3.1 Building a Client Team
Getting the right group of people on your church Building Group/Committee is crucial to the success of the project. Perhaps an ideal number is between 5 and 8 people and this might include someone who is paid to be an ‘Employer’s Agent’ once you have engaged an architect. These are some of the possible roles that need to be filled during a building project:
- Chair person – coordinating the meetings and overseeing the elements of the project. Reporting to the church leadership.
- Finance and fundraising – someone who will oversee the finances and fundraising and work alongside the church treasurer.
- Communications – this is a vital role to ensure that people on your ‘stakeholder map’ (see Downloads section) are kept in regular contact with the project, from local dignatories to church members, from the local media to local residents. This therefore needs to be someone who has experience of writing press releases, web blogs, speaking at meetings, writing materials to present to the church family, etc.
- Employers’ Agent – someone who dedicates on average a day a week to the project – the dedicated link with the architect, dealing with day to day matters. Possibly someone who is employed by the church for 2-3 years to see through the project. They will need to have some knowledge of building processes.
- Community – a person who develops the ‘stakeholder map’ (see Downloads section), organises community surveys, keeps an ear to the ground with regards planning permission objections, develops links to a residents association where applicable, etc.
- Administrator – takes the minutes, puts together papers and spreadsheets where needed.
It is helpful to write down what is involved in each role, and the time expected to take for each person. That ‘role description’ will help clarify what the expectations are and avoid confusion. Encourage people to see their time on the group as a commitment of at least 3 years, so you get some continuity. Generally it is better not to have the senior employee/minister/pastor on this group but to copy them in to the minutes – after all, they have all the normal activity of the church to run through the life of the project. Ensure people in the church know who is on your Building Group and give them a profile, so that members of the congregation know who to talk to about issues relating to the project.
Note that none of the roles above is a technical one – if you appoint a good professional team it is not necessary to have any specific technical skills within the client body. If you do have such skills, these can be very helpful, but you then need to be careful to define who is responsible for what – there’s no point in having a dog and barking yourself. The most important thing for a client body to understand is the need for clear decision-making processes. Once you get into the design stages there should ideally be a single person, with a deputy, who has the authority to act as the point of contact with the external team, and through whom all communications and decisions should be passed. This person should be contactable during the day, as there will be a frequent need to respond to queries as they come up. To represent the client well they need a sense of authority within the church community, and to have a good ear for what people are feeling. They also need to have a thick skin – it is never possible to please all of the people all of the time. This is a demanding and important role; at the end of the project don’t forget to give this person a huge thank you.