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…

It’s Not a Project…It’s a Process

For the past several weeks, our pastor has been preaching a series on “How We Change the Way We Change.” It has been a great series and I have been challenged by each of the sermons. One in particular I have listened to several times is entitled, “It’s Not a Project, It’s a Process.” The basis of the teaching is that our spiritual walk is not a project…not a one and done…not a check box on a list.  It is a process and a continuous journey that requires attention, discipline, effort and dedication.

One of the analogies Pastor used caused me to think about our ministry facilities and development initiatives…a wedding/marriage. Don’t write me off  yet…keep reading.

Mother’s and daughters love to plan weddings. They will engross themselves for months and months of planning, meeting with a whole host of professionals. They will meet with wedding planners, banquet hall establishments, gown designers, florists, caterers, musicians, a preacher, travel agent for the honeymoon, bakery for the cake, invitation printers, and so on. (As a side note, I have 2 daughters and as I write this, I think I have just became a fan of eloping). There are so many details that are required to pull off the perfect day, and for most dads, it will ultimately cost more than expected as there is always “scope creep”.

The weeks just prior to the wedding, the tension grows. Emotions are on edge and the final details appear to be in disarray. “I can’t wait until this is over”, is voiced by many people involved with the wedding. But everyone keeps pushing through as they know how much this day means to the bride and groom (or so we think).

Then the big day comes and all of the months of planning are culminated with no further planning required…it is here. Bells are ringing…rice is thrown…cake is cut (and shoved in each others mouth) and all is well in the universe.

So, is it over? Is the “project” done?  Can the bride and groom say, “Boom…that is done”? I think not. The PROCESS has just started. The wedding is only a milestone on the journey of a marriage. The wedding is not the marriage…it is only an element within the process. Now the real work begins. If a couple thinks that the wedding was the penultimate point of the marriage, they are doomed for failure. In order for a marriage to succeed, you have to work at it and on it every day.

So how does this apply to our ministry facilities? I am sure you already see the similarities.

A building or development initiative  can be exciting to plan and dream. “What if we could do X?”  “Think about how many people we will be able to reach.” “Wouldn’t this be a great color pallet?” This is the fun part. We love meeting with all the “professionals” involved in the project and getting their ideas and expertise.

“The process of operation, care and management is going to cost your church 70-80% of the total cost of owning this facility.”

But as the actually permitting, financing, final pricing and the actual construction draws nearer and nearer, reality starts to kick and and tensions and emotions start to escalate. People start second guessing decisions. The finance team stops sleeping at night (similar to the brides father!!!!). The pastor and executive team keep a happy and positive face on in public, but behind closed doors, tempers flare and emotions run rampant. But…we push on and get the development initiative kicked off with dirt, nails, bolts and carpet all taking their rightful place.

Then comes the dedication service….AHHHHH. “We have arrived”, is echoed by the the leadership team…as well as the contractor, architect and trade contractors as “project” fatigue has worn them out. Dignitaries are invited. Mailers sent out. E-blasts have blanketed cyberspace and every doorknob has been polished. We are moving in!!! What a great day of celebration…like the wedding.

BUT…in the same way a wedding does not a marriage make, the dedication service does not a ministry facility make. Dedication weekend is merely a milestone of the process of owning and using a ministry facility. The planning and construction part may have had some spiritual implication (such as the building team loosing their Christianity…LOL). The real opportunity to have an eternal impact starts at this point. The “tool” for ministry is just now being launched and commissioned to fulfill the plans, dreams and vision of the church to reach its community.

But too often, there is the long forgotten reality that over the life cycle of this facility, the process of operation, care and management is going to cost your church 70-80% of the total cost of owning this facility. The pre-planning and “wedding” is only going to cost you about 20% of the to cost of ownership…but the utilities, general maintenance, janitorial and capital reserves (i.e college planning, retirement savings…to draw it back to the wedding analogy) are the largest component of the facilities cost. Long after the “new car” smell is gone, you will still have to change light bulbs, clean carpets and restrooms.

So, when you are planning a facility development initiative, remember that it is not a “project”, but rather a long term process. Prepare for the long term and not just the immediate phase of the wedding.

The Four Buckets of Church Facility Budgeting

“Hey Tim…how do we get started with Facility Budgeting?” I hear that a lot from Pastors, XP’s, Business Admins, Facility Managers and lay people.  It is a universal concern.  Let’s take a 30,000 foot level view of the most effective means by which we have seen work.

