Church Revitalization: Boat Anchor OR Fresh Wind in the Sails?

Church Revitalization is alive and well.  This is not the “Church Growth” movement of the 1980’s or “Seeker Sensitive” or some other fad. Frankly, “CHURCH” revitalization has less to do (in my opinion) with the age or condition of a congregation as much as a revitalization of the purpose (the WHY) of the church universal.

We have seen some incredible initiatives the past 10+ years related to revitalization and church multiplication. The most obvious and most publicized are Church Planting and Multisite Church. Both are alive and well and growing in impact.

“We need to be cognizant to not burden the next generation of church leaders with facilities that will become the boat anchor around their ministry and missional impact.”

But there has been an upswell of 2 additional initiatives that need to be mentioned.  These may be subsets of the above; however, they bring an additional set of impactful elements and I believe they have significant nuances that need attention:

  1. Mergers – Our team has served several churches the past few years that have merged to not just “rescue” a declining church, but rather to form a stronger, more vibrant and impactful church. As Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird have so well stated – BETTER TOGETHER!
  2. Revitalization/Redeveloped/Adoptive Re-Use – So many terms we could use here…but we see a trend (for the good) of revitalization and adaptive use of facilities that have either aged out or are underutilized and/or a “highest and best use” that may not be exclusive of a 1-day-a-week church facility.

A deeper dive into the above is merited, but that is for another day. Instead, I want to share a concern I am seeing with both of the above when we are not intentional. Both of the above are exciting…and they are a great way to not only grow the Kingdom/Church (capital “C”) but to breathe new life into aging church facilities.

HOWEVER…there are 4 critical considerations that both the “giver” and the receiver of such facility gifts need to consider:

1. Functional Obsolescenceis a reduction in the usefulness or desirability of an object because of an outdated design feature, usually one that cannot be easily changed. Here are some prime examples:

  • Not handicap accessible
  • Inadequate HVAC system
  • Flow feels more like a maze than an intentionally community space
  • Lots of stairs
  • “Wrong-sized” spaces
  • Limited parking

2. Incongruent/Non-contextual – In many cases, the “gift” does not communicate the story of the receiver. It may be in the wrong part of town…may feel like a monastery and not a thriving community-centric facility…or it may just be old looking, feeling, and smelling.

3. Deferred Maintenance – “Here is your FREE Building.” – Oh Goodie…but what about the $3-4M in deferred maintenance. Don’t miss this. I have seen too many well intended churches and church planting organizations hand over an older facility to a church plant or even a multisite campus that appears to be “free” only to find they had been give the MONEY PIT. Free is rarely ever free.

4. Uninsurable – Directly related to the above, make sure the facility being gifted is actually insurable. Put yourself in this scenario…you are the pastor of a church plant…you are gifted a facility only to learn that the facility in not insurable or the insurance cost, due to its condition, has massive deductibles and/or unsustainable premiums. OUCH!

We need to be cognizant to not burden the next generation of church leaders with facilities that will become the boat anchor around their ministry and missional impact.


Church Construction Team Combinations to Avoid

In the world of church facility construction, renovation and development, there are several integral roles and responsibilities that are required for every project.  They may or may not be paid professionals for each role, but they are present and the responsibilities to the project are no less important.

Here are the basics that virtually every project must have as part of the church’s team:

  1. Architect/Designer – To plan, program, design, develop drawings, obtain permits and do compliance inspections.
  2. Engineers – To engineer the building components such as structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection.
  3. Interior design – To pull it all together and put the “top coat” on the project…what is visible.
  4. Civil Engineer – To develop all the required site (land) related engineering.
  5. Geo-technical Engineer – To investigate the soil conditions and make recommendations.
  6. Surveyor – To verify property attributes such as property boundaries, topography, tree locations, easements, etc.
  7. General Contractor (sometimes referred to as a Construction Manager) – The entity that is licensed to pull the permit and direct/take responsibility for the construction activities of the project.
  8. Sub/Trade Contractors – The firms performing the actual construction duties under the direction of the General Contractor
  9. Special Inspector – This is new since 2000 when the International Building Code was released, and adopted by most municipalities. Their role is to provide milestone inspections of predetermined requirements of the project. These inspections are different than the inspections performed by the local building inspector…and these are a cost to the church.
  10. Specialty engineers, consultants and integrators – This can include entities such as A/V/L (Audio, Video and Theatrical Lighting), kitchen consultants, cafe consultants, environmental graphics, acoustician, vision clarity, generosity/stewardship, financing, etc, etc, etc.
  11. Owners Rep – The person who is the liaison/advocate for the church to all the above as well as the translator of all things project related. This should be an independent 3rd party.

