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


Worship Leaders Have a Choice

Finally…worship leaders of churches of any and every shape, size, style and methodologies have an option when considering the right tool to help them best manage their worship services. For as long back as I can remember, there has been one dominant option for worship leaders to use…and you know who I am referring to.

They are the 800 pound gorilla.  They clearly have market dominance.  They have set a standard and watermark for many aspects of service planning.

But…now you have an option.

We are honored and excited to announce that Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE have acquired WorshipPlanning.com to add to our suite of intentional planning tools. With this acquisition, coupled with some significant enhancements and added features, worship leaders have a viable alternative to the incumbent. We are firm believers that competition is the basis for better products for the market…in this case for your church.

Check out all the features you get with your WorshipPlanning account…all starting at only $25/month for up to 5 planners (those that need to actually  plan services) and UNLIMITED Helpers (think of helpers as your choir, praise team, techs etc.).  You will be blown away!

FEATURE INCLUDED
Service and Events
Create multiple services (aka a series) at once
Custom data fields for services
Service linking for easier management of identical services
Associating files with the service (as opposed to only with the elements or songs)
Schedule rehearsals
Share services to public with special link (via email or social media)
Calendar feed of all services
Ability to project slides Via integration
Variety of printout options
“Virtual Stage” design, drag and drop (with printout option)
Tasks tracking (assignable, with notifications) Coming soon
Rehearsal attendance indicator (“Can you make it? Yes/No”) Coming soon
Team-level rehearsal scheduling Coming soon
Ability to create a variety of event types (not just worship services) Coming soon
Worship Flow
Down-to-the-second scheduling
Set-list planning mode
Add per-elements general notes, or notes specific to roles, teams, or people
Track “views” of worship flow (who and latest)
Allow and track “Likes” of worship flow
Plan multiple, identical flows at once
Select song key (and modulation) specific for that service
Define song map/sequence (order of song parts) specific for that service
Create and apply worship flow templates
Inline editing of worship flow element details
Custom color and name dividers
Drag-and-drop SongSelect integration (right into the worship flow page)
Pre-service elements
Variety of printout and export options (Word, Excel, and PDF)
PDF Setlist Builder (with viewing/scrolling on tablet)
Virtual sheet music Via OnSong integration
Auto-generation of audio playlists for MP3s, Spotify, and YouTube connected songs
Printouts
Full worship flow details printing
Custom Column worship flow printouts (shows desired notes for roles/people/teams)
Assignment printouts for one or multiple services (per team)
Assignment export for one or multiple services (per team)
Volunteer sign-in sheet (per team)
Song Organization
Song Importing (SongSelect, CSV, etc.)
Integration from LifeWayWorship
Included ”Top Songs” list with basic info and links to Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, and SongSelect connection
Ability to create chord sheet in lyrics section of song
Key transposing of chords in lyrics section
Key transposing of uploaded MP3s
Unlimited file attachments
Auto-generation of audio playlists for MP3s, Spotify, and YouTube connected songs
Create and share virtual song books (with teams or with public)
Song usage report, including chart of usage per month
”Last Performed” date sorting
Match/sync song data with CCLI SongSelect and Rockin’ With The Cross (coming soon). Subscription to those services required.
Print/Export options
Import from CSV option
User Accounts
Unlimited user accounts (“Planner” count limited by subscription, “Helper” count is unlimited)
Access levels to limit what each user can do or view
Skill indication (set by the team leader)
Notification channels: one or more email addresses, one or more SMS text numbers, Facebook notifications
Ability to block days not available to serve
Serving preference indication
WP: Selecting specific days and roles
Bypass login with special link embedded in notifications
Charting of serving history/frequency for past year
Calendar feed of assignments (for real-time updates to appear on personal calendar)
Team Management
Contact info sharing among team
Delegation of team management responsibilities to one or more team leaders
Location designations (none, one, or multiple) for teams
Restrict teams from accessing worship flow details (including music)
Availability Calendar showing the team leader what members have blocked off days in a calendar view.
Uploading and sharing files for team members
Serving “templates” to define typical line-up of roles needed to serve
People/Team Scheduling
Drag and drop scheduling
Assignment notifications via text, email, Facebook
Respond to assignment via email, text, Facebook, website, or mobile web app
Schedule conflict detection across various services and locations
Scheduling across multiple weeks in a single view
Ability to schedule people that don’t have a login account to WP
View past and future schedules
Scheduling entire team at once
Serving “templates” to define customizable line-up of roles
Find the most qualified person to serve in an open role
Find a substitute (initiated by team leader or volunteer)
Assignment reminders (email, text, Facebook)
“Please respond to the schedule request” reminders
Team leader notified when team member responds to an assignment (configurable)
Print/export schedule (single or multiple services)
Charting of serving history/frequency for past year
Notifications
Email, text, Facebook
Schedule response options embedded in notifications (i.e. email or text contains links to “accept” or “decline” the assignment request).
Team Leader notifications when team member responds to an assignment (configurable)
Configurable (per team) auto-reminder of upcoming assignment
Configurable (per team) auto-reminder of pending assignment response (i.e. remind the team member every few days that they still need to respond to the assignment).
Push notification to desktop, laptop, and Android browsers Coming soon
Locations
Single or multi-location capable
Teams can be configured for one or more locations
Cross-location checking for schedule conflicts
“During Event” Functionality
Projector presentation functionality Thru integration with Proclaim
Virtual Sheet Music for use on stage Thru integration with OnSong App
Mobile Functionality
Mobile web app
Responding to assignments
Viewing worship flow details
Viewing/listening to song files
Editing the worship flow
View contact info of fellow team members
3rd-Party Integrations
SongSelect
LifeWayWorship
Church Community Builder
Rockin’ With The Cross
Proclaim
ProPresenter In Progress
PraiseCharts Future
YouTube
MediaShout In Progress
eSPACE Event Scheduler Coming Soon
Support and Training Options
Phone
Email
KB Articles
Community
Webinars
General Info about Company
Better Business Bureau rating A+ Since joining BBB in 2006
Headquarters location Charlotte, NC
Customer support hours Urgent: 24×7
Non-urgent: 8a-5p EST  (M-F)
Training options Video tutorials, webinars (live and recorded)
Service reliability 99.999%
*Watch the introductory video below to get to know Worship Planning!

