Blog

Church Security – Building a Strong Foundation

At Cool Solutions Group we strive to provide the best content to all that are searching for ways to be stewards of what they have been entrusted. In the past few years church safety and security has been a growing focus. We get many calls regarding this, and work with many great partners in the industry to get the best information out to as many as possible.

What we have found is that security is like any other process in a facility. To be successful it must be done intentionally. One of our favorite quotes that is generally attributed to the Greek soldier Archilochus circa 650 B.C. is “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training”.

That concept is the basis for our new free e-Book series entitled A Measured Approach to Church Security. This series has 4 separate eBooks:

Part 1: Church Security – Preparing for the Process

Part 2: Church Security – Laying a Firm Foundation

Part 3: Church Security – Building Upon the Foundation

Part 4: Church Security – Supported by a Firm Foundation

For a safety and security program in your church to be successful and effective, you will need to have a strong foundation. This series is designed to introduce you to the concepts that allow you to begin building the best program for your church. There are many references provided, some to articles and some to service providers. Take the time to dig deep and begin building and training on a safety and security program that can accomplish your objectives. Developing your response during the storm is the opposite of intentional planning.

Download this FREE series today, and encourage others to do the same. Develop the plan that is right for you and your church culture. We are here to help.


Facility Stewardship – What Is It?

For over 10 years, you have seen me refer to facility stewardship. For some of you this may be still be a new concept. You know what a facility is and you are familiar with stewardship…but how do the 2 go together? I am glad you asked…

Let’s first look at the definition of each:

FACILITY (ies) – something designed, built, installed, etc., to serve a specific function affording a convenience or service.

STEWARDSHIP – (act of being a STEWARD) – a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others.

If you have grown up in the church or been involved in church for any period of time, you have heard the term “stewardship”…and I am sure that in almost every case, it revolved around money or raising money. In these cases, we are generally talking about financial stewardship which is critical to our spiritual life as well as the life of our ministries.

The word “money” is used over 140 times and if you add terms such as “gold” and “silver” the number is huge. For example, financial matters are mentioned more often in the Bible than prayer, healing, and mercy.

But stewardship is not just about money and finances…but refers to (as its definition above indicates) the caring for or oversight of something of someone else’s. The EPA has a section on their website that explains “Environmental Stewardship”. They define it as:

Environmental stewardship is the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment.

So, how do we apply this to our ministry facilities? Do we really believe that God has entrusted these to us, thus making us stewards of their care and oversight? As I have shared before, I have witnessed churches and ministries spending millions of dollars in the construction and renovation of their facilities…but then fail to maintain them (i.e. steward them). They wave the banner of “stewardship” when raising money to build them…but then neglect their care, management and maintenance. So, the following is a list of attributes that I believe are part of “Facility Stewardship”:

  • Proper cleaning
  • Systematic and proactive Preventive Maintenance
  • Proactive Capital Reserve Account planning
  • Life Cycle analysis and planning
  • Development of a systematic painting plan
  • Proper facility scheduling – this is a key element of stewarding the facility…they were meant to be used
  • Sustainability implementation
  • Vigilant monitoring of operational costs
  • Implementation of energy saving processes (i.e. HVAC interface with a Building Automation System or WiFi thermostats of better yet)
  • Proactive cataloging of facility components and tracking of work orders and service requests

With the above as a backdrop, how are you doing with your Facility Stewardship? What can you implement immediately that would make you a better steward?


It’s Not That You Are Wrong…

…It’s just that you may not be correct. Well some of you may be, but chances are, many of you are not correct…on how cleaning is being accomplished in your facility. It is a mistake to assume that the role of a team member dedicated to maintaining cleanliness is an unskilled position. If you do have that assumption, then you do not understand that there is a science, and actual science, to cleaning.

You’ve seen commercials that proclaim the wonders of a cleaner that will clean every surface, kill every germ, write a term paper, and wash your car. That would work if every type of soiling agent that you encounter was the same pH and the same basic type of material. Yet last I checked, variation abounds. Soils can be acidic, alkaline, dry, morphing, or dyes and inks. Each of these soil types require a different and specific method of cleaning. This is where the science gets exciting!