Now, I have seen some of these hats worn by the same firm or person. For example, some civil engineers also do surveying. Most integrated architects also have interior designers on their staff, which makes perfect sense. Some architects have engineering disciplines in their studio. Some general contractors also perform certain sub-contractor scopes of work.

Another combination of roles that has been utilized in many church projects is where the General Contractor is also the Designer/Architect. In this format, referred to as “Design/Build”, the contractor and architect are either the same entity or they are under one contractual agreement with the church. This format can work and I have firsthand experience where it has served many churches well. But the church is giving up the checks and balances that come from independent entities, each with their own contractual and moral obligation to the church. Again, I come from this world (30 years), but it is critical for your church to understand not only the upside of this dual role, but also the things that will be inherently different.

Finally, here are the 2 combinations of roles that need to be avoided whenever possible.  I have seen more projects go sideways when these combinations are implemented:

  1. “We have a guy.” – Lord have mercy!!! I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard this and watched churches engage their “guy” to do a major role in the project, to only witness things go terribly wrong. Again…I am not saying it always go poorly…I have seen where, by God’s grace, it worked…that it is far more the exception than the rule. I have seen more “Jack-leg” work and weekend warrior projects that ultimately have to be re-done (usually at even higher cost than they would have invested from the onset) due to poor workmanship…or design…or acoustics…or blah, blah, blah. In the end, have we really been good stewards of what God has entrusted to us? Was it worth saving a buck to damage a relationship? Is it worth doing segments of the project DIY but in-turn have sub-par aspects of the final project?
  2. Architect as Owner’s Rep. – This is one that I really struggle with and have actually been kept me up at night when I think of it. This is the epitome of the classic phrase “fox in the hen house”. Here are the primary reasons why I feel this way:
  • As a general rule, architects are poor cost estimators. Ask any of them…they will readily admit this.
  • The preponderance of the project budget is spent pre-construction.  The construction is merely the fulfillment of the lines drawn on paper (or in a computer) during the design phase. Given that, do you want the financial viability of your project to be laid in the hands of the entity drawing the lines?
  • Accountability…who will hold the design professional accountable if they are also the Owner’s Rep? What if there is a problem with the design drawings?  If the Owner’s Rep is responsible to be the advocate for the church and translator of all things project related, how can the design professional (as Owner’s Rep) be objective if the issue is going to impact them in an adverse manner?

Does your project need an architect? No question! Get a good one…call me if you need some recommendations.

Does your project needs an Owner’s Rep? Absolutely!

Just be cautious about commingling these roles…and stay clear of the “guy.”


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…


Say What?

How transparent are you when you report data to your church? Are you giving a realistic and honest interpretation of reality? You might say “Well of course, facts are facts.” Sometimes to be transparent you really need to show how you are calculating your figures, what data sets you are using, and the relationship of the facts. If not, you might end up causing more people to be struck and killed by lightning every time you eat a hamburger. Check out the graph below and see if these two independent facts have any rationale correlation;

Per capita consumption of beef (US)
correlates with
Deaths caused by lightning

I just reported to you “facts”. The work Tyler Vigen does on his site shows all sorts of correlations of facts…facts that while true, are not really connected in a meaningful way. This form of fallacy is known as “Post hoc, ergo propter hoc” (Latin for “after this, therefore, because of this”). The answer to the fallacy is more common phrase “correlation does not imply causation”.

I return to the original question: How transparent are you when you provide reports to your church? It is natural to want to justify or normalize data when we report it. If you have kids, tell me if this sounds familiar:

“Yes, I got a ‘D’ on the assignment, but no one else in the class got an ‘A’ either.”

While both statements are true, there is a lack of transparency. The fact that no one got an “A” did not cause my kiddo to earn a “D”. Here is another example:

“We have had 50 guests this month, we are doing well!” While you may be, that data does not necessarily support that. How could you be transparent? Report the number of “non-guests” monthly, total attendance for both, and compare month-to-month or from the same period the previous year. If your “non-guest” number does not change, that means you may not be very “sticky” (in the good way).

