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


Are Mergers Changing the Church Landscape?

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I can tell you from our experience, that Church Mergers are definitely changing the landscape of the church world. From planning opportunities, to revitalization, to combining resources or rescuing a church that is in decline.

I am honored to have 2 friends that are the pioneers in describing this movement. Jim Tomberlin (THE Multisite guy and co author of “Church Locality: New Rules for Church Buildings in a Multisite, Church Planting, and Giga-Church Worldwith me) and Dr. Warren Bird of ECFA wrote a book a few years ago called “Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work“. I have recommended these a number of times to numerous churches and they been road maps for many that were/are considering a merger.

Jim and Warren are working on some updates to the data they originally provided and could use your input.  Below is a post from Jim that will describe this further and provide you links to take a survey.

PLEASE help us with this research…and thank you Jim and Warren for your ministry!

By Jim Tomberlin

I stumbled into my first church merger experience accidentally in 2003 (and if you have a merger experience, I’ll end this short article asking you to share it).

Looking for a place to plant a regional campus for a Chicago suburban church, I came across a school in a great location. But another church was already meeting there. I left my card, and told them that if that church ever leaves, call me.

I got a call, but it wasn’t from the school. The church phoned and said, “We don’t have a pastor. Can we join you?’”

I responded, “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

I tried to dissuade them, but they insisted.

Eventually, I gave in. With 150 church members from my church combined with the 150 people already in the school we relaunched as a new church. Fifteen years later it has grown to 2,000 regular attendees.

When I went back for the 10th anniversary, of the original 150, about 125 were still there. They told me it was the greatest thing that ever could have happened to them.

In 2011 I co-authored a book with Warren Bird, Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, about the emerging church merger trend that I had experienced firsthand (and maybe you have too!).

We described how these new kinds of mission-driven mergers were different than the survival-based mergers of the past. We also observed that many of these mergers were an unintended but positive consequence of the multisite church movement.

Since then we have seen an explosion of all kinds of church mergers beyond multisite outcomes. More church leaders are seeing mergers as a church-plant strategy, pastor-search strategy, succession strategy, community transformation strategy and denominationally driven revitalization and replant strategy.

A decade later, with a seismic culture shift in church attendance and changing attitudes towards local churches, it’s time to do another nation-wide, comprehensive survey on church mergers to capture the trends in these new developments.

TAKE THE CHURCH MERGER SURVEY!

If your church has experienced a merger–or unsuccessfully attempted a merger in the past–would you give us your take on our church merger survey?

In partnership with The Unstuck Group, Leadership Network, ECFA, Fortress Press, and others, we are offering several incentives for church leaders to take our survey–and to forward it to others who have a church merger experience. Plus we’re planning a free webinar to survey participants to reveal and discuss the initial findings from the survey.

Just go to this link and tell us your thoughts about mergers. As one of the many ways we’ll say thanks, we’ll also email you a summary of what everyone else said.

Thank you,
Jim Tomberlin, lead author of Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work

Questions? Contact DrBirdAssistant@gmail.com


The Church Construction Orchestra Conductor

I have been asked many times what it is that “I do.” Great question. I wear multiple hats and perform many functions in our company. My first job is as a servant to our team and to the churches we serve. My second role is to lead the company and strive to grow and stay relevant.

I am sure you would say that those 2 are the cost of admission to the game of leadership. And you are correct. But God has also given me a very unique set of skills and abilities. I have spent nearly 33 years assisting local churches plan, build and maintain the facilities God has entrusted them to steward. This is what we call Facility Stewardship. This concept is best found HERE. That blog also describes the 4 components of intentional Facility Stewardship.

I am passionate about all the stages of the Facility Stewardship continuum. They are all critical. But if you were to ask me where my strongest skill set and expertise shines through, I would say as a church development/construction project’s Owner’s Rep. For some of you, that may be a foreign concept. IT is actually fairly simple though, it is the role of the “Orchestra Conductor” for a church’s facility master planning and implementation of the master plan. Sometimes this is for a new facility. Other times it is a renovation or re-development of a campus.

Let me explain why I refer to this as the Orchestra Conductor.

