The Established Church

I have worked in the church facility arena for over 32 years.  I have seen all sorts of trends, initiatives, flash-in-the-pan ideas and those that last through the ages.  I have seen shifts in music as well as what version of the Bible to preach from as well as the “how” we do church. I am a firm believer that the Word of God never changes…but our means, methods, systems, organizational structures, etc. MUST change.

In the design and construction segment of the church facility world, there is a huge clamoring to be on the cutting edge…to find the next Saddleback or Willow Creek or Elevation Church or Life Church. Most people in the space I work in want to be with the “cool” people. The trend setters. The hottest new thing.

I get it.

There is something very exciting to be part of a movement that is changing the landscape of church and impacting the world in incredible ways. There is great notoriety for those firms that can help design, manage and build facilities for these organizations. I have been blessed to serve such ministries and continue to serve many to this day. Again…I understand the allure.

But let’s step back…there are over 375,000 churches in America. Of those, there are less than 2,000 that would be considered Mega Churches (over 2,000 weekly attendance)…that is only .5%…less than one percent. And of that group, many have been around for more than 20 years…so they are not really the “newest gig” in town.

In addition, there are about 5,000 new churches planted every year (which helps to offset the closures). And of those, most are smaller than 200 people so they are not [yet] the new model for church in America.

Then it hit me (I am a slow learner at times)…the majority of all ministry that occurs in the USA is done from/within/based out of an ESTABLISHED CHURCH. In fact, I would surmise that 95-99% of ministry is generated by an established church. Let’s be clear…”established” does not necessarily mean “old” or “dying” or “stuck in a rut” or even “traditional” in their music style. I have churches we are serving that are 50-75 years old that have started their 6th campus or are reaching their communities in very new and fresh ways.

So what? Who cares?

Well…I do, and you should too.

The leaders of these established churches need encouragement. They need training on how to navigate the issues and opportunities related to leading an established church. They need to know how to honor the past and yet move toward the future. How do you love and respect an aging congregation and yet attract and foster relationships with the next 1-2 generations? How do you lead a church with deferred maintenance or “tired” facilities that may be dated and incongruent with your vision?

Well…I am so excited to have been asked to participate in the first ever EST Conference this fall in Dallas, Texas. The list of conference speakers includes Dr. Thom Rainer, Sam Rainer, Micah Fries, Josh King and John Myzuka…and me.

This one day event will be held on October 4, 2018. Registration has just opened, so make plans to gather your team and spend the day with this great line up of church leaders.


WOW – You Offer THAT?!

The other day I was contacted by a man from a church who was working with a committee he had established to help his church understand the importance of taking care of and planning for the inevitable future costs related to their church facilities. He had downloaded one of our eBooks (Church Facility Stewardship) and was interested in other resources to make his case.

As I started to compile a response, I paused and stared at the screen…WOW – THAT IS INCREDIBLE! As the email developed and the list grew, I was frankly humbled and blown away with the resources that we have been able to make available to churches across the country.

If you have not checked out what we have developed (many resources are free) and what services we provide…just take a look at the list below.

  1. 5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account –  Free eBook – This was written as a primer for churches that are starting from Square 1 with a capital reserve.
  2. Church Facility Evaluator – Free tool to evaluate some of the key operational metrics/costs of a church related to national averages.
  3. Church Facility Stewardship Manual – Almost 300 pages of information for any church to use to establish and further their facility management initiatives.
  4. Other Resources – We have written a number of books and other material.
  5. Assessments/Training – We also provide a number of assessments and training.
  6. Life Cycle Calculator – This is a free software that will help ANY organization establish their capital reserve plan and project funds needs and when.
  7. eSPACE – Facility Management Software – We originally developed this software suite for churches, but since 2008,  we now have private and public schools, colleges, YMCAs, municipalities and other facility/property managers. In addition to the free Life Cycle Calculator from above, we have subscription offerings for:
    1. Event Management 
    2. Work Order Management
    3. HVAC Integration 
  8. Church Facility Management  Solutions – This is a new membership website that we recently released…VERY excited about this!