How does this pertain to your facility? Transparency in your data is required if you want to develop the four essential master plans that every church needs.

Ministry Master Plan

You must identify the “who, why, and how” of your ministry master plan. While the church down the road is growing with all its AVL equipment, shorts and t-shirt vibe, you may meet the needs of the strict liturgical folks in the community.  WHO are you?

Financial Master Plan

How do you “fund” your Ministry Master Plan? When considering your financial master plan, you may need to “right-size” what you do to accurately reflect what you are being a steward of. In the parable of the talents, this is important:

15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; and to another, one—to each according to his own ability…” (Matthew 25:15. HCSB)

A thriving church is not exclusively based on a budget; a thriving church takes what God blesses them with and grows like He intends. Be transparent about your finances; make sure your vision matches what He has planned.

Facility Master Plan

Your facility master plan – transparency in what you need, and what is possible. Sometimes you may need to accept that physical restraints keep you from doing some things.

Sustaining Master Plan

Finally, transparency with your sustaining master plan. Whatever God has entrusted to you, He expects you to take care of it. Remember the third servant in the parable of the talents? Willfully neglecting what you have been entrusted with and expecting it to just work out…not a good thing.

Are you being transparent?

Do you have the necessary four plans?

Are you ready for His blessing?


3 Reasons To Do Parking Right

Last week we were exposed to just what little time we have to make a first impression on a guest – 7 seconds. Not much time to impact the thought and emotional reaction of these guests. Every “touch” point during a guest experience has the opportunity to build on the previous interaction…or to destroy it. Every encounter and milestone of this first experience is critical…like building blocks. Without a strong foundation, the rest of the blocks find themselves less stable and tentative.

Assuming your first time guest has made the conscious decision to pull onto your site, their first 7 second encounter will be in your parking lot. Their first impression starts at the entrance of the parking lot and may continue until they reach your front door. Too often, church leaders think the parking lot is irrelevant and  just a place to store the means of transportation used by the congregation. They see it as just common place instead of a touch point and a place to impact people (thus souls). Big mistake!

As you think about your parking experience, here are 3 things that are foundational in making this the best 7 seconds possible:

1. Have a Parking Ministry – This is a great way to accomplish two significant ministry initiatives for 2 very different groups. The first group this impacts is obvious…the guest. A vibrant, proactive, enthusiastic and welcoming group of people can lift your spirits and defuse some of the anxiety that a guest may be experiencing. Seeing happy people waving, smiling (yes, Christians should smile), even acting crazy has more impact on others than you realize. The second group that this impacts is your team. Many of the churches we serve have met in schools or other temporary facilities for years…and now they have a facility to meet in. During those years of being a “church-in-the-box”, they had set up teams that would show up on Saturday night or Sunday morning at the crack of dawn to set up for the worship that day. These people have developed a bond and a kinship that is infectious. The setup team has actually become their “small group” and they love doing life together. But what happens when you do not need to setup every week? What do these people do? And let’s face it, most of the set team is made of men…and they are NOT going to serve in the nursery (nor would we want them to). I have been on set up teams with guys that were not yet Christ-followers, others that were new followers, and others that were more comfortable doing physical labor. To not provide a similar ministry opportunity once you occupy space that does not require setup robs them of a ministry opportunity that they are comfortable performing…which can drive them away or have them feel unnecessary. By starting or expanding a Parking Ministry, you open up a new opportunity for many of these people to serve.

2. See it as a ministry and not a mundane task – Do not see the “Parking Ministry” as just a functional activity, but rather an opportunity to impact people’s lives. Not only are the above functions important for the reasons given, but if you believe that  prayer is impactful, then your parking team should be praying for each of the cars entering the lot. Maybe it’s for their first experience. Maybe for an issue they are confronting at that moment. Maybe for peace that they did not experience on the way to church when the family got in a fight in the car. The parking lot should be blanketed with praying people…it should be the largest prayer chapel on your campus. Help set the tone for the rest of their experience and see what happens.

