The Church:

A Mission-Driven Enterprise

By: David Price, AIA  

The "mission incubator" is an example of an old idea taking new form. Since the 1970s, business incubators have been developed by state and local governments. These public and quasi-public agencies hoped to achieve business expansion and diversification by aiding new and growing firms. Business incubators include business consulting, support of business councils, economic development corporations, minority enterprise promotion, venture capital, and technology transfer assistance. The "mission incubator" -- like its industrial counterpart -- is a simple and flexible building. The church is the sponsoring agent and God's people are the human resource.
This observation was reinforced during a planning workshop at Calvary Chapel, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Founded in 1991 (pictured below), Calvary Chapel was soon worshipping in a 1,000-seat industrial building. As the church grew, its members bought surrounding industrial buildings and remodeled them to house new ministries. The church eventually created a nonprofit construction firm --Gateway Properties, Inc. -- which constructed the church's improvements. Calvary Chapel soon transformed a business park into a mission field with over 200,000 square feet on eighteen acres. Their success pointed them to something even bigger.
In 1996, Calvary Chapel purchased a 75acre industrial property with two, 2-story buildings encompassing a total of 300,000 square feet of space. Church ministries continued to flourish as the Project Team built parking, roadway, and landscape improvements. The project now includes a 3,700-seat sanctuary, an 800-seat cafeteria, a Christian school, a large bookstore, and various ministry spaces.
Presently, I am working with a local architect and the Calvary Chapel Project Team to prepare a long-range master site plan, which will more than double its building space. After sixteen years of building ministries in a variety of existing industrial buildings, Calvary Chapel is now ready to embark on a long-range development program for a community campus.
The use of flexible, adaptable buildings as mission incubators reminds us what designing for mission is all about. Sometimes design is directed at transforming the human spirit by reinventing new purposes for underutilized buildings. Done well, the end product has the appearance of something that is new, fresh, and inventive.


The use of flexible adoptable buildings as mission incubators reminds us what designing for mission is about.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do your facilities provide you with flexible space for growing ministries?
  • Is your church a mission lab--an incubator--for God's work?
  • What building type would best serve your needs?

ChurchWorks is a design firm that designs church buildings that embrace creative ideas for expanded mission and foster friendlier and more inviting environments. If you have any ideas or questions you wish addressed in this column, contact David Price at (714) 832-1722, by fax at (714) 832-0738, or by email at

First Quarter 2002- PAGE 13- Strategies for Today's Leader -

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