Many of you know that I was a music major in college. As part of my education process, I had to take classes called “Methods” (Brass Methods, String Methods, Woodwind Methods, etc.) which were intense classes to learn to play all of the instruments in an orchestra. I really enjoyed all of these experiences, but I assure you that you do NOT want to hear me play a clarinet or Violin. I passed the class with a good grade…but the skill set of an accomplished woodwind player was far from achieved.

One of my other favorite classes was Conducting. I loved these classes and thrived at leading bands and orchestras. I was not proficient with “how to play” each instrument, but I knew what they should sound like…and not. I knew when the Oboe needed to start playing and when to hush the cymbal percussionist. I knew when we were all playing in the same beat and rhythm…and when we were not.

I also developed a knack for reading the musicians and could pick up on little nuances that would provide me a clue to some other issue. It was not uncommon for me to see a musician looking bored while they waited for their time to play. Many times these were the “prima donna” members of the ensemble that felt above the need for rehearsal (which is never really the truth). I would take the right moment, in private, to address these concerns to make sure the orchestra as a whole would not be infected by such attitudes or lack of performance.

That is how Cool Solutions Group envisions our role on church projects. We are the orchestra leader. We don’t do architecture. We are not the general contractor. We do not offer financing or capital campaigns. We do not provide audio/vision/lighting design and integration.

HOWEVER…we do know how to assemble the right “orchestra” at the right time so each performs their role in a professional manner…just like my Oboist. They are GREAT at playing the Oboe. They are best in class for this orchestra. But they are not a great tuba player.

If your church is considering an expansion, renovation or other facility related project, give us a call.  We can explore if we are the right Orchestra Conductor for your project. For additional insights on this, please click HERE.


Polo vs. Gildan – The Tale of 2 “Boxers”


That’s right…we are going to talk underwear.  But more than comparing underwear, we are going to explore how this relates to our church facility.  Stick with me.

In my underwear drawer at home, I have a selection of boxers (I am one of those guys).  About 50% are Ralph Lauren Polo…and the others are predominantly Gildan. The other day I was struck by a recurring thought about how I (we) spend the money God has entrusted to us and the ramifications.  I know…underwear?!?!?!? Hang in there.

As I stared at the under garments in my drawer, I had the following thoughts related to their similarities:

  1. All of them do “the job” of covering my body
  2. All perform basically the same “task”
  3. Most fit me about the same…with some variations with the Gildan
  4. They all have elastic waist bands
  5. They all are about the same length

Then I started thinking about the differences:

  1. I paid nearly double for the Polo products…not quite double
  2. The polo have a more comfortable waistband…but I can live with the other
  3. The quality of the fabric of the polo is of a higher grade

But here is the kicker…I had some Polo garments that were 4-5 years old, while the Gildan were showing need for replacement in about half that time. Then the correlation to our facilities came rushing in.

CHEAPER IS NO BARGAIN

In fact…it appears that I will spend the same amount of money over the 4-5 year period.  And if I had invested in the Polo, I would have also been able to enjoy the other benefits shared above.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?


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.

To Build, Buy, Lease or Rent…that IS the question

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To be or not to be…is no longer the question. For many churches, the burning question is what to do with facilities and do we even need to own a facility. This used to be a question that only church planters were asking.  When you are first starting out, the common question is how do we “house” our church?

Do we rent a school?

Do we rent a theater?

Do we find a store front?

What about using another church on an off night?

Given a number of factors, these conversations are no longer limited to church planters but are being asked in a whole host of church setting including established churches looking to get out from under a deteriorating facility that they cannot afford to churches needing to re-invent themselves. I have been involved in the planning, development and maintaining of church facilities and until recently, this topic was almost never discussed by churches that were more than 1-2 years old.

You may be saying…”Duh, Tim…we knew that.” Or this may be foreign territory for you…so let’s take a little time to explore as well as provide a very practical tool for your own evaluation.

