Visioneering Studios at LifeWay - FAQ

1. Why do we need an architect?

  • It is legally required in most states for public buildings.
  • Architects bring professional skill and expertise to help you get the most out of one of the largest expenditures your church will ever make.
  • You get an objective viewpoint to assist with evaluation of critical issues.
  • To help your church meet the standards of safety established by law and help you make your facilities safe, accessible and functional for all its occupants
  • To assist the church with navigation through the building process and relieve the church of some of the tasks associated with building design and construction including working with engineers, contractors, governing officials, and maintaining quality control during construction.

2. How are the services of Visioneering Studios at LifeWay different from those offered by local architects?

  • Services are geared to specific needs of growth-oriented evangelical congregations.
  • We serve close to 100 churches each year in various levels of service. This gives us the ability to experience a wide variety of church practice which we can bring to bear on your project to help you achieve your ministry objectives.
  • We are trained in sound growth and educational principles as well as Biblical Christian doctrine to help reinforce your theological and ecclesiastical convictions throughout the design of your facility.
  • This studio has the benefit of over ninety-seven years of experience helping churches with ministry based design.
  • Our staff includes experienced church ministry staff and veteran church designers, and we can involve even more expertise from LifeWay's ministry specialists in every field from church recreation, staff relations, children, student, and adult ministries, to worship and Sunday school leadership.
  • We understand church polity, process, and critical growth issues.
  • LifeWay's architects comply with the licensing and legal requirements of each state where our services are offered.
  • Since we are owned by a non-profit organization some of the proceeds derived from our services contribute to Christian ministry across the world rather than to the wealth of the owners or stockholders of an architecture firm.
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3. How much support does Visioneering Studios at LifeWay receive from the Cooperative Program?

  • Neither LifeWay, nor Church Architecture receives any support from the Cooperative Program or any other denominational entity.
  • Our ministry is supported by the fees we charge our clients.
  • We are owned by a non-profit organization that contributes to missions around the world.
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4. How soon can we have a new building?

  • Most church projects take about 3 years from time planning is initiated to completion. There are many variables that can shorten or lengthen that time:
  • Pre-planning and Master Planning can be the largest variable, since this can take a few months, or several years for some churches. With the help of Visioneering Studios at LifeWay, you can streamline this process and avoid some missteps that can cost you valuable time.
  • Decision-making: some churches make decisions quickly and effectively, others need to take time to ponder options and involve many in the decision-making process. This creates a wide range in the time it takes to execute a building process.
  • Financing: Capital Campaigns generally require about 3 months to conduct, and about 3 years of ingathering. This should begin before construction commences, and preferably before architectural and engineering services are started.
  • Design: Architecture and engineering services may require 3 to 12 months, sometimes longer, depending on the complexity of project, how quickly the church can respond, and how much time is required for regulatory approvals.
  • Construction: usually 6 months to 18 months, depending on size and complexity of the project.
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5. Can Visioneering Studios at LifeWay seal drawings done by someone else?

  • No. State law allows architects to seal and sign plans completed by themselves and/or under their responsible charge only.
  • If you have a plan done by another architect or an unlicensed individual, you should take that to a qualified architect to develop into a set of drawings that will incorporate the technical disciplines of codes and life safety research, structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering.

6. Why should we do a Master Plan?

  • Good stewardship recommends that you have a plan to utilize your property in the most appropriate and effective manner.
  • Most churches benefit from having a graphic documentation of the church's long-range vision.
  • Congregation growth will dictate eventual facility expansion, which should be planned in advance to avoid missteps and costly errors.
  • Early planning of future building projects will save you money in the long haul.
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7. Can you help us finance the Building Project?

  • LifeWay can assist you to raise substantial sums of money for the project through Auxano Campaigns.
  • The North American Mission Board Church Finance Ministry can assist in finding an appropriate lending source to borrow additional funds.