It is a mistake to assume that the role of a team member dedicated to maintaining cleanliness is an unskilled position.

Just like the soils vary, so do the cleaners. Acidic cleaners have been developed for the more alkaline soils, alkaline cleaners for the more acidic soils. Best chemical for a morphing soil…nothing! Morphing soils react with water/moisture. Absent that catalyst they can be simply swept up and disposed of. Neutral cleaners are popular as well because they do not damage certain surfaces (like floor finish). What you need to understand is, the closer in pH that the soil and cleaner are to each other, the less effective the cleaner will be.

There are also cleaning actions that are not dependent on pH. Disinfectants are generally neutral, they are designed to kill the microorganisms that are listed on their label. Oh, and they are registered with the EPA listed as insecticides. Solvents contain chemicals that break down the elements of material to break their bonds, many can be harmful. Enzyme cleaners utilize live bacteria to eat organic material. Fun fact, if you clean a surface with a disinfectant and then try to follow-up with an enzyme cleaner it won’t work. Disinfectant residue kills the enzymes. Science!

Are you seeing how complex the science behind cleaning is? The real danger is in that not only can improper cleaning programs lead to dirty facilities, it can be hazardous to the occupants and staff. Training your team and providing the right information on chemical usage is not something you put off until there is “time”. Training should occur before the first task is performed. OSHA wants to see that hazardous communication class happen first thing as well, and where do the majority of the SDS originate from in your facility? The cleaning department.

Chemicals are an important part of a proper program. The equipment and processes utilized in conjunction with the chemicals make for a well-rounded program. Just like investing in training will provide dividends, so will investing in the right equipment to perform the tasks.

I hope at this point you are wondering if you have a clue as to what is happening in your facility. Not because I want to scare anyone. Rather, I want to impress upon everyone that our cleaning teams are being asked to perform an extraordinary task that can only be accomplished through research and training. Once the work has been done to provide the right chemicals, equipment, training, and processes, you can have a clean facility. We scratched the surface…want to get even farther ahead? May 24th Church Facility Management Solutions will host a FREE webinar on cleaning with an industry leader. We will make the science fun and meaningful. Join CFMS (free), sign up for the webinar (free). Isn’t the cleaning of your facility worth it?


The “Real” Cost of Facility Ownership: What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary

As many of you know, I come from a background of planning and building ministry facilities. I have been blessed to invest over 30 years of my life in serving churches to develop new and renovated ministry facilities. That phase of my life brought me great joy and fulfillment. But now I am very burdened by the millions…and billions of dollars that are spent each year on religious construction without a clear understanding of the “real” cost of ownership. I also think that most ministry leaders do not understand that the ongoing costs eclipse the initial costs and do so in a much bigger way than you would imagine.

Let’s look at the REAL cost of ownership of our ministry facility:

  1. INITIAL COST: For this exercise, let’s assume that our new ministry facility is 30,000 SF for $4,777,550
  2. COST OF “MONEY”: Let’s assume that we borrowed $3,000,000 to pay for the project and we did so based on a 15 year loan at 6%…but paid it off in 7 years. In this scenario, you will have paid approximately $1.1M in interest.
  3. COST OF OPERATION: Based on our research and bench-marking provided by IFMA (International Facility Managers Association), the average church in America will spend $4.50 to $7.00 per square foot annually for janitorial services, utilities and general maintenance. In addition, a church will spend an additional amount in capital improvements that will be in the $1.00 to $2.00/SF range (if the capital reserve account is started at the time construction is complete…this number grows significantly higher if you neglect the capital reserve account during the early years of the building’s life cycle). For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume that we will spend $6.00/SF for operational and capital reserve items. This may be low…but I want the calculations to be realistic.

