When for-profit businesses are considering a construction project…
it is usually a direct result of the business growing. The construction project is needed to accommodate the business growth that is already happening. Therefore, the construction has a certain urgency about to it.
Not-for-profit businesses may have a similar need…
in that their organization may be growing. However, that growth must be carefully analyzed to assure the growth is real and sustainable. Once the growth is determined to be long term, the analysis should go a step further to answer the question: is a construction project the only action that can be taken by which the organization can keep growing?
Another way to ask that question might be: is a construction project the only way of supporting the growth of the mission that the organization is in existence to fulfill? The difference between the two questions is subtle. However, it is meaningful in terms of the monetary, and human, resource burdens that construction may place on the organization.
A specific type of non-profit organization that must ask the above question a little differently is…
…church congregations. Their mission is primarily about personal service and evangelizm. That mission involves the use of money, but it is not money driven.
The important different question a church must answer is – “will a construction project likely divert energy and funds away from the primary mission to the point of being detrimental to that mission?”
To answer that question, we recommend a book to you. It is co-authored by the founders of Living Stones Associates, a church consultant group. The book is entitled When Not to Build by Ray Bowman and Eddy Hall. It can be purchased directly from them here.
I had the privilege and pleasure of working with Living Stones Associates for five years a decade ago. I consider the book a “must-read” for any church contemplating the need for a construction project.
The book is an in-depth exploration of conditions that may dictate when to build and what to build to satisfy specific needs. Living Stones Associates regularly consults with churches of a variety of denominations throughout the US and Canada. Consulting with them often leads to substantial work toward creating an architectural program, including sketches of what an architectural solution might look like.
However, they do not follow the potential project through the construction process. The reason for that is very common sense oriented. Local conditions in the US and Canada vary widely. Construction is driven and regulated on a local level through planning boards, zoning laws, and building codes.
Therefore, the inevitable question is asked by the congregation to Living Stones – “Where do we go from here?” – it must be answered with some form of – “You need to get professional help at the local level to move forward.”
A very helpful solution to that situation is for the congregation to find a professional owner’s construction representative. What that professional can accomplish for the congregation is explained throughout this website.