The WHY behind the WHAT: Church Facility Management

For years I have talked about Facility Stewardship (a term that I believe best describes what we commonly call Facility Management).  I have hounded churches with the concept that our facilities were entrusted to us by God to steward…just like money.  I am a firm believer in this concept as a physical and spiritual principle, reality and mandate. Period.

Facility Stewardship/Management…is a task.  A role. It is something we do.  Something we manage/steward.  Something we hire people to perform. It is a “what” we do. But I am afraid I may not have made a good enough case as to the “WHY” we need to be intentional about it.

A number of months ago I addressed the difference between the WHAT and WHY and how important that differentiation is.  Click HERE for a refresher on that.

So what are the right WHY reasons to be intentional and diligent with your Facility Stewardship/Management of your church facilities? Before we answer that question, let’s make sure we understand what facility management is…and is not.

A good layman’s definition is: Facilities management is the integration of processes within an organization to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities.

In a church…those “primary activities” are to minister to the community, minister to the congregation, reach the lost, provide a safe place for people to meet God, etc. In that context, facility management is not merely cleaning floors and taking out the trash…although those may be subsets of the act of facility management. Too often, churches think that because they have a maintenance person or a custodian, that they are performing “facility management.”  Not so.  You may be allocating a person to perform activities that need to be led by a facility manager as a part of the broader facility management initiative, but those tasks are not the crux of facility manager.

OK…back to WHY. Here are some examples of the right WHY for your church to be proactive with facility management:

  1. God entrusted these facilities to you. They are His and He expects us to be diligent.
  2. All of God’s physical creation will deteriorate and will need care and/or replacement. This is inevitable.  There is no escaping this reality.
  3. Facility related expenditures are generally the second largest line item in a church budget, only after staffing.
  4. Concern for the health, safety and well-being of the staff, congregation and guests.
  5. Maintaining facilities is a perpetual activity…not a one-and-done.
  6. Operational costs (utilities, maintenance, janitorial) make up about 80% of the Total Cost of Ownership of your church facility over the life of your facility.
  7. Your facility tells a story…what story will it communicate to your guests? One of care and attention or one of a lack of attention? Mark Waltz of Grainger Community Church says – “When your guests are distracted from the real purpose of their visit to your church, you’ll have a difficult time re-engaging them. In order for people to see Jesus, potential distractions must be identified and eliminated.” The condition of your facility can be such a distraction.
  8. Facilities were intended to Facilitate. What would happen if your facility was not fully operational?  Would it impact your ministries? How many Sunday’s could your church function without A/C in the worship center, in the middle of August?
  9. Self-Respect! If your home was in disarray or falling apart or had stained carpet or peeling paint, would you be proud to invite people to come over? If you are like me (and maybe I am weird), those things bother me.  I do not feel good about myself when my house is not what it could be or should be.  Not perfect…just intentionally cared for.

If you have been tasked with the care, longevity, maintenance, life cycle and/or management of your church facilities, you need to take it serious. Take a minute to read Numbers 3: 14-38. Pay specific attention to the fact that it was the Levites…the priests…that were assigned the care of the temple.  It was not people at the bottom of the food chain.  It was not the unqualified or the lowest paid.  It was the Priests…those set apart to do God’s service.   God ordained his chosen priests to manage the “facilities.” According to this scripture, there was facility management and facility managers (Read about Eleazar in Numbers 3:32) to be in charge of these tasks before there were youth pastors, children’s pastors, IT directors, Media directors and so on.  Get my point.

Facility Management is important. Understanding your WHY for the WHAT will give you the motivation and fortitude to make it a priority.

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