Who Rebuilt The Roof?

I have a wondering mind. I like to do mental gymnastics and ask myself “what if”.  I sit and think about some of the most obscure things at times.  I will watch a movie or TV show and contemplate the back story…but even more about the “after-story”.  You know…what happened next?  Did they survive?  Did they end up getting married?  How long did it take the war hero to recover from his wounds and what kind of physical therapy was needed?

Weird…I know.  Welcome to the inside of my mind.

Let me share one of these mental excursions that I recently ventured on.  Most of you are familiar with the Luke 5 story about how Jesus forgave and healed a paralyzed man (starting around vs. 17).  This story starts with a description about some men who brought a paralyzed man, on a mat, to see Jesus.  When they were not able to get the man close enough to Jesus…they got creative.  They climbed on the roof (obviously not an OSHA approved endeavor), removed the roof tiles and lowered the man right down in front of Jesus.  Then Jesus heals him…forgives his sins…and sends him on his way.

What an amazing miracle!  We all rejoice and the people that day (except for the Pharisees) were amazed and praised God.

However…wondering minds contemplate the details that are not written in the gospels.  What about X, Y and Z…for instance:

  1. How large was the hole in the roof? – if we assume a 5’10” man with some clearance, then the hole may have been 6′ by 3′.  That is 18 square feet.
  2. Were there only “tiles” on the roof or did the roof have a substrate (a substance or layer that underlies something) or any other structure(s) that had to be removed?
  3. How long was the rope or other lowering apparatus?
  4. Where did they get the rope?  I’m sure they didn’t make a run to Home Depot.
  5. Had the friends of the man planned all of these details out ahead of time?

While all of that is interesting fodder, the real question that I ponder is…Who Repaired the Roof?

There is no account of how the roof was restored to its functional form.  The man was jumping and praising God…but what about this gaping hole in the roof?  Did the friends just leave the hole for the property owner to repair?  Did the friends ask Jesus to perform another miracle that day and fix the roof?  Did the friends tell the healed man it was his responsibility since he was the one that benefited?  Had they already entered into a contract with the local roofing company?

Here is what I think.  I believe (I have no proof to back this up) that the friends went back and repaired the roof.  Any friends that were selfless enough to carry their buddy on a mat…up to a roof…cut a hole…and lower him down, sound like honorable men.  I believe honorable people like this would have gone back and repaired the roof.  They would have taken responsibility for the physical condition of the place of ministry that day.  They would have stepped up and done what was right.

Do you see any correlation between this story and Facility Stewardship?  The roof did not heal the man.  The house did not forgive his sins.  The house was a TOOL to facilitate ministry and life transformation.  I have preached that for years…but you also must care for the TOOL.  It is tremendous to see the creativity of people using this TOOL to introduce people to Jesus.  The TOOL played a role in this story…in fact, it was a pretty important part…but…it then needed to be restored to be used again on another day as a TOOL.

Facilities are only a tool.

Facilities cannot save or heal you.

But…facilities can be the tool that can make or break a spiritual connection.  Can you imagine how this story might have been different if there was not a house with a roof?  The paralyzed man may never have met Christ.

 

The Never Ending Product – Forever Beta

The world is changing from a “product” based goods/service market to a subscription based model.  This trend has been growing exponentially since the mid 2000’s.  In 2018, there are very few things you can not obtain and use from a subscription:

  1. Caterpillar (heavy construction equipment) now offers a service that shifts the discussion from “Products” to “Outcomes” based on the amount of dirt you want to move
  2. Cadillac, Hyundai, Porsche and Volvo all offer subscription programs for a car (This is not a lease)
  3. Stitch Fix – Clothing
  4. Graze – Snack food subscription
  5. My Royal Canin – Dog supplies
  6. Amazon Prime – enough said!
  7. Husqvarna – now offers battery powered tools in Europe on a subscription model
  8. Kanye West – First subscription album, “The Life of Pablo” sold billions of subscriptions
  9. Zipcar- to book the USE of a car and the ownership
  10. The New York Times – now generates more revenue from subscriptions than ads
  11. On and on and on…

The one industry that is most obvious is software.  The majority of what we consume in the form of software (remember your “apps” are just software) is done through a subscription.  But that transition was not as seamless or easy as you might think looking back.  In fact, it took more than a model change…it was a massive philosophical shift.

