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
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
— Debra
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
— Laurie
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)

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