When you are budgeting for your facilities, there are 4 primary buckets that need to be accounted for:

We fully believe that being intentional about all 4 buckets will keep you out of the dog house related to your facilities

  1. Operational – This includes utilities, janitorial, general maintenance and staffing. Budgeting these area will be critical to get RIGHT. What does that mean? It means that you are not spending too much on utilities and making sure you are spending enough in the other areas to keep up with the natural rate of deterioration. Here are some rules of thumb that we find to represent “best-practices” for churches:
    1. Utilities – $1.00-1.50/SF annually. If you are over $1.25/SF, you may want to consider an energy audit or a review of your HVAC controls, as 50% or more of your energy consumption is attributed to HVAC and the best way to reduce that is through proper “behavior” which can be assisted with proper controls. We also just released a free eBook on HVAC Solutions…get your free copy HERE.
    2. Janitorial (labor, material, paper products, major cleaning like carpet extractions, window cleaning, etc.) should be in the $1.50-$2.50 range annually.
    3. General Maintenance – If you are budgeting below the national average of $2.25 – $3.00/SF this should be re-looked at. We have found that if a lack of general maintenance is present, the likelihood of deferred maintenance increases.  In most cases $1 not spent on general maintenance will cost 3-4 times in the future.
    4. Staff – Based on national surveys by our firm and IFMA, we believe the number of facility staff for a well-run organization is one Full Time Facility Staff Employee for every 25,000 – 35,000 SF.
  2. Deferred Maintenance – These are the items that should have been addressed prior but for whatever reason, have not been accounted for. We have found that when insufficient general maintenance is budgeted, the likelihood of deferred maintenance increases…same for staffing. As stated above, the cost of deferred maintenance can be 3-4 times the cost of the initial general maintenance. Sounds like good stewardship to avoid deferred maintenance.
  3. Capital Reserve – We have found that a church needs $1-3/SF annually in order to keep up with the real cost life cycle planning. Capital replacement is not an “IF” consideration but rather a “WHEN” and “HOW MUCH”. While the $1-3/SF is a reasonable way to start planning, the best way is to do “line-item” projections for each asset that has a life cycle. If you have not already done so, check out our FREE Life Cycle Calculator to help you get started.  We also have a free eBook on this topic.
  4. Capital Projects – These would be the type projects like adding space or major renovations, expansions and the like. It would be “easy” to see the need for some added space and be tempted to take the money from one of the above buckets. Be VERY careful with that thinking…that is a slippery slope. In addition, small projects like painting, replacing a few light fixtures, etc could…and should…be part of your General Maintenance budget.

We fully believe that being intentional about all 4 buckets will keep you out of the dog house related to your facilities. If you need help evaluating these, do not hesitate to reach out and we will help you get started.

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

Efficiency On Steroids – Church Management (ChMS) + eSPACE

For years, the eSPACE Team has been asked “Does eSPACE integrate with our Church Management Software?”

Great question!

If you have been asking that question and want to utilize the eSPACE Event Management module or HVAC Integration, then we have good news.  For many of you, the answer is YES!

eSPACE has developed an integration of our COOLSPACE HVAC Integration (either via a Building Automation System* or WiFi Thermostats) for the following Church Management Software (ChMS) applications:

  1. Church Community Builder (CCB)
  2. ShelbyNEXT
  3. Rock RMS
  4. Ministry Platform
  5. Elexio
  6. Elexio Community
  7. FellowshipOne GO
  8. Simple Church
  9. FellowshipOne Premier/Event U (there are some specific requirements for this to function…call for details)
  10. Servant Keeper
  11. ACS (HVAC only)

*Some hardware may be required

What is even better…you don’t have to abandon your ChMS calendar as this integration can either work in the background or in the forefront…your choice.

eSPACE has developed an HVAC Integration called COOLSPACE that can integrate with many Building Automation Systems and some WiFi Thermostats.

Welcome to the future of software integration and the world of the “Internet of Things.”

With COOLSPACE/eSPACE integration, you can easily schedule all the events in your facility and know that the HVAC systems will respond to each event as they occur. Not only can you realize energy savings with improved HVAC run-times, your facility staff is able to devote more time to other needs.

For continued efficiency, integration with eSPACE allows your ChMS scheduler to still be the front end interface for your general users and staff while the Facility and Event Management Teams can utilize the robust features of eSPACE as their daily management tool. You do not have to train the majority on new systems, and your facility team can really drill down into the more detailed information and planning tools needed to intentionally manage and maintain facilities.

