5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account

If you are reading this post, then your organization likely owns or utilizes a facility. Given that, there are some facts about the life cycle and condition of your facilities that you need to be aware of:

  1. All buildings deteriorate at a rate of 1-4% per year
  2. As such, nearly every physical component of your facility will be replaced or have a major overhaul
  3. The rate of deterioration can more than double if we do not stay current with the natural rate of deterioration
  4. All of the above will require dollars

So the big questions are…how much money will be needed and when.

If you cannot definitely answer either part of that question, then we have the right resource to help you better develop a long term life cycle and capital reserve plan (and it is FREE):

5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account

Almost every component of your facilities will have to be replaced at some point. Do you have an action plan? INTENTIONAL organizations plan today for tomorrow’s costs. That’s why it’s critical you establish a capital reserve account now!

What’s in the eBook?

  1. Easy to understand concepts of Capital Reserves
  2. Compelling statistics about the cost of facility ownership
  3. Intentional steps to get you on the right path
  4. Tools to get you started

This FREE e-Book helps you implement the 5 steps necessary to start the process of Life Cycle and Capital Reserve planning.  Click HERE to download your copy.

Also, don’t forget to check out the eSPACE Event Scheduler and Work Order Management tools to help you be efficient, effective and intentional with your Facility Stewardship.


I Have a Vision for ALL Churches

I have a vision.

It is the underlying force that undergirds why I do what I do professionally as well the products and services our company provides. This vision is at the root of Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE. It is at the heart of the culture of our team. It is not just a business proposition (the WHAT we do) but rather the WHY we do it.

Here is my vision:

That every church would have access to and would fully utilize the best practices of Intentional Facility Stewardship.

This would include not only the management, maintenance, cleaning, budgeting, planning, or construction of facilities but would also entail a proactive approach to Life Cycle and Capital Reserve Planning.

I can see some of you scratching your head.  Of all the visions and causes and crusades that people gravitate to, why this?  Some may be thinking it is “easy” for me, as I have been working with churches and their facility initiatives for 30 years.  Others may think this is shallow compared to world hunger and sex trafficking. Let me explain the history of this vision.

For the first 23 years of my professional career serving churches, I was involved in the planning and physical construction of facilities.  During that tenure I assisted over 350 churches build or expand facilities.  It was incredibly rewarding…until I visited many of these facilities years later to see them in conditions incongruent with their age or projected life cycle.  This pricked my heart and mind. I saw churches raise, and spend, million and millions of dollars to build these new ministry tools to in turn not care for them or prepare for their future repair and replacement inevitability. That sent me on a several year journey to see if I was missing something or if I needed to learn what it meant to properly steward a facility.

What was the result of that journey? I came to the following resolutions:

  1. Everything on earth belongs to God…which means we have been entrusted to steward what is His.
  2. The long term care of our facilities is a spiritual responsibility.  We will be held accountable. Read 2 Kings 12: 4-13
  3. All buildings (churches and otherwise) deteriorate at a rate of 1-4% per year. That is a fact…indisputable and part of the law of nature…that God created.
  4. A well managed and maintained facility is more inviting and less distracting to guests.
  5. If the church properly budgets for operational expense (utilities, janitorial, maintenance and personnel) the likelihood of deferred maintenance is greatly reduced.
  6. The cost of operating a facility will consume 70-85% of the total cost of ownership of that facility over a 40 year duration compared to less than 15% for the initial construction. That should shift our focus and attention.
  7. When a church has a true capital reserve account…monies set aside systematically in a separate account for future capital replacements…they will not be negatively impacted by major capital expenditures nor will they have to borrow or raise money to replace such assets at the end of their life cycle.

So, if we believe and accept these tenets, we MUST be compelled to develop and implement plans to steward our facilities. If that is true, then we MUST set aside funds to care for the assets entrusted to us.  This is not a new premise…or a 21st century concept suddenly brought to the forefront given recent economic conditions.  Actually this is an age old directive (I assume you read the scripture above).

I am sure many of you think I am making too big of a deal about this, but until I see this vision realized, I am going to keep beating (pounding) this drum. If you knew, as I do, that the majority of churches DO NOT have an ample Capital Reserve plan (heck…most don’t have ANY capital reserve monies), then I think you would join me in this cause and vision.

Over the next couple weeks we will be posting about a brand new tool to help you be more intentional with developing a capital reserves and lice cycle calculations. This robust and interactive tool will give your church an incredible tool.

