Modernising Church Spaces: 21st Century Adaptations

Most churches throughout their life spans will be in need of modernising, the question is which 21st Century adaptation is your church in the most need of?

There would have been a time when churches were simple buildings.

Centuries ago, when they were built to be centres of the community, the priorities of the designers and engineers were a little different to what they are today. In the 13th and 14th Centuries when churches were rising from the ground on an almost yearly basis, architects and builders were more concerned with how resilient their new buildings would be to a forceful attack from an invasive army than the wily tricks of an opportunistic burglar.

Today’s churches have to serve multiple functions. Although they’re still very much considered a part of the community, it’s also vital that they have the kind of modern features expected of any other multi-purpose venue. The following 21st Century adaptations might not be crucial additions for every church, but they are fast becoming the standard amongst new builds. How many changes does your church need to make, to keep up with the times?

Integrated PA System

Have you arrived late to a Sunday Service and found that you’re lip-reading the revered for the next hour? High-quality speaker systems have been dropping in price year-on-year for the last decade, making this a great time to invest in one for your church. With a good set of speakers correctly positioned and your reverend fitted with a microphone your sermons will be perfectly audible for the entire congregation to hear.

New Lighting

Although many argue that the dramatic shadows provided by a lack of lighting in churches is part and parcel of the experience, we understand that many older people and those with poor eyesight would beg to differ. Reading, whether it be from a service sheet or a hymn book, is an integral component of attending church so it only follows that you should provide your congregation with the adequate lighting to do so. There are a handful of lighting companies who specialise in providing soft lighting for churches that aim to blend seamlessly with standard church decor.

Security Systems

Many rural churches might think that they don’t have to worry about security, but the sad truth is that it’s better to be safe than sorry. You don’t necessarily need a high-tech security system to protect your church, but it is worth investing in quality locks and ensuring that your access points are all adequately secured. Churches can often be easy targets for opportunistic thieves and whilst you might not have much to lose, the damage caused to the building can often be a hefty toll to pay.

Disabled Access

Finally, regardless of the age of your building it is crucial that your church stands up to the rigorous health and safety regulations that every public building should uphold. Although some listed buildings are often exempt from making structural changes, it’s growing increasingly necessary for churches to fit disabled access features so that people of all abilities can get easy, safe access to their buildings.

If you need a second opinion on what adaptations your church needs to make, you can send us an email using the ‘Reach Out’ page. 

Fundraising Tips for Church Renovation

Whether your church requires a complete rewire, or a ceiling needs re-plastering…

…collecting funds to pay for these renovations can sometimes be a real pain.

Often the churches that struggle the most when collecting donations for vital improvements are the small ones. Church communities can exist for decades with the smallest of congregations, but when it comes to covering a potentially huge bill for renovation these small groups often have to resort to alternative means of fundraising to keep their church open.

Luckily, despite the decreasing numbers of Christians in Britain, the public is still open to donating money to religious groups, especially when they’re made aware of the important role that many of these churches play in the community.

If you’re looking to raise money for your church renovations, why not think about trying a few of these ideas out with your congregation?

Hold a Bake Sale or Coffee Morning

Everyone loves a slice of cake with a cup of coffee! Holding a relaxed coffee morning in your church is a great way to show the local community what kind of work your church has been getting done and even gives you an opportunity to highlight the parts of your building that need fixing. Get your priest to make a mention of this at your next Sunday service and galvanise your congregation to make some truly scrumptious cakes to sell to the public.

Fun Run or Marathon

It feels like everyone’s getting into running these days and your church can get in on the fun as well! There are fun runs and races of all lengths taking place all across the country, how much money you raise for your church will depend on the distance you run, the number of runners and how well you promote yourself. You might well find that you can raise more money if you get your elderly members to take part in a relaxed fun run or walk.

Christmas Busking

If you haven’t noticed, we’re getting closer and closer to the festive season once more. Now is the perfect time to get you best singers together and start practicing your Christmas carols. Once you’ve polished off your repertoire you can take your choir out into the streets of your local town or city and raise some money busking. The general public tend to be far more generous the closer we get to Christmas – so make sure you take advantage of this!

