Top 3 Questions Owners Ask Us

by Dow Smith, NACDB Member & Owner Dow Smith Company, Inc.

1. How much will my project cost?

This is typically the first question owners ask our team–and understandably so. Constructing a new building or renovating your current facility is a massive investment and one you hope accommodates both your present and future needs. While we would love to be able to give a quick answer to this question, unfortunately, there isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all answer.

We are sometimes asked for a “cost per square foot” ballpark figure. As much as we would like to be able to provide that, it simply wouldn’t be accurate. Does the construction site pose drainage problems or issues getting access or utilities to the site? What materials will be used to construct the building? How many windows and doors will be required and what type? What will the interior finishes look like? Is this project fast-tracked or can we wait to begin construction? These are just some of the questions that will need to be answered before an accurate cost estimate can be determined.

Every building is unique and we treat each job as a custom project. Our estimating and construction process begins with getting to know our clients, as well as their present and future business or church needs. We value the relationships we make with our clients, as this partnership allows us to better serve them and develop trust. Once we understand our client’s needs and requirements, the estimating process can begin.

Each project starts with a thorough understanding of the schematic designs, often taking hours to fully comprehend the project scope. Our estimators and project managers calculate the project’s materials down to the exact number of bricks, blocks and rebar required. Cost analysis is completed on sitework, carpentry, masonry, roofing and drywall, all to pinpoint the exact cost of a project. Bids are then submitted to subcontractors and tradesmen who then send in proposals for their services. This stage requires immense attention to detail – and lots of phone calls and meetings. To avoid costly change orders, each subcontractor proposal is reviewed to ensure every aspect of the project is addressed and that estimated costs are accurate.

Though our team has been constructing buildings in Middle Tennessee for more than 20 years, each site and each project can come with its own challenges. A building’s location, size, purpose, and features all contribute to the project’s overall costs. Although the estimating and pre-construction process can be time-consuming, we’re able to provide our clients with an accurate project cost without hidden fees. We’re an “open book” on actual costs and we consider it our job to help you navigate design costs and design decisions that directly impact construction costs. Our team believes in being forthright, prepared and accountable–so your project can be successful and we end the project with a handshake and a smile.

As mentioned above, there are many factors that influence the cost of construction. Some are obvious: land acquisition, permits and construction costs. Then there are the future costs or life-cycle costs to consider: maintenance, repair, replacement—the cost of keeping the facility and its systems up and running. Many design decisions affect the life-cycle costs and we make sure our client’s have all the information they need to make informed choices.

One of the most effective ways to control construction costs is to establish early involvement on behalf of the owner AND the contractor. This may seem obvious, but under the traditional method of construction delivery, the owner commissions an architect or engineer to prepare drawings and specifications, then separately selects a contractor by negotiation or competitive bidding at a later stage in the project’s development.

This can present a number of problems for the owner: Can the design be built for the budget and within the desired timeframe? If the project needs to go back to the drawing board, how much time will be lost? What if the architect and contractor disagree? How many contracts need to be managed?

In contrast, the most effective way of achieving early contractor involvement is by employing the design-build project delivery methodDesign-build streamlines project delivery through a single contract between the owner and the design-build team, creating an environment of collaboration and teamwork between the designers and construction team. 

2. How long will it take to build my project?

Many of the same factors that affect cost also determine your project’s timeline. Permitting, financing and weather also play a major role in deciding when you can occupy your new space. Our team understands that the sooner you can move into your new building, the sooner you can get back to business. In addition to spending hours to fully comprehend our clients’ projects, we also employ the design-build delivery system I described above to save even more time and money.

Design-build construction’s cost efficiency, time savings, and collaborative nature have made it popular among clients for everything from commercial and municipal buildings to sports facilities, churches, restaurants, manufacturing plants, medical facilities, and more. The design-build process is much more fluid than traditional design-bid-build. Instead of long gaps of time (and remember, time is money) between different phases of a project being completed by different participants, each member of a design-build team works together from the start and during every step of the process to help move things along quickly and more smoothly.

We have experienced that fewer design changes and mistakes are made due to miscommunication when design-build is employed. The increase in collaboration enables customization and innovation, which results in less time and fewer materials being wasted at each stage of the project. The result? A higher quality deliverable—with no surprises—ultimately resulting in increased satisfaction by the owner.

