How to Develop a Compelling Case Statement for Your Building Project

September 6, 2019

You have a gorgeous set of architectural drawings for a new building addition that your committee has been working on for months. You are ready to present them to your congregation and are sure everyone will immediately fall in love with them. You only anticipate a few ‘minor’ questions to clarify the details of the new facility features. Our experience has shown that you may be surprised to find that many of your toughest questions will likely have nothing to do with the building design.

To help answer these questions, it is vital that you create an all-inclusive ‘total picture’ of your proposal, sometimes called a ‘Case Statement.’ The Case Statement is distributed to your congregation and becomes a document that guides your building project. Writing a Case Statement is an art in itself; but, in its simplest form, answers a few basic questions:

Why do we need this project and why do we need it now?
Usually answered by the Pastor…

  1. Briefly review the problem that is keeping the ministry from being fully effective. Share your heart. When Nehemiah saw the broken walls of Jerusalem, he wept. If this project doesn’t move the heads and the hearts of your people, then it probably isn’t needed.
  2. Talk about urgency. Tell why this problem(s) must be solved now.
  3. Explain how the project will help change lives. If this project doesn’t change lives then perhaps we should use the money in a way that does.
  4. Be prepared to proactively answer the question: ‘Couldn’t all this money be better used to…______________________?’

What are we building and how much it will cost?

Usually answered by the Building Committee…

  1. Briefly describe the facility solution to the ministry challenge noted above. Show the drawings. If possible, use creative ‘computer generated’ visuals to help people virtually ‘get inside’ the building.
  2. Give the estimated costs. All of them; list them out. If there are different phases, provide the costs for each phase. Try to give as much cost information as you can and make it easy to understand.
  3. Give the estimated costs to maintain the new facility including utilities, insurance, maintenance, etc. Explain how the church will pay for these additional costs.

How will we pay for this project?

Usually answered by the Finance Committee…

  1. Explain how the project will be funded. Give the total amounts for…
    • Any cash in the building fund.
    • The sale of any assets.
    • The estimated giving from a capital campaign.
    • Any borrowings. (Briefly explain leaders’ values on borrowing.)
    • Other sources.
  2. If there will be a mortgage loan, give the expected terms such as interest rate, number of years to pay, approximate monthly payment. Explain how these monthly payments will be funded.

What are the real benefits? Give the bottom line.

Usually answered by the Pastor…

  1. Give the benefits from the completed project in terms of…
    • How various age groups will benefit.
    • How new ministries can now be offered.
    • How the various existing ministries will be able to more effectively function.
    • How lives will be impacted forever.
  2. Finally, list some of the costs if you do not build in terms of…
    • Lost ministry opportunities. Be specific.
    • Lives that will not be effectively discipled (those who are here now).
    • Lives never touched for Christ (those yet to come).
  3. Close with either a powerful story or word picture. Share your heart and the hearts of leaders.

Finally, who believes in this project?

Usually signed by all leaders…
(The influence of personal relationships can be very powerful. People are more often interested in ‘Who’s on board?’ than they are in ‘What’s the project?’):

  1. Bring every church board member, trustee, building committee and ministry leader together for a meeting.
  2. Ask each one to personally sign this document.
  3. Distribute copies of this document to the congregation.