Decision Making

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

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

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

These are great reminders for us all…especially me.


Stop Wasting Money

Seriously, stop.

If you are not seeking and following energy saving guidelines, you are spending money you do not have to. Money spent on facilities, when not necessary, take away dollars available for your ministerial mission. The logical response to this opening is to ask, “What can we do?” I am glad you are being logical, because I have some real simple steps for you to start with.

Step 1: Commit to it. Being energy efficient is not something that happens by accident. If you are not committed and intentional, you will not fully succeed. With the increasing connectivity in facilities management (think Internet of Things), opportunities to save will either change or new possibilities added. It takes someone committed to stay informed to take advantage of all that is out there.

Step 2: Turn it OFF. Find a way to turn things off when you do not need them. Use power strips and shut devices off at night, use time clocks, install motion switches, etc. Anything you can do to create a culture that turns the switch off when it is not needed will make a difference. Consider a time clock on water fountains…why do you need to keep water cold overnight? Motion sensors and light sensors on hallway lights. Why keep it lit if no one is there and the sun is shining? You get the idea.

Step 3: Check your bulbs. There have been lots of improvements in lamping technology over the last decade. Survey all the lamps you use; see if there is a more energy efficient option. If you have older fixtures, there probably is. Consider exit signs; if you are not running LED signs you are spending too much. If you have T-12 fluorescent lamps, you are spending more than you should. Simple changes here can earn significant savings.

“If you are not seeking and following energy saving guidelines, you are spending money you do not have to.”

Step 4: Check your HVAC. Your HVAC is one of the largest contributors to your energy bills. Keep doors shut, change filters regularly, keep the coils clean, and only run them when you need them. Smart thermostats, an EMS system, computerized controls, WIFI stats…anything that can provide additional controls, integrated scheduling, and monitoring is what you should be using. In addition, consider your set-points. Varying set-points between vacancy, occupancy, and events can reduce energy consumption. Targeted improvements in HVAC make the most sense – they provide a very quick return on investment.

Step 5: Plug it Up. This step is referring to your building envelope. Check for air infiltration and plug the leaks whenever you find one that shouldn’t be there. Temperature always seeks equilibrium, any leaks in your building will cause the conditioned and unconditioned air to mix and affect your desired comfort level, which in turn makes your equipment run more than necessary.

Step 6: Keep learning. Similar to step 1, you must keep trying to learn the best ways to be energy efficient. There are many State and Federal programs that you can access to learn more. Check out Energy Star for Congregations for some great info to start.

Also, conveniently enough we are offering another FREE webinar through CFMS on Energy Management on July 26th. What a deal, a free resource to learn how to save even more money in your facility. We hope to see you there, and may you find the ways to save in your facility.


4 Reasons Why Connecting Spaces Trump Cattle Chutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deep down, we want to connect with others.

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

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

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

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


The Precursors of Facility Stewardship

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

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

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

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

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

We see the life cycle comprised of 4 primary components:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


500+ Reasons to Join Church Facility Management Solutions

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

Want to know why?

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

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

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

 

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

As a reminder, your FREE CFMS membership provides you:

  1. Weekly Information sent directly to you to help you be proactive and intentional with the care of your facility.
  2. Online Community so that you can get input and feedback from hundreds of other church and facility leaders.
  3. Monthly Webinars by industry professionals to provide relevant information and resources for your church facility management.
  4. Vetted Vendors will put a list of qualified vendors at your fingertips with the assurance that they have been pre-qualified by our team…and they do not pay to be on this list.
  5. Free Resources will be developed and made available to members including worksheet, forms, policy docs, job descriptions, etc.
  6. Availability to Consulting and Training Services.

Join us TODAY completely FREE!

Regardless of your church size, you need to be thinking about the best use and management of your facilities. There is no better place than this community. It offers the best of church facility expertise along with peer learning. You should not be without this resource!

Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO

LifeWay Christian Resources

Church Answers


Facility “Management” (Leadership) vs. “Maintenance”

As part of developing Cool Solutions Group, I have met with dozens of business administrators and facility personnel. As I have documented these experiences I see that there appears to be a discrepancy between facilities “management” and facilities “maintenance”. To some of you, this may sound like semantics, but I think that it is much, much deeper than two “words” that some would consider synonyms. Let me describe what I have seen and then let you decide if there is or is not a difference.