Assume a 40 year life cycle (which is not that long)…at 1.5% per year of inflation. Remember that operational costs are perpetual and paid for with inflated dollars…so this is going to increase, and 1.5% is probably TOO LOW. $210,000/ yr x 40 years at 1.5% per year inflation for 40 years…without compounding = $13,440,000.00

So let’s look at what this means:

  1. Initial costs including design – $4,777,550
  2. Cost of Money – $1,100,000
  3. Cost of life cycle operations and capital reserve – $13,440,000 (that is $448/SF…OUCH)
    TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP = $19,317,550

WOW…that is a BIG number…now…here is the shocking part:

  1. The combined cost of the construction partner and the design professionals is only 3% of the total cost of ownership.
  2. The construction cost…including the design…is only about 22% of the total cost of ownership.
  3. The interest paid is only about 6% of the total cost of ownership.
  4. Leaving…71% of the total cost of ownership in operation costs and capital expenditures.

As I indicated prior, State Farm Insurance found that they spend about 80% of the total cost of ownership of commercial buildings on operational costs over 40 year. Further, a book was published in 1969 by THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS entitled – LIFE CYCLE COST ANALYSIS 2: USING IT IN PRACTICE by David S. Haviland. In this book, Mr. Haviland states:

“The INITIAL DESIGN and CONSTRUCTION of a facility comprises about 15% of the total cost of a building over its 40 year lifespan. The remaining 85% is made up of the building’s OPERATIONS and MAINTENANCE COSTS.”

So…what costs more…the initial cost…or the cost after you occupy? I think the numbers speak for themselves. So…do we invest the same amount of time and energy in planning our operational costs as we did when we developed our master plans and floor plans? Why do we get all in a tiff about an architect charging 7% instead of 5%…or the construction partner charging 6% instead of 3%? The fees that encompass only 3% of the total cost of ownership feel so important at the time we hire them…but the decisions, direction, means and methods that this team suggests and implements will be with you for the life of your buildings. Do we have our eyes on the REAL cost of facility ownership?

If Facility Stewardship is really about being wise stewards of all God has entrusted, then I think it is fair to say that most of us have our priorities upside down. Facility Stewardship must include:

  1. Purposeful Facility Planning – Taking the time to really evaluate the “genetic code” of the church, reviewing the vision, determining IF facilities are needed to accomplish the vision and mission of the church in addition to evaluating the potential financial implications.
  2. Proper Facility Development – This is not just about construction…but also encompasses the financial stewarding of the resources God has entrusted to us by planning facilities that meet the ministry objectives…AND…that do not bankrupt the church in the future with operational costs. As seen above…most of your long term cost of facility ownership WILL BE established based on the planning during this phase of any project.
  3. Proactive Facility Management and Long Term Care – This is where we too often fall grossly short in our Facility Stewardship Initiative.
    Think about it…then do something about it.

Do you need some help getting started? Don’t forget to order your copy of our manual –   Facility Stewardship: Managing What God Has Entrusted To You. It is a must have for every church that has a facility!


 

4 Reasons Why Every Church Budget Should Include a Capital Reserve Line Item

I am a big fan of the men in the Rainer Family…you know…Thom, Sam, Jess and Art. These men have been a great encouragement to me and their support of our work has been incredible. We have posted blogs in the past from Thom and Sam…but not Art…until now. We are excited to have a blog by Art Rainer. Art’s passion for Biblical Financial Stewardship is infectious and it so mirrors our passion for Facility Stewardship (aren’t they really one in the same???).

Thanks Art for sharing your wisdom, passion and heart!


In personal finances, we all know how important it is to have an emergency fund. Unforeseen, costly events happen. Sometimes they are relatively small—a tire goes flat or a washing machine stops working. Sometimes they are big—a job is lost. Having money set aside for these purposes is key to financial health.

But what about churches?

Churches face a similar predicament. The inevitable unforeseen cost is just around the corner.

Capital reserves are funds set aside, specifically for facility improvements or repairs. And sufficient funds set aside for these improvements or repairs are the result of very intentional planning.

“To start setting aside funds for future capital needs, church budgets must include a line item dedicated to accomplishing this goal.”

To start setting aside funds for future capital needs, church budgets must include a line item dedicated to accomplishing this goal.