In his latest book “Subscribed”, Tien Tzuo reminds us of the huge shift the market had to make from obtaining software via a perpetual license and the age of a CD loading on your computer to the current age where most software is subscription based…especially with the age of Cloud computing and SaaS based applications.  Prime examples of this shift includes household names such as Adobe, Microsoft, Symantec and IBM.  Part of this shift is not just to avoid producing a “product” but rather that IT buyers prefer an OPEX vs. CAPEX.  In layman’s terms, organizations…including churches and not-for-profit firms…prefer an “operational expense” (i.e. subscription) in lieu of a “capital expense” (i.e. physical assets whether software or equipment).

As the subscription really started to take off, the term “beta” became common in the industry.  This basically means your software was “almost ready” and they wanted clients to test drive it for final tweaks.  Then, once the input was evaluated and implemented, the software was considered DONE!

That is changing as well!

On page 134 of Subscriber, Tzou conveys a story about Google and how for over 5 years their logo had the word BETA included.  Google received a great deal of pressure from enterprise prospects and Fortune 500 companies that the word BETA was a roadblock for those who wanted to invest in a “beta” product.  So in 2009, Google released a blog post saying it was removing the word from the logo. How ever, what is hilarious, is the last line in the 2009 release:

One more thing – for those who still like the look of “beta”, we’ve made it easy to re-enable the beta label for Gmail from the Labs tab under setting.

Google basically was saying that this little 4 letter word…means NOTHING to them.  This was the birth of the “never-ending product.”  Google and most other growing SaaS based products follow that…never-ending development…never-ending enhancements…never-ending improvements…never-ending listening to clients and prospects needs…always improving and never arriving mindset.

We too, at Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE adhere to this methodology.  We will never “arrive” or be complete with development.  There will always be more that can and should be done to assist organizations in being EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE and INTENTIONAL with the facilities they are entrusted to steward.

Forever BETA!

Cheap Shower Curtains (and church facilities)

If you have read my blogs for just about any time at all, you know that I am a big Seth Godin fan.

Recently he posted a blog entitled “Cheap Shower Curtains” that really caught my attention. Here is an excerpt:

The unskilled cost accountant might suggest you outfit your new hotel with cheap shower curtains. After all, if you save $50 a room and have 200 rooms, pretty soon, we’re talking real money.

On the other hand, experience will demonstrate that cheap shower curtains let the water out, causing a minor flood, every day, room after room. And they wear out faster. Cheap shower curtains aren’t actually cheap.

This is so in line with one of our recent blogs – “Cheap Is No Bargain”

Let’s take the analogy above a little further:

PERCEIVED SAVINGS: – $50 x 200 rooms = $10,000

AFTERMATH COSTS:

  • Damage to the floor and substrate of 200 rooms
  • Ceiling damage from water leaking from rooms above – about 75% of the 200 rooms requiring patch and repaint
  • Potential unseen issues such as mold, wet insulation, water migration to electrical fixtures, etc.
  • Increased humidity issues due to moisture causing HVAC to work “harder” to obtain comfortable levels
  • Replacement of floor covering to all 200 rooms
  • Loss of revenue due to repairs being made
  • Truncated life cycle of 200 shower curtains (this will be at least the cost of the original savings but at inflated dollars)

I am not going to venture a cost for the above…but I would say it is fair that it will be at least 10 times (and I actually believe it is 25-50 times) the perceived savings. So, unless your intent was to sell the hotel within the first few months of completion, you have just made an incredibly unwise decision. BY THE WAY: If you did plan to sell, you just sold a money pit to your buyer, damaging the one thing that really counts…your integrity and reputation. Another unwise decision.

“But Tim…we are not building hotels…we are a church.”

Right…all the more reason to not make such unwise decisions as you are utilizing Kingdom dollars entrusted to you and your church. You have been asked to steward them…not just on the “spending” of the initial costs/purchases, but of the long term value. The principle is the same whether you are building hotels, shopping centers or investing monies into the construction, renovation or sustaining your ministry facilities.

Sounds a lot like Facility Stewardship.

The Intersection of IT, Facility Management and the Internet of Things (IoT)

I have been involved in church for over 56 years (born into a pastor’s home) and have served the church facility “market” for about 32 of those years. I can tell you first hand that for the majority of my association and work with churches, the church tends to be laggards when it comes to adopting new trends, means, methods…and technology. This is not a slam on the “church” as an organization, but just a reality.

It is true that many churches are now keeping up with trends and in many cases leading the charge (especially with sound systems, video production, etc). Think about the YouVersion Bible app (Happy 10th anniversary!). They are actually leading the way. Also, think how online giving and text-to-give is almost as common place as the offering plate.

