Sacred Space Reimagined: Why “Love SouthPark”

By: Kyle Thompson, Senior Pastor SouthPark Church

The Love SouthPark initiative is a foundational part of the relaunch of SouthPark Church (formerly Sharon United Methodist). The goal of the relaunch is to reach the church’s community for Jesus.

Sharon UMC launched in 1966 in the emerging Sharon community in Charlotte, NC. The congregation flourished for the first 16 years, plateaued for the next 12, and lost 47% of the membership over the 18-year period ending in 2012. The church effectively reached the surrounding Sharon community for Christ. When the Sharon community transformed into the SouthPark community, Sharon UMC did not make the necessary adjustments.

In 2011, God gave Sharon a new vision: to be the spiritual crossroads of SouthPark, leading people to life rich in Christ. In 2013, God added clarity to the vision; specifically, that it was time to relaunch the congregation in the SouthPark community.  The relaunch project was known as Dream Big SouthPark.

The relaunch includes overhauling the ministries of the church to be relevant to the current and evolving community of SouthPark; changing the staffing and lay leadership models; updating the brand of the church including a new name; and  partnering with a land developer to raze the entire campus in order to build a mixed-use development, with the church serving as the anchor.

Dream Big SouthPark has given way to Love SouthPark, as the construction phase of the campus is underway.

Inspiration

The key biblical inspiration is Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well in John 4. The woman went to the well to do an everyday activity (get water), not to find God. While there, the woman encountered Jesus. Her life was forever changed for the better.

The Love SouthPark initiative is an effort to dig wells.  The campus will be a 24/7 village, including apartments, shopping, restaurants, office space, and a hotel. The church will be in the center. Over 12,000 people are expected on campus per week, compared to the 700 previously. The campus will be a tool which will allow the church the opportunity to develop relationships with the community.

An historical inspiration is early America, in which towns were built with houses of faith in the center so the churches and community could intersect and do life together.  A modern inspiration is First United Methodist Church in Chicago, which owns and resides in a skyscraper that also houses residences and businesses.

Stewardship

Sharon UMC owed 7 acres of prime property in the heart of Charlotte’s SouthPark community.  Much of the space was underutilized, while the iconic “ski slope” building had millions of dollars in deferred maintenance.  The congregation believed it could be more faithful with the property entrusted to it.

The church retained 1 acre and sold 6 acres to development partner, Childress Klein Properties.  SouthPark Church will own retail space in its new building, the proceeds of which will help to fund the ministry of the church. The church will also own a large “Times Square-type” electronic screen, leasing screen time to businesses and also generating additional income for ministry.

The church set aside $2.5 million from the proceeds of the property sale in a capital reserve fund to pay for future building maintenance. This will allow more of the funds donated to the church to be used for ministry, rather than for brick and mortar.

The church plans to share its facilities with the community, including a performing arts center to be built in the second of two planned building phases. Additionally, the former six acres will be developed by Childress Klein for over 350 apartments, an upscale hotel and about 150,000 square feet of retail allowing more people to use the space and significantly adding to the tax base of the city.

Model

At the outset, the congregation felt led to provide a model for other churches blessed with location to engage their communities more effectively for Christ. God is using our story to connect with and to inspire other churches. We have been invited to speak at conferences around the nation and have been contacted individually by church leaders from around the US and even Belgium.

Geometry

At SouthPark Church we talk about the triangle and the square. The triangle represents the church’s biblical mission to do three things: 1. Love God, 2. Love people, and 3. Make disciples. The square represents four things that support the mission of the church: 1. Staff, 2. Facilities, 3. Leadership model, and 4. Programs.

It has been incredibly difficult to make the many changes over the past six years.  We lost over 30% of the congregation in doing so. We think the triangle is so important, however, we are willing to make whatever changes are necessary to the square.


Sacred Space Reimagined: It Takes a Village to Build a Village

Many of us have heard politicians and speakers talk about it “taking a village” to do X, Y and Z. Most of the times that comment is used in a self-promoting way or to make a statement of the need for volunteers and partners to step up. That is understandable.

But that is NOT what we mean.

Before I share the meaning of the title of this post, let me provide a reminder of church history.

When you look back on nearly any Medieval village or any original American colony, what was generally the first building built?  What was at the center of the town?  What was built to accommodate a host of cultural activities?

A Church.