Stay tuned…and be INTENTIONAL!

Also, don’t forget to check out the eSPACE Event Scheduler and Work Order Management tools to help you be efficient, effective and intentional with your Facility Stewardship.

Facility Management vs. Maintenance

Over the past 8 years, I have met with dozens and dozens of business administrators, executive pastors, operations directors and facility personnel. As I have documented these experiences, I see a real and perceived discrepancy between the meaning of Facilities Management and facilities maintenance. To some of you, this may sound like semantics, but I think that it is much, much deeper than two “words”, even if some may consider them synonyms. Let me describe what I have seen and then let you decide if there is or is not a difference.

First, let’s explore how various dictionaries and sources define these 2 words:

1. The organization and coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives
2. The act or manner of managing; handling, direction, or control
3. The technique, practice, or science of managing, controlling or dealing with

1. The act of maintaining
2. Care or upkeep, as of machinery or property
3. The work needed to keep a road, building, machine, etc. in good condition

As I look at these definitions, I see a couple things that jump out at me:

1. Management appears to define the act of being proactive.
2. Management requires a skill to lead and direct activities of an organization or team
3. Maintenance appears to be developing a way to maintain the status quo
4. Maintenance is focused on the care and upkeep of something which may be seen as reactive.

What words could be used to differentiate management vs. maintenance? Here are some possible word associations:













Save over the Long Term

Spend as needed

Increase Life Cycle



I think there is indeed a difference between these words…especially as it relates to facilities. Facility Management can be defined as so much more than maintenance. It can and should be proactive in looking for ways to staff, save, and service. Keeping up with the best tech ideas, security, budgeting, Life Cycle planning,  “green uses” and more. Also, Facility Management staff can look for ways to better set-up, design, and use its “plant” rather than simply caring out work orders or manual instructions. In most church settings these functions are a last minute “Hick-Up” and are not thought out well or processed INTO Ministry systems, processes and flow. In short, Facility Management is working “ON” verses simply “IN” a process.

A simple way to think of the difference is that maintenance is keeping what you have running smoothly and efficiently, but Facility Management means planning ahead, seeking to improve, managing risks, learning what is available, proactive and possible.

So, as you explore your facility stewardship needs, are you providing management or merely maintenance? Both are important…but there is a difference.

If you need assistance sorting out the difference and leading a proactive Facility Management initiative in 2017, please contact our team of facility professionals.  You will be glad you did.

Also, don’t forget to check out the eSPACE Event Scheduler and Work Order Management tools to help you be efficient, effective and intentional with your Facility Stewardship.

Church Annual Giving Statements

I am thankful for my friends at Generis for offering a great FREE tool to help your church look at your annual giving statements a little differently.

As a leader, you have much to do. Not only are you responsible for the daily care of the congregation, but you also deal with life’s unexpected moments that require your pastoral attention. You lead the staff and volunteers, and oh, by the way, attend to the weekend and message prep questions that keep popping up every week.

Even with all of these leadership realities, elevating and normalizing the giving conversation in your church and saying thank you to givers is HUGE. Don’t miss this natural moment to invest into the spiritual life of your givers. It’s worth the focus and the work to demonstrate a spirit of gratitude!

Church management software does a great job of making these statements an easy and efficient administrative task. The Annual Giving Statement should not be just an administrative task, it is an opportunity to normalize the giving conversation in your church! Don’t settle for easy and efficient but instead aim for making a meaningful engagement with your givers. You can do this by celebrating, building trust and casting vision through an excellent annual giving statement strategy.

As you prepare an annual giving communication to your givers, use this resource to frame your work. This resource will walk you through several important steps to engage with your givers on a new level this year. Engaging them like this opens their hearts and develops deeper roots in their church engagement.

For more information about surprising and delighting your givers through a successful annual giving statement strategy, click below to download this amazing resource.

Image result for download buttonAlso, don’t forget to check out the eSPACE Event Scheduler and Work Order Management tools to help you be efficient, effective and intentional with your Facility Stewardship

Facility Managers: The Superheroes of Your Staff

We humans have a fascination with the concept of a “Superhero”. Don’t believe me? Click HERE are see how many superhero movies have been released and the BILLIONS of dollars they have grossed.  It is staggering!

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a superhero is “a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers”. We love the idea of the person(s) that can leap tall buildings, fly, bend steel, turn big and green and so on.  Think about how much your kids look up to them.  Ever see a boy wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants with a bed sheet or towel flowing from their shoulders?