Here are a few reasons why every church budget should include a capital reserve line item:

  1. Church facilities tend to get older, not younger. This may surprise you, but your church facilities will not improve on their own. Unfortunately, many churches budget as if their facilities will never deteriorate, that the air conditioning unit will work forever. Having a capital reserve line item acknowledges reality—facilities get worse over time, not better.
  2. You never know when a major capital expense will hit. Our best plans fail, even for capital repairs. Many church facility problems come as a complete surprise. You didn’t anticipate the roof leaking that day. You thought you had, at least, another year on your air conditioning unit. But here you sit, in a hot, leaking church building. A capital reserve line item helps ensure you have money set aside for unfortunate surprises.
  3. Capital reserves will increase confidence and decrease stress. Capital reserves increase you and your church members’ confidence that the budget will not be derailed by a major facility expense. Capital reserves also decrease the stress that comes from knowing you are not prepared to withstand an unforeseen capital expense.
  4. The absence of capital reserves will cannibalize ministry funds. When expenses must be reduced because of an  unforeseen capital expense, it is the ministry budgets that typically take the largest hit. This happens because ministry budgets are typically not seen as a fixed cost. Variable expenses, like ministry dollars, are almost always reduced before a church’s fixed costs.

Churches need funds set aside for capital expenses. Some of these expenses are anticipated, while others come as a complete surprise. To start saving money for inevitable repairs and improvements, make sure to include a capital reserve line item in your budget.

Envelope3.com is a website dedicated to helping churches better understand their budget. A church budget is a vital, but often overlooked, tool for church leaders. A church budget is a blueprint for mission. Church leaders can get their church budget analysis and comparison for only $19.97! Be sure to check it out.


Living in Wake Forest, NC, Art’s curiosities center on faith-infused leadership, marketing, and life observations. Such interests fueled his authoring of several articles and two books, Simple Life and Raising Dad.

Art earned his Master of Business Administration at the University of Kentucky and is currently a doctoral candidate in business administration. Art serves as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is co-owner of Rainer Publishing.

5 Ways Your Parking Lot Might be Holding Back the Redemptive Potential of Your Church

This week we are thrilled to share the wisdom of a great church leader and friend, Rich Birch of unSeminary.comRich has become a trusted friend the past few years and I really appreciate his insights. For example…believe it or not, your parking lot could be the thing that is holding back the potential of your church. In fact, your church might not be living up to its total calling because of what is happening at the parking lot. Rich is going to unpack this for us below.  Thanks Rich for all you do!

Your Parking Lot Might be Limiting the Redemptive Potential of Your Church!

Cars have a profound impact on the manner in which we “do” church across the country. As the adoption of the car took off in the first half of last century, our approach to churches changed and morphed accordingly. The local parish gave way to the regional church which ended up paving the way for the entire mega-church movement, which became a fertile ground for the multisite movement. We would do well to understand the impact of cars and connecting our parking lots to our ministry because they are so connected to what we do. Here are a few ways that parking lots might be negatively impacting your ministry.

A Full Parking Lot is Limiting Your Church

Obviously, most church leaders are inside their buildings when their services start. Your people might know that you have a problem and you’re never around to see it. Full parking lots are a great sign because that implies lots of people are attending your church. However, if they are “too full” like a packed auditorium, it can actually turn people off.

Most municipalities’ bylaws are inadequate to tackle the required parking spots per seat in the main auditorium. Lots of cities typically only require 1 spot for every 4 seats in your auditorium. (I know one city by us that only requires 1 for every 40!) My experience suggests that your church needs 1 spot for every 2 seats in your auditorium. Most legacy church buildings were not built with this much space and might get cramped every week.

If your parking lot is more than 70% full as your services are starting, it’s time to start looking for better parking solutions. You want your guests to be able to find a spot easily.

Four Tactics for Dealing with a Full Parking Lot:

  • Street Parking // Diving into your municipalities parking bylaws might reveal that your area allows street parking on Sunday. In many regions, the rules pertaining to weekend street parking are different during the week. It’s worthwhile investing the time to figure out if this type of opportunity exists on the streets around your building.
  • Cross Use Agreements // Look around your immediate neighbors and find someone who you could borrow spots from. Oftentimes, other businesses and organizations will be open to you using their empty parking spots. However it’s much better to approach them and talk about it rather than just starting to use it.
  • Park Your Leaders Off Site // Those who volunteer and lead at your church should be encouraged (or even required) to park off your location. Cast vision with them around the idea of creating more space for visitors and ask them to do the extra walk.
  • Shuttle Buses // Churches facing a more acute parking problem might need to resort to off-site parking that isn’t adjacent to their property and might need to offer remote parking supported by shuttle buses. This approach should ideally be the “last stop” before you look at building more parking spaces. It can be a great solution and provide good service for families connecting with your church.

