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Short on Space? How to Maximize Your Church Facilities

Church Finance Basics

A space shortage can be exciting because it’s often an indicator of growth. However, if not handled proactively, lack of space can inhibit further growth. Whether you’re short on worship or ministry space, these practical solutions will help you maximize it.

Maximize Worship Space

Generally, if an auditorium is at least 80% full according to code-determined seating capacity, it is full. At this point, further growth is unlikely. If you’ve reached this level and wish to maintain growth momentum, you have several options:

  • Chairs – Opting for chairs rather than pews allows you to fit more people into the same space.
  • Overflow space – If you have a large foyer or other room not in use during services, consider broadcasting a live video feed of the service in that area. Ask a core group of people to worship there on a rotating schedule to open up sanctuary seats for newcomers.
  • Another service – Although a great way to maximize your sanctuary, this can be a huge adjustment for staff and volunteers.
  • Larger venue for Sunday worship – We have worked with churches that have successfully relocated Sunday morning services to schools, movie theaters, community centers, and other unconventional locations.
  • Sanctuary expansion – Most sanctuaries are constructed in a way that would make this option difficult and expensive, but it may be viable for some.
  • New sanctuary – This is a major undertaking that should be considered in light of an overall facilities master plan.
  • Church plant – Pastor Rick Warren says a healthy mature church should do what a healthy mature adult does: have babies. Church plants that spring from existing churches are increasing.
  • Multi-site strategy – A multi-site church strategy can be carried out in a variety of creative methods, often with the collateral benefit of helping solve space issues.

Whether you choose something temporary, like swapping pews for chairs, or the permanence of a new sanctuary, make sure the solution fits with your overall church vision.

Maximize Ministry Space

Ancillary ministry space should be approached differently than assembly space. Follow these three steps to get the most out of it.

  • Take a Space Inventory

    List every space you currently have and how it is being used, including the parking lot and all storage areas. Document square footage, features, and potential occupancy load. If possible, include a space plan or drawing.

  • Assess Ministry Needs

    Consider each ministry that uses space on campus. How many people are involved? What are their facility needs? Are they stagnate or growing? Would they grow if they had more space? Could they meet off-site? Also consider each ministry against the mission of the church. What has God called you to do? How are current facilities limiting that?

  • Develop a Facilities Use Plan

    Now consider your ministry needs against your space inventory to see how to maximize the space. Often, the real issues are not what you thought. Part jigsaw puzzle, part balancing act, this step involves moving schedules and locations around to find the best solutions. Be creative about repurposing and renovating rooms as ministry needs change.

What are some of the space challenges your church has faced? What solutions did you implement? Share your ideas below.

Every day we consult with ministries about their facility needs and offer solutions to resource their vision without jeopardizing current budgets. If you would like more information, call 888.599.6015 or email us at

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