Do we have your attention?

You are going to want to contact us so we can share how this can help your church be more Efficient, Effective, and INTENTIONAL with the ministry tools God has entrusted to you.

Sound too good to be true?

Welcome to the future of software integration and the world of the “Internet of Things.”

Contact us for more details! 

It’s More Than a Time Change

It is that time that many people seem to like (except for Arizona, Hawaii, and the U.S Territories); it is daylight savings time! Otherwise know as the universal bulletin announcement of, “Everyone should be on time this Sunday; don’t forget to set your clocks back.”

For facility stewards, this is also a great reminder to check certain systems. Not taking the time to inspect and check your systems at regular intervals throughout the year will directly contribute to increased maintenance costs and potential downtime of systems.

                Critical systems to check:
  • Roofs – if you live in part of the country that sees snow, now is a good time to start checking your roof. Water getting in is annoying; having water intrusion during a freeze/thaw cycle will destroy your building. The issue is not only indoor air quality issues (mold). The action during the freeze/thaw cycle can destroy the integrity of brick/stone cladding and deteriorate your sheeting and framing material.
  • Gutters – Take the time to clean and inspect your gutters. Whether it is from melting snow or increased rain, having an unobstructed path for the water to flow away from the building is a good thing. If your downspouts flow into an underground drainage system, it is a good idea to ensure it is not obstructed as well. If you can’t tell by a flow test, have a plumber run a camera through it.
  • Window Flashing – As you move around your facility take the time to check the flashing and caulking around your windows. Water intrusion is the concern here. Remember, a $2 tube of caulk now can save a $2500 window replacement later. And it is not just caulk…if you have a wood sill, how is the paint holding up? Touch-up as necessary to seal it from the elements.
  • Exterior Faucets – If you have faucets on the outside of the building (or sprinkler system back-flow valves) check to make sure they have the proper weatherization covers. You can generally find faucet covers at most hardware stores for a couple of bucks, proper covers for a back-flow is a bit more. Both are less expensive than a plumbing repair bill.

    “Not taking the time to inspect and check your systems at regular intervals throughout the year will directly contribute to increased maintenance costs and potential downtime of systems.”

  • Weather-stripping – Checking and replacing worn or missing weather-stripping on your doors will help improve energy efficiency. While you are at it check the openers and hinges and lubricate as needed.
  • Walk Mats – These are critical year-round, but are especially critical during inclement/wet weather. Well-maintained entrance matting helps reduce wet floors, making it safer for all. You may want to consider rotating entrance matting; longer length matting for winter, shorter for the summer.
  • Parking Lots/Sidewalks – Cracks in parking lots and sidewalks do not look the best, and when water gets underneath during a freeze/thaw cycle they can get worse as well as damage the substrate. Fortunately, the available sealers, caulks, and patching products for asphalt and concrete are affordable and easy to use.

The great thing about these tasks is that most can be done by just about any person; the tasks that require working on a ladder or roof should be undertaken by someone with experience. This might be a good time to have a church workday and make these tasks a time of fellowship; what would be better than gathering together to worship and maintain what He has entrusted to us?

If this list seems daunting, we are here to help. Contact us today and let one of our facility specialists speak with you and help you with stewarding your facility.

We have developed a 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


Nathan Parr Joins Cool Solutions Group

For the past several months, we have had a significant increase in inquiries from churches that need help with addressing issues related to their facilities. Some are in need of new space, but the majority have one of the following needs:

  1. Better utilization of their space (flow/circulation, right-sizing, contextualization of space based on today’s ministry means and methods, etc).
  2. Understanding the Life Cycle of their facility (and components) and their deferred maintenance.
  3. Desire to improve their Facility Management (Facility Stewardship) means, methods, systems and knowledge.

This is encouraging for us…not because it could generate more business for us…but because we believe that church leaders are coming to the realization that Facility Stewardship is a Biblical mandate and as such, we are seeing leaders take the care, management, utilization and INTENTIONALITY of the stewardship of the ministry facilities entrusted to them much more seriously.

To that end, we are expanding our SUSTAIN services to help lead, train and support church leaders in all of these areas.  In fact, we believe so strongly in this that we have added a new member to our team.  I would like to introduce you to Nathan Parr as our newest full time team member.  Here is what Nathan has to say about this transition:

I am excited. Excited to begin this new journey, excited to be a part of this new team, excited to partner with folks across the country in being intentional with their facilities…excited to be where God directs me.