If your church has a facility…you need to familiarize yourself with the above items and take advantage of the best set of tools to help you be a GREAT steward!


Why Use Facility Management Software for Your Church: Part 1

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

Legal Pad?

Excel spreadsheet?

Post-it Notes?

Cross your fingers, then hope and pray?

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

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

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

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

More to come next time…


Church Facility Management Solutions IS LIVE!

Cool Solutions Group is so excited to announce the release of CHURCH FACILITY MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS.  That’s right…we are LIVE!

If you are one of the 250+ early birds, then you have already received your notification, but if you have been waiting…the wait is over.

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

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

Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO

LifeWay Christian Resources

Church Answers

As a reminder, Church Facility Management Solutions is the ONLY online membership community designed and intended to provided best-in-class facility management information for EVERY church, regardless of size, shape, denomination, city, state, staffing structure…ANY one! You also do not have to be a “facility manager” to benefit greatly from the information provided.

As a reminder,  your CFMS membership provides you:

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

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


HVAC Solutions – FREE eBOOK

Can we all agree that HVAC operations, maintenance, scheduling, and replacement are one of the LARGEST expenditures, both in dollars and operation/manpower resources, that your church experiences?

Utility bills, HVAC maintenance, and HVAC replacement are significant costs for most churches. however, if we take the time to plan our energy usage carefully, we have the ability to reduce costs. If we reduce the amount of run-time, we can increase the life of our units if that is also coupled with proactive intentional maintenance. This frees up money to spend on other ministry endeavors.

Nearly every church in the county has some form of heating, cooling and ventilation system; as such, these issue are universal. They not exclusive to those in Miami or Anchorage.

“If we take the time to plan our energy usage carefully, we have the ability to reduce costs.”

In light of that, we have just released a new FREE eBook called HVAC Solutions: Taking control of your HVAC to Reduce Energy Costs, Extend Life Cycle, and Increase Operational Efficiency“.

This invaluable resource will help you better understand:

  1. The impact of your HVAC usage on your utility costs
  2. How maintaining and replacing HVAC units can get expensive
  3. Ways your facility staff could spend their time elsewhere
  4. That functioning HVAC units make people happy

We will also explore how to reduce energy costs and extend the life of your HVAC units by adopting more effective behaviors and the use of control systems.

Download your FREE copy today!


Utility bills, HVAC maintenance, and HVAC replacement are significant costs for most churches. HVAC usage can be attributed to 50-75% of your utility bills and HVAC maintenance and replace are your second or third largest capital expenditure not to mention the cost of staff to constantly change settings for events. If you are looking for a means by which to increase operational efficiency and control costs, then this resource is a MUST read.

Do You Really Know How To…

…clean a church facility?

…sanitize your children’s spaces?

…differentiate the difference between Motel 6 “clean” and Ritz Carlton “clean?”

…determine the amount of staff needed to clean and maintain your church facility?

…keep your facility and its occupants safe?

…spot the first signs of trouble?

…establish a capital reserve plan?

If you cannot affirmatively answer any of the above, then it may be time for us to talk.

To learn more about the Facility Management and Security Training services provided by Cool Solutions Group, check them out HERE.

Your facility, staff and congregation will thank you!

“It Takes a Village” to Manage a Church Facility

Over the past 10+ years, I have meet with hundreds (maybe thousands) of church leaders possessing “titles” such as Business Administrator, Operations Pastor/Director, XP (Executive Pastor), Facility Manager, Office Manager…and many others…including Pastor. The size of their congregations have varied from less than 50 people to over 20,000 people on a weekend in multiple sites.  Some have a bent toward traditional music while others were, what I lovingly refer to as, “full contact worship.” Some were urban…some rural. Some had an aging demographic while others were predominately millennial. Some liturgical…others Pentecostal. So on and so forth.

But do you know what 99% (my guess…not based on scientific research) had in common? They meet in a facility and the majority of them had some level of responsibility for the care of that facility. “A facility” was the one common denominator. I take that back…the one REAL common denominator was  feeling overwhelmed with what it took to care for, maintain, manage and plan for the future of the facility as well as the realization that they didn’t know what the did not know.

This really concerns me!

