Every Christ-centered non-profit organization has the need to move forward with a firm planning foundation, in the right sequence. As the Chinese proverb so aptly states this principle:
“If you take one step forward you can see a little further down the road.”
No one can see around every bend from their present location. But taking well-planned steps, one at a time, will enable you to move forward in a healthy direction, deal with unsuspected obstacles, and discover God’s destination for your church or ministry. Moving forward without wise planning will increase vulnerability to loss of time, money, and perhaps vision. Today’s blog summarizes the tenants of healthy sequential steps towards the successful development of a vision.
Step #1: Vision
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV). A dream becomes a vision via the application of practical sequential steps. Passion must be accompanied by wise planning. Your vision should be prayerfully conceived, evaluated, and subjected to a healthy planning process.
Step #2: Ministry Planning
This can be referred to as “people programming” or “ministry master planning.” It defines your needs in tangible terms that can be used to design the site or building. It establishes planning and design criteria for you to use, and equips you to decide on the specific area requirements for each function. It asks questions such as “What drives us? What are our top priorities? What is holding us back? How much land or building space do we need?” It produces valuable information about you and your needs, equipping you to make all subsequent planning and design decisions. All church leaders can benefit from this process.
Step #3: Identify Potential
This is a two-part exercise. First, what do you have now, and how can it be best utilized? Can you increase your ministry effectiveness or capacity by making non-facility changes? Next, what is the potential of the property or buildings (including renovations and adaptive use) that you are considering? Feasibility studies that identify this potential are invaluable!
Step #4: Master Planning
Now that you’ve come to grips with your ministry goals you’re ready to examine the ability of your site to accommodate these goals. A Ministry Master Plan provides a good estimate of the net land area required. The Facilities Master Plan studies how your ministry needs can be provided, in phases, on your site. When an agency entitlement such as a Conditional Use Permit is required, this planning step is sometimes expanded to include the conceptual building design of appropriate buildings.
By the way, don’t forget to prepare a Financial Master Plan as well. It’s one leg of the three-legged stool, the others being your ministry master plan and your facilities master plan. Your financial plan must be in sync with the other “legs” or you will not have equilibrium!
“The mind of man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NASB)
Step #5: Conceptual Design
You may consider this step as “lighting the fire.” Having laid a solid foundation in the previous steps you are equipped to design in concert with your ministry needs and financial parameters. As the design concept is established it is consistently presented in concert with its ministry and financial partners. Once you have equilibrium you can continue with the planning process.
Step #6: Agency Approvals
Most church projects require the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from their local jurisdiction. The above five steps equip you to enter into this process. You’ll have interacted with the planning agency during the master planning and conceptual design steps, and will now address any specific concerns and prepare the necessary reports (such as traffic study and/or other environmental reports).
Step #7: Final Design
With the planning approval in hand, a workable budget, and a design that meets your ministry needs, you can prepare the final design drawings, select a method of project delivery, and establish a final construction cost for your project.
Where are you on the road today? We encourage you to apply wisdom and careful planning to your journey.
May the Lord bless you as you plan!
About the Author
Daniel M. Kinnoin, AIA, NCARB founded TPC Architects, Inc. in Roseville, CA. He retired from TPC after 40 years and began a consulting practice, DMK Consulting, postured to help churches and non-profit organizations with pre-design decisions.