In many of the early American colonies, the church was called the Meeting House. A colonial meeting house was a meeting house used in colonial New England built using tax money. Can you imagine…tax dollars to build a house of worship? The colonial meeting house was the focal point of the community where all the town’s residents could discuss local issues, conduct religious worship, and engage in town business. The colonial meeting house was the central focus of every New England town. These structures were usually the largest building in the town.

In modern America, the above is not generally the case. The “church” building is not the center of the village, town or city. It is not the cultural and business epicenter of our communities. In most instances, it is separated from the rest of culture and an outlier. Some of this separation occurred with the separation of “church and state” legislation. Further contributors to the erosion of the church being the center of culture can be attributed to local zoning ordinances as well as self-imposed separation by the church itself.

Unfortunate!!!

As many of you know, I have been assisting churches for over 34 years. During that time, most of the churches I served were isolated from community…whether intentional or not. However, our firm has been involved with a church revitalization project that will be the first of its kind in the USA. Not just Charlotte, but anywhere in the county.

SouthPark Church (formerly Sharon United Methodist Church) is the project I am referring to. We have been serving this congregation for over 5 years to make their dream a reality. What dream is that? Let me explain.

Sharon UMC found itself in a steady decline and had grown itself down from 500 to less than 250. The facility had several million dollars of deferred maintenance and no budget to correct those items or address any life cycle planning. They were in a NO WIN situation. The building was deteriorating. The congregation was dwindling. They had become irrelevant to the community. And with the annual budget declining, things were only going to get worse.

However…they felt God had called them to serve the SouthPark region of Charlotte, NC.

SouthPark is an area “edge city” in CharlotteNorth Carolina. Its name is derived from the upscale SouthPark Mall, which opened on February 12, 1970 (the same year the church was built). At nearly 1.8 million square feet, SouthPark Mall is the largest shopping mall in Charlotte and all of North Carolina. By the way, the church campus resided on 7 acres of land directly across Sharon Road from the mall. Not a bad area to own property.

The area is geographically centered at the intersection of Fairview Road and Sharon Road in the south central sector of the city, about six miles south of Uptown Charlotte. In addition to being home to the mall, SouthPark is also a residential area and one of the larger business districts in Charlotte.

Economically, SouthPark is the home to the Fortune 300 company Nucor, as well as Dixon Hughes GoodmanNational GypsumCoca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, AmWINS Group, Carolinas AGC and Piedmont Natural Gas. FluorBank of America Mortgage, First Citizens BankSunTrust Banks and CSX have major divisional operations located in SouthPark.

Back to the dream.

The church wanted to be the “Spiritual Crossroads” of SouthPark. There was a literal cross roads at the major intersection of Sharon and Morrison Blvd. But the vision and dream far exceeded a physical address. The church wanted to be the spiritual hub of a village within the “village” of SouthPark. They could have easily sold their land and moved out of the area…but that would not have fulfilled the vision.

The next steps were bold indeed. The steps they took are not for the faint of heart or for anyone that is not deeply convicted and committed to a vision.

The church decided it wanted to explore the concept of a mixed use development with the church being a central part. This lead to our team being retained in early 2014 to assist the church to navigate the process.

The first step was clearly articulating the WHY. Not the WHAT…but WHY would they venture into such a project? I can testify to you today that the church has NEVER backed down from the WHY. Every decision, every selection, every meeting, etc. were bathed in the WHY. That is critical to grasp. This initiative, like any other capital improvement, must not be a about a building. It must be solely about fulfilling a vision of ministry.

As of the writing of this post, the Apex development and the construction of the SouthPark Church facility is underway and going full speed with most of the multi-story buildings for retail and apartment use already topped off.

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more about this project from the perspective of some of the “village” members that made it a reality.  You will hear from:

  1. Pastor Kyle Thompson, SouthPark Church
  2. Childress Klein, Real Estate Developer of Apex
  3. Alan Wildes, Generis Capital Campaign
  4. Yours truly

In my 34 years of assisting churches, this has been the most impact, challenging, stretching, learning, invigorating project I have ever done. Stay tuned to learn more. In the meantime, check out these videos about the project:

Explanation Video

Campaign Video

Progress Video


Now Go Clean Your Room

Maybe it was just me, but I seemed to hear that quite a bit growing up. Somehow, no matter how many times I cleaned my room, I needed to do it again in a week or so. In our facilities, cleanliness is a big deal. When a guest arrives, or even a long-time member, a dirty facility gives an impression…a negative one. It makes people wonder, “If they don’t care about how clean the church facility is, then why would they care about me?” 