Church Parking Lots without Volunteers Are Missed Opportunities

If your church doesn’t have people serving on a parking team, you must know that people within your church are missing out on a perfect service opportunity. Over the years, I’ve found that churches that have parking teams are actively engaging a group of volunteers that lots of other churches seem to be unable to connect with. I love the churches that have parking teams which espouse an almost superhero-like ethics as they serve outdoors all year long. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this team from the swift completion of their appointed service” … even the postal service can’t claim that anymore!

Your church grows when more people get plugged in and they spread the word among their friends. As you get this group of volunteers plugged into your church, they will start telling other people. Also, churches develop faster when they see more people getting plugged into the community. As you move a group of people from anonymity to community through serving on a team, the church is inevitably strengthened.

5 Tips for Launching a Parking Team

  • Start with the Who // The team leader is critically important for this team. (Any team, really!) Find an outgoing team builder who doesn’t mind asking people to join the team. Typically these are high energy folks because it takes a lot to push and stay outdoors all year long!
  • Launch in a Mild Season // Please don’t launch this team in July if your church is in Florida, or in January if you’re in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Launch the team in a “shoulder season” where your team can effectively do its task before the heat or cold sets in.
  • Consider the Uniform // Give your people something to wear that will help them stand out while serving. Think about the different kinds of weather when considering various parts of the uniform.
  • Training! Training! Training! // Make sure to think through exactly what kind of experience you want your guests to have upon their arrival. Talk it over with the team before they start. Draw it out on a diagram or two for the visual learners. Oftentimes, theme parks do a fantastic job of parking people. Maybe you could take your people to visit a theme park to watch and understand what they do.
  • Celebrate Lots! // This team needs lots of public celebration and admiration. These people are considered to be heroes of the church because of what they do for you. Talk lots about them from the stage and celebrate their service. You can’t overemphasize how amazing this group of people really is!

Your Church’s Parking Lot is a First Impression … all week long!

The first thing that most people typically see about your church is your parking lot. This is not only the case on weekends when your guests arrive, but also all week long as most people just drive by your parking lot.

I’ve seen some churches with a small forest growing between the cracks in the parking lot by communicating that it’s a very long time since anyone parked there. We’ve all seen a worn out parking lot that hasn’t been painted since the Spice Girls were on Top 10 radio and it all looks far too depressing.

Stand back and look at your parking lot. If it were the only thing that people knew about your church, what would it communicate? For most of us, it is the only thing people know about and identify with our churches because they simply drive by and don’t come in. Ensure your parking lot communicates that your church is welcoming and open for one and all!

On a related note … have you ever stopped to consider what your parking lot communicates if it’s empty throughout the week? All of our buildings have their heaviest usage during the weekends, but does that mean they’re completely empty during the week? Does an empty parking lot throughout weekdays implicitly communicate that your church isn’t relevant to the lives of rest of the people? Just wondering.

Is Your Parking Lot Holding Back Single Parents?

Today, 1 in 4 kids are raised by a single parent. [ref] If your church isn’t seeing at least that number of single-parent-headed families in your church, the onus may lie on the parking lot. Traveling with young kids can be particularly challenging as a single parent. By the time a single parent has arrived at your church, they have already braved a lot to make that happen. The last daunting task is getting out of the car and across your parking lot into your facility.

