Commentary: Creating intentional ministry space on a budget


Effective leaders consistently prepare for the future, and that includes providing quality spaces for ministry. One Lifeway article highlights the importance of having a plan that renovates the space without wrecking your ministry. Is it possible to create more space and still have money for ministry? Can we find better ways to utilize the space we already have without spending excessive amounts of money (which can be about as hard to find as a dad serving in childcare on Sunday)?

In fact, this topic is so popular among leaders that Dr. PJ Dunn and I recently interviewed Pastors Dallas White and Kyle Clayton, both of whom remodeled quality spaces at their churches on a budget during the pandemic. It was 40 minutes of stirring insight, and you can listen or view the conversation on demand through Georgia Baptist Discipleship (GBD) YouTube and all podcast platforms after it goes live on Thursday, February 9, 2023 at 3:00PM Eastern on GBD Facebook.

Consider the following eight concepts as you create intentional spaces:

Holy Spirit Vision

Where does a leader start when trying to lead people to create new spaces or remodeling an existing space? A leader has no better place to start than with a Holy Spirit breathed vision. Let me ask you a question. When is the last time you set intentional time aside to pray, fast, and marinate on God’s Word as you seek the Lord? There is no substitute for this part of leading well in ministry, if you desire big vision and the capacity to see it through to completion.

Renovated People AND Spaces

In the interview, Pastor Dallas mentions the importance of our hearts being right and the culture of our church being healthy, so that a guest’s experience matches the inspiring renovated space. This is huge on so many levels. After all, what good does a great space do if your people don’t have a heart to connect with guests, lead them to Christ, and invest in them to become growing disciples who multiply?

Assess Before You Progress

Experienced leaders know how important it is to address current needs and problems before building or remodeling a ministry space. For example, one sign of a healthy church is that people want to hang out after Bible study and worship. At my last church, we would have to give our people the ole “movie theater light blink” and say, “you ain’t gotta go home, but you gotta get up outta here.” They loved visiting so we created intentional spaces on our campus for that to happen! Make sure that you spend adequate time upfront when building or remodeling so that you minimize regrets on the backside of the project.

Trust Builds Bridges

Trust is the relational soil in which individual and organizational change can happen. Spend time loving on your people and building trust, which helps you with credibility. Many leaders have learned that when church members love and trust them, they are much more likely to serve as a bridge, not a wall, as they are led through change. Three ways leaders can build trust:

  • Be present during the hard times. These relational credits build trust when credibility is needed.
  • Host leader lunches/coffees. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat with Sr. Adults having coffee for no reason other than to let them know that I care.
  • Demonstrate long-term faithfulness in ministry. This produces as much credibility as anything you will do.

Flexibility and Rigidity

I tell all of our team often, “Don’t be married to anything but your spouse.” Truthfully, I despise change, but God tends to place me in roles where I am the lead change agent. So, I’ve learned to own it.

Rarely does your perfectly thought-out idea work just as you dreamed it up. You may find that the wonky-sounding idea being proposed by your team may actually work better in the long run than your solo plan. Flexibility, clarity of expectation, and trusting your team members are all critical in project management.

Quality Leaders Who Think Beyond Borders

In Exodus 31 Moses leaned on Bezalel, who was described as “being filled with the spirit of God, with wisdom, understanding… with all kinds of skills.” Like Moses, surround yourself with leaders who can dream big, think purposefully, and who are willing to share their experience. Admittedly, there are some tasks that only professionals need to perform, but there are other assignments with which unskilled but willing church members can help and save you money.

Side note:  If possible, use an experienced builder or project manager who knows more than you! And, just because a guy remodeled his child’s bedroom or built an outdoor deck doesn’t make him experienced.

Build The Big Mo

In Exodus 25, the children of Israel are instructed to bring their offering as participation in the building project. Leaders must learn to master the skill of equipping and employing. God has placed people around you who have spiritual gifts, resources, and personal passions. We must not fail to give church members a role and a voice. Giving people an opportunity to voice their opinions and engage in the ministry is critical for building momentum AND making disciples. If you stop giving your people a voice and a role, they will eventually forget how to speak and serve.

Create a Memorable Experience

Great leaders create memorable experiences for their people. I think back to remodeling several ministry spaces in Haughton, La., with my artist wife and a team. We provided a platform for our people to utilize their talents, think about creative ways to do ministry and invest in a purposeful project.  As we attempted to complete the project with excellence, we also made it a point to have fun and create a memorable experience. Helping your people make memories while serving Jesus and their community is a worthwhile effort that will live beyond your ministry.


Dr. Scott Sullivan is the Discipleship Catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. For 30+ years Scott served in local churches that ranged in attendance from 100 to 1,000+. He completed multiple projects to remodel and build ministry spaces with purposeful design.