Is Church Design and Construction Just a Commodity?

“We have a local builder that builds warehouses, how different can that be to a church?”

“We want a ministry space specialist to help us plan and design our new facility, but any contractor can build it.”

” We are going to bid it out and just take the lowest price.  All contractors and architects do the same thing.”

These are all comments that I have heard over the years.  I understand how people formulate these perceptions….but I am convinced they are flawed.  As a rule, the construction industry is seen as a commodity…and that is a shame as the best projects (quality construction, relationship, scope, value/cost) are almost always done in a collaborative environment with experts in their fields.

Let me ask you some questions:

1. If you are having an issue with your heart, are you going to rely on your Family Physician to be responsible for all of your care? They’re all doctors…Right?

2. If you drive a high performance European car, are you going to get it serviced by the corner gas station that usually only works on Fords? It’s just a car…Right?

3. When you need a professional audio/video/lighting package, do you call your local music store to get your HD cameras and to “fly” your subs? Aren’t we just getting some microphones and speakers?

You get my point…the answer, most of the time, to the above is NO…we call an expert in their field.  OK…but isn’t any doctor an expert in all things medical?  Why would you want a cardiologist vs. a general internist to care for your heart?  Why do churches call WAVE and other similar firms when they need the best AVL systems to meet their ministry objectives.  Why would you hire Plain Joe Studios to develop your branding, way-finding and environmental graphics? Same answer.  And we could go on and on and on.

So, why do we think the local commercial architectural design firm or the local general contractor that builds houses, retail and warehouses is the best choice for our church development project?  Where does the above logic go “off the reservation” of hiring an expert? Do we really think that all designers, architects and builders/developers are created equal?

Let me take it even one step further.  You might have a local cardiologist who is “pretty good” at what they do. They may do several procedures a year and have a good reputation.  But when you have an important situation…or are not sure your local resources can meet your goals and desires, you would most likely go to John Hopkins or the Mayo Clinic or you would go straight to the number one rated hospital for Cardiology & Heart Surgery which is the Cleveland Clinic (according to U.S. News).

Seems like a an interesting dichotomy.  But I assure you….not all designers, builders, developers, AVL designers, car mechanics or doctors are created equal…nor do they all have the same expertise, specialization and experience.  So get the RIGHT EXPERT to meet your needs…don’t settle and don’t look at them as a commodity, unless you only want a commodity product/service.

More about Tim Cool here or visit his website here.

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Tim Cool

Tim Cool

Tim Cool is the Founder and Chief Solutions Officer of Cool Solutions Group, a company leading organizations to be intentional with the planning, development and life cycle management of the facilities God has entrusted them. Tim has assisted nearly 400 churches over the past 28 years, throughout the United States, with their facility’s needs. Tim has been married to his best friend, Lisa, for 29 years and resides in Charlotte, NC with their 17-year-old triplets. They are active members at Elevation Church.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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