Our team strives to maintain constant communication with our clients, allowing them to be informed about all aspects of their project. Our construction team meets daily to discuss project developments and construction progress. Our team’s communication doesn’t stop when the blueprints and conceptual drawings have been drawn up. We believe that it’s crucial not only for our team to start working on a project from the beginning, but also to have the same team members following through with construction to the end. Not only does this mean your project is under constant supervision, but it ensures issues are resolved before they happen, saving our clients time, money and headaches. After all, your time is important, too.

3. What will the completed product look like?

An owner is typically trying to ensure that what they envision in their heads or scratched on their cocktail napkins will look the same (or better) when it’s built. We have a variety of tools that we use to help an owners visualize their completed projects before shovels even hit the ground. There has been a recent increase in the use of technology and software applications in construction, and we have seen the benefits first-hand. Our team utilizes Computer Aided Design (CAD) floor plans, elevations, conceptual drawings and 3D renderings that provide a photo-like image of your proposed building. Alternatively, we provide conceptual sketches of the project to help clients visualize what the project will look like once it is completed.

Plans, schematics, elevations, renderings and other construction documents can also be stored and accessed in the cloud on secure servers, allowing our team and our subcontractors access in the field. Not only does design software help us complete drawings more efficiently, it can help us prevent costly and time-consuming change orders as each member of the construction team can view the most up-to-date project details.

At the close-out of the project, we also provide owners with O&M manuals, as-built drawings and other resources they will need to operate their new facility. Our team takes immense pride in the work we do. We treat each client’s project as if it’s the only one we have. When construction is complete, you can be confident that your new building or renovation will serve you not just now, but for many years to come.

For more information about Dow Smith Company, contact Dow Smith:​

Originally posted by Dow Smith:

DOJ Announces Place to Worship Initiative

Written by Steven Dimitt, NACDB Member & Attorney for Jackson Walker

As churches and religious organizations expand and grow, they can face obstacles and push back from municipalities. Common complaints from municipalities typically revolve around alleged parking or traffic concerns. However, these alleged concerns are sometimes merely a charade to prevent a tax-exempt religious organization from occupying an otherwise taxable piece of property.

RLUIPA: A Federal Statute to Help Religious Organizations

Local governmental bodies may even try to restrict the church’s religious practice by limiting the locations that a church may exist in the city or even placing impermissible conditions on the church’s practice. Fortunately, in 2000, Congress passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), a bipartisan statute that embodies two American ideals: the right to own property and the right to practice one’s religion freely. RLUIPA is a federal law that protects places of worship and other religious uses of property (including religious schools and religious social service providers) in the zoning and landmarking process from actions by local governments that:

  • Place substantial burdens on religious exercise;
  • Treat religious assemblies and institutions worse than nonreligious assemblies and institutions;
  • Discriminate against religious assemblies or institutions based on religion or religious denomination; or
  • Totally or unreasonably exclude religious assemblies and institutions from a particular municipality or county.

Although the law has been in effect for eighteen years, the Department of Justice has indicated that “far too many people and communities remain unware of the law, or do not fully understand the scope of its provisions.” In fact, a July 2016 report by the Department of Justice revealed that the number of RLUIPA investigations on a per year basis has remained pretty constant since the enactment of the law.

The Government’s Place to Worship Initiative

On June 13, 2018, in order to address continuing RLUIPA violations, the Attorney General announced the Place to Worship Initiative.  The goal of the Initiative is to “focus on protecting the ability of houses of worship and other religious institutions to build, expand, buy, or rent facilities—as provided under by the land use provisions of [RLUIPA].”

The Initiative seeks to increase the DOJ’s enforcement of RLUIPA, and educate religious leaders, county and municipal officials, and the general public about RLUIPA. In announcing the initiative, Attorney General Sessions provided the following statement:

“The Constitution doesn’t just protect freedom to worship in private—it protects the public exercise of religious belief, including where people worship together,” Attorney General Sessions said. “Under the laws of this country, government cannot discriminate against people based on their religion–not in law enforcement, not in grant-making, not in hiring, and not in local zoning laws. President Trump is an unwavering defender of the right of free exercise, and under his leadership, the Department of Justice is standing up for the rights of all Americans. By raising awareness about our legal rights, the Place to Worship Initiative will help us bring more civil rights cases, win more cases, and prevent discrimination from happening in the first place.”