Flea Market

Entice the local bargain hunters in your community into your church with a Flea Market or American-style Yard Sale! This idea requires your congregation to be really generous and offer up some unwanted items of their own for sale. Old tat and clothes are unlikely to raise much money, but if you have a couple of big ticket items then you have a chance of raising a good amount of money. Some of the best things to sell are: music records, vintage clothes and limited edition crockery.

Raising money for renovations can be a real challenge for a small church community, but with the right tactic anything can be achieved.

How Church Maintenance Can Help Your Community

Four ways that your church’s community can benefit from maintenance.

Many church owners like to see themselves as above such things as ‘maintenance’ – these people believe that the archaic nature of their buildings are part of their charm and therefore should be retained in someway.

Those who forgo maintenance for this reason, or any other, should remember that the longer they delay the upkeep of their building the more difficult (and more costly) the job will eventually be.

There are many benefits to regularly maintaining your church, these vary from the glaringly obvious to the more subtle. We’ve compiled a list of just a few of the reasons why you should keep your church regularly maintained and how it could help your community in the long run:

Maintaining your church makes it more attractive

Whilst some may prefer the ornate majesty of a dilapidated church, the truth is that no one wants to spend time in an old, dusty building. By hiring a team to maintain your church on a regular basis, you can guarantee that your building remains in good nick, keeping it (hopefully) looking as grand as it did when it was first built. Also, your community will be much more likely to make use of the spaces in your building if you keep them looking good.

Church maintenance is key to keeping your religious establishment relevant and safe.

The church is the wellspring of your community’s spiritual well-being. It is the peaceful centre of your patrons’ lives and should always feel like home to them. Despite this, one of the most important things about your church should be it’s safety standards. If your church is not a safe place to spend time in then why should anyone even think of praying there? Maintaining your church is crucial to keeping safety standards high and should never be underestimated.

Local people can benefit from employment

Church maintenance doesn’t always have to be performed by out of town teams. Most of the time you’ll be able to hire local people to do the small jobs around your church, this achieves the dual result of successfully maintaining your church and helping out your community. There are plenty of cleaning business opportunities present in a church, everything from polishing the floors to the cleaning the oven can be taken on by local people and will go a long way to strengthening your church’s ties with the community.

Sustain the pride that your community has in your church

The congregation of your church should be proud of where they pray. As we all know taking too much pride in anything is not godly, however there is righteousness in taking a certain amount of civic pride in your church building. By regularly maintaining your church, whether that’s by simply keeping it clean or upholding safety standards, you can help to keep your congregation truly proud of their church.

If you’d like help or advice on how to keep your church maintained then you can contact us through this website.

The Problems with Church Kitchens

For many people it’s up to debate if places of worship should offer functioning kitchens within their hallowed grounds.

The concept of a church, for most people, is defined by convention – they are considered to be places of worship, only suitable for pews, an altar and a font.

After all, if traditionalism belongs anywhere, then it belongs in the church, an institution whose roots run deep into the historical fabric of our country. Although it’s hard to believe that such conventions are enforced so regimentally in this day and age it’s important to remember that, for many church goers, the idea of installing a kitchen in the back of a centuries old religious building will be preposterous for some and down-right offensive to others.

As much as a fully-functioning kitchen can aid a church greatly by supporting their community groups and providing catering facilities for event hire – a new kitchen build can also prove to be the cause of many problems in the future:

Decor in line with church

It might seem antecedent to the deep nature of religion, but the dissonance between the aesthetics of a modern kitchen and the original decor can often be enough to blight a church for the rest of its existence. Installing a modern kitchen that fits in with the rest of the building’s architecture can be an expensive endeavour and might well cost much more than most committees have the stomach for.

Cost of ongoing maintenance

Once a kitchen is built it must be maintained. We’ve often found that church kitchens are used much more than domestic kitchens, this inevitably leads to misuse and degradation. Unfortunately, as is often the case with communal spaces, damage can be done over long periods of time which goes unreported, resulting in potentially dangerous hazards developing, not to mention expensive repair bills.

Appliance misuse and failure

The costs of fitting a kitchen do not end when you’ve settled up with the builders. Once it’s been fitted you need to have it kitted out with all the necessary appliances that you’d expect: dishwasher, kettle, microwave. All of these items need to be robust enough to last repeated use and resist damage – usually expensive, catering-standard appliances are the only real option. Buying second hand or on the cheap could cost more in the longer oven and it could be embarrassing should a paying group call to report the Lamona oven not heating up.

Irrevocable change to building

The main problem builders and designers have with fitting kitchens is getting the permission to make the changes in the first place. Older churches are usually listed which essentially means reels of red tape that block all manner of development. Simply put: trying to get a functional, modern kitchen installed in an old church can be next to impossible unless you have smart (usually expensive) designs and the connections with the council to get it approved.

Should you still want to get your kitchen built or you need help maintaining your existing one, you can contact us here for some further advice. 

Breaking Boundaries: What is Church?

Here’s a little exercise that you can try the next time that you’re in Church.

Once your’re settled in your pew with your prayer book on your lap, turn to your neighbour and ask them this questions:

‘What is church?’

Whilst they might answer you with a rather straight-forward answer like: ‘Church is here, you are in church,’ try and persevere by really stressing the word ‘is’. Hopefully they’ll then understand that you are asking them a philosophical question and will spend some time thinking about a more detailed, thoughtful answer. If they answer with something along the lines of ‘Church is here’ or ‘We are in church’, them move on to a different person.

The person who finally does understand your question will no doubt be confused but will gamely try and respond in a way that will (hopefully) make themselves looks smart. The smartest ones are likely to answer your question with another question like: ‘That depends on what you define a church as.’ In the event of this occurrence, you can consult this resource to show them all of the things that a church can be defined as.

Church is Sanctuary

Everyone remembers the beginning of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notredam – there’s an iconic moment in these opening scenes where Quasimodo’s mother, who’s being chased through the street, bangs her fists on the door of a church for sanctuary which she is denied. Unfortunately, despite times having changed so much since then people still rely on churches around the world as sanctuaries.

Church is Community Hub

Most importantly, in today’s increasingly secular world the church is a crucial place for people to meet and share common interests. Whether this is a small knitting group or a Rock’n’Roll choir, churches are fantastic, calm places for groups of people to convene. For decades now churches have been open to all kinds of people, regardless of their religion, it’s a way for church buildings to remain relevant despite the declining numbers of church goers.

Church is Entertainment

It might sound blasphemous to some but there’s always been an entertainment aspect to church services. Just think of Gospel Choir services with their dramatic singers and urgent preachers – these kinds of services are much more akin to theatrical performance than anything else, whilst the congregations will be getting a certain amount of spiritual enlightenment out of the proceedings they are also being entertained.

Church is Party Venue

What is a party but a celebration? It’s a place where we go to celebrate the lives of people, whether they’re getting married, dying or just getting going in life. For centuries churches have been places to party. Since the modern age has dawned churches have been hired out as venues for secular events such as birthdays, anniversaries – this has turned the concept of a church from peaceful place of worship to potentially party central.

So what is church?

Church is many things – most importantly, church is for you.

How To Avoid an Unnecessary Church Closure

Sometimes there’s really nothing that can be done.

Church maintenance should be constantly ongoing, safeguarding your building so that it will not fall into disrepair.

We’re often presented with cases where maintenance has been so sporadic that a building is quite simply on the verge of collapse. In some cases it’s easy to see how it happens, years can pass by quickly and small jobs can often transform from the tiniest of cracks to structural threatening nightmares. But what lies at the source of these small jobs that get ignored?

The discovery of a major problem in a church can cause a great deal of stress to both parishioner, sometimes leading to an unhelpful witch hunt with members seeking to find out whose fault the problem is. As with many issues in community-based buildings, responsibility usually lies with a number of people who have chosen to ignore the issue, rather than any one individual.

The best way to avoid a situation like this is by laying in place a fool-proof upkeep plan for your church:

Select a committee

The first thing to do is collect a team of individuals from your parish who have both the skills and free-time to aid with upkeep. A team of four or six people is enough for this, the important thing is that each person has the time needed to inspect the church thoroughly and convene at planned meetings. Ideally you’ll have a specialist in your committee who has some building or maintenance experience, allowing you to make astute assessments of your building before having to call in assistance.

Delegate roles

As with any committee, you’ll all need to take on certain role to ensure that all the bases are covered. As this is a specific team based around maintenance, it’s a good idea to divide the different aspects of the church that need to be looked after: Plumbing, Electrics, Church Property and Building Condition. Once these roles are divided out, it’s up to each team member to keep an eye on their respective departments and report their findings.

Meet regularly

Setting up regular meetings is a great way of keeping everyone accountable for their responsibilities. A weekly or bi-monthly meeting can give each member of the committee an opportunity to raise any concerns that I have, it’s important that you have this chance to discuss problems together as often these departments will have a significant effect on each other. Make notes of your meeting so that you can take the most important points and find a way to put them into action.

Feedback to church authorities

Feeding back your findings to the main Church committee is vital if you wish to enact any kind of preventative measures in your church. There’s no point collecting information on the disrepair of your church if you’re simply going to watch it get worse – make your voice heard so that you can galvanise your committee into taking positive preventative action and help keep your church running.…

Electrical Warning Signs That You Should Pay Attention To

There are many things that can go wrong with a church over time…

…the electrics are usually the main offenders in 20th Century builds.

It can be easy to overlook the deteriorating state of your church’s electrical infrastructure. After all, unless there are obvious risk like loose wires or flickering lights, you might not be aware that you even have a problem. Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples of religious buildings that are simply shut down after failing a basic electrical inspection.

There are a whole range of different risks that faulty or aged electrical wiring can cause your building. Just the smallest error made by the original electricians, decades ago, could potentially put your congregation and other church users at risk. Of course, the level of degradation of your wiring depends on when your church was built – if you’re in any doubt as to the state of your church electrics then you should consider calling a registered electrician in to fully test and asses your church.

Here are just a few of the warning signs you should look out for that could suggest that your church’s electrics need inspecting:

Constantly tripping circuit board

Is power constantly being cut in your church? Do you find that your priest is constantly running to the back to reset the circuit breaker? If so, there could be a chance that you have a serious problem with your church’s electrics. It might well be that you simply have too many appliances running though the circuit at one point, however it could also indicate that you have a short circuit somewhere in the building – if in doubt, get it checked.

Sparking sockets/breakers

Electricity is a powerful element that can cause serious harm, if you see a spark then you should contact an electrician immediately. There are many reasons why sparks could be coming from your sockets or breakers, it could be that an ac to dc power supply needs to be installed to control the flow of electricity from the National Grid. It could also suggest that your appliances are broken or in need of replacement, get everything checked out if in doubt.

Burning smells or smoke

If you ever detect an acrid burning smell or see white smoke appear when you turn on a light or an appliance, then you should immediately turn off/unplug the offending light or appliance at the mains. Electrical fires can often start without any kind of warning, so it’s important to act quickly and call an electrician to inspect the entire place.

Wiring hidden in walls or under floor boards can can slowly heat and degrade over time which can lead to a serious fire risk – this is why it’s important to check your electrics on an annual basis.

Failing to get your church’s electrics tested regularly is a negligent action which could potentially harm your congregation.

Never take a risk – always err on the side of caution.

Moving Churches: Making the Transition

There comes a time when a church is simply too dilapidated to save.

Churches are amongst some of the oldest buildings in the UK.

In their long lifetimes they are often well loved and well used, unfortunately this often means that a building can slide into complete dilapidation – rendering it completely useless to anyone.

In these sad cases churches are either left to slowly decay or are demolished – this is never a happy scenario, especially for the church’s congregation. Church buildings can be incredibly expensive things to maintain, because of this a church committee might have enough money to continue their community activities and pay the bills, but they won’t have anywhere near enough to physically maintain the building.