I think we can all agree that we need to clean. What isn’t always intuitive is what it will take to accomplish that. Fortunately, you have been given a resource to help you with that. In the CFMS Toolbox you have a Cleaning Calculator. This spreadsheet is there to help you determine what you need to clean your facility, as well as helping you to identify if you are understaffed. 

Let’s dig into this resource a bit. To start, I want to look at the Staffing Calculator part of the tool. This is where you input your current staffing availability for each week. Many times, we assume that our staff has more available hours to clean than they do. Consider this, every time you ask your facility team to help move a package, show someone the way, open a door, reset a room…these all take away from cleaning time. You must be realistic as to how many hours an individual can clean. Many times, we find that facility departments are understaffed because they require too much non-cleaning task time from their team. You may find hiring a general maintenance and support team member is more cost effective and helps you have a cleaner facility. If you are unsure of how much is spent on “other duties”, start with 30% (.3). That equates to around 20 minutes of every hour doing non-cleaning tasks during an eight-hour shift. When you start plugging in your staffing level, you may find that your 40 hour a week custodian realistically has 28 or so hours to clean. 

Once you have taken care of the staffing, move on over to the Room Calculations. This is where I hope you have another resource handy, specifically a document that provides critical facility details regarding all your space. If not, stay tuned as we are developing a resource for that. The Cleaning Calculator is set up to look at certain types of rooms. If you are looking facility-wide at restrooms, for example, you would need to input the total number of each fixture type in that section. When you do, it will tell you how long it would take to clean all the restrooms in your facility once. If you have all the needed data on a spreadsheet, it is easy to take sections of the facility and calculate cleaning time for each area. It is important to provide all the requested information on each room type if you want the most realistic number. 

Once you have those two tabs correctly filled out, you can see what it will take and how close you are with sufficient staffing to maintain a clean facility. With this resource you can create cleaning areas for your team, figure staffing models, and even look for ways to become more efficient with your staffing times. So, what does a real-world example look like? 

Here you go:

Facility A has a 16,000 sq-ft facility. 5000 sq-ft sanctuary with carpet, fixed pews, 6 restrooms, 12 classrooms, 2 offices, and a kitchen. They currently employ 1 full-time (40 hours/week) facility person, and 1 part-time (25 hours/week) facility person. Each person on the facility team spends 75% of their time cleaning and 25% on other tasks. 

Total cleaning hours available each week (combined): 48.75. Total cleaning time needed to clean the entire facility one time: 19.42 hours. This facility has a surplus of 29.33 cleaning hours…assuming they only use the facility once. But what happens if they clean the facility 3 times a week? That takes 58.26 to clean, meaning they are short available cleaning hours by 9.51.  As you start to consider how often you really use your facility, and how clean you want it, this resource will help you set a realistic target for staffing so that you are able to have the cleanest facility possible. Let us know how it worked for you.

By Nathan Parr, Facility Specialist


4 Principles of Facility Stewardship

Our team is not only committed to Facility Stewardship…we are fanatics about it.  We even have an eBook on the topic.  We have developed a FREE online community to support the premise. There is no doubt what we stand for!

We have been blessed to have established a lasting relationship with Dr. Thom Rainer and his staff.  We have participated in a number of podcasts where we have discussed topics around facility management, facility care, life cycle planning and right sizing of facilities when you have too much space. I love these opportunities.

Recently, we were recording another podcast discussing how planning is such a critical part of operating a church.  In particular we were discussing worship service and other event planning.  Dr. Rainer asked a compelling question to me that allowed me to articulate a believe we have, but have not done well with communicating.  He asked “Cool Solutions Group is facility and facility stewardship experts, so how does planning fit in that?”

I am SOOO glad he asked.

If you have ever been on our Cool Solutions Group website, you will see a graphic like this:

This has been a foundation belief for as long as we have been in business, and the foundation for our passion of Facility Stewardship. We tend to spend a great deal of time talking about issues related to the SUSTAIN phase (life cycle, capital reserve, maintenance, management, eSPACE Software, system integrations, etc). But that is not the crux of what true Facility Stewardship encompasses.

