Church Building Projects – A Clinical Approach

January 5, 2021

If you were to visit the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota with a serious health issue, you would immediately notice a significant aspect of their service model. All of your medical specialists would gather around the table with you to discuss your diagnosis and create the treatment plan. Using such a clinical approach has obvious benefits – the patient no longer has to interpret differing medical opinions; the cause and effect of various options can be evaluated by all professionals in “real time” and ultimately the optimum course of treatment will be more easily discerned.

How could church leaders apply this “clinical” method to the development of a major building project? At CGS, we feel that convening all of the various project professionals right from the beginning would be a great place to start. Those “seated at the table” could include: church leaders, the design/build professional, a fundraising/financial consultant, the lending institution, a denominational representative, etc.

As church leaders articulate their vision and ministry goals, each of the related professionals could share their perspective. Conflicting goals and timelines could be collaboratively resolved sooner rather than later. When key issues are not resolved early, church leaders are often left to resolve the conflicting opinions on their own and unfortunately things may then develop into a finger pointing environment.

A clinical approach can be much more than just avoiding potential negative outcomes. We have witnessed considerable synergy develop when everyone at the table is working towards a common goal. For example, the funding consultant might suggest including certain special features in the project, knowing they might stimulate extraordinary gifts from those who have a passion and financial capacity for those elements.

Our experience suggests that pursuing a clinical approach to church building projects has significant benefits – avoiding over design, staying within budget, precluding projects that become “stuck” because of unresolved conflicting priorities, and much less stress on church leaders.

CGS has observed a wide range of organizational models in the development of church building projects. Our experience is that when a clinical approach is used, projects are far more likely to be successful in their outcome. And, your church family will see the whole experience as a positive and healthy intervention in the life of your church.