The Importance of the Facility Manager During a Church Construction Project

A number of years ago, I ran across an article by David Strickland, architect from Atlanta. I was impressed by the article and got David’s permission to re-print it (Thanks David).  There is a lot of good stuff for your consideration in this article…so enjoy!

Some of the most successful projects we have had have included Facility Managers as an integral part of the building committee or vision team. If we do our jobs, at some point in the process the collection of historical information will systematically transform into a plan for new or modified facilities.

There are a myriad of details to discuss about the needs that will have to be met during the pre and post-construction phases, as well as functionality during the actual construction process. How do churches provide for existing ministries during construction and for the ministries that are needed in future following construction? Challenges will surface somewhere along the way for every church. Utilities may be off line for a period of time or some groups will be forced to relocate due to the activities associated with the demolition and/or construction work or there is an unplanned event that must be accommodated without interruption such as a funeral. The Facility Manager typically is tasked to work with the design and construction team to develop a logistics plan that addresses these critical times of the construction schedule. Thereby, when it is possible, preparation can be made well in advance of the actual occurrence so that everyone is informed, and that all ministries are accommodated with minimal inconvenience throughout the entire process.

“Facility Managers truly are a vital part in the day to day planning and operations of the church.”

In addition to being the source for historical information and the keeper of the construction logistics plan, the Facility Manager can also be a great resource to help in developing the plans for the future. Others on the team may have great vision for what could be, but there should be discussions of how the vision can be a reality with regard to facility use. What can be accommodated in the existing facilities and what will best be accommodated in the new facilities?

Day in and day out, Facility Mangers deal with the challenges of maintaining and operating the physical plant. This can be vital information for the architect and engineers. During a major renovation or during a period of new construction the economy of scale may provide great opportunities to reduce costs and to easily accomplish upgrades. These upgrades could save the church a great deal of money over time with regard to the operations budget. As an example–energy management tools are now available that will allow Facility Managers to plan, schedule and control heating and air conditioning operations well in advance of the actual date needed. This can all be done from their desktop computer.

Questions about the maintenance of new or renovated facilities should be discussed during the planning period. For example, a Facility Manager would probably want to know; what types of light bulbs are going to have to be maintained for routine replacement? What type of floor finish is going to be used in each location and how will it be maintained? How do we access new equipment for routine maintenance? There are many very good questions that should be discussed during the planning phase—a happier alternative for all than the same discussion after construction when it is not as easy to make adjustments to enhance functionality.

No two congregations function exactly alike. Where a Facility Manager is in place, it is always prudent to include them throughout the planning process. They truly are a vital part in the day to day planning and operations of the church. Invaluable assistance will be rendered by the remainder of the team–church leadership and lay leaders—as well. A productive team will be formed of individuals with varying backgrounds and experiences. Our experience indicates these diverse teams constitute productive, cohesive groups capable of successfully addressing every vital issue and making the best decisions for the ministries of their churches. All are necessary to making the team functional, but a good Facility Manager always provides insight that no one else can.


Security In The Church – FREE Webinar

Church security, safety, readiness and the like are front of mind issues for all of us. 20 years ago, many of the perils we are having to be prepared for were unthinkable.

In light of that, we invite you to join us Thursday, March 22nd as we discuss Security in the Church. This webinar is provided by Church Facility Management Solutions. Normally these webinars are only available to our membership, but this topic is SOOO critical that we are opening it up to the first 100 people.

This FREE webinar is designed for churches of all sizes and will provide timely information for churches wanting to start or strengthen their respective programs. Our special guest is Mr. Chuck Chadwick Jr.

Chuck Chadwick Jr. is the Founder and President of NOCSSM™ (National Organization for Church Security and Safety Management™); NOCSSM™ has helped churches of all sizes in multiple states with security and safety issues.

Chuck is also the licensed security manager and president of Gatekeepers Security Services. GSS’s Gatekeepers Program™ has trained hundreds of armed Gatekeepers in churches across Texas. As president of the Christian Security Institute™, he trains church security teams in both regulated and non-regulated states.