8. How are your fees for architectural work determined?

  • Master Planning fees are based on project size and complexity, and the deliverables you need. These can range from simple sketches to elaborate three-dimensional computer generated virtual tours. Contact Visioneering Studios at LifeWay for details.
  • Construction document fees are also based on the size and complexity of the project. Since all of our drawings are custom-designed for each church, each fee will be different. Your fee will typically be quoted as a stipulated sum rather than as a floating percentage of construction cost. You can expect the typical fee to be around 6% to 9% of the estimated cost of construction. A few small projects are done on an hourly fee basis.

9. Doesn't Visioneering Studios at LifeWay just work with large churches? (or just work with small churches?)

  • We work with congregations of all sizes, and design buildings for a broad variety of needs. We have recently designed worship spaces for 140 to over 4,000.
  • We have developed plans for many first unit starter buildings for new congregations and have developed plans for the relocation of large, established congregations.
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10. What are the issues associated with purchasing plans from the Internet?

  • We do not recommend this practice to most congregations without extensive research into the product they are getting. Architecture is a set of services, not just a roll of drawings. Without your involvement with the architect in the creation of the drawings and the continued support of the Architect during the bidding and construction of the project there are many opportunities for the project to go astray and serious problems to develop.
  • These may not carry the seal and signature of a licensed architect which would not be legal for construction in most states.
  • Generic plans are not designed around your specific needs or your property, and will not address your existing or future buildings that should be considered.
  • These may not efficiently fulfill your ministry needs or your budget for a proper balance of worship with parking, and appropriate education space to complement your existing space for each age group.
  • The church (the Bride of Christ) deserves the expertise the right architect can bring to the process, not a short cut to avoid doing the proper work or paying a fair price. To have a professional involved in planning the facilities your church needs will give you better tools to help you do the work of the ministry more effectively.
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11. Will a Family Life Center help us reach the un-churched in our community?

  • A properly staffed and programmed recreation ministry can broaden your ministry, but will not substitute for other inadequacies in your facilities such as inadequate preschool space or parking. These problems, if left unresolved, can prevent the most exciting recreation ministry from having its desired effect of growth of the church.
  • To be sure you get the best results form the construction of a recreation facility, be sure to first complete a study of the adequacy of the other elements of your facilities, including parking.
  • No building by itself will cause a church to reach a new segment of the community. People, not buildings reach people. Appropriate, effectively conducted ministries in appropriate, balanced space are keys to church growth.
  • "If you build it, they will come," might make good cinema, but it is never a good reason to construct a building.

12. What are the most important things we need to know before starting a building program?

  • Do you have sufficient land for future expansion?
  • Do you have adequate parking for projected attendance?
  • Do you have, or are planning to add balanced space for all ministry areas?
  • Can you afford the project?
  • Visioneering Studios at LifeWay can help you determine the answer to these, and many more critical questions your church should address before they build.
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13. Does Visioneering Studios at LifeWay work only with Southern Baptist congregations?

  • No, LifeWay is committed to being the best provider of services for Christ-following churches, regardless of denominational affiliation.
  • A significant portion of our recent projects have been with non-Southern Baptist congregations, representing 10 different denominations.

14. We do not have a building department (or code official). Do we still have to comply with codes?

  • Most States have adopted model codes for the entire area for buildings over a certain size or occupancy. You are responsible to comply with these codes regardless of the local enforcement climate.
  • Building codes are the internationally accepted minimum standard for construction quality that is for human habitation. The church has a moral obligation to not only comply with these minimum standards, but to design with the health, safety, and welfare of the public in mind.

15. Does LifeWay design with sustainable and energy efficient construction methods and materials in mind?

  • Yes, we determine what level of renewable, sustainable and energy efficient construction the church desires, then incorporate it into the design.
  • Budgetary constraints and return-on-investment are considered as our architects and engineers design such considerations as energy efficient building envelopes, mechanical and electrical systems, building orientation and appropriate use of energy-efficient glazing.
  • We work and encourage each church to create an energy efficient building and to be a good steward of the environment.
  • We help the leadership of the church reconcile their understanding of responsibility for the stewardship of the environment and help apply that to their budget and the actual design of a building.

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