For the previous 12 years, I served as the Operations Manager at First Baptist Church in Belton, Texas. First Baptist Belton is unique in that it is in a small town, but operates on a scale usually seen in much larger municipalities. In addition to normal church services, the church hosts a private school, operates a state licensed child-care facility, averages over 11,000 room uses a year, supports a Spanish and Chinese mission church, and maintains around 9 acres in downtown Belton. That is a sampling of how it serves the community; it is a seven day a week operation. In my time at FBC Belton, God grew me in ways I never imagined.

Prior to my tenure in Belton I held a few different positions. I served in the United States Marine Corps, I owned a construction company, I worked commercial construction in South Carolina, I worked in the construction shop for Kansas State University, worked commercial lawn care for three years, and even have some paid theatrical design work in my portfolio. It was in high school in Kansas that I met my wife, and we were married on campus at KSU in the old limestone chapel. While at FBC Belton, I completed my BS in Social Science, Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and an MBA.

Nathan is one of the brightest Church Facility Managers I have ever worked with…which is why he is a perfect fit for the Cool Solutions Group Team.  He could truly be seen as a “Pastor of Facilities” for nearly any church in America…and now he can come alongside churches across the country to share his passion for ministry, excellence in processes and expertise in all things Church Facility Management.

Here are some of the expanded services we will be making available:

Standards & Procedures

Great Facility Stewardship starts with “Best-In-Class” systems, standards and procedures. This also includes understanding “WHY” you do the things you do. Our services include:

  • Means and Methods Review
  • Facility Management Best Practice
  • Facility Staffing Reviews
  • Hiring Procedures and Qualifications
  • Budgeting and Reserve Planning
  • Preventive Maintenance Plan
  • Data Storage and Software Applications

Facility Training

Once you know WHY…make sure you know HOW. Our team of skilled Church Facility Management professions provide training in the following areas:

  • Security Planning – developing the best fit in your facility for:
    • Policies
    • Equipment
    • Personnel
  • Cleaning 101 – developing a base cleaning program that keeps your guests and staff safe in the most cost-effective manner
  • Cleaning 201 -Building upon your base to create a program that continually improves in effectiveness and efficiency
  • Team Building and integration of the Facility Staff in the mission of the church
  • Project Management
  • Procurement processes -finding the best solution for the long-term; developing vendor relationships
  • Role of the Facility Manager in Church activities – Integrating them early to ensure more time is spent on the mission, not logistics

Facility Assessments

Do you have a firm grip on the condition and life cycle expectations and expenditures related to your facility? Our team of facility professionals and engineers can provide detailed assessments of these aspects including:

  • “Fresh Eyes” Assessments
  • Deferred Maintenance Evaluation
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Energy/Operational Efficiency Including Facility Staffing Assessment
  • Spatial Planning

If you have a church facility…then you will benefit by what we offer.  Give us a call or email Nathan at nathan@coolsolutionsgroup.com

Church Facility Projects – So You Want to Launch a Building Project?

Whether you’re renting a facility or want to expand the one you already own, the decision to embark on a building project isn’t one to take lightly.  This effort will require a significant amount of time, energy, money, teamwork, and prayer.  If you don’t have prior experience in the construction industry or an unlimited budget (who does?!), then this is time to pause and consider what you’re about to do as a church.

It’s always helpful to have a road map or GPS available before you set out on a trip into unfamiliar territory.  With that in mind, we’ve developed a series of posts to guide you through key milestones in the construction journey.  From architectural drawings to financing and more, we’ll walk you through the major issues and point out potential pitfalls.

To get started, let’s address what you need to do first.  There are lots of behind-the-scenes details to manage as you start planning this significant effort.

Determine Your Why

The first phase of any construction project starts way before you hire a construction crew or start moving dirt.  You have much planning to do before you can get to those steps.  In fact, the first thing you should consider is “why”.

  •      Why do we want to do this project?
  •      Have we outgrown our current facility?
  •      Do we see a need in our community that this project could fill (that our current facility can not)?

Getting clarity on the vision behind the project is a pivotal first step.  Without a clear vision, you’ll have trouble making decisions and communicating why people should donate towards this project.

