The “SMART” Church

For the past decade, the term “smart” has been used to identify devices and physical environments that have incorporated technology to produce integration, inter-connectivity and system processing that does not rely solely on human interaction.

  • SMART Phone
  • SMART House
  • SMART Building
  • SMART Car

Well…Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE have a new term that is not a fad or a “Star Trek” kind of futuristic fantasy. Ready…

SMART CHURCH 

That’s right…your church building can now be SMART.  What does that even mean?!?! How can an inanimate object be smart?  It is like the Scarecrow…it does not have a brain…or does it? With the newly release FACILITeSPACE module to the eSPACE suite of Facility Management software applications, we have given your church building a brain…well sort of. While we cannot literally give your facility any gray matter, we have just released the next best thing.

FACILITeSPACE is the ONLY application that allows your church to integrate your event/facility scheduling software to many of your major building systems:

  1. COOLSPACE – HVAC integration with Building Automation and WiFi thermostats
  2. SECURESPACE – Door access controls
  3. INFOSPACE – Comprehensive system to integrate with your digital signage and digital room signage
  4. TECHSPACE – Coming Soon! – Will provide integration and alerts with early detection sensors (think water leak detection, overheated electrical panels and devices, humidity control, IT closet temperature….get the point…and turn on projectors and TV’s when an even it scheduled – WOW!)
  5. BRIGHTSPACE – Coming Soon! – Integration to lighting throughout your facility

Imagine…you schedule your event in eSPACE (or one of our integration partners) and it:

  • Turns the HVAC on in time for the event and then turns it off after the event
  • Unlocks/Locks whatever doors you need access (that have digital controls) for that event
  • Lists the schedule and other event data on the digital signage through your building
  • Displays the events on the digital door sign
  • Turns on the TV or Projector for the event
  • Turns on and off the needed lights for the event
  • Alerts your facility team and appropriate vendors if there is a significant issue

This is not a fairy tale…this is the world of IoT (Internet of Things) and the future is NOW.

Contact our team for more information and let the OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCIES BEGIN!

What to learn more?  Join us for an informational Webinar on Thursday, December 6, 2018, at 2:00pm EST.  Sign up HERE to join this Free webinar.

 

Early Christmas Gift for All Churches

Does your church have a facility? Then here is a GIFT for you! I know we still have several weeks before Christmas, but this is an early gift you will want to unwrap sooner rather than later.

Church facility management is the responsibility of all churches…any size…everywhere…all denominations…all colors…all styles. Get my point?!?!

That is why Cool Solutions Group developed and released Church Facility Management Solutions (CFMS) as a completely FREE online membership community. The data provided…the content…the resources…the webinars…the access to other church professionals…the access to vendors and the like is our GIFT TO YOU!

If you have not already checked it out, your FREE CFMS membership provides you with:

  1. Weekly Information sent directly to you to help you be proactive and intentional with the care of your facility.
  2. Online Community so that you can get input and feedback from hundreds of other church and facility leaders.
  3. Monthly Webinars by industry professionals who provide relevant information and resources for your church facility management.
  4. Vetted Vendors will put a list of qualified vendors at your fingertips with the assurance that they have been pre-qualified by our team…and they do not pay to be on this list.
  5. Free Resources are developed and made available to members including worksheets, forms, policy docs, job descriptions, etc.
  6. Availability to Consulting and Training Services.

Join us TODAY completely FREE!

Regardless of your church size, you need to be thinking about the best use and management of your facilities. There is no better place than this community. It offers the best of church facility expertise along with peer learning. You should not be without this resource!

Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO

LifeWay Christian Resources

Church Answers

We Focus On Your Facility…

…so you can focus on your mission.

That is more than just a tagline for our team.  This WHO we are.  It is WHY we do what we do. That is HOW we do what we do.

I am yet to find a pastor that went to seminary with the primary reason of focusing their energies, time and ministry on a building. I know a few Business Administrators and Executive Pastor’s that have previous experience in the world of the built environment…but that is not WHY they got into vocational ministry.

And yet…how many churches in America could continue to function without a facility? I dare say that every church…the body of believers…in North America relies on a facility in some form or fashion.  This reliance may be on a physical structure that they assemble in to worship, educate, disciple and/or meet the needs of others.  If you are a “home-based” church, you are reliant on a house or similar.  If you are 100% internet based, your church is still reliant on a facility to host your servers…to produce video and audio content.