But the dictionary also gives an alternate definition:  “an exceptionally skillful or successful person”.

I would adjust it slightly to say that it is not only exceptionally skilled people, but people that perform exceptional tasks in the face of exceptional challenges and pressures. For example, I have heard people refer to a single mom with kids, that has to work to support them, as a superhero…and I concur. Or the missionary that provides food or medical supplies to those in desperate need with little to no resources to accomplish the task.

That leads me to the title of this post and why I think your facility manager is a superhero. I have asked the question in a previous post whether the facility manager was the red-headed step child of the staff.  I have shared how important their role is for your organization and how the attention to Facility Stewardship is not just a “best practice” but also a spiritual endeavor.

This month, all of these realities have escalated even more as I have meet and talked with about a dozen facility management professionals. Let me explain.

Most of the churches that our team serves are not “Sunday only” ministries.  They are 5-7 day a week, active, growing, reaching, and thriving ministries.  The holiday season accentuates the activities for most of these ministries as they are preparing for Christmas service(s), special musical presentations and giving countless hours to their local community. The Christmas season is busy for everyone, but add 10 Christmas services, a kids musical, hosting a special Christmas dinner for underprivileged, caroling at the mall and delivering hundreds of meals…well…you get my point.

But here is the thing, most of those activities happen in our ministry facilities or originate from them or meals are prepared there or hams are stored on the grounds, etc. etc. etc. And don’t forget that all those wonderful Christmas decorations have to be setup and torn down.

What does this all mean?

It means that your facility staff have to be superhuman (making them superheroes) to “turn” the setup of rooms almost non-stop, string thousands of lights, clean a facility more often than normal, provide parking lot staff for all these added events, ensure the facilities are locked and unlocked for all of these events, make sure the temperature is “right” and at the same time, do not bust the budget while doing all this. Oh…and by the way…don’t forget they have a personal life (or at least used to).

During this busy season, take a minute (or two) and say THANK YOU to your facility team.  Let them know that without their superhero efforts, your ministry events and activities might not happen or happen as well as they do without their help.  And don’t forget to get them a gift from this LIST of suggestions.

What would really make my Christmas, would be to see someone’s kid dressed up with cape, adorned further with a tool belt, plunger, HVAC filter, facility floor plan and calendar of events.  Now THAT would be “cool.”


Thom Rainer: 8 Causes of Concern for Bible Belt Churches

I am a Thom Rainer fan.  His influence on the local church is far more impactful and far reaching than many people may realize. where serving the local church or  serving at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism or leading research project. and most recently in his role as the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, Thom has impact the Kingdom in amazing ways (By The Way, I am a pretty big fan of his kids – Sam, Art and Jess…my publishers at Rainer Publishing).

In a recent podcast, Thom Rainer and Jonathan Howe discussed concerns about church in the Bible Belt.  Living in the heart of the Bible Belt, this caught my attention. What am I, and those I live near, needing to be aware of?  What can we do? What new realities need to be faced and addressed?

Here are the 8 Causes for Concern that Thom and Jonathan addressed:

  1. They don’t recognize the decline in cultural Christianity.
  2. They have many “church rules.”
  3. They have leaders who have never led in a highly unchurched mission field.
  4. They confuse traditions with truth.
  5. They do outreach the way they’ve always done it.
  6. They have significant conflict due to frustration.
  7. They are very slow to respond.
  8. They have significant facility challenges.

Some highlights from this episode include:

  • > Culture and people have changed over time, but many churches have not.
  • > Many churches refuse to admit that the world around them is changing.
  • > Cultural Christianity no longer exists—even in the Bible Belt.
  • > Sometimes a church’s habits become “the only way something can be done.”
  • > Some people are more obedient to the traditions of a church than they are to the Bible.
  • > If you want to find out what a church’s idols are, start changing the bylaws.
  • > How do you change the culture in an established church? Slowly.

If you are in the Bible Belt (or any part of the country) how does this impact your approach to outreach and ministry? How is culture changing around you and are you addressing it?  Are there things that need to change at your church? How you do things?  Why you do things?

Click below and listen for yourself.  It is time well spent. And don’t forget your FACILITY CHRISTMAS gifts.

8 Causes of Concern for Bible Belt Churches – Rainer on Leadership #279


Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Facility (and Team)

WOW…is it really December?  Where did 2016 go?!?!