5 Ways Your Church Can Be More Single-Parent-Friendly in Your Parking Lots

  • Designate “Parent Parking” Spots // You don’t need to make these “single parent parking spots” because people do appreciate some level of anonymity. Having spots that are closest to the front and have easy access to your children’s ministry is a gift to all parents!
  • Train Leaders to Look for Single Parents // The simple act of helping a parent with a stroller in your facility can be a sign of selfless love and care. Having team members walk with single parents and help their kids get into your ministry can make all the difference.
  • Have “Fun Transport” Options // Wagons are a simple yet effective tool that some kids love to jump into and get driven into church in style. A next level option would be to have golf carts or even a tram! (I love the tram at Disney World!)
  • Umbrellas Are A Must // Train your people to look out for parents on rainy days to meet them with an umbrella at the car. There is nothing more thoughtful than when someone steps up beside your car with an open umbrella on a rainy day to help you get your kids out!
  • Great (Obvious) Signage // If you have two or three kids in tow, you are focused on keeping them safe coming across your parking lot. It can be difficult to discern where to go. You can’t make your signage too obvious to people. Make it better, simpler and brighter so that a frazzled parent doesn’t need to exhaust their brainpower to figure it out!

Parking Lots Are a “Hidden In Plain Sight” Stewardship Issue.

Finally, parking lots are expensive. It’s not uncommon for parking lots to cost at least $5,500 per spot on a fairly low complexity build. [ref] As a point of reference, let’s say your church has 500 seats in the auditorium with only 100 parking spots. You’d ideally like to add another 150 spots to match the 1 spot for every two seats we quoted above. After factoring in all the design, drainage, curbing, painting, etc., it would be an investment of $825,000 for your church – assuming that you don’t run into any significant problems along the way!

Once parking lots are built, they become a recurring maintenance issue that often gets differed longer than it should; ultimately costing the church more than it needs to. If your church doesn’t keep up with resurfacing and patching on a periodic basis, you can be forced into a situation where major renovations need to be done at a massive cost. No one wants to invest massively in maintaining a parking lot when there are so many other pressing ministry needs, but ignoring its significance may have severe consequences down the road. You should be looking at regular maintenance of your parking lots on a bi-annual or at least annual basis!

We often take this resource for granted and hence, it’s easy to not invest in. Typically, the cost of a parking lot gets hidden as part of a major capital expansion. This is why we don’t consider what an important resource it is to the church. Challenge that mindset because it really is an amazing tool for our ministry!


Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 15 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner.  He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church – a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is know for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact.

Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution. He has a weekly blog and podcast that helps with stuff you wish they taught in seminary at www.unseminary.com

Don’t Take Our Word for It!

As CEO of Cool Solutions Group/eSPACE, nothing brings me more joy than hearing from our clients. We could “toot” our own horn all day long, but…when others say things about you, that makes you take notice. Here are just a few comments from clients:

It is amazing how far the software has come since we started using it in I think 2011. Having the event scheduler on the app, may give us the ability to stop running schedules.  You have done some amazing things with this software over the years.  ~ Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church 

 

The transition of data from ServiceU to eSPACE went very well. The system is much easier to navigate through than ServiceU. I am very pleased with the system and what it can do.   ~ Sugar Creek Baptist Church

 

We are so impressed thus far not only with the eSPACE program but also with the wonderful customer service we have already received!   ~ Forest Hills Baptist Church

 

Let me take a moment to just tell you how eSPACE is blessing us and blessing our community. Because of the ease of scheduling spaces and eSPACE in general, we now have community members using our facility for corporate meetings and other events. Opening our building to the public gets more people in the door who may have a negative view of “church.” The FACILITY is not the church – it’s where we DO church. ~ Ward Church

 

The number one thing that eSPACE has that ServiceU did not is excellent customer service! eSPACE is so much more comprehensive, specifically for the whole facility. Work order system, HVAC system and now the Life Cycle Calculator are so wonderfully focused on the facility as that is your niche. eSPACE is so much easier to update than ServiceU. ~ Westwood Community Church

 

I have been managing our church facility for nearly 14 years and while I have experimented with other software tools to help me, Cool Solutions Group is hands down the best out there. Cost savings, better stewardship and higher production of our church’s support staff are a direct result of their Event, Work Order and HVAC management software. ~Fellowship Bible Church

 

Oh. My. Gosh. We could not love eSPACE more!!!! You all ROCK! Moving to eSPACE has been everything we’d hoped and dreamed it to be.  Their staff is extremely responsive and supportive of our unique and growing needs.  They are flexible, thoughtful, and the best company we work with hands down.  We only wish the team at eSPACE would take over the internet world and build software for everything so we could work with them on every digital need we have!  Their customer service is far superior to anyone we’ve ever worked with! ~ Bloomfield Hills School District

Want to learn more?  Check us out HERE. You can also view videos and other tools HERE.