There is a technology that is trending that I believe will impact all aspects of your world…including church…so let’s get familiar with it – Internet of Things (IoT). According to a Forbes article, it can be described as:

Simply put this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig. As I mentioned, if it has an on and off switch then chances are it can be a part of the IoT. The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices…that’s a lot of connections (some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion). The IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people). The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.

So what does this all mean for churches…YOUR church?

Here is what I see happening and where we are heading:

  1. Major facility systems will be more integrated with themselves and with their management tools (i.e Church Management Software and Event Scheduling Software).
  2. Given the incorporation of API’s (Application Programming Interface – a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other), more and more of this integration is going to interact via API’s and not through proprietary protocols.
  3. So…seeing that API’s are an IT world widget and not an everyday Facility Management tool, the IT department at your church will play a much larger role in the selection, implementation, training and maintaining of these systems (via IoT).
  4. Most of these IoT integrations will require Ethernet or WiFi connectivity which may require the incorporation of Firewalls, networks, servers, static IP’s, cloud connectivity and storage, etc, etc, etc.
  5. These applications will likely have cost and budget implications. Some will have significant reductions in cost as we become more effective and efficient…but some of the savings may be offset by subscriptions, hardware, software and the maintaining of the same.
  6. That leads to to the real crux…IT and Facilities must collaborate.
    • They must communicate.
    • They must seek information from each other before decisions are made.
    • They must determine the WHY they need an application before they decide on the WHAT and HOW.
    • It may also require budget discussions. As stated above, there may be cost savings and offsets. Whose budgets do these savings and costs impact? Same for staffing.

As you can see…this is not to be taken lightly…and unless you plan to continue to live in a cave rubbing 2 sticks together to make fire, this is coming to us all. Remember, the iPhone is only 11 years old…and yet if feels like we have always had one (or similar).

Is this on your radar?  If not, if needs to be!

Decision Making

All of us must make decisions…it is inevitable. We decide to stay fit, make certain purchases or we even make decisions that are going to impact our lives and those around us. Like taxes and death, making decisions are are part of life…even a decision to not make a decision is a decision (that was a mouthful).

I was with another Christian businessman last week who gave me the following from a business leaders group that he attends. This is some great stuff.

DECISION MAKING
  1. Do I want God’s guidance? Do I want to follow God’s plan, or do I simply want God to bless my plans?
  2. Am I in fellowship with God? Am I in a good spiritual condition to make certain decisions? Sin, relationships, attitudes and deeds in my life can cloud our moral judgement.
  3. Have I asked God for wisdom? James writes: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to you. (James 1:5) Praying and searching the Bible should go hand in hand.
  4. Do I have all the facts? Solomon writes: Every Prudent person acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly.(Proverbs 13:16)
  5. Would I want everyone to know about it? If you are making a decision and you would be embarrassed if other people found out about it that means it is probably not a good decision. Proverbs 10:9 says: The person of integrity walks securely but the one who takes crooked paths will be found out.
  6. Is this going to make me a better person? Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial, and not everything is constructive. (I Corinthians 10:23)
  7. Will this choice control me, or will God still be in control of my life? Could this be something that is addictive to me? No matter how enjoyable it is, or how simple it may be, will it dominate my life? Paul writes: All things are lawful for me but I will not be dominated by anything. (I Corinthians 6:12) I won’t let anything master me, consume me or control my life.

These are great reminders for us all…especially me.


4 Reasons Why Connecting Spaces Trump Cattle Chutes

When I started my career in church facility development in 19XX (you venture a guess), the foyer/lobby/narthex (for my liturgical friends) was generally sized to be 1-2 square feet per seat in the main worship space. In those days, this space was intended to be used as a place to funnel people from the worship space to the outside or down a series of narrow corridors that led to the education, administration or fellowship areas. There was often a small table for giving/tithing envelopes or general information along with 1-2 uncomfortable high-back chairs…usually not ones you would enjoy sitting in for any length of time, nor were they arranged in a manner to encourage conversation or community.

For all practicality, the foyer was nothing more than a well appointed cattle chute (MOO).
Not anymore.

That line of thinking has fortunately gone the way of the dodo-bird. Why? Because people want to connect. People want to do life together. We want to linger. We want to hangout. We want to do more than just pass through a space to merely get to the other side.

Let’s look at 4 reasons why this is a major shift in church space:

  1. People Want Connection– In “Mistakenly Seeking Solitude,” published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Professor Nicolas Epley from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and co-author Juliana Schroder found that participants in their experiments not only underestimated others’ interest in connecting, but also reported positive experiences by both being spoken to and to speaking with a stranger.