I get it…the “church” is NOT a building.  I preach that at every speaking engagement and project we serve on.  The building will never save a soul.  It will never disciple a Christ-follower.  And yet, we have a reliance on it. I also get that this is a “First-World” issue. All of us have pointed to how the body of Christ can function in very austere settings in other countries.  And yet, here we are…reliant on a built environment.

So what are you to do?

First, be thankful we have such facilities to assist us in spreading the gospel.  Don’t despise it.

Second, don’t take it for granted or take a posture that we are entitled to these physical blessings.  Money does not grow on trees, as we all know, and it requires money to own a facility.  Did you notice I did not say BUILD…I said OWN.  When you evaluate the cost to own a facility, 71-80% of the total cost of ownership is in the OPERATIONAL costs…and usually, only 20% (over a 40 year period) is the cost to build.

Thirdly, do not try to go it alone.  As a ministry leader, you need to focus on the ministry, mission, and vision of what God has called you to.  That means you need to rely on others to plan, build, and care for your building. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  1. Hire the needed people on your staff to steward what has been entrusted to you
  2. Adequately fund your General Maintenance budget to avoid deferred maintenance
  3. Outsource duties and tasks to specialists (i.e. HVAC companies for Preventive Maintenance)
  4. Set aside appropriate Capital Reserves for the inevitable future costs
  5. Obtain a firm grasp on your current facility needs related to space allocation and Facility Condition
  6. Implement systems and processes to increase operational efficiencies (and energy efficiencies) such as software applications, system integrations, policies and procedures, workflows, etc.

Need some help to get started?  Let us know how we can help.

Stop Putting Out Fires

Contribution by Deborah Ike, President and Founder of Velocity Ministry Management

Of course, I’m not talking about actual fires (go ahead and put those out).  I’m referring to those proverbial fires where you’re running from one crisis to the next.  That’s what I see happening all too often with churches and their events.  Every ministry department wants to host several events throughout the year (often “planned” a few weeks instead of a few months ahead of time) PLUS the church as a whole hosts events as well.  All of this activity results in exhausted staff, frustrated volunteers, less-than-optimal events, and a congregation overwhelmed by so many event announcements.

Here’s what I often see:

  • The 1-2 weeks before an event, it’s all-hands-on-deck with nearly every other task dropped so all staff members can focus on last minute details for an event
  • No one knows all of the events coming up for the next 12 months
  • Facilities team members are often caught by surprise with requests for room setup and support
  • No single individual has a full understanding of how event plans are coming along or what’s supposed to happen the day of the event
  • Volunteers are frustrated with a lack of clear direction, training, or communication from staff
  • There are a lot of event planning meetings happening but rarely are firm decisions made or actions taken after those meetings
  • There’s a last-minute rush to try and get enough event volunteers
  • The staff barely finishes one event and already has to scramble to work on the next one…that’s coming up in a couple of weeks

Let’s stop the madness, folks. 

There’s a much easier, less stressful, and a more strategic way to host events at your church.  It involves planning ahead, thinking through what’s best (not just what’s good), and being disciplined in your approach.  It’s a bit like eating nutritious food and exercising.  Neither is super exciting but both result in more energy and better health.

If this problem sounds a bit too familiar, join us for the Proactive Event Planning Webinar on October 25th.  I’ll outline a proven process for planning events – one that will help you plan more impactful and less stressful events for your church.  Click here to reserve your spot today.

I’m looking forward to equipping you with a practical, straightforward process that can yield incredible results for your church.

5 Abuses of Church Property Insurance

Since early in establishing Cool Solutions Group, I have had a number of beliefs and convictions around how we insure our church facilities and why insurers do not “appear” to be more interested in the condition of the facilities they insure. Still don’t get that.

When you couple that with the fact that I have been watching the intersection of Facility Stewardship to Financial Stewardship to Personal Integrity to “Doing What is Right” as it relates to church property/facility insurance claims, I have been both bothered and concerned.  I have seen things that really bother me from both sides of the insurance “table”, and not just a little.