A detailed Statement of the Department of Justice on the Land Use Provisions of RLUIPA with Questions and Answers (June 13, 2018), is available here. The DOJ also launched a new web page, which provides more information on RLUIPA and its protections.

Examples of Potential RLUIPA Violations

(a)       Substantial Burden Example

A church is denied a permit to build an addition to accommodate more Sunday school classes, which it believes it needs to carry out its religious mission. This may violate RLUIPA if the municipality cannot show a compelling reason for the denial.

(b)       Equal Terms Example

A church leases space in a storefront. Zoning officials deny an occupancy permit because houses of worship are forbidden in that particular zoning district. However, fraternal organizations, meeting halls, and banquet facilities are all permitted as of right in the same zoning district. This may violate RLUIPA.

(c)        Discrimination Example

A Baptist congregation is denied a building permit for a church despite meeting all of the requirements for height, setback, and parking required by the zoning code. The zoning administrator is overheard making a disparaging remark about Baptists. If it were proven that the permit was denied because the applicants were Baptists, this would violate RLUIPA.

(d)       Totally or Unreasonably Excluding Houses of Worship Example

A municipality, seeking to preserve tax revenues, enacts a law that no new churches or other houses of worship will be permitted. Such a total exclusion may violate RLUIPA.

Jackson Walker has worked with the DOJ on a few RLUIPA cases in the past. We found the DOJ to be a tremendous advocate and asset to help resolve a RLUIPA dispute. For more information on Jackson Walker’s RLUIPA practice please visit

The Better Way to Build: The Benefits of Design-Build Construction

Written By Dow Smith, Owner of Dow Smith Company and member of the NACDB


What business wouldn’t want to choose a building process that offers opportunities to save money, to reduce construction time, to allow customization, to optimize quality, and to streamline the entire experience?

No hands raised in the audience? That comes as no surprise to all of us at Dow Smith Company. We’ve worked with hundreds of clients since 1992, and those are key advantages that every one of our clients has valued.

Today, we’re pleased to be regarded as Middle Tennessee’s expert in a process loaded with many intrinsic benefits. Known as “Design-Build,” its cost efficiency, time savings, and collaborative nature have made it popular among clients for everything from commercial and municipal buildings to sports facilities, churches, restaurants, manufacturing plants, medical facilities, and more.

How does it work?

Design-Build Single Contract | Dow Smith CompanyTo begin with, the design-build process is much more fluid than traditional design-bid-build, where the owner hires an architect to design a set of plans then puts the job out to bid. Instead of long gaps of time (and remember, time is money) between different phases of a project being completed by different participants, each member of a design-build team works together from the start and during every step of the process to help move things along quickly and more smoothly.

Design-build allows you to vet potential candidates based on experience, then dig into the details of your specific project. This design-build selection process often overlaps with the next phase—the pre-construction phase—since the design-builder team selected will likely have already done a significant amount of research and analysis of the construction site and other particulars of the project.

Notice that you’d be saving time even at the very beginning of the project.

This pre-construction step is critical. Attention to detail is paramount. This is when the design-builder will learn about the owner’s business, including goals, challenges, budget, and overall vision for the project. It’s a time for asking as many questions as necessary, so as to get a solid picture of what is expected to be delivered. Our clients tell us that they find this phase invaluable. This is when our experience can help you fine-tune plans based on what we have learned from more than 25 years of construction throughout Middle Tennessee. Efficiencies, added benefits, cost reductions, and enhancements have grown out of this collaborative, team-focused process.

During this phase, the owner, architects, engineers, contractors, and other consultants work together as a team to assess existing structures, electrical systems, HVAC systems, operational necessities, and more to determine what needs to be done before construction starts. These assessments allow for a thorough analysis of the construction site, which helps the design-build team maximize efficiency throughout the project.

At this stage, we view our work—together with you and the entire team—as an excellent opportunity to assess areas for cost savings and optimized productivity, while also meeting functional requirements and style preferences. We’ll leave no stone unturned when it comes to suggesting ways to save time, money, or logistical hassles. This process helps us deliver a building that suits your needs and schedule.

The overall project vision is established during this phase, and preliminary drawings are developed. Pricing estimates can be established during this phase as well, and a firm budget is provided. In addition, we’ll have a timeline for you so that you understand start and end dates, and every critical point in between. Our goal is to ensure that you find the construction experience as disruption-free as possible.