There are numerous organizations available to provide guidance, coaching and support for pastors. There is an organization structured to provide help to over 6,000 Church Administrators (of which I am a member). I am aware of about a dozen groups to support XP’s in their roles…and yet…there is NOT ONE designated to help and support any and every church leader that has a facility. Oh yeah…as a reminder, there are almost 350,000 churches in America that have a facility…with no organization focused to provide collective support. REALLY?!?!

There is one organization that focuses on “Facility Managers,” and that is helpful…but what about the thousands…tens of thousands of churches that do not have a facility manager? Those where the pastor is the facility manager, or the deacon board leads that charge, or the trustees get together to fix things, or where the pastor’s kids come in on Saturday to clean the building (I have first hand experience with that!). What further exacerbates this is the number of churches that “think” they have a facility manager, when in actuality they have a maintenance person.  That is not a disparagement…just fact.

That is why we will soon be releasing CHURCH FACILITY MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS.

This will provide the support, interaction, resources, camaraderie, information, feedback, coaching, and tools…for EVERY CHURCH of ANY SIZE.

This new offering will provide the support, interaction, resources, camaraderie, information, feedback, coaching, and tools for EVERY CHURCH of ANY SIZE.

This invaluable tool and resource is scheduled to roll out early 2018…but…if you want to get on the early bird list, click HERE.  There is no obligation…just letting us know you have interest.

Some of the features of Church Facility Management Solutions will include:

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

This is going to be so COOL! Join us to be the best steward of the facilities God has entrusted to you.

 

Church Security Training: Securing All That Has Been Entrusted To You

“We do not fear the evil of this world”

A personal relationship with Christ means we know the eternal love of our Father. However, for responsible church leaders, there are more intentional steps to be taken to ensure that you are providing the best security plan for those that come to hear the gospel. It used to be unthinkable, but the modern church must be prepared to face threats unimagined even twenty years ago.

Cool Solutions Group has developed a  program that is designed to assist any size church in creating the best culture and foundation for church security. Our process will help your congregation consider and define what it is they expect from a security program, and what they are willing to support.

“If you are serious about your church’s security, don’t wait!”         

Training includes:

  • Church Readiness Evaluation
    • Current church concerns explored and defined as well as determining the congregational level of support for security measures.
  • Policy Review and Development
    • Review of current adopted policies and procedures.
    • Any areas of concern will be identified and addressed.
  • Security Equipment
    • Evaluation of current security equipment in use.
    • Training on available equipment easily incorporated into a church security environment.
  • Personnel Roles and Responsibilities
    • Evaluation of current personnel roles utilized in the security plan.
    • Training on additional roles and responsibilities for security personnel to include intervention capable.

If you are serious about security in your church, don’t wait! Now is the time to begin investing; develop your plan before the storm, not during. Let us help you build the best foundation possible.

Learn more about Security and Facility Management training HERE.


About the trainer – Nathan Parr:  Prior to joining Cool Solutions Group, Nathan served 12 years as the Operations Manager/Security Manager for a large church in Texas that also housed a child-care facility and a private school. He is a licensed and commissioned security officer/personal protection officer in Texas. Nathan holds a Masters in Theological Studies, Masters of Business Administration and is a proud combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

Don’t Just Raise the Bar; Be the Bar

I love the new television commercials for the Ford F-150 that ends with: It Doesn’t Raise the Bar, It is the Bar.

The obvious connotation is that Ford is not raising the bar…but they ARE the bar that everyone else chases and tries to obtain.  I love that.

Now, let me be clear, I am not a Ford guy…in fact…I am not an any “brand” guy. I have owned Fords, Chevy, GMC (I am still driving my 14 year old Yukon with 198,00 miles), Toyota and others.

I do like Ford’s confidence and guts to claim to be the best. Is it true? I am not getting into that discussion. But what I do want to look at is being BEST-IN-CLASS…more than just bravado or words, but in actions and deeds. I have used the analogy that you can get a chicken sandwich (and a taco and a burger and…) from Jack-In-The-Box, but if I am looking for a “best-in-class” chicken sandwich, I go to Chick-fil-A.

