top Contact btm



The Problem with Vision Erosion

December 18, 2017 — by John Parker


There are thousands of churches across the United States, and each church has its own story and uniqueness. How is that story being communicated, internally and externally? Does your church communicate who you are?


Imagine that you’re redesigning your church. Your main goal is to effectively convey the story of your missions and programs. Your church has some great programs that include providing shoes for children, digging wells to provide clean water, and sponsoring various overseas mission trips. Missions are the heartbeat of your church. You envision that all of the communication and interaction surrounding missions is going to happen in your church’s lobby, café, or other gathering areas.


So, you hire an architect. He knows the vision, but his main focus is on the facility—what the walls, floors, and ceilings of the building will look like—not necessarily what will go inside of it. Then, a contractor comes along. He’s going to build out the space, and he’s aware that there may be some items that might go on the walls. At some point in the process, the contractor realizes he’s missing some area. He needs to use another wall for some storage, and needs another space to put an information booth.


The project is completed. You’ve got a lobby that has an information booth and shelving to display items from the countries where your church hosts mission trips. It’s a nice lobby—but something’s missing. Your initial vision has completely been eliminated. Why? Because the architect and contractor weren’t in tune with your primary goal: to build out a space that would communicate your church’s main goal of missions and outreach.


When I worked for Disney, we found that the story and vision for a particular ride, attraction or land that we developed was so important that we actually had a show producer write the script for the narrative of an area. Even when it came to describing a merchandise shop, the narrative told the story of what that merchandise store was supposed to be and even the backstory of the family that may have owned it. All of these details informed those who were involved to keep true to the story of the space.


The reality is, if you don’t have a consistent, cohesive team that is part of the original narrative and walking through the entire build process together, you’re ultimately going to experience some level of VISION EROSION. Designers, architects, and contractors involved in the project will often make decisions and choices without the benefit of being informed, thereby eroding the final product.


The problem of vision erosion doesn’t just apply to construction. In almost anything, whether you’re developing a script or in the planning stages of a wedding, those initial discussions you have are important because they set the basis for the larger narrative of what you’re trying to accomplish. There is a huge benefit to having a team that knows your vision from the beginning and can make informed decisions throughout the process that align with those initial goals.


Here at Visioneering, we have the great benefit of having continuity and context for all the Design-Build projects we work on. Our entire team knows the story that accompanies your vision, and our designers and contractors work together to craft that vision and build a project that uses your money and time wisely. We believe that every building tells a story, and every space is unique. Our Design-Build process is design-led and centered around highlighting the larger narrative of your organization. Through Design-Build, we can help you develop a different kind of build—one that stewards both your story and your space well— so you can launch your inspired vision into reality.


This article is an excerpt from our free resource, DEMOLISHED. Download your copy today at If you’d like to eliminate vision erosion from your building process today, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

vision erosion


Does your church architect “get you?”

September 2, 2014 — by Jody Forehand

Confused Sign

First, let me say that just using the term “church architect” already makes me cringe, because unfortunately the American countryside is littered with examples of bad design foisted on the public by well-intentioned “church architects” who unfortunately just don’t get it. Second, let me also say that for most successful church projects the best solution probably isn’t a “church architect” anyway. Instead the best solution is most often an architect skilled in culturally relevant placemaking working as part of a fully integrated design-build team, but that’s a discussion for another day.

If there’s one thing I’ve heard repeatedly when working with churches at Visioneering Studios it is, “the last architect we worked with just didn’t get us.” More than a few times churches who come to us have already spent months (or years) and thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars working with another architecture firm on their church campus or church building, only to become exasperated and frustrated and left with nothing to show for it but a roll of plans on a shelf. We’ve had several of our best projects come at the expense of previous architects who got fired because they just didn’t get it.

Here are the Top 10 complaints I’ve heard from churches about their frustration with church architects:

1. They don’t listen to us.
2. They don’t get our culture/ministry/style.
3. They aren’t bringing us any ideas.
4. They aren’t showing any creativity in their designs.
5. They tried to tell us how we “should” do church.
6. They tried to modify one of their “stock” plans to work for our unique needs.
7. All their projects looked the same.
8. They designed projects we couldn’t afford to build.
9. We were looking for a ministry partner and we got a sales program.
10. There was no consideration of future phases.

Results like this leave churches confused and unsure of what to do for their facility needs. If you are talking to a church architect and they tell you they have all the answers before they’ve spent any time with your church, or they pull out their “stock” plans with their 200-seater, 500-seater, and 1000-seater, you have my permission to run in the opposite direction.

At Visioneering Studios we never tell a church how they should do church. That’s up to you in following your God-given vision and mission. We come in and ask tons of questions aimed at finding out the unique DNA of your church and your church’s vision for reaching your community. We look at the historical context of the area where your project is located. We investigate the cultural and architectural context of your region. We listen to what your community wants and needs, and we help you figure out how to turn your site and your building into a destination and a ministry tool to serve and reach out to others.

Our experience working with hundreds of churches across the country has proven one thing. Each church is as unique as each individual that God created, and no cookie-cutter solution is going to serve your church’s specific needs adequately. When we partner with a church we treat our initial design concepts as a hearing test. If your architect isn’t a good listener they won’t be a good architect either. We try to reflect back to you in our design what we heard from you during all our preliminary programming discussions. If we heard right we proceed, if not, we course correct before moving deeper.

If this all sounds unusual, it is. If it sounds like something you’d be interested in pursuing for your project, we’d love to talk with you further.