Let me share with you 5 abuses I have witnessed and why I think they need to be addressed:

  1. Pray for a Hail Storm – I have seen this first hand more than once.  A church does not plan for the inevitable cost of roof maintenance and replacement and start praying for a hail storm.  That is just wrong! Why should any company (insurance or not) pay for your lack of planning for the inevitable cost of roof maintenance and replacement? To take this a step further, I do not understand why church insurance continues to increase the value of church facilities when they are incurring more and more deferred maintenance that actually decreases the value. This really perplexes me (I told you I have concerns on both sides of the table). Can you imagine the outcry of churches whose coverage is reduced based on deferred maintenance or lack of maintenance? On the flip side, can you imagine what elation there would be to have little to no premium increases for churches that could empirically prove they were maintaining their facilities?  I would LOVE to see that. That would be true Facility Stewardship!
  2. The insurance company has lots of money – Aren’t you glad they do?!?!  I know I am glad Allstate does when we have a claim at the house. If they did not, how would claims get paid?  But here is the real fallacy with that line of thinking.  Where did that money come from?  Right…premiums. And who pays the premiums?  Right…all the churches (or people) they insure.  So when the insurance company pays a claim, the likelihood of all their other church clients premiums increasing is high. This is as much a Kingdom issue as it is insurance…maybe more. Talk about Financial Stewardship.
  3. We Won The Lottery  – “We just had a major insurance event…NEW SHOES FOR EVERYONE!” Insurance is bought in order to have coverage to repair/replace content and facilities that were directly impacted by the insurance event. It is not a “get out of jail free” card or a license to spend or the golden egg to offset a deficit in your budget. Yet, far too often the mindset of church leaders and staff is not aligned with the real reason for the claim dollars.  Think of it this way…if the insurance event had not occurred, what then?
  4. Pushed to the limit – We have insurance limits in the policy…let’s max them out. If there is a limit for contents or extra expenses or the like, are we not entitled to use ALL of it. Answer = NO.  In fact, not just no, but…
  5. 10 and 10 –  This one is an abuse that the insurance companies have allowed for too long. The term “10 and 10” is a construction industry term for 10% profit and 10% overhead. That means you take the raw cost of material and labor, then add 10% for overhead and 10% for profit…and you allow the general contractor to include their “General Conditions” cost of the superintendent, project manager, etc, the contractor is likely to walk away with 25-30% of the claim. Let me drill this down.  Say you have a $2 Million claim and you allow the contractor to charge 10/10 and general conditions…that could be $500,000 and a nail is not even driven.  In contrast, take that same project value for new construction, the current going rates we see are 6-8% plus general conditions…which equates to only about 15-17%. That is a potential swing of over $200,000. Now, I am not suggesting that the church get that money (refer back to #3 above), but it should reduce the amount of the claim the insurance company pays out…which saves them money…but…as indicated above in #2…it ultimately saves all the insured churches money in the form of less premium increases. NOTE:  The “10 and 10” issue I have is not with the small sub-contractor, but rather with larger claims where a bonafide General Contractor has to be engaged.

So…I realize that the above may not make me popular with many churches and even some insurance companies.  I am OK with that…because Facility Stewardship…coupled with Financial Stewardship are not just a good idea, but spiritual tenets.

You Cannot Do It All

You can be great at a small number of things or mediocre at a great many things. Unfortunately, in the church world, we expect our facility teams to be subject matter experts on a great many different things. As a result, we are getting mediocre results in several areas.

This is not a comment on the ability of the facility team, or on the demands from the church administration. Rather, it is an observation that there is a point in time where the benefit of bringing in outside experts is more profitable in the long term than trying to handle it in-house.

We readily see the benefit in certain “church” processes of seeking outside help (think church vision casting for example). When it comes to the facility, it becomes a much harder sell. There is this weird assumption that the paid facility staff should be able to handle everything. While I feel that facility teams accomplish a great deal more than folks realize, even I can admit that there are things that they simply should not be doing.

Therein lies one of the issues when it comes to outsourcing. What makes sense for one facility to outsource may not make sense for another. Each staff and church is unique in what they need assistance in managing. Some need help cleaning, some in maintenance, yet others only in project work. Determining where you need to outsource starts with making a realistic assessment as to what you and your team can accomplish with excellence. And it is not just executing a task with excellence once; it is what can you consistently perform well no matter the current operational pace.  Once you identify those areas, you can determine what areas are best to outsource.

