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PraiseBuildings Articles

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A library of useful articles on every topic impacting your PraiseBuilding.


Master Planning

We need a master plan that will facilitate the ministry. Site Capacity Begin by determining the maximum capacity of the site. If all the land can be used (no wetlands or elevations that cannot be developed), we can usually plan on 100 people per acre for church use, not including the major sports areas needed for a Christian school. If there are reasonable setbacks and land coverage criteria (some codes limit the amount of building or impervious development) and sanitary sewer are available, this guideline of 100 people per acre should provide some recreation area. Landscaping and greenbelts may also utilize a significant portion of the site. The configuration of the land is another factor; a triangular site with building setbacks and perimeter greenbelts has less usable land. A rectangular or a square site is best. Ministry Plan Will the church schedule multiple sessions of worship and/or Sunday school? Or do we prefer a single service format? We must provide adequate assimilation spaces (education, fellowship, administration)—based on your ministry philosophy—to facilitate the number of people who can be assembled for worship. The space distribution must also correspond to age ...

When Not to Build

To determine how best to design their facility, I first met with the church board for four hours on a Saturday morning. Next I spent several days studying the church`s ministries, finances, and use of facilities. Finally, I felt like I had the facts I needed to draft my proposal. I met with the board again the following Saturday. "What you really need to build," I announced, "is a storage shed." Had the church invited me a year and a half earlier, I would have designed a thousand-seat sanctuary and cheered them on. "The building will bring more people to Christ," I`d have said. "Its beauty will draw you closer to God. People will notice you`re here and that you`re an important part of the community. During 30 years of designing church buildings, I`d heard all these claims from pastors and church boards. I`d seen no reason not to accept their assumption that bigger buildings translated into greater ministry. But then I began church consulting work. It was this new hat I was wearing - consultant rather than architect - that ...

Should We Relocate?

a. Community—Survey a 20-minute driving radius surrounding the church. (We can interpret a PERCEPT church demographic study for you.) Is the population increasing or decreasing? What is the percentage distribution of preschool, school age, and adults? Is there an ethnicity that you are not ministering to? Who are the prevalent adult groups you could be ministering to? How many households without children? Are your targets of ministry right for the community demographics? b. Vicinity—Are you in a residential community? Is the immediate vicinity around the church stable, or is ethnic change and tension evident? Does the church facility show compatibility with the expectations of the community standards of living? What is the community\`s blue/white collar ratio? Is this ratio true in the church? Are there senior adults who will be selling out? Who will be buying these houses? Might it be young, blue-collar families? Is there potential for ethnic ministry you are willing to target? c. Constituency—Does the present church constituency live in the community, or are they commuting to the church? Commuters who use to live in the vicinity indicate community change and little relational contact in the ...

Walk Through The Church Facility: The Fellowship Hall

What should you plan to construct? What can you afford? What is the cost difference between a sports facility and fellowship hall? Could we worship in the same facility? The first question to be answered is, “What functions are to be facilitated in this building?” The functions to be served dictate the features of the building if you are to be satisfied with the accommodations. Otherwise, you will be disappointed with the facility. Will this building also be used for our worship services? Then the acoustics and aesthetics must accommodate congregational participation and quality expectations. These features will add cost. You will need heating and air conditioning that is not so noisy that you can`t hear. You should have acoustics for congregational singing, not just a sound system blasting canned music or preaching at the people. The floor should be carpeted with squares of gymnasium carpet. Seating must be comfortable, with adequate chair storage when the room is used for sports. Get ready for lots of work day after day arranging the room for the multiple functions. Is this to be our ...

ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES

When designing the administrative office portion of the PraiseBuilding, it should be placed close to the main entrance area. The placement of the administrative offices should allow one to enter the PraiseBuilding to take care of administrate business without wandering throughout the complex. Additionally, by placing the offices closest to a main entrance, one can zone the heating and air conditioning to allow for efficient heating and cooling of the this space, without having to heat or cool the entire PraiseBuilding space to the same extent. A trick of the trade is to install a safe into the concrete floor of a closet of one of the administrative offices. This safe is then covered with a piece of carpeting, which can be lifted, for easy access. ...