Here are the 4 Principles of Facility Stewardship:

  1. Properly initial planning, design and construction – If the facility is not planned correctly, design efficiently and built in a professional manner, then we are failing our Facility Stewardship initiative before we even get started….which is why we spend an inordinate amount of time addressing deferred maintenance and other facility “ownership” and operational issues.
  2. Utilization – If you are not going to use the facility to meet your vision and mission, then why have a building? A tent or a rental property would be far less expensive.  Intentional utilization of your facility starts with a focus on meeting your ministry objectives which leads to a need to properly PLAN all activities, utilization, events, worship services, etc. This component of Facility Stewardship is often swept under the rugs. Check out this eBook to help plan events and make sure to check out worshipplanning.com to use the most intentional worship planning and event management system on the market.
  3. Management and Maintenance – ALL facilities require both! Management is the art of planning, managing, being proactive, thinking to the future, vendor management, budgets, etc. Maintenance is the fulfillment of tasks needed to keep the facility operational.
  4. Life Cycle Planning – We have written many blog articles and eBooks on this topic…mainly because the church as a whole does an inadequate job planning ahead for the inevitable costs of capital renewal, replacement and reserves. I don’t need to reiterate what has been written prior.

I hope that clears things up for some.  Facility Stewardship is not just about caring for an existing facility.  All 4 tenets are critical.


Is Sunday School Making a Comeback in 2019? Part-2

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In our post last week we left you hanging with questions about the trends we are seeing in Sunday AM education programs, such as:

  • Does it mean that every modern church that has worship space and only enough education for Preschool and Children up to 5th grade are going to rush out and buy Sunday School Curriculum?
  • Does it mean that all churches need to add 50% more space to accommodate what could be an insurgence of Sunday AM education offerings?

I don’t think so.

But I would suggest that we need to take note and keep watch. In talking to several church leaders on this matter, they believe that the 20-40 year old adults in their congregation are looking for more connected community.  They want to be in community with others, and given their time starved work and family weeks, Sunday is the best time to do that.  We have also seen more “large group” education environments suggesting a bent toward higher quality teaching and/or broader community may be desired.

I was able to get some additional input from Dr. Thom Rainer and Dr. Sam Rainer (As I type this, the 1984 song by the Thompson Twins – Doctor! Doctor!, keep playing in my mind…sorry for the rabbit trail)

What does this all mean? Where is Robert Raikes when you need him (Bet most of you don’t know who that is)? Here is some of what they shared.

THOM: Many churches are re-discovering on-campus open groups, what we once called Sunday school. Two primary factors contribute to this comeback: childcare is easily handled, and the participants can get their group and worship experience in one trip.

The challenge, of course, is space. Can a church really justify group/education space that is used only one day a week? Or how does a newer church afford to build such space?

The conundrum.

SAM: We (West Bradenton Baptist Church) will not allow off-campus groups to occur in which children are present. There are far too many stories of bad things happening to kids in off-campus groups. Child safety has always been, and will continue to be, a major problem in off-campus groups. If given the choice, I’d rather spend the money on poorly-used education space than risk something happening to a child.

The way we’ve handled our excess weekly space is to open our church to the community. We have a day school and many different groups that meet onsite during the week. We added doors in our hallways that get locked to protect the day school kids during the week.

Given the current times in our culture/society related to safety and security, the ability to have planned, organized and SAFE child care for these “group” education meetings is not to be taken lightly.  As a church, we are addressing issues that were unthinkable 10-20 years ago.  Child security and safety is clearly on the top of that list.

Here is what I believe…take it or not:

  1. God created us for community and fellowship, regardless if it is Sunday AM, Saturday AM, Thursday night or any other time and in any location.
  2. Discipleship…however you live that out…is a critical part of spiritual development and formation.
  3. Online church is great…I love it…but it cannot put its arm around me to pray with me.
  4. I can “self-learn” a lot…thank you Google.  But God has gifted some to be teachers and preachers…I need to learn from them as well.
  5. What we call it…Sunday AM education…is irrelevant.  What we DO and how it supports the WHY of your church is what really matters.
  6. Things change…it is inevitable.  So we need to always be considering the means and methods of impacting our community, our congregation, as well as those who are NOT “here yet”. This means that what once was…may be again, but for different reasons.
  7. Start with WHY – is one of my favorite books of all times by Simon Sinek. Really look deep into your systems, processes, means and the like to understand WHY you do them.  Avoid the 7 worlds of a dying church – “We have always done it this way.” The reason for doing somethings ebb and flow…come and go…are relevant, irrelevant and relevant again. I firmly believe that the Gospel NEVER CHANGES! But our means and methods MUST church.  That is a topic for another day.