What do you do then?

Before you start calling around and getting recommendations, you need to consider what results you want to see. It’s best to go into the outsourcing process with an understanding of what acceptable looks like to you. Be prepared to articulate that (in word and in writing) to the companies you are considering. The more you can define your needs, the better the company will be able to propose a scope and level of work that is appropriate. Effective and intentional communication is required if you want to have a successful experience.

What should we consider next?

For you, you should consider attending the free Church Facility Management Webinar on August 23rd. We will go to details on outsourcing, what to consider, what to ask for, and a great deal more. Navigate on over to www.cfms.cool and check us out, or click here to reserve your spot today.  Let us help you develop and understand how to leverage outsourcing as you work to steward your facility effectively.

 

Cheap Shower Curtains (and church facilities)

If you have read my blogs for just about any time at all, you know that I am a big Seth Godin fan.

Recently he posted a blog entitled “Cheap Shower Curtains” that really caught my attention. Here is an excerpt:

The unskilled cost accountant might suggest you outfit your new hotel with cheap shower curtains. After all, if you save $50 a room and have 200 rooms, pretty soon, we’re talking real money.

On the other hand, experience will demonstrate that cheap shower curtains let the water out, causing a minor flood, every day, room after room. And they wear out faster. Cheap shower curtains aren’t actually cheap.

This is so in line with one of our recent blogs – “Cheap Is No Bargain”

Let’s take the analogy above a little further:

PERCEIVED SAVINGS: – $50 x 200 rooms = $10,000

AFTERMATH COSTS:

  • Damage to the floor and substrate of 200 rooms
  • Ceiling damage from water leaking from rooms above – about 75% of the 200 rooms requiring patch and repaint
  • Potential unseen issues such as mold, wet insulation, water migration to electrical fixtures, etc.
  • Increased humidity issues due to moisture causing HVAC to work “harder” to obtain comfortable levels
  • Replacement of floor covering to all 200 rooms
  • Loss of revenue due to repairs being made
  • Truncated life cycle of 200 shower curtains (this will be at least the cost of the original savings but at inflated dollars)

I am not going to venture a cost for the above…but I would say it is fair that it will be at least 10 times (and I actually believe it is 25-50 times) the perceived savings. So, unless your intent was to sell the hotel within the first few months of completion, you have just made an incredibly unwise decision. BY THE WAY: If you did plan to sell, you just sold a money pit to your buyer, damaging the one thing that really counts…your integrity and reputation. Another unwise decision.

“But Tim…we are not building hotels…we are a church.”

Right…all the more reason to not make such unwise decisions as you are utilizing Kingdom dollars entrusted to you and your church. You have been asked to steward them…not just on the “spending” of the initial costs/purchases, but of the long term value. The principle is the same whether you are building hotels, shopping centers or investing monies into the construction, renovation or sustaining your ministry facilities.

Sounds a lot like Facility Stewardship.

The Intersection of IT, Facility Management and the Internet of Things (IoT)

I have been involved in church for over 56 years (born into a pastor’s home) and have served the church facility “market” for about 32 of those years. I can tell you first hand that for the majority of my association and work with churches, the church tends to be laggards when it comes to adopting new trends, means, methods…and technology. This is not a slam on the “church” as an organization, but just a reality.

It is true that many churches are now keeping up with trends and in many cases leading the charge (especially with sound systems, video production, etc). Think about the YouVersion Bible app (Happy 10th anniversary!). They are actually leading the way. Also, think how online giving and text-to-give is almost as common place as the offering plate.

There is a technology that is trending that I believe will impact all aspects of your world…including church…so let’s get familiar with it – Internet of Things (IoT). According to a Forbes article, it can be described as:

Simply put this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig. As I mentioned, if it has an on and off switch then chances are it can be a part of the IoT. The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices…that’s a lot of connections (some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion). The IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people). The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.

So what does this all mean for churches…YOUR church?

