Knowing when and how to expand your church facility are two critical decisions in the life of your church. Expanding for the wrong reasons or doing so with a half-hearted plan can leave a long-lasting and negative impact, or limit your church’s ministry potential.
Therefore, having as much information as possible is crucial as you consider your potential next steps.
When it comes to expanding your church facility, you should first fully investigate other alternatives for additional space. If no adequate solutions are found, adding to a church facility should be considered when:
1. Ministry capacity is clearly compromised by inadequate space—or ministry could be expanded with additional space.
For example, I have worked with churches that had fully maximized space available for AWANA. At one church in particular, after new space was added, the church grew its AWANA program from one to two AWANA circles—allowing them to serve more children/families of their community.
2. Safety is compromised because of inadequate facilities or overcrowding.
I worked with one church that had a very active and successful mid-week children’s program. But the children had to traverse a long and steep flight of stairs to and from the program. Falling accidents on that stairway were not uncommon. Nursery security is another issue that comes with overcrowding and outdated facilities, and is often addressed during building projects.
Is your facility overcrowded, or are people endangered by substandard conditions? If so, then it’s time to consider a church expansion project.
3. Worship service capacity is at its maximum.
If this is the case, first ask if it’s appropriate to add another worship service. If your church has only one worship service, it might be very workable to add another service to accommodate the growing crowds. If you already have multiple worship services, facility expansion may be the best option.
An existing congregation considers its service “full” at about 80% occupied. But visitors see “full” at a much lower level—about 65-75% occupied. Can a family find seats together five minutes before the service begins?
If you’re out of existing options at your current facility, then adding more space might be your best decision.
4. When a church plant or satellite location are not options.
Statistics tell us that in a mother church, 70-80% of new attendees are usually “transplants” from other churches. In a church plant or satellite church, 65-75% of new attendees are non-churched or new believers. Therefore, when considering the vision God has given your church, awareness of these statistics may be instructive.
It’s important to remember that healthy churches plant churches and healthy churches grow.
A church plant or satellite location are great options for many churches, but they require the necessary resources—both personnel and financial. If these options will not work for you, then facility expansion might be the best direction for you.
These are just a few suggestions to consider when the discussion turns toward church expansion. If you have questions or want to discuss further, feel free to contact us. Our Campaigns & Consulting team has helped hundreds of churches—of all sizes and situations—determine their next steps.