Gather a Team of Advisors

As we read in Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.”  Unless you are fortunate enough to have people within your congregation with these specialized skill-sets, you’ll need to bring in outside experts to give you wise counsel.  This is the time to start talking with potential architects, lenders, and capital campaign consultants.  It’s tempting to think you should start with an architect before talking with potential lenders so you know how much money you’ll need.  However, talking with lenders as you meet with your architect can help you determine what a lender is willing to loan to your church.  That can have a significant impact on what you can afford to design with an architect. Remember: You can do a building project in phases as your budget allows.  Trying to do it all at once isn’t necessary.  Check out “If it’s Phase-able, It’s Feasible” for more insights into that approach.

Get Your Facilities Manager Involved Now

Whoever is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your current facility needs to be involved in the planning process from day one.  This is the person who knows the constraints of your current facility, who hears the complaints from staff and volunteers, and who has to figure out where to store everything for multi-functioning rooms.  Even if you’re renting a facility, this is the person who knows how your congregation uses a building and what you’ll need in a new facility.

One example of where you’ll need to involve the facilities manager is in discussions with your project management team.  Here are a few questions your facilities manager may want to ask:

  • How can we setup the lighting and HVAC controls so we can save money by making the use of electricity more efficient?
  • How are we accounting for storage?  Consider how you’ll use each room.  If a room is multi-         functioning, decide where you’ll store extra tables and chairs for various room configurations.
  • How will we maintain this new facility?  If we have lights 20-30 feet in the air with pews or theater seats below, how will we replace the bulbs?

Consider the Total Cost

The total cost doesn’t simply include what it will take to build the facility.  Construction costs are just one piece of the overall puzzle.  Construction costs typically don’t include design elements such as theatrical lighting, sound, furniture, décor, flooring, paint, environmental graphics, IT components, etc. You’ll also need to factor in what it will cost to operate and maintain the facility once you’ve moved in.  This includes monthly utilities, maintenance and repairs, janitorial services, and maintenance staff.

Another item to consider is your long-term life cycle planning.  This is your plan for stewarding the new facility and the equipment associated with it so you can maintain and replace items as needed.  Each item has a life cycle or amount of time it will last.  HVAC units eventually stop working.  You’ll need to replace the soundboards and flooring at some point.  Consider the cost of replacing each item and what you should set aside in a capital reserve fund each month so you can easily pay for those replacements when the time comes.  eSPACE provides a free Life Cycle Calculator you can use to start this planning process.

Add up the monthly mortgage payment, what you’ll spend each month to maintain the facility (including insurance costs), and what you need to set aside for capital reserves.  Is that amount something your church can comfortably afford?  If not, now is the time to adjust plans and expectations before you’ve invested any money into the project.

Start Planning for the Capital Campaign

Unless you’ve already been saving for years, you’ll likely need to run a capital campaign to raise money for this project.  Before you announce anything to the congregation, you will need to do careful planning on how and when to cast this vision.  Brad Leeper from Generis offered these tips:

  • Start talking with church staff, leaders (elders, deacons, etc.), major givers, and small groups to align leaders before presenting the campaign to the full congregation.
  • Make sure you’re clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing.  You’ll raise more money by taking a longer view of the capital campaign process.  This is more about creating a culture of generosity and leveraging that cultural change than a short-term campaign.

This planning phase is vital to the success of your building project.  Don’t shortcut or skip anything in this phase.  You’ll end up having to deal with these tasks at some point anyway, so it’s best to handle them now before you’ve invested considerable time and money.

In addition, we have recently developed a FREE Church Facility Evaluator. This simple tool will provide you with a snapshot of some key indicators associated with facility operational costs.  This 2-3 minute evaluation will give you some real time data…based on national averages…as to whether you are GOOD TO GO…or in need of help.

Don’t wait…get started HERE!

Life Cycle Planning – FOR FREE

You all know I am a huge proponent of Capital Reserve Planning…Life Cycle Initiatives…Facility Stewardship. I am such a huge fan that our company invested thousands of dollars developing the Life Cycle Calculator as part of your eSPACE software suite of Facility Management Solutions. I believe every church should have this tool and should have a plan for the inevitability of the future costs related to facilities and capital replacement costs.

As such, our team has really struggled about how to get this in the hands of all churches with a facility.  How do we get them to use it?  How do we help them plan for the future?  What needs to be done?

Well…we have an idea that we believe is the right thing for any and every church.


That’s right, effective immediately, the eSPACE Life Cycle Calculator is now FREE.  No cost.  No set up fee.  No maintenance fee. No need to purchase any of our other applications or services.  Just plain old FREE.

We believe that Capital Reserve Planning is that important. We are so passionate about it that we are actually refunding those churches that paid for it originally.