To get started, let’s look at some trends and realities:

  1. For most churches, the cost of owning a facility is the second or third largest expenditure in their budget…usually second to personnel but ahead of dollars actually spent on ministry.
  2. In most regions of the country, as of the writing of this post, they are seeing significant increases in construction costs.
  3. In many cities and towns, there are still a large amount of empty buildings that were vacated as part of the aftermath of the Great Recession.
  4. The life cycle cost of owning a building during a typical 40 year period of time will be about 80% of the total cost of ownership…it takes a great deal to own a building.
  5. In addition, if you own a building, then you…your church…has been tasked to be a steward of the facility entrusted to you by God.  That is no small responsibility.  In fact, in order to keep up with the natural rate of physical deterioration and be prepared for the inevitable life cycle costs, you need to set aside $1-3.00/Square Foot EVERY YEAR.  Do if you have a 50,000 SF, you need to set aside $50 – $150,000 annually.
  6. Things change…if you do not believe this, please stop reading here. Here are some examples:
    • Your church goes through a period of expansive growth or decline…how does your facility flex with those trends?
    • Culture around us changes…do our facilities also morph?
    • Demographics change…not just race and language, but also age and needs associated with those changes.
    • Ministry means and methods change.  Are any of you doing “church”exactly like you did 20 years ago? I am a firm believe that the Gospel NEVER changes…but our means and methods must change.  How many of your churches use Gregorian Chant?  That was mainstream at one time.  Winston Churchill said “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.” If you have a building that is more than 20 years old (maybe even less), that space may actually be telling you how to do ministry.
  7. There is an alarming number of aging church facilities across the country that have declining congregations and deteriorating facilities. Church mergers are on an increase…which I think is really smart.  But what about the old buildings? Is an old building right for your congregation? Consider THIS first.
  8. Church building are hard to sell. As a rule, if your church is not in a commercial setting or prime for re-development, it will likely take 2-3 years to sell and you are most likely going to only net about 50 cents on the dollar of the appraised value.

How do we address these issues?  How do we set up our congregation for long term impact and engagement?

I am not going to advocate one option over another…but what I do want us to do is to consider the options.  The first and only option should not be to buy land and build a building.  The other deeply ingrained paradigm has been that once you own a building, that is it…that is where your church meets.

End of story.

Again, I am not saying that is wrong…but we need to stretch our thinking. Ask WHAT IF…?

We have developed a tool to assist churches vet out some of these options.  This is not the end-all and 100% inclusive evaluation tool, but it is a tremendous resource to do some initial side-by-side comparison of the options.

If you click HERE you can download this tool.  Now, let me walk you through how to best utilizing the tool and some of the methods to our madness:

First, we make the premise that there are 4 basic options (with a multitude of subsets):

  • Rent a school
  • Lease a commercial/retail building
  • Buy a building
  • Build a building

We then break costs down into 3 sections:

  • Operational Costs
  • Sticks and Bricks
  • FFE/AVL (Furniture, fixtures, equipment and audio, video, lighting)
  • Lease Agreement Considerations

There are some formulas built in to the spreadsheet such as:

  1. Cost of TI (Tenant Improvement) for the purchase of a building – we used $100/SF
  2. Cost of new construction – we used $200/SF
  3. Operational costs
  4. Capital reserve costs

Everything else needs to be added based on information gathered in your local context.

Again, this is not the only evaluation tool you should use.  The old adage in real estate is “Location, Location, Location.” That also needs to be factored into your comparison matrix.  Is the location in the right part of the community?  Will there be visibility and signage opportunities?  Is it properly zoned? Is there ample parking, etc.

To round out this, you also need to give serious attention to any leased (not rented…there is difference…renting is usually short term and leasing is long term) facilities or purchased facilities. you need to consider:

  1. If purchasing, is there deferred maintenance you are also inheriting? Learn more HERE.
  2. If you plan on more than 300 seats in worship, does the facility have a fire sprinkler system?
  3. Is the power adequate to support your AVL systems?
  4. How old is the HVAC system and is it adequate to cool an assembly occupancy?
  5. What is the condition of the roof?
  6. Are there enough restrooms?

OK…that probably has your head spinning….which is good.  You MUST consider all of the above before you make a serious financial decision.  Do not take this lightly.  Do your due diligence. Consider all the options.  Seek wise counsel.  Pray continuously.

ONWARD!


Cool Solutions Group helps churches with the planning, development, and management of their facilities!