With Christmas right around the corner, now is the ideal time to be thinking about that perfect gift for your Facility Manager…or facility team…or your facility (yes…our facilities deserve “gifts”).

In light of that, allow us to be Santa’s helper and give you some great ideas:

  1. Facility Stewardship Manual – This nearly 300 page resource tool is the perfect gift for any facility professional or any person tasked with stewarding their facility. Check it out HERE.
  2. WiFi thermostats – Looking to save money and increase efficiency?  Then your facility (and team) deserve to have WIFI thermostats.  There are 2 added bonuses to this gift…it can integrate with  eSPACE Event Scheduler to increase efficiency and it has a mobile app.  BOOM…3 in one gift!
  3. Work Order Management Mobile App – If you are a subscriber to the eSPACE Work Order Management application, there is now a mobile app that is FREE.  Who does not love free?
  4. Facility Assessments and Management Assistance – If you are intentional about sustaining your facility for generations to come, then you need to consider a detailed assessment of the condition and life cycle of your facility as well as proactive facility management best practices.  Check out our SUSTAIN services.
  5. The Only 3-in-1 Facility Management Software – If you are not using eSPACE for your Event and Facility Scheduler and Work Order Management, then this is the gift that will have an incredible return on your investment. See why HERE.
  6. Books, and Books and Books – If you or your team are avid readers, then give them the gift of knowledge.  We have several books available HERE that will help your team look at church facilities differently.  This is ideal not just for your facility team, but if you are considering an expansion or construction initiative, then these are must-have tools.

As if that were not enough options, stay tuned for a new “gift” in January…the Life cycle Calculator.
If you have been looking for a great tool to establish your capital reserves as well as track depreciable assets, you will want to get this!

Facility Stewardship Binder - Small

Are you cleaning out the closets when you have guests coming for dinner?

If you have been reading our blog for any period of time, you know that my wife, Lisa Cool, has written some of the most insightful blogs over the years…and today is another example of her skills and insight.  She shared this story and it really resonated with me to the point that I have adopted this little question as a metaphor when trying to help our clients be INTENTIONAL with their facility stewardship and development.

Let me know if you can relate…thanks Lisa:

Recently, I was retained as a consultant for a travel management company and recruited a new Vice President for their sales and customer service department.  While we were going through her on-boarding process, two major clients indicated that they were looking at changing travel management firms, but would still give this firm an opportunity to re-bid on their business. This required a full court press effort to prepare for the presentations to avoid losing these valuable accounts.

As the new Vice President and I were reviewing the tasks to get her started in her new role, it was clear that she was very preoccupied by many details related to the general operation of the company and systems that needed attended to, but she was missing the big picture and pressing issue that their firm was on the verge of losing two major accounts.  I surprisingly blurted out,  “ Tracy, you are trying to clean out the closets when you have company coming for dinner.”  Yes, there were many projects to tackle and many processes to implement, but she was missing out on the most pressing tasks at hand…saving these accounts!

I am sure we all have moments when our focus is misplaced. That happens. However, as we approach this busy season, make sure you aren’t cleaning out the closets when you have company coming for dinner!  INTENTIONAL!


9 Reasons Your Church Needs a Facility Management Professional

Over 4 years ago I wrote a blog asking “Is Your Facilities Manager the Red-Headed Stepchild of the Church Staff?”  I have had numerous facility managers tell me that is exactly how they have felt and even some are still considered that way.  However, I am encouraged to know that some church leaders are embracing their Facility Manager equally as other ministry leaders…especially when they adopt the theology of Facility Stewardship and see it as a spiritual and ministry endeavor just like small groups, missions, youth and the like.

Do we think that the Facility Manager is less critical to the success of your ministry as the youth pastor?  Are they less important than the small groups pastor?  What about the accounting staff…is their role less critical to the operations of the ministry?  If you responded  “no” to any of these, then why do we treat the Facility Manager like the red-headed stepchild of the staff?  Facilities represent a large part of any church’s asset base and annual expenses, yet doesn’t usually receive the same attention that other facets of the organization garner. Is it just the necessary evil?  I agree that facilities are only a tool…but they are a tool that requires care and stewarding…and in most cases, a tool your church would not want to be without.

I was asked this last week, by a Facility Manager, what “case” can he make to his leadership to emphasize the importance of his role as well as how to enlighten their understanding as to how critical it is to have the right number of staff and capital reserves.