“Connecting with strangers on a train may not bring the same long-term benefits as connecting with friends,” Epley states. “But commuters on a train into downtown Chicago reported a significantly more positive commute when they connected with a stranger than when they sat in solitude.”

Deep down, we want to connect with others.

“People want to connect. People want to do life together. We want to linger. We want to hangout. We want to do more than just pass through a space to merely get to the other side.”

  1. Community– Over the past half decade or more,  the term “doing life together” has become a mainstay in modern vernacular. We are seeking the opportunity to connect with people. For the past 30-50 years the American population has become experts at separatism, isolationism and back yard living…fences and all. If we are ever invaded by extra terrestrial beings, they will report back to the mother ship that Earthlings vacate their domiciles early in the morning…then return late evening and are not see again until the next morning. However, the trend is the opposite. Ask the people of Celebration, Florida. Talk to masses of people moving back into urban and walk-able settings. People are seeking community…why not let the church lead the way in this cultural shift instead of being the typical laggards.
  2. Death of the Fellowship Hall– Several years ago, Dr. Thom Rainer conducted a research project that identified the least effective and “inspirational” type of construction/development project was the “fellowship hall”. While community is desirable, the idea of a contrived or forced “community” setting is not working. Frankly, the dedicated fellowship hall is a very poor utilization of space and tends to become the dreaded multi-useless building. Properly sized lobby spaces can more than suffice for these “fellowship” functions…so why do we need to pay for the space twice?
  3. Third Place and the “Well”– In the early to mid 1990’s the term “Third Place” (thanks to the book  The Great Good Place, by Ray Oldenburg) came in vogue referencing the third place in a person’s life that they would engage them with others (the first place is where you live…the second is where you go to pay for where you live…and the third place was that comfortable place where you could unwind, get away, hang, connect, etc.) The most popular example of a Third Place was from the TV sitcom, “Cheers”…where “everyone knows your name”. In the majority of instances where churches talked about a third place, it referred to a coffee shop or cafe. While that is “an” option, it is not the only option. In fact, I would prefer to talk about “wells” (vs. Temples) as the draw. Think about the women at the well. She did not wake up and decide to go to the temple or “church”.  No. She had to do a 7-day a week event…get water. Part of her culture and daily routine. But she met God in the form of Jesus at the well. After her encounter, she ran home…but did not load up the family station wagon and drive her family to the temple. Nope…she took them to the WELL. Think about that…how can we develop more wells on our campus?

Given the above as well as many other cultural and practical influences, we are seeing these gathering/connecting spaces…what might be called the “commons”…be at least 50% the size of the worship seating with a preferred factor of 75-100% of the worship seating space. If we use 8-10 SF per person for worship seating, that means we need to allocate 4-10 SF per person in the common space vs. 1-2 SF.  In fact, one of the industry partners we collaborate with is trending their designs and concepts closer to 150%. That is a ton of space…and there are times that not all of it needs to be included in the “built environment” but can be captured in adjacent spaces outside the building and create an inside/outside commons that can be equally as effective and in many cases, be even more inviting. If you design your commons to be 75%  of your worship seating, but also an additional 75% in natural environments, you could potentially save enormous amounts of money as the conditioned space might cost you, say, $150/SF or even more while the exterior space would be in the $30-40/SF range. That is a 75% savings.

Bottom line is we need to provide common connecting spaces and not just a cattle chute. You need to determine what is contextual for your church, culture, DNA and other such factors.


eSPACE Now Unlocks Doors

That’s right…you heard us. Not only is eSPACE the industry leading Facility Management Software…it is also the leader in Facility System Integrations.

Nearly 9 years ago we developed the first COOLSPACE integration with the Niagara Framework for HVAC Building Automation Systems. Since then, we have developed even more (see HERE for a more information on this).

Well…we have taken facility system integration to the next level…and that is to allow eSPACE or your Event Scheduler (remember eSPACE integrates with 14 other Church Management Systems) but to also unlock and lock doors. BOOM!!!!

  • No more late night trips back to the church to make sure the doors are locked.
  • No more double entry of schedules in the event scheduler and your door system (or HVAC system).
  • Enter events one time and be DONE!

You can now create and approve your event in eSPACE (or one of our ChMS integration partners) and simultaneously communicate with your HVAC systems when to come on and off…AND…determine which door(s) you want unlocked/locked for that event. This is FREAKING AWESOME!