Our team has made a very INTENTIONAL decision to be the Chick-fil-A of the church software market.  We are not trying to be all things to all people. It is not our competency. We are FACILITY PROFESSIONALS that have developed best-in-class Facility Management software solutions for those responsible to steward their ministry facilities. PERIOD…end of story. No if, and, or but!  We are here to serve the church as it relates to their facilities usage, management, maintenance, integration, controls, training, services, and life cycle planning.

eSPACE does not accommodate member management, child check-in, small groups, accounting, missions trip planning, worship service planning…we are all about FACILITIES.

As we shared last week, given our conviction, we have integrated with many of the “best-in-class” Church Management Software applications…you can see the whole list HERE.

If Facility Stewardship is important to your church, then you owe it to yourself and your congregation to give us a look and see how we can assist you to be EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT and INTENTIONAL with the facilities God has entrusted to you to steward.

We ARE the Bar!


eSPACE integrates with the tools you use to manage your church. You can now integrate your Church Management Software with the industry leading suite of Facility Management applications including HVAC Integration, Event Management, Work Order Management, and Capital Reserve Planning

Training: Doing The Right Things Right

Church Leader…is your training plan of “my team will read and follow directions” valid? Let us not try to rationalize…it is not. Training is not just reading. I like the Collins Dictionary definition, British usage:

“the process of bringing a person, etc, to an agreed standard of proficiency, etc, by practice and instruction”.  

So, let’s unpack the key terms: Process, Agreed Standard, Practice and Instruction.

  • Process – As the word implies, it is a method that has a definable and observable method. A beginning, middle, and end. We do not hand the keys to our 16-year-old and say, “Be careful, don’t wreck” and expect that they will be competent drivers. Some people may have (looking at you Dallas), but if we want our kiddos to be safe drivers we follow the process of drivers’ education. It has a beginning (written materials), a middle (practice driving with those that are trained), and an end (final testing at the DMV). At any time in the process, you may have to camp out a bit longer or review.
  • Agreed Standard This one is big. You remember “the Dress”? (now we have “the Shoes“). We can disagree on what color something is, even when we read the description, so how easy is it to have different views on what a “standard” is? This is when reading becomes part of training…write down what the successful completion of a task looks like. Show it to your team and let them refer to it when they want to know if they have done it correctly. If you are leading a team, there is no excuse for you not to put in the extra effort to define your standards.

    “Training provides the foundation for the results of what we do.”

  • Practice and Instruction – Now you need to teach and observe. Teach them what you want, observe the progress, correct and re-train as necessary. This is an on-going process…but not a process without end. If you have someone that simply cannot achieve the agreed standard, you then have a choice. You can change (lower) the standard to their level of capability, or you can change the team member. Sometimes the most gracious act we can do is let under-performing team members go sooner rather than later. It is not easy, but as leaders it is part of what we are expected to do.

Training provides the foundation for the results of what we do. If you are getting less than stellar results, it is because your training is lacking. I find that there is a great deal of truth in a quote that is attributed to the Greek soldier Archilochus, circa 650 B.C:

We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.”

Let me ask a few questions:

  1. Do you want a team that performs consistently but are not sure how to proceed?
  2. Are you confident that your team knows the RIGHT things that need to be done?
  3. Have you invested in your team with the right training….so you are doing the RIGHT things RIGHT?

Those questions and many more are critical to ask and answer, and exactly why we developed our SUSTAIN services. We can assist you in developing a “best-in-class” training program that will ensure that you are being a good steward of your resources. Your team can be equipped to handle everything from cleaning to preventive maintenance tasks.

In everything, remember the reason for what we do:

“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men,” (Col 3:23 HCSB)

Does your training program meet your expectation of something that you are proud to do in His name? We are here to partner with you, how can we help?


Are you…

  • Spending too much on utilities?
  • Investing enough to keep up with the natural rate of deterioration?
  • Properly staffing for your facility needs?

If you can not answer these definitively, then you need more information. To that end, we have developed this FREE Church Facility Evaluator. This simple tool will provide you with a snapshot of some key indicators associated with facility operational costs.

Church Facility Evaluator