, and your mission. Share your passion!
  • Explain why it’s relevant and important to your donors
  • Inform potential donors about your specific goals, timeline, and include enhancements like photos, written descriptions, blogs, and videos
  • Keep your donors updated on your progress
  • Remind your supporters to share your crowdfunding campaign with their community throughout the fundraising process

How else can you connect your church community with your fundraising efforts? Here are a few additional tips:

  • Lead by example and inspire others to give
  • Build an ownership mentality; it’s everyone’s church. It’s your community and fellowship space. Involve everyone of all ages!
  • Celebrate incremental victories and find ways to help others connect emotionally and spiritually
  • Try bite-sized fundraising strategies like selling the cost of a seat in the sanctuary to allow members of your congregation to find additional ownership
  • Use visual guideposts to keep your congregation updated on your progress and remind them of your efforts!

Need more information to be confident about starting your project?

We understand how pastors can feel uncertain when looking into constructing a new building. That’s why the Daniels team compiled two guides to give you an overview of what you need to know.

  • Why hiring a design-builder is in your best interest
  • The secrets to complete your project on time and within budget
  • What you need to know as a pastor and church building committee about acquiring financing to celebrating your big opening day
  • Planning ahead to celebrate your big opening day

What Should Be Included in Your Church Construction Budget?

As you consider your church construction budget, there are multiple factors and kinds of costs that play into determining your budget as a whole. Site fees, design fees, and more will affect the total cost of your project.

Construction Budget

So what kinds of things should you include in your church construction budget?

  • The cost of new land
  • The cost of construction
  • The cost of designing your church
  • The cost to survey your building site
  • The cost of an environmental survey
  • The cost of testing below the ground’s surface for issues with things like sewer water and the composition of the ground on which you plan to build
  • The cost of furniture, fixtures, and equipment like seating, audiovisual equipment, appliances in the kitchen, cribs in the church nursery, office furniture, a baptistery, special lighting, and more
  • The cost for additional fees for things like a church sign, building inspections, building permits, and liability insurance
Church Fundraising Consultant For Your Building

Contingency Funds

You will also want to create a contingency fund to allow for unexpected costs without destroying your budget. You’ll want to allow the following amounts for different kinds of building projects:

New building construction

2 to 5 percent for contingency costs

New building additions

4 to 8 percent for contingency costs

Renovations to an existing buildingbuilding

7 to 15 percent for contingency costs

Oftentimes, churches make the fatal mistake of overlooking certain costs, which can drive up the total cost of the project and blow through a budget in no time flat. The plan for maintenance of your items and facility, as well as operating costs, are sometimes overlooked, as well as creating a sequence of stages in which to work so that your new holy space is built thoughtfully and methodically in phases.

What are the Benefits of Planning a Church Construction Project Using the Design-Build Process?

Construction Financing Plan

Additionally, you’ll want to decide on a church construction finance plan. Will you be financing any of the project through a lending institution? How do you plan to raise funds?

Looking to save money? Staying within budget and conserving costs all comes down to the following three strategies:

  • Hire the right team to design and build your church. A team that has experience in building quality churches that will match your ministry’s vision and stay respectful of your budget.
  • Use modern materials that will look great, withstand high-traffic and regular wear, and enhance a modern church culture.
  • Consider a creative layout with plenty of flexible space and multi-purpose rooms that will serve your congregation in several ways.

At Churches By Daniels, we focus on building on a budget. With each new project, we bring an entire team of contractors working under one name to the table. We all have our eyes on the same end-result and the same budget, which makes it much easier for us to work within your budget.

What to Consider When Buying and Developing Land
for Church Construction

Ask anybody who’s preparing to invest in land for any kind of build project, and they’ll tell you that selecting the right location is a critical decision. As a ministry, you want the location of your church to be safe, welcoming, visible, and allow for room for further expansion—including the growth of your church and your parking lot as well.

