Is Your Facilities Manager the Red-Headed Stepchild of the Staff?

I am really bothered. In fact, I am bothered enough that I have had to walk away from this post several times to make sure I did not spew some ugliness that would not be taken in the manner in which I intend it.

So…what is bothering me? Glad you asked.

I have been preaching for years now on the principle that we must steward what God has entrusted to us, that we need to care for our facilities, and that over a 40 year life cycle, the cost of operations will represent about 71% of the total cost expenditures.

And yet, I get the sense that in most churches the Facility Manager (or the Operations Manager) is the lowest position on the org chart and the first to get cut if the budget gets too tight. I have been in several churches over the past several weeks and visited the FM’s office (if you can really call it that). I have seen “offices” that are large caged spaces (actually, they were fenced in with chain link), boiler rooms, corners of left over space with no windows, basements, storage rooms, etc, etc, etc. This has really bothered me. I would not want my personal office in these spaces. Maybe I am just picky…but maybe not.

Have you gone and spent a day in the FM’s office in your church? Did your clothes feel all dirty when you got out of the chair (the same chair that had paint cans stacked on before you sat down)?

Do we think that the FM is less critical to the success of our ministry as the youth pastor? Are they less critical than the small groups minister? 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 them like the red-headed stepchild of the staff?

Facilities represent a large part of any church’s assets and expenses yet don’t usually receive the same attention that other parts of the organization do. Is it just the necessary evil? I agree that facilities are only a tool, but they are a tool that requires care and stewarding.

I recently saw a blog by Strategic Advisor, a Facility Management consulting firm in Canada. It is entitled “Top Nine Reasons Your Company Needs a Facility Management Professional Like You.” I have modified it to be church-centric, as the principles still apply:

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

  1. Facilities are one of your church’s largest assets and represent a significant cost of doing operations. A Facility Management Professional has the knowledge to maximize value and minimize costs.
  2. Facilities and the environment they provide staff, members, congregation, processes and systems have a large impact on ministry productivity. A Facility Management Professional understands the church’s mission and the interaction with the Facility necessary to maximize ministry.
  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 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 make these resources work together to maximize value, reduce risk and minimize costs.
  7. The Facilities that house your ministry can require considerable effort to manage them 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 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 safe, 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.

I have not totally left the reservation and I fully realize that costs and budgets are a real part of our everyday life at home and at our church facilities. But taking note of our entrusted responsibilities will make us better stewards of these tools.

The Church Facility Stewardship e-Book is a great primer to get you started on the road to understanding the basics of an intentional and proactive Facility Stewardship (i.e Facility Management) initiative for your church or ministry.

One comment on “Is Your Facilities Manager the Red-Headed Stepchild of the Staff?

  1. I absolutely agree Tim. Why would we NOT provide offices like ours, include them in staff meetings, value their input, send then to training conferences, and provide nice computers. Good read…

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