Retirement Planning…for your Facility

 

Unless the Lord decides to call you home premature, we all will be faced with some variation of “retirement.” That means plans need to be considered for that period in our lives when we are not producing income based on a full time 40-hour +/- work week.  For most, that takes the form of:

  • 401K or 403b
  • IRA’s
  • Annuities
  • Life Insurance
  • Investments
  • Pensions

For others, it may simply be hoping that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will be adequate.  I think we would all agree that is not very wise.

We will project what we believe our costs will be in retirement…then plan a strategy to utilize one or more of the above to ensure we have the basis from which to generate the level of income to sustain the desired lifestyle.

This all sounds prudent as we plan for the INEVITABLE stage of life.  Would you agree?

So what are we doing to prepare for the “retirement”of our ministry facilities? I guess the first question is…do you think it is necessary?  If you don’t, then why would you plan for your personal retirement?

Sorry for being snarky…could not help myself.

Even at the very worst of personal financial planning, their is a partial safety net (although tenuous) is Social Security and other entitlements (did you realize that Entitled and Entitlements are not mentioned in the Bible…just saying). Considering our facility retirement concerns, we do not even have a social security safety net.

You may be saying – “We do not plan to retire our facility.” Oh Grasshopper…that is flawed thinking.

You may not “retire” the entire facility…but you WILL retire nearly every component of the facility.

  • You will retire all roofs…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all HVAC equipment…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all paving…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all floor coverings…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all lighting, plumbing, windows, doors, etc, etc, etc.

Need I go on?

These facility retires…just like our personal retirement…are INEVITABLE. There is no getting around it.  There no magic bullet.  There is no “Facility Fairy” to wave a wand.

Given the above…what are your plans?  Do you have a plan?  If not, how do you start? What is your baseline? How much is enough?

These are great questions that can and must all be answered…and starting with your current reality is the best place to get going.  In light of that, we strongly recommend a Facility Condition Assessment. Such an assessment will provide you:

  • Fresh Eyes Assessment
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Benchmark of Budgets/Staff
  • Deferred Maintenance
  • Facility Management Best Practices
  • Preventive Maintenance
  • Energy/Operational Evaluation
  • Capital Reserve Planning

Make your facilities “retirement” a positive experience by being intentional Facility Stewards.

-Tim


We Focus On Your Facility…

…so you can focus on your mission.

That is more than just a tagline for our team.  This WHO we are.  It is WHY we do what we do. That is HOW we do what we do.

I am yet to find a pastor that went to seminary with the primary reason of focusing their energies, time and ministry on a building. I know a few Business Administrators and Executive Pastor’s that have previous experience in the world of the built environment…but that is not WHY they got into vocational ministry.

And yet…how many churches in America could continue to function without a facility? I dare say that every church…the body of believers…in North America relies on a facility in some form or fashion.  This reliance may be on a physical structure that they assemble in to worship, educate, disciple and/or meet the needs of others.  If you are a “home-based” church, you are reliant on a house or similar.  If you are 100% internet based, your church is still reliant on a facility to host your servers…to produce video and audio content.

I get it…the “church” is NOT a building.  I preach that at every speaking engagement and project we serve on.  The building will never save a soul.  It will never disciple a Christ-follower.  And yet, we have a reliance on it. I also get that this is a “First-World” issue. All of us have pointed to how the body of Christ can function in very austere settings in other countries.  And yet, here we are…reliant on a built environment.

So what are you to do?

First, be thankful we have such facilities to assist us in spreading the gospel.  Don’t despise it.

Second, don’t take it for granted or take a posture that we are entitled to these physical blessings.  Money does not grow on trees, as we all know, and it requires money to own a facility.  Did you notice I did not say BUILD…I said OWN.  When you evaluate the cost to own a facility, 71-80% of the total cost of ownership is in the OPERATIONAL costs…and usually, only 20% (over a 40 year period) is the cost to build.

Thirdly, do not try to go it alone.  As a ministry leader, you need to focus on the ministry, mission, and vision of what God has called you to.  That means you need to rely on others to plan, build, and care for your building. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  1. Hire the needed people on your staff to steward what has been entrusted to you
  2. Adequately fund your General Maintenance budget to avoid deferred maintenance
  3. Outsource duties and tasks to specialists (i.e. HVAC companies for Preventive Maintenance)
  4. Set aside appropriate Capital Reserves for the inevitable future costs
  5. Obtain a firm grasp on your current facility needs related to space allocation and Facility Condition
  6. Implement systems and processes to increase operational efficiencies (and energy efficiencies) such as software applications, system integrations, policies and procedures, workflows, etc.