His three decades of private security experience, and over a decade in the Church security field working with large multi-site church campuses in Texas, enable him to address the unique security issues faced by churches of all sizes.

Chuck’s credentials include Certified Protection Specialist through Executive Security International, a TCLEOSE Certified Law Enforcement Firearms instructor, a Certified PPCT Defensive Tactics Instructor and a Licensed Level 3 & 4 Security Instructor through the Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau.

Please join us March 22nd @ 1:00 PM Eastern for this opportunity to strengthen the security in our churches. Click HERE to sign up, and send any specific questions you would like to see addressed to

All Worship is Contemporary

Close to our house is a church that might be considered liturgical or at least have its roots in liturgical methodologies. As I drove by their facility recently, their digital marquee sign has this blazing announcement:


If you read some of my previous blogs on the topics of “style of worship”, then you know I think that the church of the 21st century has abused the word “contemporary” and “traditional” when trying to put a label on the “style” of our worship services. Why do we find it necessary to put labels on how we worship the Alpha and Omega? Has God changed from the start of time to 33AD to the 1600’s to the 1800’s to 2018? If not…then why do we try to put churches in a box…and as such, put God in that same box?

“Why do we find it necessary to put labels on how we worship?”

Well, that sign set me off. I looked at the sign and shook my head…REALLY?!?!?

Let me set the stage here as I do not want to get a bunch of hate mail. I also have many friends, colleagues and clients whose church provides what they call a “Traditional” service and a “Contemporary” service, so I am not ragging on them. I totally get what they are trying to communicate. I understand that one service’s musical style, instrumentation, dress code, technology, etc may be different from another service offering.

But the reality is that ALL WORSHIP is contemporary. Period. Let’s look at what the definition of contemporary is:

con·tem·po·rary  –  adjective happening or beginning now or in recent times

It means it is current…happening now. Worship can only be contemporary. We cannot step back in time and worship…we cannot jump to the future and worship either (unless you are Michael J. Fox).

Our expression of our worship will vary…and must vary. We are all unique…so our styles will be unique. What draws us into the holy presence of God is different for each of us. The way we dress to worship will be different based on a whole host of variables. But the expression is not worship. Worship is worship.

Hear me on this…I am not saying one expression is better than another. I believe that context and contextualization should drive our expression, means and methods.

As a former music major and musician, I giggle when someone says they wish we did more traditional music…to which I ask if they mean Gregorian Chant (which was actually contemporary in its day). What they really mean is doing things the way they remember as a kid or the methods a church used when they first became a Christ Follower. That is “Traditional” to them.

On the other hand, what is contemporary music? Chris Tomlin? Bill Gaither? Maranatha Music? Andre Crouch? Skillet? There are almost as many subsets of this genre as there are church denominations.

OK…off my high horse. Do you get my point? Can you see that how we label our worship experiences can be more than just a little goofy and possibly confusing to those we are trying to reach?

I had a friend recently tell me that “If a church has to announce that it has a contemporary service, it probably isn’t .”

All worship is contemporary…our expression of our contemporary worship will vary.

Why Use Facility Management Software For Your Church: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our series exploring why using Facility Management Software for our church facility may be a smart move.

Last time we developed some “common language” to establish a baseline for our future discussions.  The terms we defined were:

  1. Work Order Process (a better term may actually be Work Order Management)
  2.  Scheduled Maintenance
  3. Capital Improvement/Reserves
  4. Vendor Management
  5. Equipment Tracking/Inventory Control

So…why should your church consider using some form of Work Order Management software or Facility Management software? Isn’t that just for big churches with big facilities and big budgets and big staff and big…(you complete the rest)…

If you have followed any of our past blogs, then you know that I have stated that our church facilities are large, complex commercial structures. Even if your facility is less than 10,000 square feet, it is a commercial structure…and it is complex. It may be the “house of God” but it ain’t no house. How many of you live in a “house” that is over 10,000 SF?