Is Sunday School Making a Comeback in 2019? Part-1

I must admit that I never thought I would write a blog with that title. NEVER. And yet…here I am.

For many years from the late 1990’s to say a year or so ago, the pundits, church “leaders’, seminarians, and most of the church consultants…including yours truly…were convinced that Sunday School was like your “Father’s Oldsmobile”…irrelevant. That is how church used to be done.  That worked good for our parents, but modern culture does not support or embrace it (so we said).

During this time churches all across the country said that the solution was “Small Groups” so scads of churches jumped on the Cell Group, Home Group, Small Group, Covenant Group, etc. model. Then we saw a trend toward calling Sunday School by names such a Grow Groups, Discipleship Group, Community Groups and the like.  They were still basically Sunday Morning educational classes.

When a church called us and said – “We are thinking of building a new building on a new site, how big should we build for?” (and we have been asked this question more times than I can count), we would respond with a question, “Do you have Sunday AM adult education.” That one question could swing the tide of space requirements by at least 50% (increased SF needs) and in some cases even more.  Not just that but the amount of parking required if you have more than one service and even more than one Sunday Adult Education would increase.

I am not ready to say we were wrong over the last 15-20 years…but I have a sense that things are changing (The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change – Heraclitus). Allow me to elaborate.

Our team has developed a master plan process called an Intentional Workshop. The first step in our process is to gather information on attendance trends for that local church. From that data we develop what is referred to as a Program Study. This study looks at current attendance, considers how a church would “like” to do ministry in the future, past trends and a growth factor…usually 100%..with ratios of how many square feet is needed per person per space and function. It is a combination of art and science.

That provides the needed/desired amount of square footage to meet ministry objectives.  That, in turn, is compared to the existing square footage of the campus and the variance is the delta of potential net new space to be added. That is then extrapolated and run through a series of financial calculations and projections to determine a possible cost for the project.  This is then compared to the financial capability of the church.

OK….that is likely too deep in the weeds.  Sorry.

To my point.  We have had numerous clients over the past 24 months that are making us sit up and take note.  Here are the trends we have seen:

  1. All have an active Sunday School/AM Adult Education.
  2. All have educational attendance that is in the 80-90% of the largest AM Worship Service.
  3. Sunday School is embraced by all age groups…and particularly with the families with children.

This fascinates me. What does this mean?  Does it mean that every modern church that has worship space and only enough education for Preschool and Children up to 5th grade are going to rush out and buy Sunday School Curriculum?  Does it mean that all churches need to add 50% more space to accommodate what could be an insurgence of Sunday AM education offerings?

We will continue this conversation next time.

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In the Long Run…

We have all heard the phrase – “In the Long Run.” Leaders use it regularly to cast vision for what is potentially in the future as well as to muster up encouragement for their team to continue to being intentional with the tasks at hand. Wikipedia defines it as “over or after a long period of time; eventually.” There have been songs written with that title and lyrics.  There have been television shows and movies titles with these words.  It is common…but do we really grasp the implication and requirements to accomplish something “In the Long Run?”

In a recent blog by Seth Godin, he writes:

I hope we can all agree that the long run is made up of a bunch of short runs.
That seems obvious.
The surprising thing is that we live our short runs as if that isn’t true.

That may seem really obvious to you as you read that…but there is some very poignant realities that I fear many of us don’t grasp…especially as it relates to Facility Stewardship.

We have been the evangelists of the concept of Facility Stewardship for nearly 11 years. This is not some quip saying or marketing ploy.  This is reality (See our free eBook). We have written, spoken, and thumped the pulpit on what a church should be saving for capital reserves, and driven home the point what they should be investing in general maintenance, janitorial and utilities.