Do You Rent Your Facility? We Can Help.

One of the highest priority features that the eSPACE community has been requesting is a means by which to implement a Billing and Invoicing system for facility rentals.

WAIT NO LONGER!

We are excited to announce the release of the new BILLING and INVOICING module to eSPACE. Here are just some of the features:

  1. Assign a rental value to any SPACE, RESOURCE or SERVICE within your Event Scheduler.
  2. When creating an event that also includes rental, select the ITEMS needed which in turn will produce a proposal to be sent to the requester.
  3. Provide a means by which the requester can accept the proposal digitally.
  4. Add discounts if appropriate.
  5. Adjust ITEM billing amounts on the fly if needed.
  6. Add sales tax if appropriate.
  7. Require a deposit and collect the same in-app through our payment processor.
  8. Invoice for the balance/In-full amount.
  9. Collect all payments via a credit card and have it deposited directly into the appropriate account.
  10. Export a log of all rentals to an Excel/CSV file in order to upload to your accounting software (if applicable).
  • No more manual invoices or proposals.
  • No more guessing if invoices have been paid.
  • No more collecting paper checks.

All for only an additional $50/month!!!

Check out this video to learn more, then contact us to get started.

Resources are for Wimps

You probably just disagreed with that title. At least you tell yourself that you do. Unfortunately, talk is cheap my friends. We tend to say and think a great many things…but our true feelings are always borne out in our actions. 

This week we are going to dive into the wonderful world of…resources! If you are a member of CFMS you have access to a great many resources. If you are not a member…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR…it is free. We will highlight many of them, even provide some detailed usage instructions. However, before we get to that, let’s talk a bit about how we tend to use resources.

Many times, we seek out resources when someone tells us about it. We’ve mentioned previously about time in the church facility world (spoiler alert, there is never enough).  So being told about the next coolest thing is the main way we get the information. Our vendors show up to show us the latest and greatest, we hear about something in a blog, we attend a conference and see something…you get the idea. At this point, all these resources share a common trait. They are utterly useless if all you do is acknowledge their existence. 

It is safe to say that we are advancing technology-wise in many ways. With that comes the ability to disburse information via methods unheard of merely 20 years ago. From eBooks to webinars to interactive forums…we can share and learn just about anything. The hard part is taking that knowledge and applying it. It is necessary to do more than digest, it must be put into use or it is just “empty calories”; and just like empty calories cause us to be inefficient, gathering knowledge and not applying it leads to inefficiencies as well. Those inefficiencies lead to ministerial opportunities lost. 

So, what do we do? First, we must consider what type of resource we need and when. Remember, there are tons out there, you do not need all of them at once. Consider your biggest concern right now…now that you have it, find three resources that address it and are the easiest for you to process. From those resources develop an implementation plan to fix (or at least attempt to fix) that one issue. A staircase consists of many steps, but it still is the easiest to put one foot on one step at a time. 

Second, take the time to evaluate the success of the process gleaned from the resources on that first concern. Get it right. Do not worry about all the other concerns that are still there at this point….it has been messed up for a while, a bit longer is not the end of the world. Unless it is a life-safety issue, and then that is always going to be the top concern. 

Third, take the time to share the resources and the process you learned from it with your supervisors and your peers. It is always good to let others know what is going on, and it will make it easier for you when you tackle the next concern. Your team will understand why you are looking for helpful resources. 

Fourth, develop a system to categorize and store resources as you collect them; make them available for future research. When you find sources, many times you can sign up for mailing lists. They will keep sending them during a time you do not need them, so store them so you are ready to utilize your library when the need arises again. 

