Church Growth and Construction Rebound

[1] During the pandemic, there was a predictable slowdown in church construction. Many churches that had scheduled renovation or new building projects put them on hold. Others that had begun to consider launching such projects decided to put the subject on the back burner for a year or two, until they could be certain the time was right.

[2] For everyone the hope was that these delays would be temporary. There may have been some pessimism about this in some quarters, among church architects and church leaders alike. But right now, that light at the end of the tunnel seems to be growing brighter.

[3] We’re still a little too early in the post-pandemic period for any measurable trends to have emerged. Nevertheless, from my insider’s perspective I believe a significant uptake in church construction and renovation activity is on the horizon. The conversations I’ve been having with established, new, and potential new clients have been very encouraging, and I know some of my colleagues in the industry are experiencing the same.

[4] As pandemic restrictions fade, worshippers are returning to church in impressive numbers, much to the delight of church leaders everywhere. I believe that it is through in-person services that a real sense of community can be built and maintained. A full and authentic immersion in that kind of community is what people were missing when they could only attend church online.

[5] In the short-term, regenerating that special type of connection means filling church pews each Sunday. But in the long-term the quest to rebuild church communities should spark increased activity on the building front, since there are facilities everywhere that are in need of upgrading or replacement.

Can the Growth of Online Services Actually Increase In-Person Attendance?

[6] Online services are here to stay; in fact they offer church leaders an opportunity to grow their congregations and keep their churches viable.

[7] Moreover, expanded membership through virtual outreach opens the possibility of increased onsite attendance down the road. The idea is that virtual worshippers may ultimately decide to spend at least the occasional Sunday attending church in person, in order to get to know their pastors and their fellow church members. If most worshippers choose to mix virtual with in-person attendance, pews may be significantly more occupied some weeks than others, and it is incumbent on church leaders to prepare to meet peak demand. This may require an expansion of existing facilities or by the construction of a new church campus).

[8] The difficult reality everyone faced because of Covid quarantines and lockdowns could encourage increased in-person church attendance moving forward. People were trapped inside for two years because of the pandemic; many were forced to work and interact with others online all the time. As a consequence, many people are now eager to get out of their houses and back out into the world, into more lively and authentic social environments. Church service and fellowship is one of the most spiritually rewarding environments possible.

[9] Virtual services are important, but they will never replace the in-person alternative. Their role is to supplement churches’ missions, missions which often also include the ability to provide worshippers with an opportunity to sit serenely in a sacred space and to hear an inspiring message in an uplifting atmosphere in the warm and welcoming company of family members, friends, and neighbors. Even the most regular online attendees are going to want to come for in-person services from time to time, to make the types of human connections with others that keep church communities vital and energized.

The Church’s Vocation and Church Architects

[10] The pandemic created fresh challenges that church leaders had to address. But in the long run, their purpose remains the same.  This means they will want to create inspiring environments that bring people through church doors on a regular basis where they can forge a deeper connection with God and his eternal message.

[11] Consequently, skilled and innovative church architects are going to be in heavy demand over the next few years, as church leaders strive to meet the spiritual needs of their congregation’s worshippers who want to strengthen their relationship with God and with each other.

[12] Church leaders that were thinking seriously about remodeling, expanding, or building new facilities may find their existing congregations will be more eager than ever for changes that enhance the intimacy and spiritual power of a shared worshipping experience. New construction projects may be a way to counteract the circumstances that kept people apart and away from houses of worship for far too long.


Buddy Siebenlist

With 25+ years of professional success in architecture, engineering, administration, construction, and real estate development, Buddy Siebenlist is the founding principal of Siebenlist Architects and the Siebenlist companies (