I understand that much of the things we have been trying to communicate can feel unattainable and overwhelming.  That is true….if you only look at the end of the journey.  But to accomplish any of the principles we promote…and deeply believe in, you have to start somewhere…with “small runs.”  Here are some examples of short runs:

  1. You may not have adequate Capital Reserves for the inevitable costs of capital replacement.  You are not alone.  While we recommend $1-3/square foot annually set-aside funds, you may need to start with $.25…then increase over time.
  2. Use our free Life Cycle Calculator to start to track the items in your facility that are at the greatest risk of failure or replacement.
  3. Your church may not have adequate staffing for facility operations.  We get it…but how can you assist your team to be more efficient by automating tasks that can be automated to free up your team to do what only they can do?
  4. You might need to solicit more volunteers to help until the church can sustain more staff.
  5. Adjusting your HVAC set points by 1-2 degrees can start to save energy/money.
  6. Add some occupancy sensors in rooms (i.e. restrooms) that are notorious for having lights and fans left on for days on end.
  7. Be intentional to do a complete facility walk-thru each month looking for initial signs of issues/failures, and address them before they get worse.

We could go on all day…but you get the point.  These “short run” tasks will compound over time…to the LONG RUN! And let’s be honest, as the Church…are we not in this for the long run?

To discover what COOL can do for you visit www.CoolSolutionsGroup.com


Maintenance Planning – PART 2

Last week we started the discussion on Maintenance Planning…click HERE if you missed that one. WE explored IMMEDIATE and INTERMEDIATE.  This week we will dive into the often forgotten FUTURE.

Before we go into Future, I think it is important to make a distinction. Immediate and Intermediate maintenance are concentrated on those things necessary to maintain the facility in its current state, with the equipment that is currently in use. There is not a “project planning” component to these two types of maintenance. They need to occur regardless. Future maintenance planning is unique in that it can also include plans for facility improvements and changeouts.

For many facility professionals, Future maintenance planning is the more exciting part of the job. This is where all the research and education we perform during the year come into play. We learn about VRF systems, for example, and then we realize that as we look at future facility renovations that VRF is the perfect solution for our HVAC needs. Or maybe we see that the exterior lights are no longer illuminating like they should, so we make plans to change them out to a hybrid solar light.

What you must remember in Future maintenance planning is that all the changes that you are considering will potentially bring about new Immediate and Intermediate maintenance needs. Recommended maintenance on a VRF system is different than a traditional split system. Solar LED lights require some additional maintenance regarding the batteries. Too often, when future improvements are considered, the maintenance cycle is not considered. When you are planning Future maintenance, you should seek to make sure you understand how the improvements will need to be maintained.

As a reminder, the preceding maintenance categories are not the “find it and fix it” maintenance that will occur in any active facility. When you are planning maintenance for the year ahead, it is important to remember that you do not have as much available time as you may think. By creating a calendar, you can also help share the maintenance story to others in the facility. It is not unusual for a “non-maintenance” person to not understand why something cannot be accomplished very quickly. It is not because they don’t care, it is that they simply do not know all that it takes and all that it is competing against. When you look at the Immediate and Intermediate, you may find that out of your week you only have 65% of your time available for “find it and fix it” tasks or new projects. Getting the story told is an important part of maintenance planning.

We want you to be successful in planning your maintenance this year. Proper planning and defining what you need to do will greatly improve your chances for success. That does not mean that you will not have to adjust as the year goes along; you will. But if you take the time to separate and define the Immediate, the Intermediate, and the Future, you will know where you can more easily adjust and accommodate the unknown.

Is Maintenance Planning a priority at your facility? If not, what can you do to change that?

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Maintenance Planning – PART 1

By now, you have probably abandoned many of the resolutions that you made on the first of the year. Why do we do that? The resolutions themselves are generally good ones and worthy to consider. The biggest reason that we abandon them is deceptively simple – we fail to plan accordingly.

The same is true for how we want to improve our facility. We probably have great ideas and thoughts on how to make improvements. Yet, come February or March, we are no longer making progress towards change, and we are back to “putting out fires.” Planning is the key to making lasting, positive change in your facility. The nature of church operations, however, means that we sometimes must plan a bit differently.

When beginning the process towards maintenance planning, it is helpful to consider that maintenance can be separated into the following categories: Immediate (must do), Intermediate (between now and future), and Future (greater than 6 months’ time). Looking at these categories when planning your maintenance for the year can help you be more successful as a facility steward.

Let’s look at the first category: Immediate. While this seems straight forward, there is a nuance to it. Immediate maintenance issues are those ones that need to be taken care of no matter what. This can be due to safety concerns, local, state, and federal guidelines, or as a result of use. They could be maintenance tasks required once a year or weekly. The primary consideration for Immediate maintenance planning is that it needs to happen regardless of other events. Immediate maintenance needs are not the “find it and fix it” maintenance tasks.

