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Retirement Planning…for your Facility

 

Unless the Lord decides to call you home premature, we all will be faced with some variation of “retirement.” That means plans need to be considered for that period in our lives when we are not producing income based on a full time 40-hour +/- work week.  For most, that takes the form of:

  • 401K or 403b
  • IRA’s
  • Annuities
  • Life Insurance
  • Investments
  • Pensions

For others, it may simply be hoping that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will be adequate.  I think we would all agree that is not very wise.

We will project what we believe our costs will be in retirement…then plan a strategy to utilize one or more of the above to ensure we have the basis from which to generate the level of income to sustain the desired lifestyle.

This all sounds prudent as we plan for the INEVITABLE stage of life.  Would you agree?

So what are we doing to prepare for the “retirement”of our ministry facilities? I guess the first question is…do you think it is necessary?  If you don’t, then why would you plan for your personal retirement?

Sorry for being snarky…could not help myself.

Even at the very worst of personal financial planning, their is a partial safety net (although tenuous) is Social Security and other entitlements (did you realize that Entitled and Entitlements are not mentioned in the Bible…just saying). Considering our facility retirement concerns, we do not even have a social security safety net.

You may be saying – “We do not plan to retire our facility.” Oh Grasshopper…that is flawed thinking.

You may not “retire” the entire facility…but you WILL retire nearly every component of the facility.

  • You will retire all roofs…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all HVAC equipment…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all paving…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all floor coverings…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all lighting, plumbing, windows, doors, etc, etc, etc.

Need I go on?

These facility retires…just like our personal retirement…are INEVITABLE. There is no getting around it.  There no magic bullet.  There is no “Facility Fairy” to wave a wand.

Given the above…what are your plans?  Do you have a plan?  If not, how do you start? What is your baseline? How much is enough?

These are great questions that can and must all be answered…and starting with your current reality is the best place to get going.  In light of that, we strongly recommend a Facility Condition Assessment. Such an assessment will provide you:

  • Fresh Eyes Assessment
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Benchmark of Budgets/Staff
  • Deferred Maintenance
  • Facility Management Best Practices
  • Preventive Maintenance
  • Energy/Operational Evaluation
  • Capital Reserve Planning

Make your facilities “retirement” a positive experience by being intentional Facility Stewards.

-Tim


The 7 “A’s” of Intentional Facility Stewardship

As we all work to become intentional stewards of what God has entrusted to us (i.e. Facility Stewardship), there are several steps and paradigms that must be realized in order to be most effective.  These are not rocket science, but I assure you that each paradigm must be addressed and done so in the order listed below.

Awareness “knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.” The first step to addressing any meaningful action in our lives is first becoming aware of the need. Same applies with Facility Stewardship. Are we keenly aware that God has entrusted us with HIS church facility? Do we understand the gravity of that?  Start there.

Analysis“detailed examination of the elements or structure of something.” It is one thing to be aware, but do we understand? Do we know the current state of affairs related to our facilities and the current allocation of budget dollars (from tithes and offerings…another for of stewardship) and if those dollars are being spent appropriately?  Do we know if we have adequate capital reserves or deferred maintenance. Knowledge is power…and freeing.

Acknowledgement“acceptance of the truth or existence of something.” BOOM! Have you ever heard that the first step of change, is acknowledging that there is an issue that needs addressed? We must look in the mirror.  Take the results of the analysis and acknowledge…ADMIT…there are areas for improvement.

Action“applies especially to the doing, act to the result of the doing.”  An action usually lasts through some time and consists of more than one act.  It is not singular…it is plural!  There is something that needs to be done…now do it.

Adoption“the act of taking something on as your own.” Most times when we hear this word, we think of adopting a child…which is a wonderful manifestation of the definition…to take something as your own. In the case of Facility Stewardship, the same applies.  The adoption process is an emotional, physiological and physical manifestation of taking “ownership” of a concept, a methodology, a paradigm, and a core value.

Accountability“The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.” For Facility Stewardship to be long lasting, there must be accountability. I firmly believe that we will be held accountable to God for how we stewarded ALL the components he has entrusted to us.  But there needs to be some form of “earthly” accountability as well.

Acclimation –  “is the process in which an individual organism adjusts to a change in its environment.” Often this word is used in scientific applications.  But I believe it is critical for the complete shift that is required to make Facility Stewardship a way of life. “This is how we do things around here.” It should be so ingrained in the organization that it would be off-putting to see trash on the floor or dust build up on vents or grass growing in the sidewalk cracks…or that there are even cracks in the sidewalk at all.