What kinds of factors should influence your decision about choosing the right location? Church land development requires a lot of careful planning, lots of attention to detail and local code, and a great deal of prayer! There are all kinds of requirements and factors you may not have considered, like the size of your parking lot, the utilities, and site balancing, which involves examining all the features of the existing land and coming up with a plan for the best use of the land.

Daniel's breaks ground when it comes to church construction
church construction management by Churches by Daniels

Selecting New Property

Here are some factors that may affect how you select the best location for your new church:

  • The cost of the land itself: Is it affordable? What are property values like in the area? This should be about 10 to 20 percent of your total budget.
  • The size of the property: Does it allow for expansion? Is the size manageable, or will it require too much upkeep? Do you have to build your building back so far that you lose a lot of the property to setbacks?
  • The zoning and jurisdiction: Can you build a church on this property? Investigate the requirements for driveways, parking lots, and building heights, as well as building codes, street requirements, utilities, and more. A new lot may have no installed utilities, which can eat up as much as $500,000 of your total budget!
  • The visibility: Will your church attract new visitors and members from this location? Can people see your beautiful new church from the street? Is it inviting?
  • The issues specific to your property: Do you need to consider permit fees or ingress and egress issues, or easements? Is the topography unique, or could it present challenges? Are there green space requirements or environmental concerns?

Renovating an Existing Property

Many churches opt to buy an existing building or church and renovate it to meet their ministry needs. This is an affordable way to expand the size and function of your church within a new space, and much of the existing structure can stay. The property has already been equipped with things like access to water and utilities like water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, electricity, and gas that can drive costs up. Some things to consider? You may have to meet new building and code requirements with things like sprinklers, exit doors, and accessibility.

A Helpful Hint About Buying Land

Buying and developing land for a church is a large investment monetarily, and also in your church’s future. That’s why we suggest having an engineer take a look at your property before you sign any checks or fill out any paperwork. An engineer will be able to examine easements and other important characteristics of the property like wetlands or floodplains that could render the property unusable for your purposes.

For more information about buying and developing land for a new church facility, download this comprehensive guide here.

What to Consider During the Church
Architect and Design Process

A church isn’t just a sanctuary; it’s a place that should create a sense of community and fellowship. You’ll need a qualified church architect and designer to help you achieve both ideas.

A Church Architect and Designer’s Purpose

What does a church architect do? Why are they so important to the planning process?

Whether you’re renovating your existing church or starting fresh, your architect is crucial to creating a sacred and holy gathering place. The structure itself as well as the church interior design establish the overall tone for fellowship and worship. A design-build general contractor will not only function as your architect, but they will build your church from the ground up also.

A design-build contractor can also help you decide how to break your construction project up into manageable, fundable phases, while a designer can help create a church-building design that feels welcoming, reverent, modern, and vibrant to help grow your church and expand your ministry.

Gorgeous Asbury sanctuary constructed by Daniels using architect and design services

Points to Ponder During the Design Process

It’s impossible to consider every single element and every single parishioner’s needs when designing a church, which is where a dedicated church architect can guide you through the church building design to account for all of these things.

As a jumping-off point, here are a few thoughts on how to design a safe, welcoming space for everyone; a design that will foster a love of Christ for all who enter through your doors:

What to Look for in Church Consulting and Planning Services

Building churches smart” requires a great deal of forethought and careful planning from someone who has an eye on your facility and your ministry as well. Like with any construction project, you want someone with knowledge and expertise; someone who can guide you through the entire church planning process.

It’s also important to find someone you gel with. This could be someone with whom you share a similar taste in design, but you also want to seek out a designer who is a good listener. After all, they have to be able to translate your needs and desires into a tangible, occupiable church, and churches aren’t built overnight. You’re going to be working with your contractor for quite some time. A good partnership with your design-build contractor will make the church construction planning process a much smoother one.

game room designed and built by churches by daniels
17 things to look for when hiring church architect

Hiring a Church Architect

Why hire a church architect? You’re not building a house, a supermarket, or an office building. You’re creating a place for people to congregate and grow in their faith. Churches require certain amenities and equipment that other architects may not even consider. A church architect will help balance form with function and will know about your needs for media equipment, seating, gathering places, classrooms, and more.