Here is what I see happening and where we are heading:

  1. Major facility systems will be more integrated with themselves and with their management tools (i.e Church Management Software and Event Scheduling Software).
  2. Given the incorporation of API’s (Application Programming Interface – a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other), more and more of this integration is going to interact via API’s and not through proprietary protocols.
  3. So…seeing that API’s are an IT world widget and not an everyday Facility Management tool, the IT department at your church will play a much larger role in the selection, implementation, training and maintaining of these systems (via IoT).
  4. Most of these IoT integrations will require Ethernet or WiFi connectivity which may require the incorporation of Firewalls, networks, servers, static IP’s, cloud connectivity and storage, etc, etc, etc.
  5. These applications will likely have cost and budget implications. Some will have significant reductions in cost as we become more effective and efficient…but some of the savings may be offset by subscriptions, hardware, software and the maintaining of the same.
  6. That leads to to the real crux…IT and Facilities must collaborate.
    • They must communicate.
    • They must seek information from each other before decisions are made.
    • They must determine the WHY they need an application before they decide on the WHAT and HOW.
    • It may also require budget discussions. As stated above, there may be cost savings and offsets. Whose budgets do these savings and costs impact? Same for staffing.

As you can see…this is not to be taken lightly…and unless you plan to continue to live in a cave rubbing 2 sticks together to make fire, this is coming to us all. Remember, the iPhone is only 11 years old…and yet if feels like we have always had one (or similar).

Is this on your radar?  If not, if needs to be!

Stop Wasting Money

Seriously, stop.

If you are not seeking and following energy saving guidelines, you are spending money you do not have to. Money spent on facilities, when not necessary, take away dollars available for your ministerial mission. The logical response to this opening is to ask, “What can we do?” I am glad you are being logical, because I have some real simple steps for you to start with.

Step 1: Commit to it. Being energy efficient is not something that happens by accident. If you are not committed and intentional, you will not fully succeed. With the increasing connectivity in facilities management (think Internet of Things), opportunities to save will either change or new possibilities added. It takes someone committed to stay informed to take advantage of all that is out there.

Step 2: Turn it OFF. Find a way to turn things off when you do not need them. Use power strips and shut devices off at night, use time clocks, install motion switches, etc. Anything you can do to create a culture that turns the switch off when it is not needed will make a difference. Consider a time clock on water fountains…why do you need to keep water cold overnight? Motion sensors and light sensors on hallway lights. Why keep it lit if no one is there and the sun is shining? You get the idea.

Step 3: Check your bulbs. There have been lots of improvements in lamping technology over the last decade. Survey all the lamps you use; see if there is a more energy efficient option. If you have older fixtures, there probably is. Consider exit signs; if you are not running LED signs you are spending too much. If you have T-12 fluorescent lamps, you are spending more than you should. Simple changes here can earn significant savings.

“If you are not seeking and following energy saving guidelines, you are spending money you do not have to.”

Step 4: Check your HVAC. Your HVAC is one of the largest contributors to your energy bills. Keep doors shut, change filters regularly, keep the coils clean, and only run them when you need them. Smart thermostats, an EMS system, computerized controls, WIFI stats…anything that can provide additional controls, integrated scheduling, and monitoring is what you should be using. In addition, consider your set-points. Varying set-points between vacancy, occupancy, and events can reduce energy consumption. Targeted improvements in HVAC make the most sense – they provide a very quick return on investment.

Step 5: Plug it Up. This step is referring to your building envelope. Check for air infiltration and plug the leaks whenever you find one that shouldn’t be there. Temperature always seeks equilibrium, any leaks in your building will cause the conditioned and unconditioned air to mix and affect your desired comfort level, which in turn makes your equipment run more than necessary.

Step 6: Keep learning. Similar to step 1, you must keep trying to learn the best ways to be energy efficient. There are many State and Federal programs that you can access to learn more. Check out Energy Star for Congregations for some great info to start.

Also, conveniently enough we are offering another FREE webinar through CFMS on Energy Management on July 26th. What a deal, a free resource to learn how to save even more money in your facility. We hope to see you there, and may you find the ways to save in your facility.


4 Reasons Why Connecting Spaces Trump Cattle Chutes

When I started my career in church facility development in 19XX (you venture a guess), the foyer/lobby/narthex (for my liturgical friends) was generally sized to be 1-2 square feet per seat in the main worship space. In those days, this space was intended to be used as a place to funnel people from the worship space to the outside or down a series of narrow corridors that led to the education, administration or fellowship areas. There was often a small table for giving/tithing envelopes or general information along with 1-2 uncomfortable high-back chairs…usually not ones you would enjoy sitting in for any length of time, nor were they arranged in a manner to encourage conversation or community.

