Summary: "A survival guide"

What every Pastor, Church Leader and seminary student should know. What they don’t teach you in seminary, yet 8 out of 10 pastors fail as a direct result of a church expansion program. This is the most pro active, preventative advice available today. Empowering, enlightening and powerful. An invaluable guide to a successful pastoral career.

Author: Bradley R. Yock C.A.S.


The church in transition“How to Build a Church and Survive” presents the necessary information on church building, financial pitfalls, how to finance the building project, and crucial advice for the leadership and members of the church congregations who are contemplating a building program. The information offered can save a congregation thousands of dollars, not to mention avoiding the emotional turmoil of making disastrous decisions during a building program.


True Stories

A church in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area was given some acreage on which to build a church. There was no consideration as to the feasibility of the site, and they were determined to build there. They spent their entire $300,000.00 budget bringing pipes to the site and they hadn’t yet put a shovel in the ground.

Another church in Puyallup, Washington, was forced to relocate because they had outgrown their facilities. Unfortunately, the church had had many opportunities to purchase property directly adjacent to the church, and had voted not to purchase. With foresight, this church would have had ample room to grow right where they were. Now the church was faced with a 3.5 million dollar relocation program. The acquisition of the adjacent property would have saved the church 2.5 million dollars.

On another occasion, I consulted with a church that had purchased a large piece of property. They were provided with a detailed, comprehensive master plan for the church, including a plan for on-site utilities. However, the church was persuaded that they would save money by using a particular architect and builder in the church family. They quarried rock from the property and built a lake right in the middle of the on-site utility access way. The cost of redesigning the utilities, and added cost of running the utility around this new lake, cost the church three times the savings they thought they were going to have. The church expended all of their building funds trying to save money!

Such examples may be the reason why it is said that seven out of ten pastors will leave the pastorates during or immediately following an expansion program. It is a sad consequence of what is supposed to be the highlight of a pastor’s career, and a congregation’s dream. The church is growing, exciting progress is being made in hearts and lives, and now it’s time to expand horizons. Instead, a church can find itself most vulnerable to a self-destructive mode. A building program can develop into a quagmire that ultimately becomes a voracious quick-sand to a pastor and his congregation.

It is important to go step by prayerful step when entering this challenging territory. Sometimes the first, haltering steps are the most vital, and set the tone for the entire building program.

A key issue is whether a building program is even needed. A desire for more aesthetic or newer surroundings is simply not enough. But if a church is operating at 75 to 80% capacity, they are on the edge of a full house.

If a Christian education department finds there is no room for more Sunday school classes, or they are meeting in hallways or the women’s lounge – it is time to assess the situation.

Parking space is also a key indicator of a needed expansion. Insufficient parking areas will stop a congregation’s growth. If continued growth becomes dependent on more space, it is obvious that a building project is necessary.

Leadership, of course, is the key to the success of any building program. The pastor must be 150% behind the program. Total commitment from the leadership is necessary from the beginning to end.

Once the conclusion is reached that a building project is needed, and the leadership is committed toward the goal, the first step is to form a Prayer Committee. This committee will pray about solutions necessary and critical to success. They should remain active and open to prayer during the entire building project.

The next committee to be appointed is the Building Committee. Five to seven members (not too many) is a good number for this important committee. Besides the leading pastor, suitable committee members are those who serve in ministry in the church. They should be active and involved member in the life of the church. They could be a nursery worker, a choir member, a Sunday school teacher, an usher, or any other involved member. Sometimes an architect or building contractor can be found in a congregation, but this alone does not qualify them for the Building Committee. Active involvement in the church does, and should be the number one criteria.

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Brad Yock

commented on Mar 14, 2011

required reading for churches in transition

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