Bottom line: we have experienced that fewer design changes and mistakes are made due to miscommunication when design-build is employed. The increase in collaboration enables customization and innovation, which results in less time and fewer materials being wasted at each stage of the project. The result? A higher quality deliverable—with no surprises—ultimately resulting in increased satisfaction by the owner.

Technology in Worship…


If we look at Genesis we see how creative God really is…
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hoveringover the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good,and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

He separated the waters from the sky, created all kinds of animals, trees, plants..etc.

So you can see that God was creating a visual atmosphere. I’m sure when he did it he was probably like… MAN… I”M GOOD..THIS IS AWESOME!!

in verse 27 it says:

So God created mankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

If we’re created in the image of God… then we too must have a level of creativity in us as well that can be used and should be used for His glory. This is our ticket to incorporate creativity into our worship services.

As a worship leader and team… it’s our job to help lead people into the presence of God. I tell the worship team we are to help facilitate the atmosphere of worship.
So the question is…“is technology hindering or helping people worship?”

My personal opinion is that we should use every method possible to help in our communication. Not because we are trying to be cool, but because we have the most important message in the world to share. The times change, cultures and generations are different, technology is such a huge part of this world we live in. We are sensory and emotional people… drawn to technology…so to incorporate technology into our worship services helps draw the new generations into church…. we may change the way we present the message … but the message itself never changes.

Think about sound amplification in churches. That is a technology that helps people hear and understand what is being said. Graphics have the same application. Many people in our congregations are visual learners instead of auditory. When they see words and images in addition to hearing them they will actually remember them much more clearly. They will see and understand what is being said. The right lighting can assist in the moment of the song…. the bible says to enter into his gates with praise and thanksgiving… to me that’s a pretty celebratory moment… when i think of celebration…i think of high energy, excitement. So since God created us with senses and emotions… high energy lighting and backgrounds create a visual atmosphere of celebration, praise and thanksgiving that our visual senses can connect with.   We help facilitate what God wants to do through our worship services by infusing the elements of lighting with the movement of the spirit.

When the lighting is subtle and warm, it creates a more personal feel… again allowing an intimate setting to be in place to help facilitate a more “worshipful” moment with the movement of the holy spirit. We use the technology to help our senses and emotions that God has put in us… to become maybe a bit easier to connect with what God actually wants to do.

We can use contemporary culture in order to reach out, but just be careful not to compromise the message we are trying to bring to life visually.

I believe creativity in technology is a form of worship…it’s a modern day expression of what God has already done and who He is in creativity. We’re privileged to be able to do it.
If there’s one thing though that I would want you to remember as we approach technology in worship services…it would be this…that it’s not about how cool we can make and say look what I did… but to keep a heart of worship and approach it as giving back to God in worship.

When I sing every weekend..part of my prayer is that God is honored by what I have to give through my voice and guitar.   The bible says to do all things unto the Lord. Let your approach in creativity in technology be to honor God and bring greater life to what He already has planned… this is how we do our part to help facilitate an atmosphere of worship through audio and visual. Have fun with it… and bring a smile to God’s face.


Assertiveness: A Mind-Set that Leads to Achievement

by Leroy Hamm for IHD Corporation, NACDB Member

Years of frustration from living in a “prison of passivity” led me to write this article. Saying “yes” to decisions and people when I should have said “no” left me living with some very negative consequences – in some cases for years afterward. The internal struggle of feeling powerless in some situations and of being tentative in circumstances that required honest, direct communication left me ultimately with a choice: Learn how to communicate more effectively, regardless of the different communication styles of others, or stay locked in my ineffective, self-made prison. I had to learn to be more assertive.

Assertiveness is not just a skill, it is a mind-set. And it can be difficult to learn because living it is more of an emotional issue than a rational one – both for the aggressive and for the passive person. It is a matter of unlearning certain misconceptions and learning another way of looking at one’s self and others. In a word, it is confidence. In their book, Execution, Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan and Charles Burek call assertiveness or confidence “emotional fortitude.” “Emotional fortitude,” says Bossidy, “gives you the courage to accept points of view that are opposite of yours and deal with conflict and the confidence to encourage and accept challenges in group settings. It enables you to deal with your own weaknesses, be firm with people who aren’t performing, and to handle the ambiguity inherent in fast-moving, complex organizations.” He goes on to say, “How can your organization face reality if people don’t speak honestly and if its leaders don’t have the confidence to surface and resolve conflicts or give and take honest criticism?”

