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 Requires Planning

Back in the mid 1990’s, I was a “remunerated volunteer” at a large church in Charlotte leading the instrumental music…a role I thoroughly enjoyed. During that tenure, which was about 12 years, the Minister of Music position was in transition on 2 occasions. During those times, the Senior Pastor called on me to lead the choir, lead congregational singing and prepare the seasonal concerts and events. BTW…this was all PRE-TRIPLETS!

Fulfilling this role as Interim Ministry of Music was a great experience for me. I had the opportunity to work side-by-side with senior staff and volunteers. The pastor and I would meet each week to plan the “order of service” including sitting at a restaurant with our hymnals out to select songs. I would then plan a month or more of choir anthems and call to worship as well as instrumental specials.

While I really enjoyed that time, looking back I have to confess that I did not do a really good job on being intentional with planning the worship service. Sure, we randomly picked 2-3 hymns, a special music component and the like. But…was it really intentional? I don’t think so. We checked a box and then moved on.

Today I see the need for far more intentionality and planning. Here are just a few examples:

  • Which instrumentals are needed and who can participate?
  • What if one of them cancels, who is next in line?
  • What is the order of service?
  • Has the timing been considered for each component?
  • What are the transitions between components?
  • Do we have key changes?
  • When do the musicians, singers or choir leave the platform?
  • When do the come back up?
  • Who from the tech team is available?
  • Do the slides flow well and match the order of service?
  • Do we have ushers assigned?
  • Etc!

I am sure you are asking why a “facility guy” is making a big deal out of this. Actually it is pretty simple. I am a huge proponent of “FACILITY STEWARDSHIP” and one of the key aspects of being an intentional facility steward is in the proper utilization of the facilities God has entrusted to us. That includes, among many other things, the planning of our worship services.

“But we are a small church, why do we need to plan?”

Here is a great quote from one of our Technology Specialist, Tom Metz, regarding that question:

Being intentional is important for every church and ministry size. Planning is the real world manifestation of being intentional. When you’re going on a long trip, do you say “I don’t need to plan my route because I drive small car”?

Get the point?

I have one final word: P-L-A-N.


Are Mergers Changing the Church Landscape?

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

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

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

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

By Jim Tomberlin

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

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

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

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

I tried to dissuade them, but they insisted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

TAKE THE CHURCH MERGER SURVEY!

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

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

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

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

Questions? Contact DrBirdAssistant@gmail.com


Now Go Clean Your Room

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

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

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

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

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

Here you go:

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

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

By Nathan Parr, Facility Specialist


What is up with USER Based Software Pricing?

There have been a lot of new players enter the Facility Management Software space serving churches. Some of these products are actually really good. Some have REALLY cool features. But…most charge per user per month. I just don’t get it!

OK…I get the “business” reason why. The more users, the potential increase in bandwidth and data storage for servers. But to me, a USER BASED subscription penalizes a church for growing numerical or staffing. If a church has 50,000 SF and they double in attendance…but doesn’t add more square footage, they have to increase staff to maintain a building that now has more utilization leading to more cleaning and wear and tear.

When we launched eSPACE (MINISTReSPACE in 2008), the most popular event and facility scheduling software on the market was Event U. At that time, and even to today, they charge by “resource” which is kin to USER BASED pricing. If you added 25 more tables or 5 summer interns, etc. you pay more per month. That just feels mercenary to me.

That is why eSPACE Event Scheduler and Work Order Management has UNLIMITED users. Our pricing is based on elements such as the number of schedule-able spaces, number of fixed assets and the number of locations (think multi-site). I really wrestle why we should charge more for users. We WANT churches to have as much buy-in and utilization as they desire. We have found that organizations that have dozens or even hundreds of users are operating much more effectively and efficient by having more people with access to the software.

