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6 Examples of Redemptive Engineering

If you have ever been involved in a church construction project, you have probably heard the term “value engineering”.  For many of you, that sends chills down your spine and causes you to have cold sweats. Generally speaking, value engineering means you are having to reduce the scope of a project in order to reduce the cost to fit in a budget….either because the project was over designed or the financial condition of the church has changed.

Fortunately, Redemptive Engineering is very different.

I first heard this term used by my friend Armando Fullwood with WAVE, a global Audio Visual designer and integrator.  He has used this term to describe their philosophy of looking for ways to “repurpose” AVL gear when they are working on a new design for a church.  They look for opportunities to reduce the total project budget by finding ways to reuse speakers or microphones, or mixers, etc. either within the new design or within the campus in some other desired function.

Worship Facilities Magazine recently quoted Armando in their May 2012 edition:

“In all of our projects we strive to repurpose existing gear as much as possible. We refer to this as ‘Redemptive Engineering.”

Since joining Visioneering Studios, I have seen other examples of Redemptive Engineering that goes beyond AVL systems and encompasses so many other aspects of church development projects.  Let me give you some  examples with the hope that this will spur on some creative thinking for you and your church. For me personally, this is a critical part of the philosophy of Facility Stewardship…which has a direct correlation to Financial Stewardship.


I cannot tell you how many times I hear churches say “we need to build new space.” or “we do not have enough space.”  In many of these cases, the issue is not “space” but the use and allocation of the space they  already have.  For those of you who are Southern Baptist, do you remember what the what the “Sunday School Board” used to recommend for  educational space?  Right, the large meeting room with all of the small classrooms around the perimeter…and most of those classrooms were smaller than a janitor’s closet. These spaces have been relegated to storage closets so we think we do not have enough space when in reality, we may have more space than we realize, we just need to renovate.  I would rather see a church spend $50-75/SF to renovate a facility than to spend $130/SF for new construction. Are we not better to redeem the space we already have than to build more space that we have to heat/cool and maintain?


We recently did a project at First Christian Church, Huntington Beach, CA.  This church had an older, “tired” campus that needed a major face list.  They had an old sanctuary that had a 1970 motif with the typical steep sloped “A” frame roof. Instead of avoiding this building or demolishing it , our team worked with the church to see how it could fit in the “story” the church wanted to tell to the community. As a result, the building was transformed into  a wonderful chapel that fit the campus and helped tell the story…check out these before and after pictures:




On that same project, our partner, PlainJoe Studios, was working with the church to develop the interior attributes of the new kids space. In thinking through the
space and the story, it was suggested that this “treehouse” venue would be great to have untraditional attributes.  Think about it…what do you build a treehouse out of?  I know we built ours out of scrap material and any odds and ends we could find in the garage and backyard.  So why should this new children’s venue be any different? In the end, it was suggested that the parents provide old mike crates to use as seats in the kids worship area.  How cool is that?!?!?  Not only are you redeeming unused materials (and keeping them out of the city landfill)…and maintaining the theme/story of the space, but you are saving money by not having to buy new furniture.  Another positive benefit of this was the fact that the church family got to be involved and participate in the project, first hand.


How many old cargo containers do you think there are sitting in junk yards and dock yards?  The number is staggering.  As these units age and rust, their use as heavy cargo containers is greatly diminished.  So what do you do with them?  How about incorporating them into the design of your new youth facility? We have a client whose DNA is all about redemption…of lives as well as resources.  So what a better way to allow their facility to tell a story of redemption than to redeem old containers and incorporate them into the design of their facility?


For the first time in my adult life, I have owned a vehicle long enough to have the state issue a new license plate instead of just sending new stickers.  As I took the old plate off  I was reminded of a project we did in Spring, TX. This church wanted to develop a facility that would provide a “manly” and rustic appearance.  Being in
Texas, you can only imagine how many old cars there are and how many of these have old license plates are on these old vehicles?  There are a BUNCH!  So as part of the design, we incorporated the use of old license plates as exterior cladding on a portion of the exterior facade.  Not only did the facility look “cool” (no pun intended) but it redeemed materials that would have otherwise ended up in a junk yard…what a waste.



I have written before about the potential positives associated with redeeming unused retail, commercial and industrial facilities.  In my  blog, The Big Box Church, we looked at how Elevation Church redeemed a vacant retail space for their first permanent campus. Not only was unused space redeemed, but the infusion of the church into this shopping center actually “redeemed” the entire center by adding new life into the area.  What an incredible example of Redemptive Engineering.


So, as you plan a new facility, do not get sucked in to the myth of “all things new”.  Look around and see what you can redeem.  As the church, we are in the business of redeemed lives…so why not redeem other items God has entrusted us with?