We started our first building when I was twenty-three years old. There was much I did not know. Thankfully, I received wise counsel. We had our share of issues, but the building projects went fairly well. Here are a few thoughts to consider as you conduct a building program:
1. Prepare the People for Change
Things will “feel” different in the new building. Advance preparation from the pulpit will help the adjustment to be more smooth.
2. Have Something Tangible for the People to See
An architect’s plans, an artist’s rendering, or a model of the proposed building help to build enthusiasm and assist in the raising of funds.
3. Do Not Share Your Entire Vision at Once
While the pastor is wise to have a long-range “Master Plan,” the people may be frightened by the scope of the vision or may be disappointed that it takes some years to fulfill.
4. Have a Consensus but Do Not Form a Committee
We have never voted on the colors or décor of our building. We present drawings and have the congregation vote to approve the project. I then get opinions from people in our church family who know much more about decorating and colors than I do. I make a final decision based on their counsel. I remember visiting a building in preparation for one of our programs. The wise old pastor told me that the building committee from another church had also been there to see him and to get ideas. He said to them, “How many people are on your committee?”
“Twelve,” they responded.
“Well,” he said, “that’s eleven too many!”
5. Prepare Financially
The increased costs are not limited to the extra mortgage payment that must be made. Utilities will be higher; insurance will go up, and cleaning costs will increase.
6. If at All Possible, Allow a Cushion in Your Finances
Every project I have ever conducted costs more than I anticipated. It would not be unwise to have 5 to 10 percent more money available than you believe the building will cost.
7. Be Careful About Taking Counsel from “Experts”
There are too many architects who want the building to be a monument to themselves rather than a functional building for the cause of Christ. I have yet to meet an architect who wanted the auditorium as bright as I did. I have not met many who understand what goes on in the services of a Baptist church.
8. Do Not Let a Few Negative Voices Discourage You
There is always somebody against anything that the church needs to do for God.
9. Secure Waivers of Lien from Various Contractors as the Funds Are Released
Failure to do this can result in legal troubles down the road. Many contractors have gotten into trouble taking the money for a project and then failing to pay their subcontractors.
10. Do Not Release All of the Funds for the Building to the Contractors Until You Have Been in the Building for Several Weeks
There will always be some small problems that need to be attended to. If you are holding a reasonable portion of the contractor’s money, he will come back quickly to fix them. If he has already been paid, he will tend to be busy on other projects and a bit slow to attend to your needs.
11. Do Not Be Afraid to Take a Big Step When One Is Indicated
David Lloyd George well said, “You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.”