Church Needs and Feasibility Study

Church Needs and Feasibility PuzzleAccording to Wikipedia, a feasibility study is a preliminary study undertaken before the real work of a project starts to ascertain the likelihood of the project’s success. The needs and feasibility study is an analysis of possible alternative solutions to a problem and a recommendation on the best alternative whether for new church construction, renovation, expansion, or relocation.

In a church building program, a needs and feasibility study, does exactly what it sounds like; it determines what needs to be done (and why), and the feasibility of the church accomplishing this given the financial, land and other available resources. Studies show that churches that do this important step are far more likely have a better outcome.

Why a Church Needs and Feasibility Study

The purpose of a church  feasibility study is to provide the church with a qualified report of objective and quantifiable information.  A church needs and feasibility study is a plan that will define the scope, timing and budget of a building program, and is instrumental in creating and maintaining unity in the body of Christ.

The challenge that most churches face in planning for a building program is that they don’t know what they don’t know. The truth is, answering questions is easier than knowing what questions to ask.  Of course, the next problem is once you know the answer to the question, what does that translate into with respect to building and land requirements.

The church feasibility study will ask and answer the correct questions to determine the most feasible of the possible options that, within the actual financial ability of the church, best meet the needs of the ministry, the congregation, and the community.

Very few people are qualified by either training or experience to lead a church building program to its optimum conclusion. A church contemplating a building program has three major conceptual hurdles to overcome.

1) They have to determine what steps to take to achieve the goal.

2) They must learn how to accomplish those tasks and do so in the right order.

3) They have to do it right the first time, as there are no do-overs.

Who Should Perform a Needs and Feasibility Study?

The simple answer is just about every church contemplating a building program should perform a needs and feasibility study. It is hard to do feasibility studies too early in the church building process, if your church is planning on building in the next 3 years, now would be a good time.  A feasibility study can be tailored to just about any circumstance, timeline or budget.  One of the things that often comes out of a feasibility study is the need to execute a capital fundraising campaign in order to meet the financial commitments of the building program.  The earlier you run a capital campaign, the more money you will have for your building program.

Many churches are surprised to find out how much cash they need to get to the point of being actually being able to build, especially in the post-2008 lending environment.  Once in construction, the church can start drawing against a construction loan, but before then, the church needs a not significant amount of cash.  A church feasibility study will not only highlight the financial issues, but provides the background information necessary for a successful capital campaign. Conceptual drawings of church floor plans or master site plan can be part of the feasibility study, or done later, depending on the individual situation.  Normally, concept plans are delivered as the final part of the feasibility study, which can dovetail nicely with the capital campaign.

If it is found the church is prepared to start building its building program, the feasibility study provides a plan, budget, and possiubly even conceptual drawings for church approval.  Upon the church’s approval, the concept plans can be easily converted to full working drawings, usually at a significant discount.  The amount of time that the church would typically spend reinventing the wheel trying to learn how to run a building program and then trying to do it right the first time is greatly lessened.  This translates into lower cost, faster results, and better buildings!