Additionally, a church architect can help you design a building that will reflect your church’s personality, needs, and vision for the future. They will design a building to match your devotion to helping others reach the Gospel.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Church Construction Consultant

As you prepare to hire a church design-build architect, some considerations will help you find the right firm to fit your church and your ministry needs. Here are a few things to ask when selecting a contractor:

  • Are you licensed, trained, and qualified to design and plan church facilities?
  • How will you come up with creative solutions to meet our needs? Do you have examples?
  • Are you familiar with local building codes and laws? How will you protect the safety of our congregation, including those who are disabled?
  • Do you have experience building churches?
  • How will you protect our timeline and our budget?
  • Do you have liability insurance?
  • Are you willing to consider building in phases to meet our church’s specific needs?
  • What is and isn’t included in your contractor’s fee?
  • What are the expected ongoing operating costs for a church of this size and scale?

 

You can also ask more specific questions about how they will go about building your church:

  • What are the specific phases of the design-build process?
  • Are you willing to consider future expansions as we plan this project?
  • What kinds of construction and architecture professionals do you have on your team?
  • What percentage of the time do you stay within the budget for projects?
  • How do you ensure safety on the job site?
  • What vendors and materials providers do you use most often?

Why Choose Churches By Daniels as Your Church Construction Consultant and Design Team

For forty years, Churches By Daniels has been designing and building places of worship for churches across the nation. We’re dedicated to lifting up churches just like yours with exceptional spaces.

Church Construction Partner Who’s Ministry-Minded

Commercial contractors are in the business of making money; they’re not true partners in ministry. But at Churches By Daniels, we’ve comprised a team of believers who have a heart for ministry and for carpentry. We follow God’s Word. We have the expertise in fundraising and building capital, and we’ll never advise you to build something that’s out of reach or out of budget. We’re here to serve your church.

What does this mean for you? We’ll never push you to act before you’re ready, even if that means not building right away. We want your church and your congregation to prosper and grow in faith in your new facility; we always have your best interest at heart.

Church Craftsmanship Is a Heritage

It used to be that master craftsmen taught their apprentices a trade, instilling traditions, values, and pride in excellent workmanship. This is exactly how Charlie Daniels learned the trade as a church builder from his father, and exactly how Churches By Daniels operates. We’re here for all of your church pre-construction management services, and we’ll be there for you every step of the way.

Building committee breaking ground on church construction site

Inherent Knowledge of What Your Church Needs

Commercial contractors may know how to build beautiful buildings, but do they know what you need in a church? At Churches By Daniels, we know what goes into serving your congregation, and what you need to do. Things other contractors may overlook in their estimates are:

  • Seating
  • Audiovisual equipment
  • Site preparation


This could result in extra, costly surprises, like a blown budget, a job that stalls halfway through, and the loss of the trust of your congregation.

We specialize in designing and building churches, and we’ll give you an open-book budget with no padding, and a full design and all-encompassing plan that includes everything you need to lead your church because we already know the steps it takes to build a successful church. We’ll provide you with a truly stunning worship and gathering space that’s designed to serve your ministry.

Our heart is serving pastors, saving churches money, and working with integrity and unparalleled craftsmanship. We’ll educate you and lead you through the entire process. That’s the Churches By Daniels difference. And that’s what makes us one of the top church construction companies in the U.S.

Your church should enhance and accelerate your ministry, not hold you back. You’ve prayed, sweated, and dreamed about a church that supported your ministry’s vision. Churches By Daniels will help you through the pre-construction management process with attention to what you need and attention to faith.

Let’s collaborate and amplify the beautiful ministry you’ve already created with a carefully-planned, first-rate place of worship that serves your entire congregation. Schedule a consultation today.