Regardless of the size of your facility, take a minute to answer the following questions:

  1. Does your facility have more than one HVAC unit? If so, do you have more than 5 “tons” of cooling/heating capacity?
  2. Does your facility have an electrical service that is larger than 200 amps?
  3. Do you have paved parking spaces with a curb cut to a city, town, county, state or federal road?
  4. Do you have an automatic fire sprinkler system?
  5. Do you have a fire alarm system?
  6. Do you have exit signs and emergency lights?
  7. Do you have ceilings higher than 10 feet with light fixtures in those ceilings?
  8. Is any part of your roof over 30 feet tall?
  9. Do you have more than one 40 gallon water heater?
  10. Is any part of your building made of steel/metal?

If you answered yes to 2 or more of the above questions, then you likely have a complex, commercial structure and with that type of structure comes the need for scheduled maintenance, repairs, service, etc. In most cases, these tasks exceed the ability of the typical “residential” handyman. They need to be completed by skilled professionals in these trades…whether from inside your congregation or not.

I can hear you saying…“OK…we agree with you in principle…but so what?” Good question.

Let me start with 2 of the most obvious this week, and then address more next week.

  1. BE INTENTIONAL:  There is a quote that most of you have heard…but I believe it is so appropriate for this discussion...“People do not plan to fail, we fail to plan”. We do not plan to forget to change the HVAC filters or to clean the coils or to clean the carpet. However, without a plan, these things become lost in the hustle and bustle of the “urgent” items that consume our daily activities. When that happens, the low cost maintenance items become higher cost repair issues (i.e. deferred maintenance). Having a proactive system that will serve as your “reminder” for these items will not only save you time, but assist you in being intentional with the care and maintenance of your facility…remember, these facilities were entrusted to our care.
  2. CENTRAL DATA BASE/REPOSITORY: Do you have a spreadsheet here…a post-it note there…an e-mail requesting work be done…a legal pad full of ideas…your computer calendar with dozens of reminders? Unfortunately, this is more the norm than the exception.  We met with a new client the other day who said “When all 4 of us involved in the care of our facility are together, we then have all the needed data”.  So, what happens when only 2 of them are together…do they only have 50% of the needed data and information? We are hearing this over and over from small churches to those with hundreds of thousands of square feet. This “plague” is an equal opportunity offender. Having a single source to input and store your facilities data is critical. You need to have a single secure place to store data, process work orders, track historical data, evaluate work orders and manage vendors…and it needs to be accessible to all the key players and stakeholders at the church. Without this single repository, you will always be subject to missing critical data when you need it most.

There are a number of other critical issues to discuss…so join me next time…and please join in and provide some insights that may help all of our readers.

Why Use Facility Management Software for Your Church: Part 1

How do you track and process work requests at your facility:

Legal Pad?

Excel spreadsheet?

Post-it Notes?

Cross your fingers, then hope and pray?

I would like to explore a better option for tracking work orders, service history, equipment inventory and condition, capital improvements, defective equipment log, vendor log, on-site maintenance, staff assignments…and so much more. We will take the next several weeks to investigate the needs of most churches to track work orders as well as being proactive tracking capital improvements to assist in your annual budgeting process.

To get started let’s develop some common language…here are some words and phrases that will help us in this discussion:

  1. Work Order Process: This process generally starts with a request from within your church/ministry that someone is asking to be addressed (i.e. It is too hot in our classroom, the copier is not working, the toilet is clogged, etc…sound familiar?). The work order is the necessary processed so that your team can facilitate the inspection, review, acceptance and fulfillment of the work order.
  2. Scheduled Maintenance: Work that reoccurs on a regular basis (or should occur on a regular basis).  These can include Preventive Maintenance items (i.e. HVAC servicing, changing filters, systematic replacement of light bulbs, certification of fire extinguishers, regular maintenance on elevators and other systems with moving parts) as well as other items that need to be scheduled and tracked on a regular basis (i.e. housekeeping items, yard maintenance, mulch in the plant beds, window cleaning, carpet cleaning, etc, etc, etc).
  3. Capital Improvement/Reserves: These are items that are identified as having a predicted life cycle with a predetermined or expected end of its useful life/service. These would be items that would require capital funds to replace or significantly modify in order to extend or start a new Life Cycle (i.e. replacement of HVAC equipment, paving in the parking lot, replacing or re-coating roofing materials, replacement of floor coverings, etc).
  4. Vendor Management: Who does work on your facility? Is it by on-staff personnel…outside vendors…volunteers? Regardless of who does the work, you need to assign the work and then follow up on the completion of the work. You also need to track Certificates of Insurance for vendors that are not on staff at the church. There needs to be clear and definitive communication to all personnel that are performing services for the church including the assigning of work, tracking of the work, issuing the proper paper work (i.e. work orders, PO’s, work scopes, “not to exceed” amounts for the work, warranty fulfillment…and so much more). All of this would fall under the category of Vendor Management.
  5. Equipment Tracking/Inventory Control: Your facility has HVAC equipment, light fixtures, bulbs, plumbing fixtures, water heaters, kitchen equipment, IT equipment, office equipment, yard equipment, cleaning equipment…and the list goes on.  So…what is your process for tracking the manufacturer, make, model, components, warranty remaining, quantity of items, service history (when was the last time this was serviced, repaired or replaced) and other aspects associated with this equipment? Do you even know the make and model number of all of your equipment…if not…why not?

OK…now that we have started to develop a common language, we will explore how a process and system can be developed to help you with managing your facilities. To keep this all in perspective, let’s not forget that our ministry facilities are large, complex, commercial structures…with lots of very expensive moving parts that need to be maintained, serviced and repaired. These facilities have been ENTRUSTED to us…so let’s do our part to steward them.

More to come next time…

Is Financial Stewardship More Important Than Facility Stewardship?

I am a firm believer that everything on earth belongs to God. Our money. Our houses. Our cars. The word of God. Our families. The people we encounter…and the facilities we worship in. I believe that God has entrusted us with the stewarding of all of these items. For me, I believe that stewardship is less about what we give and more about taking care of what we have been GIVEN…entrusted to us!

So, how do we define entrusted? According to, it can be defined as follows:

ENTRUST: to charge or invest with a trust or responsibility; to commit (something) in trust to; confide, as for care, use, or performance

What does that mean to you? To me, it means that when something (or someone) is entrusted to me, I am responsible to  care for it…to be in charge of it…to be responsible for it…sounds a lot like stewardship.

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 a critical element of our spiritual life as well as the life of our ministries.

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.

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? 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 to steward them after dedication (i.e. care, management and maintenance).

Now, I do not know very many churches that are not using some form of accounting software/system to manage their flow of “stewarded monies” and track  congregant giving. Most, if not all, are not using a abacus to count these monies. This is great and I applaud churches for being diligent with the money entrusted to them. Many churches use membership management software/systems to steward the people God has entrusted to them. They are vigilant about documenting data about every member and regular attendees. Again…hats off to you.

“I would argue that Facility Stewardship is actually a key component of Financial Stewardship.”

BUT…I am shocked at the number of churches that do not have a proactive, effective and efficient way of managing the use and care of their facilities. Do we not believe that the care of our facilities is an important aspect of our stewardship initiatives? Do we not believe that we will be held accountable for how we steward all of the blessing God has entrusted to us? I would argue that Facility Stewardship is actually a key component of Financial Stewardship. That is why we believe so passionately that having the right tools and means/method to plan the use of our facilities as well as manage their care is critical to the short term and long term financial and physical health of a ministry. Facilities are intended to be used…which requires planning and coordination. I am thrilled when I see a church’s calendar jam-packed with ministry activities…but that requires planning and coordination. It also requires physical care and attention.

To add complexity to this, it is critical to understand that all facilities deteriorate…PERIOD… and we need to be vigilant with the care of them. If we do not, we will end up with facilities that do not properly reflect our mission, vision, culture or do not align with the physical requirements of our ministry initiatives.  They will become functionally and physically obsolete…and who does that serve? In far too many cases, the facilities become a deterrent to reaching others instead of a tool to enhance ministry.

So, if stewardship is important to your church, don’t neglect your Facility Stewardship.

Say What?

