The Pros & Cons of Building a Bigger Church Building

Growing churches have several options available to them as they consider how to expand (as we have discussed here). One of these options is building a larger church.  As the church grows and fills its current facilities oftentimes pastors, boards and congregations begin to start thinking about building a new building with increased sanctuary, children’s and other space. Building a new facility, however, comes with some pros and cons that every church should consider before launching a building program.

Prayer on the Land

Benefits of Building a New Building:

  1. Compared to a multisite church approach and other ways to expand, building a new and larger facility more easily allows the church to retain who it is.  The lead/senior pastor is oftentimes still the main speaker, and he is still able to preach and teach live.  The same ministries the church had before are still present, whereas at a multisite church the new campus may not have everything the main campus does.
  2. Coordination and Communication is Easier. The same staff structure that is in place before the building program is often retained after.  There is no offsite staff at another campus to coordinate with.
  3. Everyone Together. Building one larger main church keeps everyone under the same roof worshiping together in the same building.  It is easier to have “all church” events and services.  Even though most people won’t know most everyone else anyhow in a larger church, they still more easily part of the same church family.
  4. Retains Growth Factors. Oftentimes the church has grown for good reasons, perhaps their facility has great visibility.  If they expand on the same plot of land, as opposed to relocating, they can retain that visibility and continue to grow as they have been.
  5. Does Not Require as Many New Volunteers – Compared to starting an entirely new service or new campus the amount of new volunteers that you will need following a building program is probably not too many more.
  6. Focuses Church on Unchurched – Although perhaps not a much as planting a new church in a new location, building a new building still makes people ask the question “okay, now who is going to come?” and focuses them on reaching those who are currently outside of the church.

Negatives to Building a New Building:

  1. Expensive – Oftentimes new facilities can cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars.
  2. Fight with City Hall – New buildings mean new permits and conversations along the lines of “you can’t build that here!” (I’ve actually heard this line before.)
  3. The Building Process – This process of building the building is long and a lot of work. The length means it could take years from start to finish resulting in missed opportunity.  The amount of work it requires means the pastor may be burned out in the end.
  4. Stops Church Growth – Often after a building project a church stops growing for a few years.  There isn’t much data on why this happens, but after a church completes a building program oftentimes the growth levels off.
  5. Churches Die – We don’t like to think of it, but sometimes churches shrink in size. What happens if 20, 30 or 100 years from now the church isn’t as large as it is now but still has the large building to care for and maintain?
  6. Still Limited by Time – Even with a larger new sanctuary you still only have a limited number of good service times that people will attend. Compared to multisite where you can keep adding services at optimal times when people like to attend church, with one large sanctuary, your options may be limited.
  7. The Building Sits Empty – After spending all that money to increase the size of the main auditorium, the building sits empty for many churches outside of Sunday.
  8. Built on One Speaker – Oftentimes churches that are building larger sanctuaries fill the pulpit in their services with one main preacher. Although it helps with consistency, when that preacher leaves it can leave a church without a good succession plan.

These are just a few of the pros and cons to building a new building as a church grows.  What other ones can you think of?

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