Bossidy’s “emotional fortitude” is assertiveness, and managers have to have it or run the risk of not having any effectiveness. In the book, First Break All the Rules, by Buckingham & Coffman of the Gallup organization, according to their feedback, it is the mid-level manager who makes or breaks an organization. They report, “We discovered that the manager – not pay, benefits, perks or a charismatic corporate leader – was the critical player in building a strong workplace. The manager was the key. People leave managers, not companies. If you have a turnover problem, look first to your managers.”


Why do people leave their managers? In a study by Morgan McCall & Michael

Lombardo titled, Derailed Executives, six out of ten reasons that managers derail on their way to the top had to do with relationships. They are as follows:

  1. Insensitivity to others, an abrasive, intimidating bullying style.
  2. Coldness, aloofness or arrogance.
  3. Over-managing, failing to delegate or to build a team.
  4. Failure to staff effectively.
  5. Inability to adapt to a boss with a different style.
  6. Over-dependence on a single mentor.

All of the six causes of derailment listed above can be related back to assertiveness issues. For example, one assertiveness issue, aggressiveness, is a behavioral style that cares little about the needs, opinions or feelings of others, and gets what he or she wants in a domineering, obtuse and often impatient way. They are interested in winning and will do what it takes to do it. The language of an aggressive person is personal and demeaning, “You can’t do anything right. You’ll never make it.” “You shouldn’t be in this business.” “Even a six year old would understand that.” Their language may even be aggressive and they feel free to violate the rights and feelings of others. “If you don’t like it, then you know what you can do with it!” or “I know what I am doing so if you don’t like it then get someone else!” Aggressiveness inherently has character flaws. It is selfish, insensitive, and unfair. Typically, control is a big issue for aggressive people. They demand control because they fear the loss of it. When they feel they are losing it, their fear increases. What we fear tends to make us angry. And since the aggressive person handles his anger in an unhealthy way, it can damage relationships and scatter bodies on his way to the top.

Dealing Effectively with the Aggressive Person

The aggressive person actually responds well to those who stand up to them. However, if it is another aggressive, person, the problem is likely to escalate. The challenge for others less aggressive is just getting past the fear of what the aggressive person might do if they confront them. Once the passive person learns an assertiveness skill set, he may be surprised that the aggressive bark is bigger than the bite. The following are some suggested healthy responses to the aggressive person:

  1. I want to hear what you have to say. I am not willing to be called names.
  1. You seem really angry about this. I’ll talk to you about this at 2:00 p.m.
  1. I can’t talk to you when you are shouting.

Never get into a shouting match unless it is absolutely necessary. Never allow the aggressive person to intimidate you. Never get “personal” even if the aggressive person gets personal. Respond with “I want to hear what you have to say. I am not willing to be called names.” Keep it professional, not personal. Prepare ahead of time for the interaction if possible. If caught off guard, consider the source and keep your goals in mind. Depending on who it is and the potential risk versus benefits, it may not be worth engaging full throttle. Assertiveness is a choice and the response you choose to use may be aggressive, assertive or even passive but your goals are always assertive. Carol Price says in her CD series Assertiveness Communication Skills for Professionals that sometimes a “good run is better than a bad stand. “You decide your response. Don’t let others decide it for you. It is your choice.

IHD Corporation, a leader in pre-screening and personnel development, is a twenty seven year-old Human Resources services firm which provides pre-employment assessments and management and team development seminars and programs.

Leroy Hamm is President of IHD Corporation, a leader in pre-employment assessments and seminars on interviewing and communication skills. In 1987, Mr. Hamm founded IHD Corporation to train companies in the use of the DISC II and Achiever assessments. Leroy can be reached at

Healthy Vs. Wealthy

What most church capital campaigns are missing

By: Chuck Klein of Impact Stewardship, NACDB member

A church capital campaign conducted properly should be a spiritual process and not a financial transaction. This is the golden opportunity for church leadership to teach, engage, challenge, disciple and communicate.  Don’t let this opportunity go by without giving your people the chance to learn, grow, share, become involved and be challenged in a way they may have never been before. So many areas are never considered in a church’s capital campaign because the focus gets stuck on the wrong emphasis: money.