Need some help to get started?  Let us know how we can help.

5 Abuses of Church Property Insurance

Since early in establishing Cool Solutions Group, I have had a number of beliefs and convictions around how we insure our church facilities and why insurers do not “appear” to be more interested in the condition of the facilities they insure. Still don’t get that.

When you couple that with the fact that I have been watching the intersection of Facility Stewardship to Financial Stewardship to Personal Integrity to “Doing What is Right” as it relates to church property/facility insurance claims, I have been both bothered and concerned.  I have seen things that really bother me from both sides of the insurance “table”, and not just a little.

Let me share with you 5 abuses I have witnessed and why I think they need to be addressed:

  1. Pray for a Hail Storm – I have seen this first hand more than once.  A church does not plan for the inevitable cost of roof maintenance and replacement and start praying for a hail storm.  That is just wrong! Why should any company (insurance or not) pay for your lack of planning for the inevitable cost of roof maintenance and replacement? To take this a step further, I do not understand why church insurance continues to increase the value of church facilities when they are incurring more and more deferred maintenance that actually decreases the value. This really perplexes me (I told you I have concerns on both sides of the table). Can you imagine the outcry of churches whose coverage is reduced based on deferred maintenance or lack of maintenance? On the flip side, can you imagine what elation there would be to have little to no premium increases for churches that could empirically prove they were maintaining their facilities?  I would LOVE to see that. That would be true Facility Stewardship!
  2. The insurance company has lots of money – Aren’t you glad they do?!?!  I know I am glad Allstate does when we have a claim at the house. If they did not, how would claims get paid?  But here is the real fallacy with that line of thinking.  Where did that money come from?  Right…premiums. And who pays the premiums?  Right…all the churches (or people) they insure.  So when the insurance company pays a claim, the likelihood of all their other church clients premiums increasing is high. This is as much a Kingdom issue as it is insurance…maybe more. Talk about Financial Stewardship.
  3. We Won The Lottery  – “We just had a major insurance event…NEW SHOES FOR EVERYONE!” Insurance is bought in order to have coverage to repair/replace content and facilities that were directly impacted by the insurance event. It is not a “get out of jail free” card or a license to spend or the golden egg to offset a deficit in your budget. Yet, far too often the mindset of church leaders and staff is not aligned with the real reason for the claim dollars.  Think of it this way…if the insurance event had not occurred, what then?
  4. Pushed to the limit – We have insurance limits in the policy…let’s max them out. If there is a limit for contents or extra expenses or the like, are we not entitled to use ALL of it. Answer = NO.  In fact, not just no, but…
  5. 10 and 10 –  This one is an abuse that the insurance companies have allowed for too long. The term “10 and 10” is a construction industry term for 10% profit and 10% overhead. That means you take the raw cost of material and labor, then add 10% for overhead and 10% for profit…and you allow the general contractor to include their “General Conditions” cost of the superintendent, project manager, etc, the contractor is likely to walk away with 25-30% of the claim. Let me drill this down.  Say you have a $2 Million claim and you allow the contractor to charge 10/10 and general conditions…that could be $500,000 and a nail is not even driven.  In contrast, take that same project value for new construction, the current going rates we see are 6-8% plus general conditions…which equates to only about 15-17%. That is a potential swing of over $200,000. Now, I am not suggesting that the church get that money (refer back to #3 above), but it should reduce the amount of the claim the insurance company pays out…which saves them money…but…as indicated above in #2…it ultimately saves all the insured churches money in the form of less premium increases. NOTE:  The “10 and 10” issue I have is not with the small sub-contractor, but rather with larger claims where a bonafide General Contractor has to be engaged.

So…I realize that the above may not make me popular with many churches and even some insurance companies.  I am OK with that…because Facility Stewardship…coupled with Financial Stewardship are not just a good idea, but spiritual tenets.