 

 


Proactive vs. Reactive Facility Management

If you have been following these posts for any period of time, you know that we have explored the difference between facility maintenance and Facility Management.  As part of that discussion we looked at the differences between proactive and reactive maintenance.

Well, recently I was tracking a LinkedIn conversation with a Facility Management (FM) “group” that I am a member. I found the discussion to be very interesting…and I think you will too. Keep in mind that these comments are from people providing facility management services in the “secular” arena (i.e. complex commercial buildings…wait…don’t forget our ministry facilities are also complex commercial buildings…Hmmm). As you read these, substitute the word “company” with either “church” or “ministry”.

Here is the sequence of discussions:

You missed a critical part of the equation to switching from reactive to proactive. FM’s need time to analyze information, develop a strategy and implement things that are proactive. Unfortunately they are often too busy with the day-to-day issues and headaches. Many of them also are very hands-on, get-things-done kinds of people who don’t think they are earning their pay if they spend time in the office (or somewhere else, preferably) simply thinking and planning. Their colleagues within their organization do it, that’s why they get more attention, resources and support.

I gave a seminar at the IIDEX / Neocon conference in Toronto last year about selling FM in your company. I talked about this issue as one of the reasons their profession isn’t as respected as those of the finance, HR, lawyers, engineers and other professionals in their company. (TIM COOL INSERT – or the “pastoral staff” or the ministry initiatives)

FM’s need to step off the treadmill every now and then in order to switch from being reactive to proactive and strategic.

  • All the above are excellent points and critical to running a professional FM department. I think the difference between being considered a low-paid “necessary evil” for the company and a respected higher-paid professional is the strategic planning and value-driven dynamic. The strategic facility plan should be part of the leadership process that identifies current and projected facility needs and accommodations for growth (or reduction) and technology requirements which support the organization’s objectives. The other dynamic is to create value to the organization through cost identification and reduction methods, then monitoring, adjusting and documenting your savings contribution. A final area is to lead the process of identifying the use of facilities with the goal of assessing each area’s contribution to the organization’s profitability through the appropriate use of space.

I’m going to jump in here and say that of the 6,508 members in this group I bet every single one has had show stopping failures that grab all of your resources in a single minute. I managed 45 facilities in 33 states, over 3.5 million sq. ft. and I did not have a single tool box on my staff. I have one heck of a contact data base though…I totally agree that preventive maintenance is the only way to stay ahead of the curve or “stay out of the vortex” as I like to say but the only way to maintain your sanity is to make strong ties to project management consultants that can hit the ground running on any issues and jump right back on the sidelines (and off your payroll) as soon as issues are resolved.

If you’re like most and you are under resourced when things are going well, there is no way you can put monitoring management in place, keep it updated, and handle failures (they will happen anyway) without reaching for outside help.

  • In summary I feel that a balanced approach works best with different service levels depending on what is being maintained. There is no right or wrong answer in the planned vs. reactive debate but one thing is certain – any FM strategy needs to be underpinned by accurate and comprehensive asset data and a detailed understanding of the underlying business need.

So…how are you doing in developing a professional, proactive and strategic Facility Management department (or plan) for your church and ministry? Is the facility management efforts at your church the proverbial redheaded step child of the ministry? Is it only a necessary evil…or…is it a critical part of your overall stewardship initiative? If it is the later, I congratulate you and would covet your input as to how you are accomplishing that. I believe you are on the right track if you have embraced a “facility stewardship” perspective.


WOW – You Offer THAT?!

The other day I was contacted by a man from a church who was working with a committee he had established to help his church understand the importance of taking care of and planning for the inevitable future costs related to their church facilities. He had downloaded one of our eBooks (Church Facility Stewardship) and was interested in other resources to make his case.

