5 Tips to Surviving a Church Renovation

Posted by Ryan Owens on Apr 30th 2017

Renovating a church is a satisfying experience which can also be laced with frustration and exhaustion. You know it will all be worth it in the end, but during the process, it’s a lot like running a marathon. Not only do you have to keep yourself together but you also have to boost the morale of everyone involved with the renovation committee.

Overseeing a renovation can be tricky, from managing the budget, to working with the construction crew, to collaborating with the design team. While it’s tempting to just focus on the end product of a nice, shiny new building, you’ve got to think about your congregation and how to keep meetings and programming on track throughout the renovation.

You might consider sharing a building with another church during the renovation process, but this carries its own set of issues and discomfort. Many churches opt to just find a way to make their own space work. Here are a few tips to help you get through the renovation process with a positive attitude and with your congregation intact:

Tip #1 Make a detailed plan.

Put together a renovation committee and spend time together getting to know each other before the project begins. Create a very detailed plan that considers every aspect of the process. Use spreadsheets, a program like Basecamp, or a similar project management software to keep the process totally organized. Make it accessible to your crew so everyone can stay on the same page at all times.

Tip #2 Schedule the renovation during the off season.

If your church has an off season, it would be the perfect time to handle big construction projects. Regardless, you should focus on doing the renovation during the time when most people will be out of town. Perhaps that time would be during summer vacation time, or maybe your community has other times that are better. Look into your rosters to see when members are most likely to be out of town. Then figure out exactly how long the project might take (be sure to add on a few weeks of wiggle room to account for unexpected issues). You can plan your project to fit into this time period.

Tip #3 Stay flexible.

As all projects go, there are always going to be unexpected things pop up during the process. You’ll need to be ready for these bumps in the road and to keep your committee committed to flexibility, as well. Not everyone is good at rolling with the punches, so you’ll need to make sure everyone is ultra prepared to deal with a change in plans through keeping all committee members constantly up-to-date and having detailed plan Bs in hand.

Tip #4 Stock up on flexible furniture.

In order to keep everything running smoothly during the renovation, you’ll need to have flexible furnishings that can be moved from room-to-room. While one room is full of dust, paint cans, and sawhorses, you can utilize a different part of the building to maintain sanity and keep programming running as usual. Here are a few pieces that would be wise to have on hand during the construction project and for year-round use.

  • Chairs: Pews are generally out of date and certainly not as flexible as chairs. Invest in chairs that can be rearranged easily, stacked to clear the floor, and are far more comfortable than a stiff wooden bench. They can be dedicated sanctuary church chairs that are easy to re-fashion in different rooms, or you could get banquet or folding chairs for extra ease. Invest in some of each for ultimate flexibility and preparedness. You can also continue to use these chairs after the renovation is complete, which makes them even more of a value!
  • Tables: By stocking up on folding tables, you’ll be ready for church service, youth activities, Sunday School, dinners, and other exciting fellowship opportunities. Folding tables can be broken down and stored away to keep things clear when needed. They’re also lightweight and easy to transport from room to room.

Tip #5 Get everyone out of the chaos and into fellowship.

Plan fun excursions for the committee and for the congregation that helps to reinforce bonds and fellowship. Create an exciting summer campout that emphasizes relationship building and, most of all, fun! Partner with a sister church in another town to create a fun out-of-town experience for your members that will build bridges between the communities and help relieve the stress from the renovation.

A church renovation can be a challenging time for any staff and congregation. But the end result can boost attendance, encourage loyalty, and make worship services even more effective and beautiful. The effects of a renovation can be far-reaching and make a huge difference in the life of a community and church. If you keep your sights on the big picture of the whole project, you can find a way to survive the process. By framing each step a particular way, you can deepen bonds and camaraderie between members instead of letting the chaos drive everyone apart. In the end, it will all be worth it!