Does the above sound overwhelming? IF it does…I get it…but it does not excuse any of us from taking the steps and making intentional long term changes to be the best Facility Stewards we can be.

Need help to get started? Give us a shout. 


eSPACE + MinistryPlatform = Win For Churches

Do you know what makes a great partnership?  It is pretty simple – GREAT PARTNERS!

I have yet to see a partnership, collaboration, or integration that was successful without there being great parties involved with mutual interests, shared mission, and vision.

One of our most recent integration partners is with MinistryPlatform.  They specialize in Church Management software for mid-size to mega churches. Their “eco-system” concept is a perfect match for eSPACE, as their philosophy is to develop a product that allows their clients to integrate with “best in class” applications to meet their specific needs. They have steered away from the idea that they could be all things to all people and have seen the power of integration can provide a customized and flexible system that meets the specific needs of their market segment.

We are honored to have been selected by MinistryPlatform to be their go-to solution for all things facility. The integration that our firms have developed utilizes the best of both applications and allows the local church to incorporate the features/components that meet their needs.

Don’t just take our word for it! See what an IT Director recently posted online:

“We left our church management system for the brighter pastures of MinistryPlatform and found this awesome partner of theirs, eSPACE, for our facility management. I cannot say enough about CSR (Customer Service Rep)! They have been an absolute blast to work with.”

– Central Community Church

To learn more about this integration, click HERE:

How SMART is Your Database?

Like you, I love the SMART devices in my house – Echos, plugs, Hue lights. It’s so cool to walk into a room and have “Alexa” turn on the light or TV or tell me the weather outside or set a reminder or update me on the news.  

eSPACE is bringing this Internet of Things to church facilities, but what does that look like for interaction with your church database?  Answer:Text-To-ChurchTM

Online giving companies brought us text to give. Marketing companies brought us text to receive content.  In 2017 Churchteams released Text-To-ChurchTM , the SMART way to get your people to:

  1. Give
  2. Register for anything
  3. Complete a Communication Card (starting a follow-up workflow)
  4. Securely check-in their kids
  5. See contact assignments
  6. See their volunteer or training schedule
  7. Manage their groups
  8. Update their infoLink to anywhere

You know, all the stuff you wish your people could do by interacting directly with your database!

Here’s how it works.  You choose your own, local, ten-digit phone number that connects to your Churchteams database. Share the number with your people along with a keyword to do whatever you want them to do.

For example, I’d like to give you the chance to see how Text-To-ChurchTM  works for registration, check-in and workflow automation.  Hands on is the best way to learn (you can do this in one minute).  Get out your phone right now andtext SMART to (817) 677-9850.

Just follow the prompts to add a (made up) child, and text the word CHECK to check-in. You will get 3 follow-up texts (1 hour, 1 day, 1 week later) from our Workflow Automation inviting you to a Meet The Software guided tour but that’s it.

Now, imagine what you could do with a SMART database?

  • Give guests and members who no longer carry checkbooks an easy way to participate in giving.
  • Get rid of check-in lines.
  • Offer an electronic communication card option in Worship.
  • Let people register for any class or event by texting a keyword.
  • Text staff and leaders of follow-up assignments.
  • Take adult class attendance on a mobile phone.
  • Automate guest follow-up so no one falls through the cracks.
  • Simplify pastoral care and leadership development follow-up.
  • Enhance church communication strategy.
  • Simplify data management.
  • All in ONE church software database!

eSPACE is leveraging technology for managing facilities.  Churchteams is leveraging technology for managing people and processes. Our recent integration helps churches get the best of both.  Now, that’s SMART.

Boyd Pelley is Co-founder / CEO of Churchteams.  He served churches in 3 states as Discipleship, Administrative, and Family pastor for 18 years. The last 8 bootstrapping the development of the company with Mark Horan, Co-founder / Software Architect.  Married since 1986, he and Pam have 2 grown, married children. They live in McKinney, Texas.

 

Engage Your Facility

Engage is an interesting word, and it has a number of meanings and connotations. For example:

  1. Engage is the root word for the time period between the decision to marry and the ceremony.
  2. Engage can relate to getting involved with an activity or conversation.
  3. Engage can describe someone engrossed in something.

In the world of church facility management and stewardship, engage has a place in all of the above, but it has another meaning, or at least a subset of a meaning. As I ponder this, it is actually a component of #2 above…the “activity” portion, but with a slight twist. Let me explain.

In the physical and mechanical world, systems have to be “engaged” in order for them to function. There must be a trigger or definitive action to cause the desired reaction. Basically a “cause and effect” or “action and reaction.”

