Bowman, When Not to Build


Ray Bowman and Eddy Hall, When Not to Build: An Architect’s Unconventional Wisdom for the Growing Church. Revised and Expanded Edition. Baker Books, 2000.

Referenced in: Church Administration – Architecture and Building Issues Summary

This is a Your Church magazine recommended resource, approaching the subject of church building from an unconventional perspective: churches may not need a major building program as much as they think, and should first stop to assess their motivations (principle of focus), space utilization (principle of use), and financial capability (principle of provision). The first fourteen chapters of the book encourage churches to raise a series of fifteen strategic questions that may reveal a “reason not to build, to delay building, or to seek another more appropriate solution through prayer, research, and evaluation.” (p. 16) A church may determine, however, that they still need to build, and if so, chapters 15-17 discuss who should and should not plan the building, and how to design a building for multiple use and effective outreach (e.g. ever hear of a sanctinasium?). The appendix contains an excellent workbook for developing a master facility plan. For those who have a strong belief in “sacred space,” this may not be the tool, but for those who are willing to consider creative and innovative ways to optimize existing space, this book is a gem. I recommend it as the first read for any church as they consider a building program. If you decide to build, other resources will be necessary, but if you end up agreeing with one of their foundational premises and resolve not to build, this is the essential guide.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

When Not to Build has helped numerous churches find wise and creative solutions to their space problems. The first edition garnered a Recommended Resource Award from Your Church magazine and won favorable reviews.

Now this expanded edition takes into account the changing shape of the contemporary church with four new chapters, a new appendix, an added preface, and updated information throughout.

In the authors’ experience, nine out of ten churches that consider building have a better alternative. When Not to Build helps pastors, church leaders, building committees, and laypeople find those alternatives and avoid unnecessary expense. It also offers practical advice for keeping building costs at a minimum when it is the right time to build, as well as maintaining focus on ministry through a building program. Self-tests are included at the end of each chapter.

Editorial Reviews

“…a valuable contribution for those that want to focus on developing more effective ministries.” —Reformed Review

“A uniquely insightful book.” —Ministries Today

“A valuable book-a good investment for churches planning to build.” —Librarian’s World

“A very important addition to the resources of any church.” —Mennonite Brethren Herald

“Every pastor and board should be required to read this book before making plans to build.” — Advance

“Useful reading for congregations considering a building program or wondering how to get the most out of their present facilities.” —Presbyterian Record

“Will edify any church leader in any phase of church growth.” —Bookstore Journal

About the Author

Ray Bowman, a church growth consultant, resides in Larkspur, Colorado. Eddy Hall, a freelance writer and editor who joined Bowman as an associate consultant, lives in Goessel, Kansas. Bowman and Hall are also coauthors of When Not to Borrow, and their articles have appeared in Leadership, Your Church, Ministries Today, and Clergy Journal.

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***For additional information on this resource, including reviews, click the bookstore links. Check the reference at page top or the links below for resource guides on related topics.***


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