If your church has a facility…or any physical assets (vehicles, A/V equipment, IT equipment, maintenance equipment, etc) that has a life cycle and expected replacement value, then this tool will be a tremendous asset to you and your organization.

Click HERE to get started.

To help you get started with your Capital Reserve Planning make sure to download our FREE eBook to learn more.

Dan Busby (ECFA) on Church Cash Reserves—How Much Is Enough?

I have known Dan Busby from ECFA for a number of years and we have shared speaking platforms on occasion.  I have incredible respect for him and his organization.

Recently Dan reached out to me after seeing our eBook on Capital Reserve Planning.  He asked if he could reference it in his new eBook on a similar topic.  I am honored that ECFA would consider the merit of our thoughts and make reference to them in their information…of course I said yes (DUH). Below is a blog that Dan and Michael Martin posted on the ECFA site and have granted me permission to repost.  Take the time to read this and make sure you download their eBook at the bottom of the post.

Thanks guys!

Guest Blog by Dan Busby and Michael Martin of ECFA

How much cash should our church have set aside in reserve?

This is such a popular question among churches.  (Hint: If you aren’t asking, you should be!)  Why?

Cash reserves are the cushion that ensures:

  • Operating expenses are paid on-time instead of incurring late fees (typically after payables are 45 days late);
  • The church is in compliance with mortgage covenants, and the financial institution does not foreclose on the property;
  • Funds are available to replace worn-out HVAC (can you imagine the air conditioning system becoming history on a Sunday morning in July, there are zero capital replacement reserves, and the only option is to take a special offering to replace the unit?); and
  • The church has the necessary funds ready to open a new site or launch a new ministry instead of starting from scratch.

Back to our question, when determining “how much is enough”, the short answer is there is no one-size-fits-all.  But here are a few essentials every church should consider:

  1. Understand how important cash reserves are to faithful administration of church resources.  Appreciating the need for cash reserves starts with an understanding of faithful administration of God’s resources.

Churches must make cash reserves a priority if they desire to honor God in how they manage church finances.  Cash reserves play an important part in giving the world the right impression of God!

  1. Build cash reserves in good financial times.  Churches in a growth mode should take advantage of opportunities to build cash reserves.  When a church is holding the status quo or is in decline, there are few opportunities to build cash reserves.

Build cash reserve increases into the budget—otherwise there will be no intentionality in the process.  Consider these two approaches:

  1. Project next year’s revenue to be lower than current year expenses.  For example, a church may project the budget for the following year as 90% of the current year revenue.
  1. Include a cash reserves line in the budget.  Include a line-item in the budget for “Additions to Cash Reserves.”  Then, if cash coming in exceeds disbursements, the excess represents an addition to cash reserves.
  1. Segregate cash related to designated funds and mortgage reserves.  An early priority for the use of cash reserves is to be sure that reserves are at least equal to unspent gifts designated (or restricted) for projects.  Borrowing from designated balances to pay church operating expenses is a recipe for disaster.

Example:  A church has cash balances of $300,000. The church has unexpended designated balances of $350,000. The difference generally means that the church has borrowed and spent $50,000 of designated gifts for operating purposes. This $50,000 should be restored as soon as possible.

Capital replacement reserves are important. Reserves for ministry expansion are vital. But without sufficient mortgage reserves, a church may miss a loan payment and be staring at a foreclosure notice. It is a good idea to maintain mortgage reserves over and above the level required by the lender because use of lender-required reserves may create a loan default.

  1. Be specific with cash reserve goals.  Churches are well served to adopt policies requiring reserves at least adequate to cover unexpended designated gifts and debt service reserves. Targets may be appropriate for other reserves such as for capital replacements and ministry expansion.

A cap may be appropriate for operating reserves (other than the reserves relating to designated gifts, mortgage reserves, capital replacements, and ministry expansion). The adequacy of these operating reserves is often measured in the number of months of cash.

  1. Communicate the importance of cash reserves to the congregation.  Having adequate cash reserves does not exhibit a lack of faith but reflects attentiveness to good stewardship. Proactive church administrators communicate both clear measurements and the rationale for the levels of cash reserves.  This can boost congregational confidence for greater giving.

We hope these considerations are a helpful starting point in determining the appropriate level of cash reserves at your church.

For more tips and essentials, check out ECFA’s latest eBook – 9 Essentials of Church Cash Reserve.

For assistance with Life Cycle Planning, download your free copy of 5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account.