When I flip a light switch (assuming the wires are properly connected and the light bulb is operational), the light turns on. The light fixture is engaged by the switch. I move the temperature dial on the thermostat, and the temperature in the space changes accordingly. I turn a key in a door, and the door locks or unlocks. It is engaged to a state of locked or unlocked.

That is how mechanical devices work. They must be engaged in order for them to operate. The trigger for engagement is what fascinates me.

My first car was primarily made of metal and rubber (I know, I am dating myself). Today, vehicles have over 100 microprocessors. These sensors and mini-computers are the new trigger to engage many of the safety features of newer models. For example, moisture on the windshield is now the trigger to engage the wipers. The sensors in the front grill are the trigger to engage the braking of the cruise control as I get too close to the vehicle in front of me. Putting the vehicle in reverse is the trigger to engage the “back-up camera.”

Get my point?

The same is now true with our ministry facilities. The world of IoT (Internet of Things) is growing at a rapid pace. This new interconnection of technology is what I described above in our cars. It is what allows your mobile device to engage other systems such as your home security camera, thermostat and Amazon Echo. This is not a Star Trek futuristic fantasy – we are living it right now. And it is not just at the consumer or “home” level. It is happening in commercial buildings at an exponential rate.

WHY?

Efficiency and convenience. That is why. Why have humans doing mundane tasks that can be automated? This is not about being lazy or reinforcing “First World” problems. This is being driven by a desire for people to do the things that only they can do – and automate (engage) the rest.

Think about these examples:

  • How many hours a week does your facility team spend adjusting thermostats (or Building Automation System)?
  • How many hours are spent locking and unlocking doors for events?
  • Are you entering event data in one system, then re-entering that same data in your Building Automation System or Door Access System (or BOTH)?
  • Does your communications team have to take that same information and re-enter it in yet another system?

Lord have mercy! Is that really the best use of the resources (human resources in this case) that God has entrusted to us? I have worked with dozens of churches that spend 8-10 hours a week in double entry of event data in multiple systems. Let’s assume that you pay them $18/hr and they invest ten hours a week performing dual entry or “engaging” systems manually (i.e. adjusting thermostats). That is $180 a week, or $9,360 a year. REALLY?!?!

What other intentional things could those resources be doing for those 520 hours in a year? We see so many churches with massive deferred maintenance issues. Could some of the deferred maintenance be mitigated by allocating an additional 520 hours a year to the general maintenance and upkeep of our facilities?

I think so.

Think about what other means you can incorporate to ENGAGE your facility systems, and, in turn, ENGAGE your facility team in activities that have long-term impact.

That is called Stewardship.


Setting Goals For Your Church Facility

2018 is in the books. Chapter Closed.

2019 is just getting started…we have the whole year in front of us.

Like many of you, I set personal and professional goals for 2019. I have been in the habit of setting goals (not resolutions) at the start of every year.

WHY???

In a recent series of blog posts by Rick Warren, he provides some great insight on WHY:

  1. You need to set goals because it is a spiritual responsibility – If you don’t have goals for your life, you have already decided to let other people run your life. When you don’t decide in advance what’s important, you’re letting other people decide.
  2. You need to set goals because they are statements of faith – If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ and you set a goal, you’re saying, “I believe that God wants me to accomplish this by this time. This is what I believe God is going to do in my life.” Goals aren’t just a statement of faith. They stretch your faith. The bigger your goal, the more your faith will be stretched. And that pleases God.
  3. You need to set goals because they focus your energy – Focus is the key to an effective life. If you spread your energy out and diffuse it over a whole bunch of things, you’ll make no impact at all. But if you focus your life, it’s going to be powerful, and it will change the world.

So…let me challenge you.  Have you set personal goals? Professional goals? GREAT!

What about goals for your Church Facility…your Facility Stewardship?  Not yet??? Well then, now is the perfect time to do so. I love “SO THAT” statements. You are setting this goal, and you want there to be a solution. It allows me to put a “cause” and an “effect” in place.  Think about examples such as:

  1. We will reduce energy consumption by [X]% by [X] date SO THAT…we can save the church money and reallocate to capital reserves.
  2. We will find ways to automate basic tasks like locking/unlocking doors, engaging HVAC systems, etc by [X] date SO THAT I can concentrate more of my time on general maintenance and management of the major systems.
  3. We will raise the standard of “clean” for our facility from a “Motel 6” level to a “Hilton” SO THAT we make the very best first impression to our guests.
  4. ?????????

You get the point…we have to set goals.  We owe it to our church…and to God (If you believe in Facility Stewardship) to set goals for your facility.