Here are key non-monetary goals that every church should aim for:

#1 This is a teaching opportunity.  You have before you the opportunity to educate EVERYONE in your church about Biblical stewardship.  Help your new believers understand the difference between tithing and sacrificial giving. Tithing is about consistent obedience and generosity in response to how God has blessed you.  It is truly an act of worship.  However at times, God will call his people to a time of over and above sacrifice for His Glory and for His Kingdom purpose.  This should be the Biblical foundation of all church capital campaigns.  In addition, this is a chance to teach these timeless principles to ALL AGES. This means not only your adults but your children and teens.

#2 The church is at such a unique time.  So many different generations are represented (MiIlennials, Gen X, Boomers, Silent Generation and Beyond). All receive and process information in such different ways and what motivates each to respond are so different.  This creates a challenge for church leadership but in the case of a capital campaign, it creates such a wonderful opportunity.  Engaging all generations is imperative and a successful church is able to communicate in a way to engage all of its members.

#3 One of the greatest things church leaders can do for their people is to not try to handle all aspects of the campaign.  Instead, they need to delegate. When churches involve a larger amount of its people in the process, everyone wins.  When a church leader decides to run a campaign with only a pool of 3-5 people, it can be a recipe for disaster.  These 3-5 individuals usually include the Pastor and key staff. As we know, these individuals already have a full time gig and we don’t need to put any more on their plate than is absolutely necessary.  Involve multi-generations on your campaign teams.  Let them all be a part of sharing the narrative and working together for a common goal while helping communicate to their generation as a key influencer.

#4 Your church has a story to tell. Generations of ministry stories exist because of your people’s generosity.  Don’t lose site of this as you walk through this important season.  The message is important.  It’s not about a building but about the ministry that takes place because of that sacred space.

Impact Stewardship provides full-service capital stewardship campaign consulting for churches and Christian ministries. Impact has developed a comprehensive program that combines innovative techniques with Biblically-rooted stewardship principles. Chuck is the principle owner and President of Impact Stewardship Resources, Inc. Chuck entered church consulting with the purpose of creating innovative programs that communicate biblical principles, promote church vision and build God’s Kingdom. Chuck can be reached at

We are here to help! Please let us know if you need anything.  To speak with an NACDB Certified Church Consultant, please contact us! Plus, you can always learn more on our website:

Sincerely  yours,

Space Stewardship Program

By: Ron Ogden of Series Seating, NACDB member and Corporate Sponsor

Conventional wisdom
is doing what you have always done because that’s what you have always done…accepting the status quo. The responsibility of SpaceStewardship inspired us to challenge conventional ways of doing seating. The conventional options shown below all present significant restrictions in seat capacity and traffic flow with the limited amount of egress space between the rows.

Space Stewardship (2)


The principle of stewardship
recognizes that everything we have comes from God and belongs to God. We are simply given charge over it to put it to good use and make the most of it. This applies to our finances, our talents, and all resources. And though you don’t always think about it, your church campus real estate is another gift placed under your charge – and at the heart of that campus is perhaps the most important space of all…that space set aside for worship. Making the most of that valuable footprint is part of what pew replacement and SpaceStewardship is all about – and remains at the heart of all we do for the market we serve.

The key to space efficiency is in achieving a tight seat envelope in the seat design. This is what determines the amount of passage between rows and ultimately impacts seat capacity, traffic flow, and maintenance issues. The illustration below shows the 15.5” envelope in the SERIES Vera chair that allows a 20.5” egress, significantly greater than the typical 12” egress on a conventional pew.

Eliminating the intermediate arm dividers associated with conventional theater seats advances the cause of space efficiency by providing 2 more inches of individual space at the hips and elbows. Over the past several years the “no arm” option has accounted for over 97% of sales to the church market.

At SERIES we take great strides in making small footprints. The Vera chair consumes only 2.36 square feet of floor space compared to 3.66 square foot per seating unit with a conventional pew. We call that a small footprint that makes a big impression. In an auditorium designed to seat 1000 people with a conventional pew, the Vera chair will free up 1300 square foot of usable floor space that would be lost to a pew, allowing you to make the most of your own worship area footprint. Ultimately the Value of the SERIES Vera chair will be inseparably linked to the value of your real estate.