Fifth, repeat steps one through four as necessary for your concerns. Developing your own resource/research library can make your life easier. Again, the crux of the matter is you must take that knowledge and use it for it to be effective. If you need to try and figure out how long it should take to clean a space, find a calculator that can help (I bet you can guess where you can find one!). Want to be a better energy steward, learn the ways how (Webinar anyone?). I can almost guarantee that there is a resource to assist you in any issue you may face as a facility steward. And if someone took the time to figure out a way to make your life more efficient, why not take them up on it? 

By: Nathan Parr, Facility Specialist at Cool Solutions Group


Are you Lying to Yourself?

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The surprising thing isn’t that we’re irrational about how we spend our time and money. It’s how much effort we put into lying about it. That may sound like a strong term, but if your kids told you a story that was untrue, would you call it lying?  So, if we tell ourself an untruth, are we not lying to ourselves?  Makes sense to me.

One of the best examples of this premise is when I was attending a Mega Metro XP conference with 25-30 of the largest Southern Baptist Church XP’s in attendance. The members of this group have the following criteria in order to join:

  • Serve in a Southern Baptist Church
  • Be full-time
  • Serve in the role of Executive Pastor* with primary oversight of staff, ministry, and budget
  • Report directly to the Senior Pastor
  • Church attendance averages 3,000+ in worship
  • Have $5 million+ in charitable giving

The discussion was on a roll discussing budgets, utilization of funds, allocation of funds to and the like.  The conversation quickly moved to pet projects, “game playing” by staff to get more allocation and the like. One of the XP’s told the group that they were trying to get a better grasp on the REAL use of funds, and not just what the the General Ledger line item said it was.

This led to them addressing a $100,000 + line item for the “Singing Christmas Tree.” This event was listed in their budget as OUTREACH.  The astute XP asked his team a couple very piercing questions:

  1. How many people have come to a faith decision that attended a Singing Christmas Tree?
  2. How many people attend the event that are not already attending the church?

Surprisingly (or not), the answer to both were “little to none.” Ouch…that will make you think long and hard.

The XP went on to say that he challenged his people to call it what it is.  Given the questions and responses, this event was NOT really an outreach event.  It was entertainment for the members. With that said, that does not immediately disqualify it from the budget, but let’s call it what it is…“We like choral Christmas music and we are willing to fund it.”  That is a little long for a typical journal entry, but the point is well taken.

To call such an event Outreach was lying to themselves. It was not Outreach. But calling it Outreach makes you feel good about the budget, allocation of resources, or obtaining notoriety for having a larger Outreach budget than the church down the way.

As you look at your budget, are things properly labeled and allocated?  It may shock you. We need to face the truth and stop lying to ourselves.


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!

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


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


The 7 “A’s” of Intentional Facility Stewardship

As we all work to become intentional stewards of what God has entrusted to us (i.e. Facility Stewardship), there are several steps and paradigms that must be realized in order to be most effective.  These are not rocket science, but I assure you that each paradigm must be addressed and done so in the order listed below.

Awareness “knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.” The first step to addressing any meaningful action in our lives is first becoming aware of the need. Same applies with Facility Stewardship. Are we keenly aware that God has entrusted us with HIS church facility? Do we understand the gravity of that?  Start there.

Analysis“detailed examination of the elements or structure of something.” It is one thing to be aware, but do we understand? Do we know the current state of affairs related to our facilities and the current allocation of budget dollars (from tithes and offerings…another for of stewardship) and if those dollars are being spent appropriately?  Do we know if we have adequate capital reserves or deferred maintenance. Knowledge is power…and freeing.

Acknowledgement“acceptance of the truth or existence of something.” BOOM! Have you ever heard that the first step of change, is acknowledging that there is an issue that needs addressed? We must look in the mirror.  Take the results of the analysis and acknowledge…ADMIT…there are areas for improvement.

Action“applies especially to the doing, act to the result of the doing.”  An action usually lasts through some time and consists of more than one act.  It is not singular…it is plural!  There is something that needs to be done…now do it.

Adoption“the act of taking something on as your own.” Most times when we hear this word, we think of adopting a child…which is a wonderful manifestation of the definition…to take something as your own. In the case of Facility Stewardship, the same applies.  The adoption process is an emotional, physiological and physical manifestation of taking “ownership” of a concept, a methodology, a paradigm, and a core value.

Accountability“The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.” For Facility Stewardship to be long lasting, there must be accountability. I firmly believe that we will be held accountable to God for how we stewarded ALL the components he has entrusted to us.  But there needs to be some form of “earthly” accountability as well.

Acclimation –  “is the process in which an individual organism adjusts to a change in its environment.” Often this word is used in scientific applications.  But I believe it is critical for the complete shift that is required to make Facility Stewardship a way of life. “This is how we do things around here.” It should be so ingrained in the organization that it would be off-putting to see trash on the floor or dust build up on vents or grass growing in the sidewalk cracks…or that there are even cracks in the sidewalk at all.

Does the above sound overwhelming? IF it does…I get it…but it does not excuse any of us from taking the steps and making intentional long term changes to be the best Facility Stewards we can be.

Need help to get started? Give us a shout.