There are, however, some requirements from you…such as:
  1. You need to have an access control system
  2. That system needs to have an API that we can communicate with
See…that wasn’t so bad.

Do we have your attention?  If so, reach out and let us know how we can help you increase operational efficiency as well as what your facility uses. We are more than happy to investigate and make this a reality for YOUR team!

PS:  Lighting and  security cameras are next on the integration train to efficiency!


The Precursors of Facility Stewardship

For the past 10 years I have been beating the drum of Facility Stewardship. You can search through the archives of this blog and find dozens of posts on the subject.  Heck, we even produced an almost 300 page Facility Stewardship Manual (hint…get your copy today). I believe in this principle. In fact, at a recent meeting of our leadership team, we reiterated that our WHY, as a company, is to “To assist organizations be EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT and INTENTIONAL with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.”

This is what we do. This is who we are. This is what drives us.

Going back through most of the information we have produced on this topic, I realized that the majority of the content is based on the assumption that a church already has a facility that needs to be stewarded…and that is true, given the majority of the life cycle costs of a facility are after you move in.

But…you cannot move into a facility until after it is dreamed about, planned, and built. You cannot steward something that does not exist. (What came first, the chicken or the egg?)

With that as the backdrop, the precursor to Facility Stewardship has to include all of the phases leading up to the existence of a facility. I know that sounds over simplified, but that’s the facts. In many instances, the time, energy and intentionality invested in these precursor activities will set the tone…if not the costs…of the long term life cycle stewardship initiatives. Poorly designed and built facilities generally cost more to operate, thus increasing the life cycle cost.

We see the life cycle comprised of 4 primary components:

SUSTAIN: The “Sustain” component is where we (or at least I have in my writing) tend to focus our attention when we think of Facility Stewardship given all the existing churches that have facilities to maintain/steward. There is actually a very small percentage of churches planning/building in any calendar year…usually 1-3% of all churches in America are in a “building program” in any given year…so we are inclined to equate Facility Stewardship to the other 97-99% of the churches that have facilities whom need to maintain, pay utilities, clean, replace light bulbs, repair HVAC systems, etc.

“We cannot look at Facility Stewardship and Life Cycle as a “one and done” process…the term “cycle” would infer that it repeats itself…and so it is with the life cycle of a facility.”

But we cannot look at Facility Stewardship and Life Cycle as a “one and done” process…the term “cycle” would infer that it repeats itself…and so it is with the life cycle of a facility. Once you have been in a building for any period of time, there is a natural occurrence that starts the cycle over again (and again, and again). We tend to start to dream of new ways to do things…thus the need for new tools (or re-purposed tools) which in turn requires planning and some facet of building…then sustaining…repeat.

Given the above, there are 3 precursors to the “sustain” portion of Facility Stewardship:

DREAM: This is a critical step in the process of every facility initiative which provides the platform for church leaders to ask “what if” and understand a variety of scenarios that might be possible depending on God’s leading and the intentional uniqueness of your church. Dreaming is not just “blue sky” thinking (although there is a component of that) but needs to be weighted by intentional “next steps”.

PLAN: Intentional planning is required to achieve a desired goal. Period. Most church leaders miscalculate or under estimate the value and impact of this phase. Here is a fact; You will spend most of your total project budget during the planning phase. That may sound un-intuitive given that you will likely write checks for less than 15% of the total cost of your project during the pre-construction process. However, the reality is that every decision you make during this phase will impact the cost of your project. The “Build” phase is merely the execution and fulfillment of the planning. Do not take this lightly.

BUILD: Building and construction can be confusing and feel adversary for those not actively involved in the industry. There will be hundreds of items that must be addressed and resolved. There will also be times of frustration, concern about quality, doubt about the validity of a “change order”, schedule issues, budget issues, closeout, warranty, etc, etc, etc. It can be overwhelming…but it doesn’t need to be that way. You need an advocate and “construction-eese” translator making “cloudy” issues clear. Someone sitting on your side of the table allow you and your team to do what God called you to do…minister and lead.

Don’t assume that the precursors are not as equally important to the sustaining elements of Facility Stewardship. Taking the above for granted can cost you dearly. Facility Stewardship is not an “either/or” but rather a “both/and” process. Let me put it another way…the Dream, Plan and Build are not merely precursors, but integral parts of Facility Stewardship.