KITCHEN

The term “Kitchen” when applied to a PraiseBuilding means specifically a room used for the preparation and cooking of food. Don’t use this term if the only use will be to make coffee for an after-service fellowship. The reason for this admonition is that a “kitchen” in buildings of assembly, come under the health and building requirements for restaurants. Thus, if the congregation plans on preparing chicken and fish-fry fund raising dinners or cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the elderly or homeless, the PraiseBuilding must be constructed to the standards of a commercial kitchen. A commercial kitchen differs from a residential kitchen in several ways. First, local health department codes normally mandate the size of the kitchen. On average, expect to dedicate a space of at least 14’ x 20’ for the kitchen area. Much of the expense of a commercial kitchen is due to the requirement that it contain a fire suppression system over all grills, stoves, deep fryers and ovens. The purpose of a fire suppression system is to automatically suppress a quick spreading grease fire before it leaves the ...

Walk Through The Church Facility: The Day School

During the school week Monday through Friday there are over 600 Kindergarten Four through Grade Twelve day school students in my sample church classroom and nursery facilities. Nearly all the classrooms have school desks for the students. Most elementary classrooms have all walls covered with school lessons; some classrooms have displays hanging from the entire suspended ceiling. In many cases all the storage is for school days. On Sunday, most churches could be comprised of perhaps 75 percent adults, 18 percent school ages 5–17, and 7 percent preschool children (since this is the age distribution of the community demographics). Where do you place the adult Sunday school classes? This decision has major impact on adult education and assimilation in your church. Or, is there a room large enough that we can arrange for children`s church? Awana Club night poses other major questions: Where will we have Council Time? Where can we store all the equipment, supplies, awards, and shirts? It is common for me to see even first-grade school desks stacked on one side of the classroom, while metal folding chairs have ...

CLASSROOMS

The rule here is simple: Make the room as large as possible for its intended purpose. Use operable partitions to turn larger spaces into smaller ones while still retaining the flexibility to serve multiple purposes. Consider location of restrooms and whether restrooms will be “child friendly.”When considering bookshelves, toy bins and other room furnishings make sure they are durable and also safe. Keep materials at a level where children can reach them without climbing. Take a few extra measures to insure safety in child areas including wall brackets to insure children will not pull heavy furniture down on themselves. If there are televisions available, make sure they are secured onto platforms to prevent them from being pulled or pushed. Pay particular attention to electrical outlets and wiring used around children. Are all wires hidden from view and out of tripping range? Security and safety have become critical issues when addressing classrooms and school facilities. Are all outside doors locked to the outside during school hours? Consider all circumstances when deciding on locations of your child care rooms and make sure your staff is ...

Walk Through The Church Facility: The Nursery Suite

When I was a baby, the nursery suite in the small-town/rural church was the pine benches in the congregational service. These benches were made of a wide and narrow pine board for the seat, and two narrow boards for the back rest. According to my mother, I could lie on the bench on my stomach with my legs and arms hanging over the bench to secure my sleeping position. There is a trend among a certain following today to return the nursery to the congregational service, with the mothers caring for their babies in the service regardless of the level of disturbance. This concept is also being applied to church education, stating that it is the parents` responsibility to teach the children at home. I was in one church recently where everyone was kept together in the auditorium for Sunday school while the lesson was directed to the adults and the children were left to “color”. No one learned anything in this setting, especially the majority of the adults who no longer have small children and were distressed with the ...

Walk Through The Church Facility: The Rest Rooms

In similar fashion, our church facilities of that era provided nothing more than an outdoor toilet behind the church building. After a few years, indoor rest rooms were added. We saw progress in facilities to adequately address the changing community expectations. I still go into some church facilities that are nearly as primitive as the provisions in the days of my boyhood. Many church buildings still have rest rooms only in the basement. Some of the toilets are one step above the floor on a raised concrete pad so the plumbing will work. Others rest rooms are only accessible through the furnace room. Often the generic stalls are rotten or destroyed by abuse. Lighting is sometimes very dim and ventilation is lacking, producing a very uninviting environment. “Can I hold my breath until I can get out of here?” Modern homes give high priority to the bathroom facilities. The size, furnishings, and decor reflect a high priority for what has become a very inviting room. These current expectations are brought to your church. The rest rooms are one of the foremost tests ...

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