3. Function and safety – Church parking lots are not like a retail center, even though many designers and civil engineers lay them out as if they were. In a retail or other commercial application, most of the vehicular traffic is spread out over the entire day. Cars pull off and pull on at different times during the day. But a church parking lot is much more similar to an event venue…more like a concert venue or theme park or sports complex. You have a lot of cars trying to enter and/or exit the site at the same time. And if you have back-to-back worship experiences with 15 minutes or less between services, you have a real issue. Having a succinct plan for how to best get cars on and off your site will reduce the amount of stress for the drivers, but will also provide a safer environment. If drivers are not attempting to navigate the parking lot on their own, the likelihood of mishaps is greatly reduced. And not just for vehicular traffic, but for pedestrian.

Please do not see your sea of asphalt as just a place to park vehicles…but be intentional (we have talked about this before) and make it a safe environment that is bathed in prayer and enhances the experience of your guests. Sounds like a winner to me!


Check out our book, Why Church Buildings Matter. Church facilities will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to the church campus can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. This book will reveal how to maximize your church facility to share the greatest story ever told, the gospel.

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

 

7 Seconds: Make the Most of It – 1…2…3…4…5…6…7

7 seconds….that is how much time you have to make a first impression. Some experts say more, some say less…but most pundits would agree that seven seconds is the average time you have to make a first impression. Think about that. That is not much time.

There are dozens of posts on the internet that will give you hints to best utilize these 7 seconds when going to a job interview or making a sales call. But the same principle applies to the guests at our churches. Have you ever thought that your guests are looking at their experience in much the same way they might evaluate a “buying” decision? They are the “buyer” and they are interviewing/investigating you…your church…your ability to meet their needs…your ability to fill a role in their life. As we talked about a couple weeks ago, these first time guests are most likely approaching this guest experience from a consumeristic perspective. Don’t get defensive when I say that…it is a reality.

So what can you do in those first 7 seconds to influence their experience? I actually believe that a guest to your church will have multiple “7 second” encounters, unless the first 7 seconds is too painful or unfulfilling to lead them to the next interaction.

So what can you do in those first 7 seconds to influence their experience?”

 Here are the areas that I believe we should be cognitive of:

  1. The parking lot experience – We will address this more next week, but we need to be aware that if this is a challenge and their first 7 seconds on your site are frustrating, they may not stay…or if they do…you will already have one strike against you and their experience will be veiled by this first encounter.
  2. Where do I go now? – Way-finding and signage are too often under-whelming which can add to the anxiety of our guests.
  3. What door do I go in? – Guests do not want to ask questions and do not respond well to ambiguousness…they like obvious.
  4. Hey! Hi! Welcome to ____. – The first person to visually, verbally, and physically interact with them can definitely have the greatest impact on the experience.
  5. We have been preparing our house for your visit – As they step into your facility, will a guest see that you have been intentional about their arrival? Are things clean, neat, inviting, engaging, well maintained with a sense pride (in a good way)?
  6. Now what? – So, I am here…now what?  Where do I go?  Where do my kids go?  Where can I go hang?

We are going to look at many of these aspects in the weeks to come…but I challenge you to visit some other churches in your area and feel what it is like to be the guest. Then ask a non-believer to be a visitor at your church and then report back to you about each of their 7 second experience at all of these connection points. Seeing these interaction opportunities with fresh eyes can be telling. Don’t squander those 7 seconds. Be intentional. Be deliberate. And, be consistent.


Check out our book, Why Church Buildings Matter. Church facilities will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to the church campus can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. This book will reveal how to maximize your church facility to share the greatest story ever told, the gospel.

Avoiding the "Chicken Little" Syndrome

Security in church is a big deal. Google it; and over 155 million resources show up, some good, some bad. The reality is that violent events happen at houses of worship. A gentleman by the name of Carl Chinn is someone that has about the best and most sobering statistics collected on it. From 1/1/99 through 7/1/17 he has collected verifiable data on 1573 deadly force incidents, 447 of which resulted in death of others (*update* this was written prior to September 24th; yet one more incident that will be added). Carl not only collects the data, he has a heart for security in church; I encourage you to check him out.