Share with us some of your goals in the comments below.

ONWARD! 

The Simple Church (Scheduler)

 

Did you know that between 60-75% of all churches in America average less than 200 people on a weekend? That is over 210,000 churches!!!

Do you want to venture a guess as to how many of those churches have facilities that they use on a regular basis? Yeah…me either, but I would venture to say that it is at least 75% (if not more). That is almost 160,000 churches.

Given these statistics and Cool Solutions Group’s passion to serve churches of all sizes, we are so excited to announce the release of the SIMPLE SCHEDULER.

This new facility and event scheduling software is the ideal tool for churches with smaller facilities who just need a “simple” scheduling tool, but need more than Outlook, Google Calendar or paper/pencil can offer.

Here are some of the features of SIMPLE SCHEDULER:

  • Can schedule up to 25 rooms
  • Real time conflict checking and resolution
  • Schedule tables, chairs, projectors and other resources for your event
  • Website calendar integration
  • Simple reporting
  • Simple custom forms
  • In-app communication
  • Event Approval process
  • API to integrate with other ChMS platforms
  • UNLIMITED USERS

All this…and only $25/month.  REALLY?!?! That’s right – you heard us right.  Only $25 a month with no long term contracts.

Do we have your attention? Click HERE and start your free 14 day trial.  We will be right here to help you get started.

What got you here…

…won’t get you there.

Have you ever heard that…or maybe read the book by the same title? It is a saying that has been used by consultants and leaders for years.  It is a very simple premise…that the things you did (personally, professionally, as an organization, etc.) that got you to this moment in time, will not get you to where your ultimate goals are.  WHY??? Because things change.  Everything changes (or nearly everything, except the Word of God)!

I was reading a blog by Seth Godin and really enjoyed his take on this topic:

Human beings are prediction machines. Successful humans skate to where the puck is going to be, predict what’s going to happen next, have an inkling of what’s to come.

 

We do this by creating models. A really good model is a theory, a testable method for asserting what’s going to happen next under certain conditions–and being right.

 

The pundits have models, of course.  But rather than acknowledging that they have a broken model, they persist.

 

The thing is, when your model doesn’t match reality (when you have trouble predicting how your investments will do, whether a sales call will resonate, whether a presentation will work, whether a new hire will work out) it’s tempting to blame reality.

 

Consider that it might be much more effective to get a better model instead.

So, that made me think about how we “do” church.  Our team has witnessed countless numbers of churches trying to use the things that got them here to still work to get them there.  They use the old model.  They use the previously successful means and methods (remember the bus ministry). They use the same mindset that the community needs to come to us instead of meeting them where they are. They still incorporate certain staffing and organization models that worked in 1980 and might work today if Jack Welch was the lead pastor.

Is your church really looking to get to “there”…wherever there is …or merely holding on hoping reality will change?

Then it may be time for a new model.

Need Help?  Check out this great new site by Thom and Sam Rainer – Revitalize Network.

How to Work With An Executive Pastor

The term Executive Pastor is not to be found in the Bible…at least from what I can find.  So…what are they…who are they…what do they do? This week’s post is by Dr. John C. Mrazek who is an XP, but also a consultant to churches that may need some assistance in this area.  John shares some insight that you will find helpful.

Thanks John

____________________________________________________________________________________

Executive Pastors (XPs) can be really tough to figure out. Are they a business leader or a pastor?  Or some type of combination? The answer is “yes to all of the above”. Sometimes they act like a pure business person who is counting every penny four times. Other times they are leading a staff devotional and praying with struggling church members. Sometimes they are easy to talk to and other times they use an incomprehensible vocabulary made up of words like ROI and P&L statement. I’ll say it again- Executive Pastors are different!

I’ve been an XP and now I serve Executive Pastors and sometimes I can’t figure any of us out either. If you came from a marketplace, you may understand your XP better than anyone else. If your church just hired an Executive Pastor, you are probably looking for a way to connect with this strange new person who is now your supervisor and pastor. Let me give you a tip that should help you understand this person.

Tip #1: Explaining who XPs are and how they got that way

Let me start out with a quick explanation of who this person is and how they got here. Some Executive Pastors are “corporate refugees” who escaped from the marketplace. They lived in a world completely devoted to profit. They also worked alongside people who were ferociously climbing the corporate ladder and who may act like a mercenary instead of an employee.

Then, one day they left a high salary and title to become a pastor and help their church. Now, as this new adventure begins they are excited about using their business training to make the church run more efficiently. What they don’t know is that the goals of ministry and business can be diametrically opposed and their job is going to be really tough. Don’t get me wrong – churches do need help on the business side. The key to success is that the XP stops thinking/worrying about profit and starts caring for people ASAP!

