July 27, 2012 by: Ben Heimsath

 This is the second article in a three-part series on church master planning. 

The success of any church design can depend on the effectiveness of the master planning process.  Here are more of the 10 Essentials of a great Master Plan:

4.    Community involvement program.  If your congregation doesn't support the program, it will virtually go nowhere!  How the members bring their creativity and ideas into the process is just as important as how they will contribute financially.  

Church Master Planning Participation resized 600Our firm has developed a number of ways to bring congregation members and groups of ministry leaders into the design and planning process.  Heimsath Architect's Design Retreat Workshop and All-Church Forums have proven to be effective ways of maximizing the effectiveness of community involvement.

Ultimately, the Master Plan is developed around those issues that most inspire the congregation to move forward, while offering solutions to problems that may get in the way.

5.    Circulation analysis, including entry, access and connections.  This will include issues of parking and drives as well as walks, corridors and use adjacencies.  A visitor should have a clear understanding of where to go and how to get around.  A large gathering space is essential when groups of people are assembling or departing from large worship or fellowship gatherings.

Church Master Plan watercolor Good Shepherd resized 600A good layout should minimize the need to cross drives or streets.  Consider the surrounding neighborhood in determining the potential for improved site entry and circulation.  Think creatively to solve major deficiencies.  Could a new sign, a monument, or landscaping mark the entrances? Can street traffic be slowed, or can a street narrowed or closed?

6.    Establish budget expectations.  Be conservative with your budget!  There are many, many unknowns in the early stages of project planning, so expect that there will be changes and surprises along the way.

What will be required for the work to proceed?  Have uncertainties or contingencies been accounted for?   The budget should include a projected amount for construction (hard-costs) and the expenses associated with development, such as architecture and engineering fees, permitting expenses etc. (soft-costs).

We've seen a tendency in some committees to second-guess the master plan budget with comments like: "We can build a building for less than that!"  We always hope we can beat our early budgets, and often when a project is further along, we can reduce the numbers.  Remember that the Master Plan will set expectations for the whole building program.  Your congregation will be delighted if you can complete the project under budget, but no one will complement you for exceeding it!
If you'd like to have a copy of all 10 Essentials, you may download them now.

Master Planning: 10 Essentials

Church Design & Construction/ Building Committee/ Master Plan