Space Stewardship (3)

SERIES is the industry leader in product innovation and design solutions in the seating industry. We have proven excellence in the Performing Arts, Worship, Education, Stadium, and Cinema Markets. Ron Ogden is founder and president of Worship Space Advisors based in Winona Lake In. Ron can be reached at 

We are here to help! Please let us know if you need anything.  To speak with an NACDB Certified Church Consultant, please contact us! Plus, you can always learn more on our website:

Sincerely  yours,

Church Design Trends for 2017

By: Kurt Williams of T&W Church Solutions, NACDB member and Certified Church Consultant

Just like any trend, not everyone is inclined to follow along. The same is to be said for church trends. Every church’s DNA is very unique and may or may not align with the “general direction” that we have observed in church design trends. However, the design trends we are seeing as we head into 2017 are very “people” focused and might spark some thought for your own ministry.
The five trends to note are:

  • Multi-site venues
  • Community centers
  • Connection space
  • Children’s security
  • Children’s play areas


Multi-Site Venues

Large churches have struggled to connect with and bring their people into community and involvement with the church. The struggle to connect people into the church is primarily due to the large number of people and the limited opportunities to plug them into the ministry. One of the many benefits of multi-site, is the ability to replicate the DNA of the home church while providing opportunities for connection and involvement within the church.
Community Centers

Today’s growing churches are finding ways to use their buildings seven days a week. A “Community Center” ministry mindset draws people into your facility for a number of different community meetings and activities. These are people that would normally never cast a shadow in the door of a church. You never know…that totally unrelated church activity may be the way the Lord “nudges” someone to check out a service on Sunday.
Connection Space

Traditionally, the foyer/narthex was the conduit to get people from your worship space to the parking lot as quickly as possible. The new gathering/connection space (foyer/narthex) is now an area for all to slow down, fellowship and connect with others. To satisfy this critical need, architect’s are designing spaces that are at least 1/3 the size of the worship center up to 1/2 the size.
Children’s Security

Millennial moms list safety as one of their highest concerns for their children. The church that is not visibly addressing security control in their children’s areas are “telling” those young mothers how important their child really is. The trend is to have a central security check-point. Security can be done in a very warm and inviting way while allowing parents to feel good about leaving their precious child in your hands.
Children’s Playscapes

Either indoor or outdoor playscapes are great opportunities to reach out to the community. As a part of the “community center” ministry mindset, playscapes bring families to your campus to let their kids run off a little steam AND connect with you and each other on days other than Sunday.
A trend is a general direction in which something is moving or changing.Not every trend is right for every church, but trends can be a valuable way to gauge what the public is looking for in a church and what other churches are doing to reach a largely unbelieving public. My hope is that this quick summary of what we are seeing as trends for the church, might plant a couple seeds on how your ministry might adapt/adopt to reach those in your community.

Over the last ten years, T&W Church Solutions has designed and built over one million square feet of ministry space in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Our process is designed to understand your specific ministry and then develop a building plan that reflects who you are and how you do ministry. If you are considering expanding your facility, re-purposing your existing space, relocating your ministry or launching a new multi-site location, T&W Church Solutions can help.

Kurt Williams, NACDB CCC, LEED AP, is a Design/Build veteran at T&W Church Solutions ( with over 30 years in the industry, 25 of those years guiding hundreds of churches through the various stages of Planning, Designing and Building their new facilities. T&W Church Solutions is a Design/Build firm who partners with ministry-focused architects to serve the churches of Central Indiana as well as the only NACDB (National Association of Church Design Builders) Certified Firm in Central Indiana. Kurt can be reached at


Safety at Your Church

What security concerns must be addressed by every church and ministry? Get an overview of the most common and urgent areas of safety and security from an authority on church legal matters.

Click here to watch this video from NACDB member Anthony & Middlebrook.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 1.42.32 PM

What’s your plan?

Anthony & Middlebrook, P.C. is a boutique law firm specializing in the representation of nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations, including public charities, private foundations (company-sponsored and family-endowed), social welfare organizations, trade associations, hospitals, private schools, colleges and universities, churches and religious organizations, charitable trusts, and supporting organizations.

Get Your Church Ready to Borrow

By: Charity Kuehn of Union Bank and Trust, NACDB member and Certified Church Consultant

God has blessed you and your church family with many, many gifts. You have been good stewards of those blessings, but the world isn’t the same as it used to be. Growth is expensive and requires you to have good financial partners who will help to guide you through the challenges of that growth.