The following are 9 reasons your church needs a Facilities Management Professional:

1. Facilities are one of your church’s largest assets and represents a significant cost to operations. A Facility Management Professional has the knowledge to maximize value and minimize costs.

2. Facilities and the environment they provide staff, members, congregation, as well as processes and systems, have a large impact on productivity. A Facility Management Professional understands the church’s mission and the interaction with the facility necessary to maximize ministry efficiency as it relates to the use of the facility.

3. Facility accommodations, whether in growth mode or not, require strategic planning to minimize costs and maximize value. A Facility Management Professional provides strategic direction and development  guidance to achieve the results the church needs to fulfill the vision and mission.

4. Sustainability is critical to the environment for the church and its members as well as community image. A Facility Management Professional provides the stewardship required to maintain leadership on the environment.

5. The environmental and legislative complexity of owning or leasing facilities represents a huge risk to the church. A Facility Management Professional navigates the requirements and mitigates the risk.

6. Facilities require an entire team of generalists and specialists to provide services. A Facility Management Professional understands how to identify and assemble these resources to work together to maximize value, reduce risk and minimize costs.

7. The facilities that house your ministry activities can require considerable effort to manage effectively. A Facility Management Professional takes on this burden and frees up other resources to fully focus on what makes the church successful in delivering its core ministry (Acts 6:1-7).

8. Managing facilities with an administrative resource or line manager (i.e. Maintenance person) means it won’t get the attention and expertise it deserves and may put the church at risk. A Facility Management Professional has training, background and experience in all areas of the complex issues and services required to provide effective stewardship to the church’s facility assets.

9. A Facility Management Professional has the experience and overall oversight for facilities issues, enabling them to see patterns, track changes and identify risks that may have a future negative impact. Their knowledge enables them to take corrective action now to reduce your risk and costs.

Now…with that all said, we are really going back to an earlier conversation about the difference of Management vs. maintenance. Both are important…but they are different tasks and require very different skill sets. Don’t be lulled to sleep thinking you have a Facility Manager just because you gave them that title. Skill sets, expertise and performance make the role…not the title.

What are you doing to enhance and to further your Facility Stewardship plans? If you do not have a Facility Management Professional on your staff, you may want to contact us to explore your options. As I suggested last week, you may need a COOL SOLUTION.

BONUS:  If you need more ammo to enforce this point, check out this insightful article from Church Law & Tax, a Christianity Today newsletter.


Do You Need a “COOL” Solution?

I just love our company name…COOL SOLUTIONS GROUP! When we started the firm in 2008, our branding consultant said that we just had to use my last name in the name of the company.  Since that time, the COOL part has taken on more significance related to the products and services we provide and much less about my name, for which I am thankful.

We do offer some very “cool” solutions and your church or organization may very well be benefited by one of them…maybe multiple solutions.

Before I share with you the various solutions, let me reiterate the WHY we offer these solutions:

To assist organizations be effective, efficient and intentional with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.

All of who we are and what we offer is to fulfill that vision and mission. Here is the WHAT we do:


Intentional Workshop This is an intense process to explore the WHO (are you), WHY (do you exist and do things the way you do), WHAT (is the right tool to fulfill your vision/mission). The INTENTIONAL WORKSHOP includes:

  • >Vision Assessment
  • >Program Study
  • >Master Planning
  • >Budget Analysis
  • >Concept Design
  • >Preliminary Project Budget Projections

Project ManagementIf you are considering a facility expansion of building project, don’t go it alone. Our team of facility specialists have over 30 years of project experience and can walk side-by-side your team to complete your project so that you can continue to focus on ministry.

Existing Facility Assessmentsthese assessment are a tremendous tool to assist churches evaluate:

  • >Facility Condition
  • >Life Cycle Management
  • >Deferred Maintenance
  • >Operational Efficiency and Bench marking
  • >”Fresh Eyes” Assessment
  • >Capital Reserve Planning

Facility Management Services – COMING IN 2017: 

We find that many churches are lacking a Facility Management professional to lead their facility stewardship initiatives. Many have “maintenance” or repair personnel, but not a proactive Facility Manager.  Others have relegated the Facility Management duties to the Church Administrator, who already has too many hats to wear and is generally not trained in this area. While others just cannot afford a full time staff person or serve as the Facility Manager.

That is where we come in.

eSPACE Facility Management Software – The ONLY 3-in-1 Facility Management Software!eSpace_Logo_Md

We are passionate about assisting organizations be as effective and efficient as possible. Check us out and then call us to see how we can partner with you!