What is Ministry Driven Design?

September 19, 2008

There are few things as daunting to a church as a building program.  It comes with an incredible amount of expectations, hopes and dreams.  It also, inherently comes with a host of pitfalls and fears about the process.  Questions arise from “What should we build and how are we going to pay for it?” to “Will we be united as a church family at the end of the program or will we be wounded over differing ideas and desires?”

WL Perry’s signature process, “Ministry Driven Design” is critical to a church embarking and completing a successful building project.  It helps a church design something that reflects their unique ministry, promotes unity and participation, while it helps bring together all the teams of architecture and engineering, construction and financing with the church.  There is a wonderful synergy to be experienced as those teams partner together to produce a product that brings glory and honor to God and helps grow the Kingdom of God.  Here is the description of the Ministry Driven Design process.


·       WL Perry comes alongside to gain understanding of the unique DNA of a church. Using a variety of studies, surveys and interviews, we work to gain insight into the vision and purpose of the church.  As this part of the process unfolds tremendous unity and participation of the whole church takes place. 

·       There is professional evaluation by all of our in-house engineering staff of present facilities and site.  Sometimes the recommendation comes to consider relocation because present facilities or site will not accommodate the vision that God has given that local church.  There are many potential issues with zoning and codes that will be researched.

·       Financial analysis becomes critical at the very beginning.  It is one thing to dream a big dream and another thing to pay for it!  Many churches feel a little reluctant to reveal their financial status.  However, only a realistic appraisal of membership, giving and budgets will help the church complete a successful project.   It often means that the vision will need to be divided into phases over a period of time.  WL Perry’s goal is to make sure that the church is within their financial capabilities and not overburdened by a project.  That tension between wisdom and faith is the challenge that every growing church faces.  It is another element of helping maintain unity throughout a project.

·        We will use the information that is collected in the Visioning stage to begin to create some concepts of what the next step of the church’s new and existing facility might look like.  This is all within a Master Planning mindset.  Long range planning becomes key in any conceptual designs presented.  There will be a conceptual site plan developed and floor plans that reflect present and future ministry vision.

·       There will be a preliminary estimate of construction cost and plan for financing established to prepare to transition to the next phase of Ministry Driven Design.


The next step involves all the elements of design development and construction documents to prepare the church for the construction phase.  This design phase has these elements:

·       Working with all of the church’s leadership, appointed committees and departments the conceptual floor plans move towards refining and approval.  

·       Correspondingly, the financing picture begins to jell as a church selects a lending institution or group and makes plans for any capital stewardship drive. 

·       Refine and approve the site plan and floor plans so that full schematics (the next technical level of floor plans) plans are developed.  This will give the best possible ability to estimate cost before actual bidding. 

·       Interior design begins to influence the picture now.  Because the needs of each church are unique in their worship space or children and youth areas, interior design becomes a special element.  Will the church want a welcome center?  How will nursery and children do check-in in their spaces?  What do we need to help our worship teams in terms of rehearsal space and ministry space?  All kinds of questions come into play.

·       Engineering services like acoustical modeling and A/V/Data routing are added into the picture.  It is important to design not just for today, but look at future needs and capacities.  One key element of good design is to engineer in as many options for growth in the structure and infrastructure as possible.

·       As consensus develops, the new project will be designed down the last detail.  By this time we can provide a picture through renderings and computer modeling that will allow everyone to see what their new building will look like on the site.  They will be able to see how the interiors will look, as well.  Some of our optional services include creating a virtual reality model of the church – a type of fly-by and fly-through of the designed building.  It’s amazing at how a clear picture of the future project can be created.

·       Decide on the best “method of delivery” of construction services for the specific project.  This includes looking at a General Contractor or a Construction Manager.  It also involves looking at what level of participation a church might have in the construction phase.

·       All the construction documents are created and the church moves forward to select a contractor that fits their method of delivery.  It can range from Open competitive bidding, to invited contractor bidding to a negotiated contract – whatever will fit the church’s goals and desires the best.  WL Perry is familiar and has worked with every conceivable form of contracting through the years.  We are able to help a church select a construction company through a thorough interview process.



This phase is exciting as ground breaking is imminent.  At this point WL Perry helps with the final selection of a builder and the bids with sub-contractors.  Input from the selected builder (if not able to be solicited before this) is sought to make sure all of the engineering and building process are as cost effective as possible.  This is the last phase of our Ministry Driven Design process.

·      We will help the church through the complex bidding process.  Construction company bids, sub-contractor bids are all reviewed with the church by WL Perry.  This insures the best possible cost and helps clear up confusion.

·      With a Construction company on board and under full contract, the building process begins.  WL Perry offers complete construction administration services, including reviewing all construction to make sure it meets codes and plan specs, approving all payments and following through on any requests for information.  During this time a good tension exists between builder and architect to maintain the appropriate accountability to the church.  The Architect will stand beside the church in any conflict or disputes to resolve things in the best way possible. 

·      As construction progresses, WL Perry’s team will continue to work with the church to encourage unity and full participation of the congregation.  Keeping unity and vision throughout the project is as much the goal as is an excellent new or expanded facility. Our staff is dedicated to the church experiencing the best possible building program.

After a project is finished, there is the celebration and dedication of a new facility to God.  Then the reason for all the labor is evident.  We will stand by the church through the teething time of getting settled into their new building.  All along the way, there will have been challenges and opportunities.  Only faith, perseverance, skill from a team of professionals and God’s wisdom will bring a church to the finish line successfully.  WL Perry always considers it a privilege and honor to serve the Lord and a church family as they grow.


One Response to “What is Ministry Driven Design?”

  1. […] space or constructing an addition.  A common request that WL Perry receives in our pre-design Ministry Driven Design process is: “We’d like a narthex almost as large as our worship space.”  We […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: