From A Warehouse To God’s House

The ins and outs of repurposing empty existing buildings as ministry centers



A presentation by Steve Fridsma, principal architect at Elevate Studio in Grand Rapids, MI. In our down economy, empty existing buildings dot the landscape. Some of them may actually be perfect for re-purposing as ministry centers for communities of faith, usually for a fraction of the cost of building new. But how does a church go about selecting the right building?

This presentation outlines both the opportunities and challenges created when churches consider the adaptive re-use of an existing building for ministry, including reduced cost, abbreviated schedule, cultural familiarity, sustainability, structural limitations, zoning challenges, and code compliance. Case studies will include an office building that was turned into a children's and youth ministry center, a semi-conductor manufacturing facility that was turned into a church, and the 2011 Solomon Award-winning 3 Mile Project: a factory/warehouse that was turned into a thriving teen center on a shoestring budget.

Churches will take away an understanding of the real benefits of buying and renovating vs. building new, and how to discern whether a particular building might be a good candidate for adaptive re-use.

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