Don’t Take Our Word for It!

As CEO of Cool Solutions Group/eSPACE, nothing brings me more joy than hearing from our clients. We could “toot” our own horn all day long, but…when others say things about you, that makes you take notice. Here are just a few comments from clients:

It is amazing how far the software has come since we started using it in I think 2011. Having the event scheduler on the app, may give us the ability to stop running schedules.  You have done some amazing things with this software over the years.  ~ Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church 

 

The transition of data from ServiceU to eSPACE went very well. The system is much easier to navigate through than ServiceU. I am very pleased with the system and what it can do.   ~ Sugar Creek Baptist Church

 

We are so impressed thus far not only with the eSPACE program but also with the wonderful customer service we have already received!   ~ Forest Hills Baptist Church

 

Let me take a moment to just tell you how eSPACE is blessing us and blessing our community. Because of the ease of scheduling spaces and eSPACE in general, we now have community members using our facility for corporate meetings and other events. Opening our building to the public gets more people in the door who may have a negative view of “church.” The FACILITY is not the church – it’s where we DO church. ~ Ward Church

 

The number one thing that eSPACE has that ServiceU did not is excellent customer service! eSPACE is so much more comprehensive, specifically for the whole facility. Work order system, HVAC system and now the Life Cycle Calculator are so wonderfully focused on the facility as that is your niche. eSPACE is so much easier to update than ServiceU. ~ Westwood Community Church

 

I have been managing our church facility for nearly 14 years and while I have experimented with other software tools to help me, Cool Solutions Group is hands down the best out there. Cost savings, better stewardship and higher production of our church’s support staff are a direct result of their Event, Work Order and HVAC management software. ~Fellowship Bible Church

 

Oh. My. Gosh. We could not love eSPACE more!!!! You all ROCK! Moving to eSPACE has been everything we’d hoped and dreamed it to be.  Their staff is extremely responsive and supportive of our unique and growing needs.  They are flexible, thoughtful, and the best company we work with hands down.  We only wish the team at eSPACE would take over the internet world and build software for everything so we could work with them on every digital need we have!  Their customer service is far superior to anyone we’ve ever worked with! ~ Bloomfield Hills School District

Want to learn more?  Check us out HERE. You can also view videos and other tools HERE.

 

 


Church, The Way It Used to Be…Really?

Recently I was driving on I-85 between Charlotte and Atlanta and saw a billboard for a church that said:

ABC* Church and School…the way it used to be (* I will not reveal the name of the church…but if you Google “Church, the way it used to be” you may be shocked at how many churches use this slogan).

I saw this and just thought…HUH? Really? Are you serious?????

“I believe that the cultural and social changes that we have been blessed with have allowed us to better grow disciples that love God and love people.”

I know what they are trying to say…but REALLY? Do you really want things the way they used to be? Do you really want church and school to be the way it “used to be”…really?  Let’s think about how church and school used to be:

  1. Schools “used to” meet in a one room facility.
  2. Schools “used to” not have computers.
  3. Schools “used to” use corporal punishment in excess.
  4. Churches “used to” require that you wear a coat and tie (that is the piece of cloth that men sometimes wear around their neck…just in case you are less than 25 years old).
  5. Churches “used to” use a Latin version of the Bible.
  6. Churches “used to” require their minister to wear a robe to preach in.
  7. Churches “used to” do all of their music with a pipe organ only, if any instruments.
  8. Churches “used to” print bulletins on a mimeograph machine.
  9. Churches and schools “used to” not have air conditioning or heat.
  10. Churches and schools “used to” require men and women sit on opposite sides.

OK…enough of my rant…but I for one do not want to do “church or school” the way it used to be done in the past. I believe that the cultural and social changes that we have been blessed with have allowed us to better grow disciples that love God and love people…and allow us to impact a culture that is far from God. While the message of the Gospel can never be compromised…and the truths of the Bible never forsaken…our means, methods and approaches must stay relevant and contextual to the society we are trying to serve…you know…in the world, not of it.

Let me share one more example.  I have heard for many years the argument of traditional vs. contemporary music in church. This is an argument that does not ring true to me (no pun intended). What is contemporary? According to the dictionary, it means: of the present time; modern. Simply put, it is what is happening right now.  And yet, so many churches have tried to make “contemporary” an ugly word.  Let’s take an honest look at church music. Fanny Crosby is credited with writing dozens…maybe hundreds of hymns that were made popular in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s.  This era of church history was called the Sunday School Era as that is when Sunday School was first started. Now we talk about how we need to have music the way it “used to be”…which generally means we need more hymns. But the reality is, the hymns of that day were the contemporary music of the day and were considered trite and trivial compared to the great works of Bach, Beethoven, and other great composers of the Middle Ages. Sounds pretty familiar to today.

Now…I am not saying that the music of the Middle Ages is not relevant or that hymns have no meaning or place in our current culture…but I am asking if we really want our churches and schools to be “the way it used to be”.