As the Assistant Vice President of Church Financing at Union Bank, I want to share with you some important points you will need to consider as you prepare to request a loan from a financial institution. Union Bank’s Church financing area lends all over the United States, with a strong focus on the Central and Midwest parts of the country. I have worked with many different denominations and in cities with varying economic circumstances. There is always a common thread among church loans that are successfully approved: preparation.

You will find out that I am a pretty open person and I intend to be very candid about what a financial institution is truly evaluating. There should really be no secrets between the bank and the church as you go through this process together. As the borrower, you need to fully understand what your bank is weighing in their decision.


Making a commitment to borrow funds requires some documentation to be gathered for review by your board and your lender. You will need to have your church’s Articles and By-laws available to include with your loan request. Because board members and signers often change for a church, it is a good idea to provide documentation showing who exactly can make the decision to borrow and that the church board has approved the church to make a borrowing request. Having this documentation up-front will show your lender that you are organized, prepared  and that the process to put loan documents together will be smooth.

Church Family History

Be ready to tell your story. A powerful component to your request is being able to show the financial institution your church’s vision for your future. Provide a history of your church and include information about the church leadership and pastor. Discuss in your summary of the church the future growth plans in detail. Explain why you feel you will grow, what audience you are targeting in your growth efforts, the tools you are using to reach them and what success or trends you have so far. In essence, you want your lender to want to join your church. Share your passion.

Campaign for Pledges

As a church, you need to be comfortable and committed to a growth project in every way. A successful fund raising campaign can be solid proof of this commitment. Provide as much detailed information about the commitments you have as well as the funds you have received as you can. I suggest a detailed report of each pledge, how much has been received so far and what is left to collect. Also showing your anticipated timeline for receiving the funds is helpful for your lender to see how much you will likely need over the course of the project. For any financial institution that truly committed to church financing, they will understand the power of a great campaign and not discount or dismiss it.


Presenting finances that have an accountant’s credibility behind them will give you a tremendous boost in the eyes of your lender. No matter what bank or financial institution you work with, they are going to want to see your church’s financial history. Many times the way a church handles their financials today is the same as it was when the church began 10 or 15 or sometimes even 40 years ago. When you started your church and there were only a few members, your accounting system was simple and easy to explain to the membership and the board. When you ask a bank to decipher your “system,” it can limit the number of financial institutions willing to consider your request. I, personally, love to get the financials from a new church, but it can often take multiple conversations in order to make sure I am giving the church a fair look because the financials are difficult to interpret. My first recommendation is to have an accountant do a full review of your finances BEFORE you make your request for financing. Any church with an annual giving budget of more than $350,000 per year should consider getting a professional involved on an annual basis. If nothing else, an accountant can compile your financials into a format that will be more easily presented in a loan request.

Know your numbers

There are a few key ratios most financial institutions will evaluate as they look at your request. Here are a couple of benchmarks that I use at Union Bank to do an initial evaluation of a loan request.

  • Is the loan request less than 4x the annual contributions?
  • Does the annual loan payment stay below $600 per giving unit (a giving unit is an individual or family in your church who gives on a regular basis)
  • Does the average annual amount giving by each giving unit exceed $1200? (exceeding in this case is good)
  • Is the annual debt payment less than 30% of total gross revenue of the church?

These numbers can give you a good idea of where you will stand on first glance with a financial institution. If you are far outside of any of these ratios, it is a good idea to analyze why that may be and do one of two things.

  1. You can either adjust your project to be more in line with what a lender will find acceptable.
  2. Prepare a strong argument about how the risk of being outside of that ratio can be mitigated. Knowing where your weaker points are before you put your request out for review not only   helps you understand what challenges you have, but may also bring to light some areas that should be re-evaluated.


Ask the important questions of your financial institution.

  • Do they understand churches and their needs?
  • Are they willing to truly listen to you?
  • Does the individual you are working with seem interested in only the transaction or do they want to be a part of your financial team?

Knowing these answers can help guide you to the right financial institution for your church. A good church lender knows that not every project is ready for approval from the moment you meet. Many projects take time and effort to get the church and the project to the point that it makes sense for them. The right lender is willing to take that time to walk side by side with you as you are guided by God toward what is best for your church.

I wish everyone who is beginning this journey my very best. If I can be a resource for you don’t hesitate to contact me. I am always glad to simply discuss and brainstorm.