Kids and connection came first for this church’s vision

By Skyler K. Phelps

Kansas City Baptist Temple’s innovative strategy led them to new priorities and away from a worship center expansion.

Kansas City Baptist Temple is a culturally and generationally diverse church that straddles the city limit line between Kansas City and Raytown in Missouri. Their mission is to mold each member into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ and mobilize all to minister God’s Word to the world.

The church has been blessed with growth over the last several years, with 2,200 attendance on an average weekend, and has caused them to evaluate the effectiveness and amount of space currently serving their ministries. Their goal was to clearly understand the right ministry space to build at the right time and to create an unprecedented experience for members and guests in all areas of ministry. The church identified Mantel Teter Architects and their planning partner, Strategic Dimensions, as the right ministry partners to lead them through this strategic planning process.

The process revealed that updating the church’s image in the community, providing effective fellowship and connection space and providing an excellent children’s education experience were the greatest areas of immediate need. The process validated that the project scope was well within church’s budget. Armed with this information, the church leadership team was able to move forward with unity and confidence. The initial project identified was not a major sanctuary addition. The strategic planning process saved the church time, money and leadership capital by revealing the right space to build at the right time.

The building addition presented an opportunity to update the campus building facades to reflect the culturally and generationally diverse fabric of the church. An “International Style” of architecture was adopted using three different principles: the expression of volume rather than mass, balance rather than preconceived symmetry and the expulsion of applied ornament.

Member experience expressed
The new main entrance is readily identifiable and welcomes visitors with large expanses of glass protected by a large drive under canopy. The occupant experience throughout the facility is enhanced by diffused day lighting that is controlled with silk screen glass, light shelves and sun shading devices. Although the new building addition blends with the existing building architecture, further updating of the existing building exterior is included in the Master Plan to complete the composition.

The fellowship and connection space now serves as the church “living room” where visitors are welcomed and gathering is encouraged for large and small groups. The “Portico” café sets the standard for coffee ministry in the Kansas City Metro Area. The architectural design in these spaces transforms them into a “front porch” for church members and the surrounding community. Special attention was paid to spatial arrangement, adjacency, circulation, day lighting, materials and intimacy. The quality of experience in these spaces far exceeded the church’s expectations!

Welcoming children’s area
The children’s education spaces were designed to be welcoming, inviting and exciting. Children are greeted at the main building entrance by a colorful slide rather than stairs to the main level. The centrally located children’s check-in area is readily identifiable from the main building entrance and provides secure access to the children’s classrooms. The classrooms are designed to support the church’s rotational education model.

Children have the opportunity to choose from a variety of learning formats that best suit their learning styles and interests. The learning environments include a worship space, a state of the art theater, art rooms, a sports room and a mystery room. Each classroom entrance includes themed space design features representing unique Kansas City cultural icons.

With consultant help, the church was led through a collaborative planning and design process that clearly identified the right ministry space to build at the right time. Their new facility reshapes community perception and promotes a sense of community and relational value.

Skyler K. Phelps is the vice president of Mantel Teter Architects, Kansas City, MO.


Getting help planning in a  strategic way

For most churches there is a gap between the vision of the ministry and the funds necessary to build it.This doesn’t mean the church is dreaming too big.It is simply a reality of building facilities to serve people who aren’t yet attending the church but who will come in the future.

After struggling to launch a major Sanctuary Addition project that exceeded their budget, the Kansas City Baptist Temple invited Mantel Teter Architects and their planning partner, Strategic Dimensions, to guide the church leadership team through a strategic planning process. The process evaluated the four interrelated principles of people, space, time and money. This gave the church the ability to run “what if” scenarios and to get real-time feedback on the growth needs across a timeline coupled with the ability to fund different projects.

In going through the process, the church was able to identify what was possible; then dream within viable parameters. The result was a project that not only “was built” but also enhanced the church campus in a way that will serve the needs of future projects as needs become apparent.


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