Think about it.


The "4 X" Reality of Deferred Maintenance

I continue to study, explore, and learn more about the impacts of deferred maintenance.  As I venture deeper into this topic, the more driven I become as to the need for Kingdom minded people to TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY!

Let me share some of the research we have been studying and how this is not to be taken lightly.

I was reading a blog that quoted Rick Biedenweg, President of Pacific Partners Consulting Group and former Assistant Vice President of information resources at Stanford University. In that blog Mr. Biedenweg said:

“Every $1 in deferred maintenance costs $4 of capital renewal needs in the future.”

WOW…that is a kick in the gut.  I have taught for years that if we do not keep up with the natural rate of deterioration (1-4% of the current replacement value – CRV) that the rate can more than double.  This reinforces this premise as the compounding factor of not spending $1 today, can grow 4 fold as the deterioration continues…coupled with the future value of time and money.

While Biedenweg worked primarily with the educational system and their needs, his numbers and research can be used with any type of maintenance department. Their research indicates educational institutions should be spending 0.5% (annually) of their building and system’s current replacement value on ongoing maintenance and regular preventive maintenance and 1.5% of CRV on capital repairs. Again, this solidifies and accentuates the positions we have taken related to Facility Stewardship and the need for intentional and proactive long term planning.

If you want a real mind-blowing experience, read this article called the “Inverse-Square Rule” by David Tod Geaslin.  This made my head hurt!  If you don’t have time to read the entire article, at least grasp this thought:

“If a necessary repair is deferred and allowed to remain in service until the next level of failure, the resultant expense will be 30-times the early intervention cost.”

Lord have mercy!

Here is one other startling thought that caught my attention in a article by the American School & University Magazine entitled Falling Behind: School Maintenance & Operations.

Here are some of the salient points in the article:

  1. The National Education Association issued a report on school facilities in 2000, “Modernizing Our Schools: What Will It Cost?” The teachers union estimated the nationwide cost of repairing, renovating, or building school facilities and installing modern educational technology at $322 billion.
  2. In 2013, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools issued a report, “State of Our Schools 2013,” that takes the 21st Century School Fund’s $271 million estimate and adds to it modernization costs that would enable U.S. schools to meet current education, safety and health standards. The grand total: $542 billion.
  3. The American Society of Civil Engineers has assessed the condition of the nation’s public school infrastructure in a way that educators will understand: A report card. But schools won’t make the honor roll with the grade: D. That’s better than the F that the engineers gave to school infrastructure in 1998, or the D-minus in 2001. The D bestowed on school facilities in 2005, 2009 and again in 2013 is an indication that schools have made some progress in addressing maintenance backlogs since greater attention was given to the issue in the 1990’s, but the response has been inadequate to confront the scope of the problem.

PERSONAL NOTE: There are only 98,000 public schools in America…and over 350,000 churches. Can you imagine what the amount of church deferred maintenance there is in churches if there is $542 Billion in public schools?

“Yeah, Tim, but that is schools…and that is public domain.  We are churches, Christian Schools and Universities. We are different.”

I agree…but not the way you may be thinking.  Here are the differences I see:

  1. Schools are an “entitled” entity in our current social structure. However, our ministry and educational facilities have been ENTRUSTED to us which places even more responsibility on the stewards.
  2. Public Schools are funded through taxes…which means their funding is not provided out of the goodness of contributors hearts.

So…what is the bright side of this (I know…the above is a little depressing)?  It is never to late to get started to turn the tide.  We will look at the ways by which your organization can address these issues and turn the tide.

Make sure to download your FREE copy of 5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account.  Also, get your FREE subscription to the Life Cycle Calculator. Be INTENTIONAL!

Does VBS Impact Facility Costs?

We recently partnered with Lauren Hunter from Church Tech Today to do some research on the operational impact to church budgets related to the use of the facility for Vacation Bible School. I had not given much thought to this and so when Lauren asked the question, I kicked myself since I didn’t already know the answers.

You can find her entire post HERE…but here are a few points that really stuck out to me.  Most churches…

…did not see a rise in insurance costs

…had some extra trash and water expenses

…had some carpet cleaning and facilities wear and tear that wasn’t optimal but was tolerable

…were willing to pay for background checks to ensure the safety of children

…a few of the church polled no longer offered VBS due to expense or other ministry objectives

But here was the big one for me…most, if not ALL of the churches that our team interviewed that still provided VBS as a church function, felt that the facilities costs involved were more than worth it to share the Gospel with children.

While I am a big fan of operational and budget efficiency…at the end of the day, our ministry facilities are still meant to be a tool to further the gospel and minister to people. Period!

Planning every church event, including Vacation Bible School, involves a myriad of details, including coordinating with multiple departments, reserving rooms and/or services, managing expenses, and communicating the event to potential attendees. Here we provide a simple and effective guide to understanding all the factors the influence event success and how to be INTENTIONAL and IMPACTFUL.