As I started to compile a response, I paused and stared at the screen…WOW – THAT IS INCREDIBLE! As the email developed and the list grew, I was frankly humbled and blown away with the resources that we have been able to make available to churches across the country.

If you have not checked out what we have developed (many resources are free) and what services we provide…just take a look at the list below.

  1. 5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account –  Free eBook – This was written as a primer for churches that are starting from Square 1 with a capital reserve.
  2. Church Facility Evaluator – Free tool to evaluate some of the key operational metrics/costs of a church related to national averages.
  3. Church Facility Stewardship Manual – Almost 300 pages of information for any church to use to establish and further their facility management initiatives.
  4. Other Resources – We have written a number of books and other material.
  5. Assessments/Training – We also provide a number of assessments and training.
  6. Life Cycle Calculator – This is a free software that will help ANY organization establish their capital reserve plan and project funds needs and when.
  7. eSPACE – Facility Management Software – We originally developed this software suite for churches, but since 2008,  we now have private and public schools, colleges, YMCAs, municipalities and other facility/property managers. In addition to the free Life Cycle Calculator from above, we have subscription offerings for:
    1. Event Management 
    2. Work Order Management
    3. HVAC Integration 
  8. Church Facility Management  Solutions – This is a new membership website that we recently released…VERY excited about this!

If your church has a facility…you need to familiarize yourself with the above items and take advantage of the best set of tools to help you be a GREAT steward!


Church, The Way It Used to Be…Really?

Recently I was driving on I-85 between Charlotte and Atlanta and saw a billboard for a church that said:

ABC* Church and School…the way it used to be (* I will not reveal the name of the church…but if you Google “Church, the way it used to be” you may be shocked at how many churches use this slogan).

I saw this and just thought…HUH? Really? Are you serious?????

“I believe that the cultural and social changes that we have been blessed with have allowed us to better grow disciples that love God and love people.”

I know what they are trying to say…but REALLY? Do you really want things the way they used to be? Do you really want church and school to be the way it “used to be”…really?  Let’s think about how church and school used to be:

  1. Schools “used to” meet in a one room facility.
  2. Schools “used to” not have computers.
  3. Schools “used to” use corporal punishment in excess.
  4. Churches “used to” require that you wear a coat and tie (that is the piece of cloth that men sometimes wear around their neck…just in case you are less than 25 years old).
  5. Churches “used to” use a Latin version of the Bible.
  6. Churches “used to” require their minister to wear a robe to preach in.
  7. Churches “used to” do all of their music with a pipe organ only, if any instruments.
  8. Churches “used to” print bulletins on a mimeograph machine.
  9. Churches and schools “used to” not have air conditioning or heat.
  10. Churches and schools “used to” require men and women sit on opposite sides.

OK…enough of my rant…but I for one do not want to do “church or school” the way it used to be done in the past. I believe that the cultural and social changes that we have been blessed with have allowed us to better grow disciples that love God and love people…and allow us to impact a culture that is far from God. While the message of the Gospel can never be compromised…and the truths of the Bible never forsaken…our means, methods and approaches must stay relevant and contextual to the society we are trying to serve…you know…in the world, not of it.

Let me share one more example.  I have heard for many years the argument of traditional vs. contemporary music in church. This is an argument that does not ring true to me (no pun intended). What is contemporary? According to the dictionary, it means: of the present time; modern. Simply put, it is what is happening right now.  And yet, so many churches have tried to make “contemporary” an ugly word.  Let’s take an honest look at church music. Fanny Crosby is credited with writing dozens…maybe hundreds of hymns that were made popular in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s.  This era of church history was called the Sunday School Era as that is when Sunday School was first started. Now we talk about how we need to have music the way it “used to be”…which generally means we need more hymns. But the reality is, the hymns of that day were the contemporary music of the day and were considered trite and trivial compared to the great works of Bach, Beethoven, and other great composers of the Middle Ages. Sounds pretty familiar to today.

Now…I am not saying that the music of the Middle Ages is not relevant or that hymns have no meaning or place in our current culture…but I am asking if we really want our churches and schools to be “the way it used to be”.

Think about it.