One way to summarize what an XP is going through is to understand that they are a stranger in a strange land. The staff looks the same as they did in the marketplace. But now they talk about people all of the time. Church leaders are completely consumed by thinking about people. This can be weird for a new XP. A new XP desperately needs someone to bounce thoughts off of and to double check their perceptions of this new reality.

Tip #2: XPs excel at systems and processes

XPs love numbers and ask questions about expenses that seem too focused on the dollars and less about the ministry your facility supports. In my past roles, I got way too excited about projections about the lifespan of the carpet and HVAC systems and that scared my pastor/boss.

As the Facilities Pastor/Director you are an expert at the support systems, cleaning systems, and utilities of your campus. You will make a devoted friend of your XP if you get excited about reducing the cost of anything related to your area. This aligns with their former world and feels like an area that they can show immediate improvement in.

Speaking as an XP, I would recommend that you bring expense cuts to your XP’s attention before they ask. I was into my Facilities Pastor/Director expenses within weeks of starting my new job. Please set up a meeting with your new XP as soon as possible. Don’t forget to bring with you a list of ways to cut costs and ideas you have for reducing expenses during the next budget cycle.

XPs are different, but they also have a pastor’s heart that is beginning to wake up and beat regularly. We love our new job and the chance to help God’s kingdom expand this side of Heaven. We have also come from a place that is very different from the environment we find ourselves in as we serve alongside you. Our hearts are in the right place, but our execution or communication may be a little abrupt, impersonal, or too concise. Please forgive us and try to extend a bunch of grace as we question everything you do and why you do it. We want to help and we can in ways that you may not have thought of before.

Lastly, if you need help communicating with your XP or anticipating what they may focus on first, email me at johnmrazek@sharedxp.org and I will be happy to jump in and help. I am an XP and I can help you figure out yours.

Dr. John C. Mrazek

President & Business/Ministry Coach

SharedXP, Your Part-Time Executive Pastor Service

90, 87, 68, 5 – A Love Story

I generally do not use this platform to discuss personal issues…but today is an exception.  Hear me out.

The numbers in the title of this blog have incredible significance to me and my family.  I realize they appear random, but there is a pattern and rhythm that has eternal significance.

90 – The age of Atwood Jennings Cool – my dad

87 – The age of Leona Catherine (Holley) Cool – my mom

68 – The number of years they were married

5 – Keep reading

On Saturday, December 8, 2018, Jesus Christ, my parents Lord and Savior (as well as mine), ushered them both to be with him for all eternity. We had the privilege to have both in their living room on side-by-side Hospice provided beds (BTW…Atrium Health Hospice of Union County was/is phenomenal…thank you for your care, comfort, promptness, and love for those you care for…especially my folks!!!)…see picture below.

OK…I need to pause so I can get a good cry in and wipe the tears from my keyboard…be right back.

Mom had a nasty battle with Ovarian cancer/Chemo and dad had a recent fall that led to an incredibly rapid decline.

So…what about the number 5? This is where the grace and love of God honored my parents’ wishes/prayers.  After doing EVERYTHING together for 68 years, they often would tell us kids that they would prefer to enter heaven together.  They could not imagine a “life” without the other…and frankly…my dad could not have survived without my mom.

Well…God honored them. Daddy graduated at about 5:30 AM and mommy joined him at about 10:30 AM.  WOW…you can’t make this stuff up.  Not even a Hallmark Movie could write such a beautiful script (The Notebook may be the closest example). Hold on…need to wipe more tears.

OK…I am back.

So, why am I sharing this?  Am I looking for sympathy or empathy?  Not hardly.  Am I hoping to get more readers by being vulnerable?  REALLY?!?!

Here is my WHY I am sharing:

  1. We are to honor our mother and father.
  2. My parents ministered to countless people while in the pastorate and nursing home business…now God is ministering to them in person.
  3. God hears the desires of our heart…and he answers prayers.
  4. Heaven has received 2 people that loved their Lord and now are sitting with him as well as their parents, friends and other family.  Time to celebrate.
  5. My parents have left a legacy for me and my family…Lisa and the kids have been incredible. Thank you!
  6. My parents had some other prayers for their 4 kids that have not all come to fruition during their life and I would ask that you join me in praying that all of our family will be reunited in heaven.

Heaven is much richer today! I miss you mom and dad…but will see you again!

Your Timmy Lee

“That my way will not be lost
From now on, ’til that river’s crossed
My soul renewed, and my spirit free
In you I’ll find my peace”