Church projects advance
Published July 30, 2020
"The kingdom of God is moving forward"
Economic turbulence from COVID-19 hardly slowed church construction plans or activity for two Tulsa industry partners, Master's Plan Church Design and Construction and Reed Architecture and Interiors.
"The only slowdowns we've encountered so far are from a couple of churches that were in the middle of the decision-making process when the virus shutdown occurred," said Rodney C. James, president of Master's Plan. "They need to hold meetings to get membership approval, but they have been unable to gather their congregations together to vote."
Design activity for church expansions and additions helped keep Reed Architecture and Interiors busy during the second quarter of 2020, said principal David Reed.
Watch a time-lapse video of construction at Providence Ministries, Albany, GA
His firm actually added two architects and three interns over this period while relocating from Tulsa to the suburb Sapulpa.
“Our partnership with Master's Plan has been great,” said Reed. “Rodney and Tracey are very passionate about church design and helping churches navigate the building process. We are excited to partner with them and help churches walk through the design and building process. We both have a heart for serving and we are grateful for the opportunity to be of service.”
Have virus concerns impacted church designs?
James said it's too early to forecast long-term design changes due to COVID-19. Current concerns involve improving online capabilities. This may impact building designs in terms of infrastructure, adaptability, and acoustics.
"For a period of time, there's going to be many people who are not yet comfortable getting back in the mainstream of society," he said. "The church has to pay attention to ministering to that group of people. I think the media is a big piece that probably will be strengthened in this."
James expects church leadership to remain cautious towards other design changes, such as environmental system enhancements or social distancing adaptations.
"God created us for fellowship," he said. "If anything, it's difficult for us not to hug, to not be interactive in our personal space, because we're created for relationships.”
"I see the desire in every pastor and every staff to get back to the priorities in ministry," said James. "This allows a lot of churches to make some shifts away from some things they've been doing for a long time, and to invest in the things that matter most."
Master's Plan and Reed Architecture forged a strategic partnership last year to serve growing church congregations.
"I'm in touch with about 30 to 40 pastors on a regular basis," said James. "The conversations with most of them, for the most part, are pretty similar. Most churches have not really struggled financially at this time. A couple of churches we work with were in the middle of capital campaigns throughout this. All of them have done very well through this season. God's people have been very faithful to support His work in the kingdom."
This trend follows increased giving by church supporters, according to a June report in Christianity Today magazine. Of 1,300 ministries surveyed by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), the magazine said 66 percent of churches reported increased April cash giving over the prior year.
A July report by the marketing-oriented search engine Nonprofit Source also pointed to increased giving, attributing such tithing trends in part to greater acceptance and use of online giving platforms.
This parallels how James has maintained contact with many of his clients. Since the virus spurred widespread containment restrictions in March, James has spoken in several online conferences, which put him in contact with many church executives. A recent gathering attracted more than 300 executive pastors, administrators, and other leaders.
"There was a good deal of interest in building new facilities or starting renovations," he said. "The reality is, even with the virus, when we get all this behind us, church leaders know they will need a new children's building, a youth building, or a gathering space. That's the conversation and that’s a good sign.
"We actually signed a couple of new projects since March," said James. "I think it's really awesome that, at a time like this, the kingdom of God is moving forward. It's really moving!"