Selecting land for a new church is not an easy task. It is also something that most people may do but once in their lifetime. Each church building project is unique, but there are some fairly universal considerations. Therefore, this article is designed to get you thinking about the issues around selecting a church property that will be the best fit for your congregation.
Usually a congregation has a pretty clear idea of what town, city or neighborhood (in a larger city) that they are focused on. However, within the target area there are many things to consider including:
1. Where do the existing members live? To visualize this data, it might be helpful to pin a map to a tack board and mark the homes of the existing members. For the more computer savvy, this process can be done on Google Maps with virtual pins. It may be wise to locate the church property conveniently to most of the membership.
2. Where does the church want to grow? While existing members may be concentrated in one area, the church may have a vision to attract new members in a different area. For example, perhaps the new church is a church plant sponsored by a church in a nearby town. The core members may be from the other town or neighborhood but the idea is to build membership within a target area. If your congregation has a clear goal of reaching new members in a specific area than you need to be looking for properties in the target area.
3. Are there ethnic or cultural considerations? While no one should be promoting racial exclusivity, reality is that many churches find their membership is aligned along racial, national origin or linguistic lines. Similarly, the general community in larger cities may have neighborhoods that are primarily comprised of particular groups. Some congregations are specifically targeting a particular group. If your congregation is comprised of or targeting a particular group of people, make sure that your new church property is appropriately located. Ideally you want your church to become a focal point for the target community, so perhaps a location in the heart of the community would be ideal. Think about what the current focal point for the community is (maybe a shopping district, community center, another church etc) and plan accordingly.
Choosing the right size property is critical for a successful project. You may need to accommodate both required and optional uses including:
- Church Hall
- Gym or other recreational space
- Community Service Center
- Youth Center
The biggest portion of the property is often parking, and it is also super important. If people can't find a place to park they may not come again.
You may want to speak with an architect about how much land your project needs even before starting your intensive search.
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