Many churches fall too far the other way: spending far too much. This inflated cost is either the result of a far too extravagant aesthetic or superfluous functionality. (see Aesthetics and Function)
The guiding principle when it comes to the budget of a church building should be one of Stewardship:
-What are my limits financially and what is the most sound way of seeing this project through?
-Will the aesthetics and function be provided for in the best possible manner within the limits decided on above?
-Will the church be producing in a good quality building that will make a sound investment through sound and sustainable construction methods?
The guiding principle when it comes to the aesthetic of a church building should be one of Beauty:
-What building response provides the most beautiful solution given the limits of cost and function?
-How is the theology of the church displayed through the building?
-How well does the church respond to its particular place in this world?
A place for weekly communal worship, the practice of sacraments, and for special occasions relating to the church body (ie. Marriage, funerals, etc). Functionally it should accommodate all these activities but it should not be a slave to any of them. There needs to be a conscious effort to infuse some aspect of sacredness to this space (see aesthetics). It is disturbing to see a space that was once designed to impart the beauty of the Creator being slowly turned into a music venue. Just because you worship with guitars and drums does not mean you need to shut off all natural light and ignore the past 1500 years of church architecture. On the other hand the symmetrical center aisle, though convenient for weddings and having strong historic roots, is not always the best design solution.
Lobbies, restrooms, mechanical/electrical rooms, and stairs are necessary and needed. Not much to say except they cost money and shouldn’t detract from the overall design.
Offices, educational spaces, fellowship spaces, libraries, and storage rooms make up the bulk of most modern Evangelical churches. Most of these in most cases are either superfluous or irrelevant. The church should look to its community for most of these. Most churches today are in the process of replacing Sunday school with small groups (a great allocation of existing interior space that the church body owns-the individual members’ houses). The church might use existing communal spaces in the community (civic centers or parks) for large fellowship activities and rent or buy small office space. By utilizing community resources the church strengthens it bond to its community, increases its profile within the community, and monetarily supports the community’s local economy.
The guiding principle when it comes to the function of a church building should be one of Purpose:
-Are the activities that are driving the design of the building inherent to strengthening the body and glorifying to God?
-Are any functions redundant with the functions of the community?
-What is the best way in which the functions of the building and the activities of the church best redeem, strengthen, and sustain the community around it?