The Building Chairman Responsibilities & The Key Attributes for Success

By Kurt Williams – T&W Church Solutions, NACDB Member

The Building Chairman will set the tone for any building program, from pre-construction design through final construction and move-in. I would hesitate to say that the “absolute success” of a church building program rests solely on the shoulders of one man, but the building chairman may be “The Man”. The building chairman and the job that he does, clearly impacts the pastor’s quality of life.

What is the Building Chairman’s Job Description and Responsibilities? Here is the basic description:

  • Ideally, the BC (Building Chairman) would be involved from the beginning of the Process – from interviewing the design/build team, through design and budget development, permitting, and ultimately construction.
  • The BC would possess the Key Attributes listed in this article, below.
  • The BC would be the “gate keeper” of information to and from the design/build team.
    • Multiple sources of information to the design/build team, typically creates confusion and frustration for all involved. By having only one source, the BC, the “information quality control” is greatly enhanced.
  • The BC also needs to be a student who asks questions of the design/builder so that he can properly interpret and communicate back to his Team and church leadership information about the design process, permitting process, and basic construction process that might be foreign to the building team and church leadership. He is an advocate not just for the Church but also for the design/builder.
  • The BC would be the “ultimate decision maker”. He would be the only one, especially during construction, that can give direction to the builder as it deals with changes or any item that involves cost.
    • The building project is very exciting for the church. Excited people tend to jump in and offer “suggestions” that are sometimes contrary to the direction given by Leadership. Again, the BC becomes the “information quality control” agent.
  • The BC would need to be available to the design/builder to facilitate decisions needed for the project from the church or answer questions for the builder. This availability needs to be during normal business hours so the BC’s normal “day job” needs to be somewhat flexible.
    • A close estimate of time would be 5 – 10 hours per week including:
      • A short visit at the end of the day with the Project Superintendent.
      • A Progress Meeting every two weeks with the Project Manager.
      • Various internal update and info gathering meetings for the church.
  • The BC does not necessarily have to be a “construction guy” (obviously that would be a benefit) but, with a quality design/builder, it should not be an absolute.
  • The BC would possess the Key Attributes listed in this article, below.
For the remainder of this article, I interviewed several pastors and Jack Scott.  Jack is a forty year veteran of the pulpit, a “survivor” of five church building programs, and now a ministry coach for growing congregations in Indiana.  My conversation resulted in the development of five key attributes desired in a building chairman:
  • A solid Christian faith
  • The spiritual gift of leadership
  • A clear understanding of the ministry vision
  • The ability to develop cohesion and unity in the decision making process
  • The ability to develop ownership of the project with the building team

A Solid Christian Faith

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Sometimes the obvious must be stated. The best candidate to be the Building Chairman is not always the individual with twenty years of construction experience, but the individual whose walk with Christ is rock solid. The Building Chairman will be in the “hot seat” from time to time. A solid Faith will get him through the rough spots.

The Spiritual Gift of Leadership

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. If a man’s gift is leadership, let him govern diligently.” – Romans 12:6, 8

Leadership is more facilitation than a pontification. I think that St. Francis of Assisi’s quote concerning sharing your faith can apply to leadership, as well. “Preach the Gospel (Lead) at all times and when necessary use words.” Leadership, in and of itself, is a book that cannot be addressed in this short article. In a nutshell, the Building Chairman must lead the building team through a process of complete involvement of all the participants.

A Clear Understanding of the Ministry Vision

“Where there is no vision, the people cast of restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.” – Proverbs 29:18

The Building Chairman is entrusted to carry the Vision of church leadership to completion. Without a very solid understanding of the Ministry Vision, the chances of success begin to diminish. The Building Chairman should be able to effectively articulate the Ministry Vision and be able to convey it to the building team and the design and build team.

The Ability to Develop Cohesion and Unity in the Decision Making Process

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” – Proverbs 15:22

The Building Chairman must be able to connect with every individual on the building team. The process of planning, designing and building a place of worship can be long and frustrating. Tough decisions will have to be made. The building team needs to “stick together”, especially when things get a little rough. The Building Chairman is the glue that holds this great group of people together and keeps them on task.

The Ability to Develop Ownership of the Project with the Building Team

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” – Proverbs 24:3-4

With the previous four attributes in place, Developing Ownership should be fairly easy. The leadership style of the Building Chairman should leave the building team feeling like they, individually and collectively, made every decision along the journey. Buy-in of the congregation is critical for any type of building project. But buy-in, with the added component of ownership, of the building team is an absolute necessity.

The Building Chairman is a very key ministry leader for the church as you embark on the adventure of planning, designing and building a new ministry center. My hope is that this information will help in the selection of your Building Chairman and make the time of building a time of ministry focus and not a time of ministry distraction.


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