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Understanding Building Project Misalignment

Any seasoned church leader will probably tell you they’ve seen dozens of new build and renovation projects grow cold over the years. Ask architects if they’ve seen that, and their answers, nine times out of 10, will also be a great big “yes.”

The problem? Oftentimes misalignment of some sort between the church leader and the architect.

Here are six reasons why church building projects can get out of sync in the first place. It may be information that helps any campus pastor do their part to keep the project moving ahead.

1. Church leadership is not aligned

More often than designers care to admit, they find that church leadership alignment can be one of the leading causes of “Project Stall.” The staff member who hired the architect isn’t always the person with the most political capital to rally a project to completion. And whenever there is no vision alignment, there is typically a stalled project as a result.

2. The architect and church leadership are not aligned

Let’s admit it, the sirens’ cry to create stunning architectural wonders constantly calls to a designer. And if the architect and church leadership are not aligned on budget and program, plans that don’t meet the church’s felt needs or that create huge budget busts will be drafted. This kind of misalignment will guarantee a project sits dead in the water.

3. The church is leading the architect

Designing functional environments for churches is demanding. Architects must create engaging community spaces, high-impact performance venues, safe and secure children’s environments, and parking lots that can completely load and unload in 20 minutes or less. And when the chosen architect doesn’t specialize in church design, the church sometimes leads the architect—a sure recipe for slowdown or standstill.

4. The “urgent” has crowded out what’s important

Ministry is like a 24/7 game of whack-a-mole. The project may not have stalled; the pastor may just be buried. Sometimes the daily demands of ministry simply crowd out the goal of future planning.

5. The budget and scope are not aligned

Most churches want more than their budget will afford. So, expect a project to stall whenever there is a budget/scope impasse. The only way to get the project rolling again is to balance the budget/scope expectation.

6. Church leaders are scared to move forward

Building and renovating facilities is a high-impact sport. And since most pastors and other church leaders have never been in the design game before, it can be terrifying to the rookie. A nervous pastor needs to feel confident about the process, the team, and the design before they will move forward.

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