So how do we not let those statistics cause us to scream warnings (like Chicken Little) and have them ignored until it is too late (like his peers)? We have quite a few options available to us. One, we know that the evil in this world is a direct result of sin, and our Savior has defeated sin. And lest we forget, as believers, Matthew records these words from Jesus:

28 Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28. HCSB)

We do not fear the evil of this world; a personal relationship with Christ means we know the eternal love of our Father. That does not mean that we just stand aside and let whatever may happen, happen. It means we become intentional in protecting our churches so that we can provide the safest place possible so that all people may hear the Gospel.

“We become intentional in protecting our churches so that we can provide the safest place possible so that all people may hear the Gospel.”

Paying attention to security is yet one more way we help further the mission of the church.

Second, we want to encourage you to be proactive, not reactive, regarding security. There are three areas that deserve attention:

1) Policies/Procedures – How do you ensure that all the best security practices are in place and followed if you do not know what they are. Not known, like a great deal of church operations (meaning oral tradition), but known and trainable because it is written down and codified. Have a plan. It may not be the best one at first, but if it is written down it means it can get edited later.

2) Equipment – What things can you install/procure to make your church safer? This can be signs, new locks, cameras, panic buttons, even access control. The beauty of equipment is that if you are intentional with how you begin to implement, you can improve and expand the equipment in the future.

3) Personnel – Never forget that policies and equipment mean nothing if you do not have personnel trained on it. Training on security is never a one-time proposition, it is on-going.

If you are serious about security in your church, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to begin investing; develop your plan before the storm, not during. At Cool Solutions Group we understand that security is important to the church, but must be implemented in a way that ensures that all who need to hear the Gospel feel welcome and wanted. Our Facility Specialists stand ready to come alongside you to help assist in the development of the best plan for your church.


Are you…

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

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

Church Facility Projects – Before You Move In

The facility is almost ready and it’s easy to see what the final product will look like.  As you make plans to move in and use the new building, there are several items left to manage.

1. Request the “as-built” drawings from the builder.  These are different from the initial plans the architect provided as they show exactly where the construction crew placed ducts, plumbing, electrical wiring, and more (in other words, all the supporting elements hidden behind the drywall). You’ll want these drawings in the future when you need to track down where a water leak is coming from, what electrical wires to reroute for a remodel, etc.

2. Think through what service providers you’ll use for ongoing maintenance and repair work. Who will maintain the HVAC systems? Who will handle janitorial work? Who is your preferred plumber? Which vendor will you purchase your paper products from? Create this list and keep the contact information of each vendor in a central location.

3. Interview vendors and get new or updated preventative maintenance contracts (and other contracts for cleaning services, paper products, etc.).  Preventative maintenance helps you avoid a catastrophic breakdown of any key system.  What would happen if your air conditioning stopped working during a Texas summer and you can’t get it replaced for a week?  That’s not an ideal scenario for Sunday services. Preventative maintenance contracts could include maintenance for roofing, elevators, HVAC units, commercial kitchens, fire extinguishers, and more.

4. Once you’ve selected the vendors you want to use and have contracts with them, enter that information into the system you plan to use to manage ongoing maintenance (such as eSPACE’s Work Order Management application).  The General Contractor should provide you with a list of all equipment (an owner’s manual of sorts).  You’ll need to enter that list into your maintenance system as well.

5. Other factors to consider before move-in:

  • How are we going to key the building?
  • Who will have access to those keys?
  • What security plan do we have in-place?
  • What’s our facility use policy for the new facility?
  • Do we have certain rules?
  • Will we charge for certain types of facility usage? If so, what’s the rate and criteria for usage?  You’ll need to document this information and communicate it to the church staff.
  • Inventory – Consider taking and maintaining an inventory of certain supplies.  This list may include light bulbs, paper products, HVAC filters, cleaning supplies, and others.
  • Outsource vs. handle in-house – Will we outsource janitorial or other facilities maintenance work?

6. Re-review your operational budget for the new facility and start to make “payments” for these costs (to yourself) to start to get accustomed this new spending reality.

7. From a funding perspective:

  • Keep the vision of the project alive and celebrate it.  Keep it at the forefront in the hearts and minds of your congregation.  This helps them stay enthusiastic about the project and provides a gentle reminder to keep their financial pledge.
  • Take any milestone moment that’s connected to the vision and celebrate that moment with the church.  Share why the project is mission critical to achieving that vision.

Intentional organizations plan today for tomorrow’s costs. That’s why it’s critical you establish a capital reserve account now. Download our FREE eBook to learn more.

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!