 

5 Critical Questions To Ask Before You Start A School

Has your church ever thought of starting a school?  I have worked with dozens of churches that at some point thought they would best serve their local community by starting a school…usually in their existing church facilities. While this can be exciting, there are also many considerations that you most address and vet. One of the most critical facility questions is if your facilities meet fire codes for a “school” which is different than those of a “Sunday School” or an assembly occupancy (which is what most church facilities are classified).

This week we are going to share a guest blog from Aaron Johnson. Aaron is “a fire strategist and the “peace of mind” expert in fire protection and life safety.” Given his experience, I thought he would be an excellent source to guide us in this discussion. In addition, Aaron is offering a FREE guide to fire safety for worship space.  You will want to get a copy!

Thanks Aaron…hope you all enjoy:

I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend my school years in Christ centered, Bible based schools.  Kindergarten through high-school, my entire education has been faith-based.

Many churches set out to start a school as an extension of their ministry within the community. This is a worthy goal.  However, prior to starting an endeavor of this magnitude, the ministry should closely examine the regulations, requirements, and costs.

A primary concern should be facilities.  Where will this school be physically located? Is the space required available? Does this space meet fire protection and life safety requirements? There have been many ambitious ministries that have started out down the education path, only to have to shutter their doors due to high costs associated with an inability to meet code requirements. In your planning stages, as you consider the costs to start out on this endeavor, there are 5 critical fire protection and life safety questions that must be answered.

  1. Definition – Are you really a school?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) defines educational occupancies as any building “used for educational purposes through the twelfth grade by six or more persons for 4 or more hours per day or more than 12 hours per week.”  This definition is further expanded to include preschools and kindergartens used primarily for educational purposes of children over 24 months of age. In essence, if you have six or more students between 24 months old and the twelfth grade the requirements of NFPA 101, chapter 14, for educational occupancies, must be met.

  1. Occupant Load – How many students will you have?

The first step in determining space needs and code requirements is to calculate the occupant load of the space, or determine how large the space will need to be based on potential number of students your school will host. The code requires 20 square feet per person.  For example, if you anticipate that your school will enroll 50 students, then you know that you will need a minimum area of 1,000 sq. ft.  Or, if you have an 8,000 sq.ft. facility available you know that you could potentially host up to 400 students.

Questions to ask in the planning stage:  How much space will you need (based on potential or target student enrollment)?  Is this space available? How much will this space cost (if it must be built, leased, or purchased)?

  1. Fire Alarm System – Will a fire alarm system need to be installed?

The majority of educational facilities will require a fire alarm system. If the facility is not equipped with a fire alarm system, all of the following conditions must be met:

  • >The building must not be larger than 1,000 sq.ft.
  • >The building must contain only a single classroom.
  • >The building is located no closer than 30 feet from another building.

Questions to ask in the planning stage: Will our facility require a fire alarm system? What will be the cost of this system?

  1. Fire Sprinkler System – Will the building need to be sprinklered?

Structures used for educational purposes that are greater than 12,000 sq.ft., or four or more stories high, or in basement areas are required to have a fire sprinkler system installed.

Questions to ask in the planning stage: Will our facility require a fire sprinkler system? Can the square footage (if 12,000 sq.ft. or greater) be reduced to not require this installation? What will be the cost of this system?

  1. Emergency Action Plan – Do we have an emergency action plan in place?

Prior to opening the school doors an emergency action plan (EAP) is required to be submitted to the local fire authority, or fire marshal’s office.  The EAP outlines what actions must occur in the event of various types of emergencies. Minimally, the following information is required in the EAP:

  1. Procedure for reporting emergencies
  2. Occupant and staff response to emergencies
  3. Evacuation, relocation, and shelter-in-place procedures.
  4. Appropriate use of elevators.
  5. Design and conduct of fire drills.
  6. Type and coverage areas of building fire protection systems.
  7. Any other information required by the local jurisdiction or fire authority.

Some discussion should be had on who will head up the EAP creation process, what each staff position will be responsible for in an emergency event, and the availability or cost of any necessary emergency preparedness items.

Starting a faith-based educational center in your community is definitely a worth-while undertaking. It is important to ensure that you count the cost before starting. Equally important is the determination that systems, inspections, and processes will be conducted and maintained for the protection of the facility, and safety of its occupants.

For more information and resources on worship facility fire and life safety, download the FREE guide, Fire Safe Worship Space.

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AJ_new_headshot3_500mbAaron Johnson  is a fire strategist and the “peace of mind” expert in fire protection and life safety. He has more than a decade of fire protection/life safety/code compliance experience.  Aaron is active on several fire code development and technical committees and holds multiple fire service certifications. His expertise spans multiple occupancy types and use functions. He regularly writes on fire protection/life safety issues at, www.TheCodeCoach.com.