500+ Reasons to Join Church Facility Management Solutions

A number of months ago we announced the release of the ONLY Online Community/Forum 100% focused on Church Facility Management. This community is the only one of its kind and we have seen great response. In fact, we have nearly 500 who have joined to improve their Facility Stewardship prowess.

Want to know why?

Church facility management is the responsibility of all churches…any size…everywhere…all denominations…all colors…all styles. Get my point?!?!  The data being provided as part of Church Facility Management Solutions…the content…the resources…the webinars…the access to other church professionals…the access to vendors and the like is incredible and this is the only resource on the market focused on this topic.

Don’t just take our word on it…here are what the CFMS members are saying:

Just joined today and I am very impressed with this website. I have been Facilities Manager for almost 3 years and I wish I had known about this site when I started this job. Looking forward to gaining more knowledge and insight . Thanks Tim – Bill Dickerson

 

Thank you for making this Free! Most churches are running on shoe strings and duct tape so this opens up for greater participation. I have been in the corporate facilities/real estate for 24 years and I am always learning new things. Looking forward to gleaning and sharing. Thanks – Steve Armstrong

As a reminder, your FREE 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.
  6. Availability to Consulting and Training Services.

Join us TODAY completely FREE!

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


Foundations: The Unseen Reality

While reflecting back at an onsite visit taken to one of our past construction projects, I pondered on its earliest phases, which are so critical to get right…since everything is reliant on these initial phases and elements of the construction project.

While on site, I inspected 2 significant components…related items and yet very different.

Component #1 – Foundations and under slab items – the trenches and forming for the foundations had just been completed and ready for inspection.

Component #2 – Substandard soil conditions – we had some soil conditions where “pumping” was observed and probes revealed inadequate soil bearing capacity…requiring remediation to correct.

Every building is built on what is referred to as a foundation. The foundation of a building transfers the weight of the building to the ground. While ‘foundation’ is a general word; normally, every building has a number of individual foundations, commonly called footings.

Since the weight of the building rests on the soil (or rock), engineers have to study the properties of the soil very carefully to ensure that it can support the loads imposed by the building. It is common for engineers to determine the safe bearing capacity of the soil after such study. As the name suggests, this is the amount of weight per unit area the soil can bear.

As you can see from the above, the foundation and the soil conditions are interdependent on each other. If either one is suspect or does not meet requirements, the other will fail. They also are literal “building blocks” in the sequence of a building. Uncorrected poor soil will lead to inadequate foundations which in turn would make any building constructed on such condition unsafe for occupancy.

What makes these 2 components even more unique, is that most of the occupants of a building will never see these items. When the pastors present the gospel from the platform, no one in the audience will be able to see the foundations on which the worship space was constructed.  When the children’s leaders are impacting the lives of hundreds of kids, they will not be worrying about the bearing capacity of the earth beneath their feet. And yet, in both instances, if these components had been constructed in a less than correct manner, they would see the impact of such issues.

Let’s look at an iconic edifice in America…the Space Needle in Seattle.  This structure soars over 600 feet in the air. It is an amazing engineering feat. But is what you see all there is?  Not hardly.  Here are some facts about its foundation.

> Its foundation is 30 feet deep

> Weighs 5,850 tons

> Contains 250 tons of reinforcing steel…almost 6 miles of rebar

> The foundation is as heavy as the Needle, enabling the airy structure to withstand a wind velocity of 200 miles per hour.

>In 2001 it withstood an earthquake of 6.8 on the Richter scale. It is estimated that it can endure even greater shocks because the architects doubled the 1962 building code requirements.

Here is another interesting fact about foundations…they are not a single component but rather a complex set of interconnected components.  You have the soil that forms the foundation…then there is the reinforcing steel (rebar) that is interconnected in an engineered grid/pattern…then come the anchor bolts (for the space Needle, there are 72 bolts, 30 feet long EACH)…and then concrete. A LOT of concrete. In fact, it required 467 cement trucks to complete the foundation. At Freedom House Church, we maybe had 2-3 trucks total to pour our foundations…just a little difference.

Here is what really stuck out to me as I did the site inspection…these unseen components (at least unseen by the final occupants…not unseen by those that laid the foundation) are the basis for the success of the rest of the structure. Without them, the buildings would fail (Luke 6:47-48). This is not magic…it is a fact of nature and physics. There is no getting around it.

Buildings are not the only thing that require a well planned and executed foundation. Foundations are necessary in any aspect of our life worth “building” and developing. Our families. Our churches. Our businesses. Our relationships. Our finances. To be successful at any/all of these, you need a foundation that is intentionally designed for the desired outcome.