When a religious community is turfed out of it’s home a couple of things can happen. In the worst case scenario there are simply not enough funds to continue the organisation and the whole church is dissolved. This can prove to be a real blow for the community, as local church groups often provide a great deal more than just faith-based services. Vulnerable or lonely people in the community often rely on their local church as a safe space to socialise – so the loss of this constant place in their life can be devastating.

Thankfully, this is rarely the case for most churches.

In the majority of situations, closing churches find a way of either moving locations completely or joining with a neighbouring church group. In these situations a concise logistical plan should be drawn up in order to best find a way of organising, consolidating and moving the myriad items that the church has collected over the decades.

A church community can collect a massive variety of objects during it’s tenure. As churches are often a hub for the community, the sheer wealth of objects that a single church can collect over time can often be overwhelming, especially when it comes to organising it for removal. Over the years, donations of books, clothes, toys, as well as kitchen appliances, utensils and crockery might well end up exceeding the amount that the church even needs. In some of the worst cases, a church that is about to make an imminent move will resemble the home of an obsessive hoarder.

Luckily, the benefit of these belongings coming under the jurisdiction of a group of people means that the responsibility can be divided amongst many individuals, rather than just one. Combining the efforts of several people, a systematic approach can be taken to deciding what property should be moved on to the church’s next location and what should be either tipped, recycled or donated. At these times you can almost guarantee that the charitable status of the church will help draw in more resources. Churches can often procure wooden crates, cardboard boxes and removal vans at a discount rate – making moving day a much easier task to tackle.

As with most things, a successful church move is easiest when you have the aid of an entire community.

Taking Heed: Working on Hallowed Grounds

Getting renovation work completed on holy grounds can be tricky at times…

…you never know how your actions as a workman, might be perceived by others, making working on a religious site potentially a great deal more hazardous than your average construction site.

Us workmen can often be a coarse bunch. We don’t care too much whether we offend others, we can be loud and (sometimes) a little insensitive. In a usual construction site environment these qualities would not necessarily be an issue. However, as soon as we step into a religious environment, the smallest of off-hand comments has the potential to cause a huge amount of offence and even create an impassable rift between the client (the church and congregation) and your own outfit.

With this in mind, we’ve collected together a few of the pitfalls that have the potential of causing such interpersonal problems between workmen and religious folk. Some of these issues are easily avoidable, whereas others might require a bit of careful training with your men:

Paying respect to the worshippers

This may seem like a pretty basic rule, but you’d be surprised how many workmen make this mistake, often on the first day on-site. Now, we’re certainly not trying to suggest here that religious people are more easily offended than non-religious people, however it doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to figure out that those with a more regimented moral system are more likely to be offended by a demographic of people that (sometimes) pride themselves on their lack of political correctness.

Completing work quickly and effectively

It goes without saying that a good construction outfit will finish their work in a timely and orderly fashion, however the need for haste is even greater when working in a religious setting because of the level of demand that the building is under. Just think of all the events that take place in a church: christenings, weddings, regular services and we’re not even considering community activities. In order to minimise disruption to the community, it’s imperative that work is completed as quickly as possible.

Retaining the spirit of the building

When making important, irrevocable changes to a religious building it’s really important to consider the overall spirit of the building. Many churches exist unchanged for decades, or sometimes even centuries, making a radical aesthetic change might well create problems with the congregation, so it’s always a good idea to sound out your ideas with the priest as well as members of the Church committee. This group of people will have the best interests of the congregation at heart and should have an understanding of what the congregation would appreciate and what they would dislike.

Areas that are off-limits

Finally, rules concerning where members of the public (including work men) are allowed to go to will vary from church to church. Before you start any work on a new religious site it’s a good idea to have a sit-down discussion with the church elders as to where you and your men will be allowed to go and where is strictly off-limits. By doing this at the start of the process you can find a way of avoiding any embarrassing situations later on and you’ll also have the opportunity to raise potential logistical issues which may cause trouble down the line.