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. 


eSPACE + MinistryPlatform = Win For Churches

Do you know what makes a great partnership?  It is pretty simple – GREAT PARTNERS!

I have yet to see a partnership, collaboration, or integration that was successful without there being great parties involved with mutual interests, shared mission, and vision.

One of our most recent integration partners is with MinistryPlatform.  They specialize in Church Management software for mid-size to mega churches. Their “eco-system” concept is a perfect match for eSPACE, as their philosophy is to develop a product that allows their clients to integrate with “best in class” applications to meet their specific needs. They have steered away from the idea that they could be all things to all people and have seen the power of integration can provide a customized and flexible system that meets the specific needs of their market segment.

We are honored to have been selected by MinistryPlatform to be their go-to solution for all things facility. The integration that our firms have developed utilizes the best of both applications and allows the local church to incorporate the features/components that meet their needs.

Don’t just take our word for it! See what an IT Director recently posted online:

“We left our church management system for the brighter pastures of MinistryPlatform and found this awesome partner of theirs, eSPACE, for our facility management. I cannot say enough about CSR (Customer Service Rep)! They have been an absolute blast to work with.”

– Central Community Church

To learn more about this integration, click HERE:

How SMART is Your Database?

Like you, I love the SMART devices in my house – Echos, plugs, Hue lights. It’s so cool to walk into a room and have “Alexa” turn on the light or TV or tell me the weather outside or set a reminder or update me on the news.  

eSPACE is bringing this Internet of Things to church facilities, but what does that look like for interaction with your church database?  Answer:Text-To-ChurchTM

Online giving companies brought us text to give. Marketing companies brought us text to receive content.  In 2017 Churchteams released Text-To-ChurchTM , the SMART way to get your people to:

  1. Give
  2. Register for anything
  3. Complete a Communication Card (starting a follow-up workflow)
  4. Securely check-in their kids
  5. See contact assignments
  6. See their volunteer or training schedule
  7. Manage their groups
  8. Update their infoLink to anywhere

You know, all the stuff you wish your people could do by interacting directly with your database!

Here’s how it works.  You choose your own, local, ten-digit phone number that connects to your Churchteams database. Share the number with your people along with a keyword to do whatever you want them to do.

For example, I’d like to give you the chance to see how Text-To-ChurchTM  works for registration, check-in and workflow automation.  Hands on is the best way to learn (you can do this in one minute).  Get out your phone right now andtext SMART to (817) 677-9850.

Just follow the prompts to add a (made up) child, and text the word CHECK to check-in. You will get 3 follow-up texts (1 hour, 1 day, 1 week later) from our Workflow Automation inviting you to a Meet The Software guided tour but that’s it.

Now, imagine what you could do with a SMART database?

  • Give guests and members who no longer carry checkbooks an easy way to participate in giving.
  • Get rid of check-in lines.
  • Offer an electronic communication card option in Worship.
  • Let people register for any class or event by texting a keyword.
  • Text staff and leaders of follow-up assignments.
  • Take adult class attendance on a mobile phone.
  • Automate guest follow-up so no one falls through the cracks.
  • Simplify pastoral care and leadership development follow-up.
  • Enhance church communication strategy.
  • Simplify data management.
  • All in ONE church software database!

eSPACE is leveraging technology for managing facilities.  Churchteams is leveraging technology for managing people and processes. Our recent integration helps churches get the best of both.  Now, that’s SMART.

Boyd Pelley is Co-founder / CEO of Churchteams.  He served churches in 3 states as Discipleship, Administrative, and Family pastor for 18 years. The last 8 bootstrapping the development of the company with Mark Horan, Co-founder / Software Architect.  Married since 1986, he and Pam have 2 grown, married children. They live in McKinney, Texas.

 

Setting Goals For Your Church Facility

2018 is in the books. Chapter Closed.

2019 is just getting started…we have the whole year in front of us.

Like many of you, I set personal and professional goals for 2019. I have been in the habit of setting goals (not resolutions) at the start of every year.

WHY???

In a recent series of blog posts by Rick Warren, he provides some great insight on WHY:

  1. You need to set goals because it is a spiritual responsibility – If you don’t have goals for your life, you have already decided to let other people run your life. When you don’t decide in advance what’s important, you’re letting other people decide.
  2. You need to set goals because they are statements of faith – If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ and you set a goal, you’re saying, “I believe that God wants me to accomplish this by this time. This is what I believe God is going to do in my life.” Goals aren’t just a statement of faith. They stretch your faith. The bigger your goal, the more your faith will be stretched. And that pleases God.
  3. You need to set goals because they focus your energy – Focus is the key to an effective life. If you spread your energy out and diffuse it over a whole bunch of things, you’ll make no impact at all. But if you focus your life, it’s going to be powerful, and it will change the world.

So…let me challenge you.  Have you set personal goals? Professional goals? GREAT!

What about goals for your Church Facility…your Facility Stewardship?  Not yet??? Well then, now is the perfect time to do so. I love “SO THAT” statements. You are setting this goal, and you want there to be a solution. It allows me to put a “cause” and an “effect” in place.  Think about examples such as:

  1. We will reduce energy consumption by [X]% by [X] date SO THAT…we can save the church money and reallocate to capital reserves.
  2. We will find ways to automate basic tasks like locking/unlocking doors, engaging HVAC systems, etc by [X] date SO THAT I can concentrate more of my time on general maintenance and management of the major systems.
  3. We will raise the standard of “clean” for our facility from a “Motel 6” level to a “Hilton” SO THAT we make the very best first impression to our guests.
  4. ?????????

You get the point…we have to set goals.  We owe it to our church…and to God (If you believe in Facility Stewardship) to set goals for your facility.

Share with us some of your goals in the comments below.

ONWARD! 

The Simple Church (Scheduler)

 

Did you know that between 60-75% of all churches in America average less than 200 people on a weekend? That is over 210,000 churches!!!

Do you want to venture a guess as to how many of those churches have facilities that they use on a regular basis? Yeah…me either, but I would venture to say that it is at least 75% (if not more). That is almost 160,000 churches.

Given these statistics and Cool Solutions Group’s passion to serve churches of all sizes, we are so excited to announce the release of the SIMPLE SCHEDULER.

This new facility and event scheduling software is the ideal tool for churches with smaller facilities who just need a “simple” scheduling tool, but need more than Outlook, Google Calendar or paper/pencil can offer.

Here are some of the features of SIMPLE SCHEDULER:

  • Can schedule up to 25 rooms
  • Real time conflict checking and resolution
  • Schedule tables, chairs, projectors and other resources for your event
  • Website calendar integration
  • Simple reporting
  • Simple custom forms
  • In-app communication
  • Event Approval process
  • API to integrate with other ChMS platforms
  • UNLIMITED USERS

All this…and only $25/month.  REALLY?!?! That’s right – you heard us right.  Only $25 a month with no long term contracts.

Do we have your attention? Click HERE and start your free 14 day trial.  We will be right here to help you get started.