How transparent are you when you report data to your church? Are you giving a realistic and honest interpretation of reality? You might say “Well of course, facts are facts.” Sometimes to be transparent you really need to show how you are calculating your figures, what data sets you are using, and the relationship of the facts. If not, you might end up causing more people to be struck and killed by lightning every time you eat a hamburger. Check out the graph below and see if these two independent facts have any rationale correlation;

Per capita consumption of beef (US)
correlates with
Deaths caused by lightning

I just reported to you “facts”. The work Tyler Vigen does on his site shows all sorts of correlations of facts…facts that while true, are not really connected in a meaningful way. This form of fallacy is known as “Post hoc, ergo propter hoc” (Latin for “after this, therefore, because of this”). The answer to the fallacy is more common phrase “correlation does not imply causation”.

I return to the original question: How transparent are you when you provide reports to your church? It is natural to want to justify or normalize data when we report it. If you have kids, tell me if this sounds familiar:

“Yes, I got a ‘D’ on the assignment, but no one else in the class got an ‘A’ either.”

While both statements are true, there is a lack of transparency. The fact that no one got an “A” did not cause my kiddo to earn a “D”. Here is another example:

“We have had 50 guests this month, we are doing well!” While you may be, that data does not necessarily support that. How could you be transparent? Report the number of “non-guests” monthly, total attendance for both, and compare month-to-month or from the same period the previous year. If your “non-guest” number does not change, that means you may not be very “sticky” (in the good way).

How does this pertain to your facility? Transparency in your data is required if you want to develop the four essential master plans that every church needs.

Ministry Master Plan

You must identify the “who, why, and how” of your ministry master plan. While the church down the road is growing with all its AVL equipment, shorts and t-shirt vibe, you may meet the needs of the strict liturgical folks in the community.  WHO are you?

Financial Master Plan

How do you “fund” your Ministry Master Plan? When considering your financial master plan, you may need to “right-size” what you do to accurately reflect what you are being a steward of. In the parable of the talents, this is important:

15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; and to another, one—to each according to his own ability…” (Matthew 25:15. HCSB)

A thriving church is not exclusively based on a budget; a thriving church takes what God blesses them with and grows like He intends. Be transparent about your finances; make sure your vision matches what He has planned.

Facility Master Plan

Your facility master plan – transparency in what you need, and what is possible. Sometimes you may need to accept that physical restraints keep you from doing some things.

Sustaining Master Plan

Finally, transparency with your sustaining master plan. Whatever God has entrusted to you, He expects you to take care of it. Remember the third servant in the parable of the talents? Willfully neglecting what you have been entrusted with and expecting it to just work out…not a good thing.

Are you being transparent?

Do you have the necessary four plans?

Are you ready for His blessing?

9 Diseases of the Church Facility

The below are 9 “diseases” that many church facilities suffer from. Gary Nicholson, church architect, developed this list and thought you would enjoy playing doctor to diagnose if your facilities suffer from any of these ailments.

Enjoy (and thanks Gary, good stuff)!

Diseases of the Church Facility

Just as our bodies contract diseases that can lead to problems and cause pain and discomfort, many diseases can infect church facilities so that the church can experience functional problems and great discomfort. Rarely are these merely cosmetic, but are often outward signs of much more deep seeded problems. Examples include:

  1. Growing Pains– Consistently filling of a space or spaces in the church to beyond eighty percent, often a positive sign of growing numbers in a church. If not addressed, can become a limitation and lead to stunted growth. The remedy is not always to build new space, but to examine the possibilities of a.) Redistributing the people into underutilized areas, b.) Utilizing the space in an additional session at a different hour or time slot, or c.) Considering adding space that allows for future growth.
  2. Bumpus Maximus– When too many people are in your church foyer or lobby. This occurs primarily between services and Bible study sessions. Made worse when the preacher doesn’t stop preaching on time and people are waiting in the foyer to get into the next service when the previous service is not yet over, so that people are exiting the worship center at the same time others are trying to enter (Can be made even worse when the entire congregation ate nothing but beans the night before at the annual world hunger banquet).
  3. Circulatory Disease– When hallways and corridors are clogged or jammed full of people so that movement becomes difficult. Worst in cases where multiple services are occurring so that there is traffic both coming and going in the halls at the same time. Easily rectified by a good church squabble to thin the flock and reduce the numbers, leaving only the few who will not leave regardless of the dysfunction in the fellowship.
  4. Architectural Senility– A rather sad state whereby antiquated facilities relate to the past much more than the present. Can take on many forms. One often cited example is extremely small rooms designed for adult Bible study groups of 6-8 people instead of today’s larger groups, or built for activities that never materialize, like a recreation facility that no one uses. Another example is a very small platform with room for piano and organ and no other instruments because that was the way church was done in the 1950’s.
  5. Flashback Syndrome– The visual state of a room that induces instant flashbacks in a person who enters, usually to the 1970’s or some other era, by the nature of the color scheme and patterns, such as shag carpet with harvest gold, or avocado green color schemes. Symptoms may also include floral wall paper, or garish plaids and mauve color schemes from the eighties, etc.  Communicates that the members are out of touch with the present, or simply do not think church is important enough to bother updating the environment.
  6. Architectural Vertigo– When a church facility has been designed with no sense of balance such as between the spaces allotted for areas such as building a huge worship center without regard for the space to balance it with children’s program space, or building without adequate parking. The result is often the communication of an unintended message such as: Bible study is not important, or even that we don’t care about kids.
  7. Scatter brain” Syndrome (scatterus incognito)– A common ailment where the various age groups and programs are not arranged in any logical order and finding the appropriate room becomes extremely difficult for new or infrequent attendees.
  8. Religious Edifice Confusionitis– When a congregation builds using architectural styles or trappings from a different religion while declaring it to be “the way a church ought to look.” Greek and Roman temple forms used in nineteenth and twentieth century church buildings are often confused as “Christian”, when actually they were created as tributes to ancient gods like Aphrodite and Zeus. Makes people wonder if you know why the church even exists.
  9. Pave-it-all Landscapeosis– A disease often seen in churches that have taken the desire for a low-maintenance landscape plan to the ultimate level. Everything (except the cemetery) is paved. Asphalt has replaced the grass all the way up the building with no room for landscaping because, well, that’s the point: They don’t want to have to maintain a landscape. It has an unattractive appearance, but at least it they don’t have to do anything to take care of it.

Infected with one or more? The cure can be a lot of hard work, but so worth the effort to be free of such maladies and able to function as a church should. I recommend diagnosis by an expert in church facility diseases. Give us a call! Your facility, staff and congregation will thank you!

Don’t Miss Out!

Did you by chance miss our HUGE announcement last week?  Say it isn’t so!

Last week we released  Church Facility Management Solutions…the ONLY online membership community designed and intended to provided best-in-class facility management information for EVERY church, regardless of size, shape, denomination, city, state, staffing structure…ANY one!

As a reminder, your CFMS membership (an incredible value at only $20/mo.) provides you with:

  1. Weekly Information sent directly to you to help you be proactive and intentional with the care of your facility
  2. Online Community so that you can get input and feedback from hundreds of other church and facility leaders
  3. Monthly Webinars by industry professionals to provide relevant information and resources for your church facility management
  4. Vetted Vendors will put a list of qualified vendors at your fingertips with the assurance that they have been pre-qualified by our team…and they do not pay to be on this list
  5. Free Resources will be developed and made available to members including worksheet, forms, policy docs, job descriptions, etc. This alone will be worth the cost of membership
  6. Availability to Consulting and Training Services

If you are serious about the stewarding of the ministry facilities God has entrusted to you, sign up TODAY!

Don’t just take our word for it…here is what Dr. Thom Rainer has to say:

Regardless of your church size, you need to be thinking about the best use and management of your facilities. There is no better place than this community. It offers the best of church facility expertise along with peer learning. You should not be without this resource!

Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO

LifeWay Christian Resources

Church Answers

It’s Not a Project…It’s a Process

For the past several weeks, our pastor has been preaching a series on “How We Change the Way We Change.” It has been a great series and I have been challenged by each of the sermons. One in particular I have listened to several times is entitled, “It’s Not a Project, It’s a Process.” The basis of the teaching is that our spiritual walk is not a project…not a one and done…not a check box on a list.  It is a process and a continuous journey that requires attention, discipline, effort and dedication.

One of the analogies Pastor used caused me to think about our ministry facilities and development initiatives…a wedding/marriage. Don’t write me off  yet…keep reading.

Mother’s and daughters love to plan weddings. They will engross themselves for months and months of planning, meeting with a whole host of professionals. They will meet with wedding planners, banquet hall establishments, gown designers, florists, caterers, musicians, a preacher, travel agent for the honeymoon, bakery for the cake, invitation printers, and so on. (As a side note, I have 2 daughters and as I write this, I think I have just became a fan of eloping). There are so many details that are required to pull off the perfect day, and for most dads, it will ultimately cost more than expected as there is always “scope creep”.

The weeks just prior to the wedding, the tension grows. Emotions are on edge and the final details appear to be in disarray. “I can’t wait until this is over”, is voiced by many people involved with the wedding. But everyone keeps pushing through as they know how much this day means to the bride and groom (or so we think).

Then the big day comes and all of the months of planning are culminated with no further planning required…it is here. Bells are ringing…rice is thrown…cake is cut (and shoved in each others mouth) and all is well in the universe.

So, is it over? Is the “project” done?  Can the bride and groom say, “Boom…that is done”? I think not. The PROCESS has just started. The wedding is only a milestone on the journey of a marriage. The wedding is not the marriage…it is only an element within the process. Now the real work begins. If a couple thinks that the wedding was the penultimate point of the marriage, they are doomed for failure. In order for a marriage to succeed, you have to work at it and on it every day.

So how does this apply to our ministry facilities? I am sure you already see the similarities.

A building or development initiative  can be exciting to plan and dream. “What if we could do X?”  “Think about how many people we will be able to reach.” “Wouldn’t this be a great color pallet?” This is the fun part. We love meeting with all the “professionals” involved in the project and getting their ideas and expertise.

“The process of operation, care and management is going to cost your church 70-80% of the total cost of owning this facility.”

But as the actually permitting, financing, final pricing and the actual construction draws nearer and nearer, reality starts to kick and and tensions and emotions start to escalate. People start second guessing decisions. The finance team stops sleeping at night (similar to the brides father!!!!). The pastor and executive team keep a happy and positive face on in public, but behind closed doors, tempers flare and emotions run rampant. But…we push on and get the development initiative kicked off with dirt, nails, bolts and carpet all taking their rightful place.

Then comes the dedication service….AHHHHH. “We have arrived”, is echoed by the the leadership team…as well as the contractor, architect and trade contractors as “project” fatigue has worn them out. Dignitaries are invited. Mailers sent out. E-blasts have blanketed cyberspace and every doorknob has been polished. We are moving in!!! What a great day of celebration…like the wedding.

BUT…in the same way a wedding does not a marriage make, the dedication service does not a ministry facility make. Dedication weekend is merely a milestone of the process of owning and using a ministry facility. The planning and construction part may have had some spiritual implication (such as the building team loosing their Christianity…LOL). The real opportunity to have an eternal impact starts at this point. The “tool” for ministry is just now being launched and commissioned to fulfill the plans, dreams and vision of the church to reach its community.

But too often, there is the long forgotten reality that over the life cycle of this facility, the process of operation, care and management is going to cost your church 70-80% of the total cost of owning this facility. The pre-planning and “wedding” is only going to cost you about 20% of the to cost of ownership…but the utilities, general maintenance, janitorial and capital reserves (i.e college planning, retirement savings…to draw it back to the wedding analogy) are the largest component of the facilities cost. Long after the “new car” smell is gone, you will still have to change light bulbs, clean carpets and restrooms.

So, when you are planning a facility development initiative, remember that it is not a “project”, but rather a long term process. Prepare for the long term and not just the immediate phase of the wedding.