In the Work Order realm, there are some really good software options. I have been impressed by Akita Box, UpKeep and FMX. Dude Solutions also has some interesting features, but most of those solutions implement a USER BASED subscription price. Also, eSPACE is the ONLY facility management software that:

  1. Church centric…over 95% of our subscribers are churches
  2. Developed by church facility specialists for facility professionals…not just a cool tool for a market segment that needs serving
  3. Provides a free Life Cycle Calculator whether you subscribe to the paid subscriptions or not
  4. Offers integration with your HVAC, Door Access and Digital Signage
  5. Integrates with approximately 15 of the most utilized ChMS tools (Church Management Software)
  6. Offers a FREE online community focused on all things Church Facility Management.
  7. Offers onsite Facility Condition Assessments and deferred maintenance identification

OK…I am clearly biased.  But I am 100% convinced that the eSPACE solution is the BEST for any and every church!

Let us know if you want to explore how eSPACE and Cool Solutions Group can assist your organization to be efficient, effective and intentional with the facilities entrusted to you to steward.

*Click the image below to learn more!


The Church Construction Orchestra Conductor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Facility Stewardship Can Save You Money!

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Who doesn’t like to save money? I love it when I am able to save money by either making some changes in my behavior or implementing a new strategy. What I have also seen is that it is not just about the quantifiable savings, but the additional abstract benefits.

For example…let’s say I buy a Toyota Prius to save money on gas. I am pretty convinced that I will in fact reduce my budget allocated for gasoline. That is GREAT…but it is not all. An abstract benefit is that I do not have to stop at a gas station as frequently which provides me with additional time to do other things. And knowing that “time is money” the abstract benefits can actually manifest themselves into real dollars. So in this example, I have 3 benefits…maybe more:

  1. Save money on fuel
  2. Save time to reinvest in other activities
  3. Which can either save me money or allow me to take that time/money and invest in an activity that could produce income, or reduce the need for someone else to perform the tasks.

Let’s take that concept to Facility Stewardship…and particularly the operation, maintenance, and management of the facilities that have been entrusted to us.

Our FACILITeSPACE module which includes the following is a great way to get started.

  • COOLSPACE – HVAC integration with Building Automation and WiFi thermostats
  • SECURESPACE – Door access controls
  • INFOSPACE – Comprehensive system to integrate with your digital and room signage
  • TECHSPACE – Coming Soon! – Will provide integration and alerts with early detection sensors
  • BRIGHTSPACE – Coming Soon! – Integration to lighting throughout your facility…more on this later.

Since we released these options we have heard lots of testimonials from churches that have shared how they saved money on energy…but the abstract was that they saw a large increase in operational efficiency. Here are a couple comments from our clients:

Our church has been a client of eSPACE Event Scheduling and FACILITeSPACE for years. Using this cloud based software has allowed us to save around 25% on utilities and use those funds toward ministry and missions of the church to help grow the Kingdom. Very easy to use product and great customer service!  –Jeff McClanahan – CPA, Living Hope Baptist Church

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We have been using eSPACE with FACILITeSPACE for three years, and our church saw a 30% reduction in utility expense immediately after installation. The interface is easy to manage, easy to teach to our staff, and we can make adjustments from anywhere. FACILITeSPACE has now paid for itself several times over in return on investment as we’ve saved on electric bills and maintenance. No more lock-boxes on thermostats, and no more forgetting to “turn the air up on the way out” after a service or event. –Hank Garner, First Baptist Church

Let’s put this into context. These churches, and dozens more, started using FACILITeSPACE with the desire to save energy costs….which they did. The issue of “behavior” was the root issue with their efficiency, or lack thereof. They would turn units on when the spaces were not occupied. Not smart. But these churches and many others also are seeing the more abstract causality at play:

  1. Reduced run time of the units which can lengthen the life expectancy of their HVAC units. Units last longer if they run less (but they still need preventive maintenance). This means that a church may be able to get another 1, 2, 3 years out of their units which in turn allows them to modify the needs for capital reserves…which can not only save money, but if you have a true capital reserve account that is earning interest, you can actually “make money” by not spending it.
  2. Reduce if not completely mitigate the manual operations of adjusting thermostats and building automation systems for your events and space utilization. This can free up the staff to perform other duties (i.e. my car example).
  3. We have empirical data tied to the issues of deferred maintenance and the number of full time general maintenance workers you have. In every case of the Facility Condition Assessment that we perform, when a church has deferred maintenance (which is nearly 100% of the time) we see an under funding of the general maintenance line items in their budgets and a understaffing of facility teams. That is why they called it DEFERRED Maintenance. We should have done things that we put off…we deferred maintenance that should have been performed. Let’s look at how this can manifest itself.

Imagine having an extra 5-10 hours a week of general maintenance time for each of your maintenance team. If they are not having to turn thermostats on and off…and don’t have to run around locking and unlocking doors…how many hours could you recapture? We recently had a conversation with a church that indicated that their facility manager spent 20-25% of his time in a week double entering events in his building automation system. The event Coordinator would schedule events, meetings, etc. Then, print out the schedule and provide to the facility manager who in turn would RE-ENTER all of the same data into their BAS. That is pour utilization of a skilled person.

The other thing we have learned, or known for a long time but now have data, is that churches are not going to staff up their general maintenance team to a level of best proactive…which is 1 Full Time Employee for every 35,000 Square Feet. I get that…but what if we could assist your current staff to be more efficient? What if they could recapture even just 10% of their time…so say 4 hours per week…208 hours a year? Do you think there are tasks, preventive maintenance, general maintenance, inspections, vendor management, etc. that you could back-fill their time? I will guarantee it!

If your church is looking for a way to decrease deferred maintenance, save energy costs and increase operational efficiency, you need to strongly consider the impact of integrations and automation.


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


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

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

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

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

Then I started thinking about the differences:

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

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

CHEAPER IS NO BARGAIN

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

Makes you think, doesn’t it?


Plant Your Tree Before You Need the Shade

Just over 20 years ago, Harvey Mackay wrote a book that shaped much of my thinking and approach to investing in people, situations, business planning and so many other aspects of my personal and professional life.  The book is entitled: “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.”

Later in my career I had a business coach that would tell stories about how we intentionally would treat his cab drivers (this was also about 20 years ago…before Uber…but the same applies), the receptionist at the hotel, the flight attendants, etc.   Why was this important?  He said that beyond human decency and respect for other humans (which should always be the basis even if there is no secondary motives) that you never know when you may need their help.  You may need them to provide a level of service that is more likely to exceed your expectations if you have already built a relationship.

In a recent blog, Seth Godin once again provides a thought provoking and yet practical example of this same tenet of human interactions, acceptable behavior and forward thinking.  See what he said here or below:

  • If you wait until you really want an avocado, the market won’t have any ripe ones. You need to buy them in advance.
  • If you eat an avocado that’s not quite ripe, you won’t enjoy it. AND, you won’t have a chance to enjoy it tomorrow, when it would have been perfect if you had only waited.
  • If you live your life based on instant gratification and little planning, you’ll either never have a good avocado or you’ll pay more than you should to someone else who planned ahead.
  • Buy more avocados than you think you need, because the hassles are always greater than the cost, so you might as well invest.
  • And since you have so many, share them when they’re ripe. What goes around comes around.

All of these truths lead to the real insight, the metaphor that’s just waiting to be lived in all ways: If you get ahead of the cycle, waiting until the first one is ripe and then always replenishing before you need one, you can live an entire life eating ripe avocados. On the other hand, if impatience and poor planning gets you behind the cycle, you’ll be just as likely to waste every one you ever eat.

Plant your tree before you need the shade.

What “trees” do you need to plant today? What kind of long term planning is needed to keep you in the “shade” of your planning (i.e. Capital Reserve planning…just saying).

-Tim