Examples of Immediate maintenance tasks that you need to plan for are elevator fire recall inspections (and the annual), gas line tests, fire extinguisher inspections (both monthly and annually), kitchen vent hood, and emergency light and sign inspections. This is just a sample of recurring Immediate maintenance tasks that are governed by statute. These are things that every state I have ever worked or consulted in has requirements regarding, and churches are not exempt.

In your maintenance planning, set a calendar (or use a maintenance management system) to identify the days and times these Immediate needs must occur. Treat these as non-negotiable. When you have it on the calendar, do not let another (non-life threatening) event or task supersede. Putting them on the calendar will also help you plan for the Intermediate and Future maintenance planning you will be doing as you will have a better idea of how much time you have in accomplishing other things. This is important; when you consider those recurring maintenance tasks that you need to do, you will realize that you have less time for other tasks and projects.

Next, consider the Intermediate maintenance tasks. Intermediate maintenance tasks are those that we know are a good idea and should be done. These include things like lubing and adjusting door closers, cleaning coils on our HVAC equipment, checking function of floor drains, or any other “manufacturer recommended” maintenance task. We know these are good ideas, but we have some discretion on completion. I may want to check all my door closures every 6 months, but I can usually shift that several months and not adversely affect the facility. Some tasks, such as cleaning coils on HVAC, have a secondary benefit (like energy efficiency) that needs to be considered. Waiting another 45 days to clean a coil will generally not keep the doors closed. Just like we did with Immediate maintenance, we need to put this on the schedule. We can shift them as needed, but we should not remove them. Again, this allows us to truly see what time we have available to devote to all the different maintenance that our facility needs.

That is a lot to chew on for now.  Next week we will explore FUTURE maintenance planning.


Who Needs a Facility Condition Assessment?

 

SPOILER ALERT…if your church owns a facility…then the answer is YOU.

Why, you may ask.  Let me explain.

First, what is a Facility Condition Assessment? In layman’s terms, it is simply an assessment and evaluation of the current and projected condition of your church facility. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is not quite that simple…let me rephrase…the “definition” of a Facility Condition Assessment is truly that simple, but the guts, deliverables and output (and outcomes) are much more complex. Let me elaborate.

Here is a very concise definition of a Facility Condition Assessment:

Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs) help facility owners understand and maintain the physical condition of their facilities, develop capital budgets (current and future), and prioritize resources (financial and human).

I still look at an FCA as being similar to an annual Medical Physical. I have friends that I know avoid their physicals as they don’t want to know how bad things are or that they should lose 25 pounds or change their diet.  But avoiding the examination does not change the reality of the situation.

Same with your facility.  Not knowing how much deferred maintenance you have or how much money should be budgeted annually or what a capital reserve account should look like, does NOT change the facts. Avoiding reality is just sticking our heads in the sand…and it is flat out irresponsible.

There, I said it!

Here are some comments from your peers who have taken the steps to at least understand and then plan accordingly:

The assessment aided us in establishing a planned capital replacement program in that we were able to prioritize based on life cycle in all the areas assessed. Because of the assessment we were able to get a real look at our deferred items and plan for their renovation or replacement. Clark Byram, FBC Sevierville, Sevierville, TN

 

We are quite a bit behind on capital improvements.  This brought a lot of light to our people regarding where we are with regards to the facilities. Jim Boyd, Calvary Baptist, Winston Salem, NC

 

It showed us the deficiencies in our systems and processes (and lack of accountability) for maintaining our facilities that we as decision-makers could not see from our vantage point, and the functional and financial impact that was going to have.  Justin Greene, Liberty Live, Norfolk, VA

 

Confirmed that deferred maintenance was out of control and that there would be huge savings on utilities if we could ever get HVAC under control. Charles Reynolds, Hermitage Hills Baptist, Nashville, TN

 

Expert valuations of deferred cost/dollars and appropriate annual budget requirements for facility, instead of just in-house estimates or historical basis. Dwayne McDow, Summer Grove Baptist, Shreveport, LA

Love this quote: “What you don’t know will hurt you.” – Jim Rohn

In the case of the condition of your church facility, truer words have not been spoken.

Get in the know! 

-Tim