For all practicality, the foyer was nothing more than a well appointed cattle chute (MOO).
Not anymore.

That line of thinking has fortunately gone the way of the dodo-bird. Why? Because people want to connect. People want to do life together. We want to linger. We want to hangout. We want to do more than just pass through a space to merely get to the other side.

Let’s look at 4 reasons why this is a major shift in church space:

  1. People Want Connection– In “Mistakenly Seeking Solitude,” published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Professor Nicolas Epley from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and co-author Juliana Schroder found that participants in their experiments not only underestimated others’ interest in connecting, but also reported positive experiences by both being spoken to and to speaking with a stranger.

“Connecting with strangers on a train may not bring the same long-term benefits as connecting with friends,” Epley states. “But commuters on a train into downtown Chicago reported a significantly more positive commute when they connected with a stranger than when they sat in solitude.”

Deep down, we want to connect with others.

“People want to connect. People want to do life together. We want to linger. We want to hangout. We want to do more than just pass through a space to merely get to the other side.”

  1. Community– Over the past half decade or more,  the term “doing life together” has become a mainstay in modern vernacular. We are seeking the opportunity to connect with people. For the past 30-50 years the American population has become experts at separatism, isolationism and back yard living…fences and all. If we are ever invaded by extra terrestrial beings, they will report back to the mother ship that Earthlings vacate their domiciles early in the morning…then return late evening and are not see again until the next morning. However, the trend is the opposite. Ask the people of Celebration, Florida. Talk to masses of people moving back into urban and walk-able settings. People are seeking community…why not let the church lead the way in this cultural shift instead of being the typical laggards.
  2. Death of the Fellowship Hall– Several years ago, Dr. Thom Rainer conducted a research project that identified the least effective and “inspirational” type of construction/development project was the “fellowship hall”. While community is desirable, the idea of a contrived or forced “community” setting is not working. Frankly, the dedicated fellowship hall is a very poor utilization of space and tends to become the dreaded multi-useless building. Properly sized lobby spaces can more than suffice for these “fellowship” functions…so why do we need to pay for the space twice?
  3. Third Place and the “Well”– In the early to mid 1990’s the term “Third Place” (thanks to the book  The Great Good Place, by Ray Oldenburg) came in vogue referencing the third place in a person’s life that they would engage them with others (the first place is where you live…the second is where you go to pay for where you live…and the third place was that comfortable place where you could unwind, get away, hang, connect, etc.) The most popular example of a Third Place was from the TV sitcom, “Cheers”…where “everyone knows your name”. In the majority of instances where churches talked about a third place, it referred to a coffee shop or cafe. While that is “an” option, it is not the only option. In fact, I would prefer to talk about “wells” (vs. Temples) as the draw. Think about the women at the well. She did not wake up and decide to go to the temple or “church”.  No. She had to do a 7-day a week event…get water. Part of her culture and daily routine. But she met God in the form of Jesus at the well. After her encounter, she ran home…but did not load up the family station wagon and drive her family to the temple. Nope…she took them to the WELL. Think about that…how can we develop more wells on our campus?

Given the above as well as many other cultural and practical influences, we are seeing these gathering/connecting spaces…what might be called the “commons”…be at least 50% the size of the worship seating with a preferred factor of 75-100% of the worship seating space. If we use 8-10 SF per person for worship seating, that means we need to allocate 4-10 SF per person in the common space vs. 1-2 SF.  In fact, one of the industry partners we collaborate with is trending their designs and concepts closer to 150%. That is a ton of space…and there are times that not all of it needs to be included in the “built environment” but can be captured in adjacent spaces outside the building and create an inside/outside commons that can be equally as effective and in many cases, be even more inviting. If you design your commons to be 75%  of your worship seating, but also an additional 75% in natural environments, you could potentially save enormous amounts of money as the conditioned space might cost you, say, $150/SF or even more while the exterior space would be in the $30-40/SF range. That is a 75% savings.

Bottom line is we need to provide common connecting spaces and not just a cattle chute. You need to determine what is contextual for your church, culture, DNA and other such factors.