First, let’s explore how dictionary.com defines these 2 words:

man-age-ment

1. The act or manner of managing: handling, direction, or control
2. Skill in managing; executive ability
3. The person or persons controlling and directing the affairs of a business, institution, etc.

main-te-nance

1. The act of maintaining
2. The state of being maintained
3. Care or upkeep, as of machinery or property

As I look at these definitions, I see a couple things that jump out at me:

  1. Management appears to define the act of being proactive.
  2. Management requires a skill to lead and direct activities of an organization or team.
  3. Maintenance appears to be developing a way to maintain the status quo.
  4. Maintenance is focused on the care and upkeep of something which may be seen as reactive.

There has been much discussion and many books written about the difference between management and “leadership”. From a pure business perspective, I understand the differences. However, in this instance I would suggest that Facility “Management” is more congruent with leadership than maintenance. Even the above definitions would lead to that conclusion.

What words could be used to describe management vs. maintenance? See below the word pictures that we would use:

MANAGEMENT MAINTENANCE
Proactive Reactive
Preventive Corrective
Lead React
Plan Respond
Systematic Scramble
Save over the Long Term Spend as needed
Increase Life Cycle Band-Aid

So, as you explore your facility stewardship needs, are you providing management/leadership, or merely maintenance?

Food for thought…


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.


What Your email Address Says About You

Are you prejudice or have strong biases? I do not think of myself as the former, but definitely the latter. Then I looked at the definitions…and realized I can be both without really being aware of it.

Prejudice = preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

Biased = unfairly prejudiced for or against someone or something.

So…what does this have to do about a simple email address? Well…I have prejudice/strong bias about certain email domains. I know that sounds trite and petty, but it is true. And I am convinced that I am not the only one (check out this funny graphic). Let me explain.

When I receive an email and the domain is @AOL or @YAHOO or @EARTHLINK or @HOTMAIL, I have an immediate prejudice…in the purest sense of the word. I make a preconceived judgement and opinion of the person who sent the email.  Here is my list of first impressions:

  1. This person is old (older than me…maybe older than my dad!)
  2. They are not technical
  3. The are still on Windows 98
  4. They are living 20 years in the past
  5. They don’t like change

As the above definition so aptly describes, I made a decision not based on reason or any actual experience. I realize that is not “fair” and the person may be highly technical and only 25 years old (but not likely). They may be using an Apple product and have the iPhone X (again…probably not). But the fact remains, I made a biased judgement of that person.

Do you know what else…others may be as well.  I was recently at a church technology conference talking with some of my peers when this exact topic came up. They were all sharing stories about how they do the exact same thing and try to get their clients to update their addresses to “modern” applications or custom domains. For example, tim at coolsolutionsgroup dot com is actually an alias for a Gmail address.

So…who cares? In some cases it is totally irrelevant…but there are some instances where your email tells a story that could hurt you such as:

  1. Looking for a new job – don’t look like you are not tech savvy or living in the past
  2. Communicating with church staff – don’t “date” yourself to leaders that may be younger than you
  3. Seeking assistance with software products – enough said
  4. Communicating with people how relevant you are – you get it
  5. ETC!

Does anyone else agree with me?


At Just The Right Time…

Do you believe that God is in control of your life?

Do you believe that God’s timing is always perfect?

I have believed these in my “head” for years…but must admit that I rarely lived life with a complete understanding or acceptance of these realities. I have heard so many sermons and teaching on waiting on the Lord…or that His will and timing are always perfect. I have said the words and used them to convince others, but am not sure that I have really grasped them and embraced them like the air I breath.

Recently, my accountability partner and I have been studying Romans…and in particular Chapter 5. This has really got me thinking and coming face to face with a fundamental truth that I can no longer escape.

Look at Romans 5:6 with me:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (NIV)

What jumped out at me is the “at just the right time”. WOW…it hit me, this is not just a premise from a pastor or a Bible study teacher…but a fact from scripture…that “at just the right time…Christ…” That has made my heart skip a beat…I actually get goose bumps (I know some of you are thinking “DUH Tim…are you really that dense?” Well…ummm…yeah)

The Message says it this way – “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready.”

Now…let me ask you again

Do you believe that God is in control of your life?

Do you believe that God’s timing is always perfect?

If you still cannot answer these to the affirmative…give me a call and let’s talk.


What Goes Up…

Admit it…you were finishing the rest of the verse to that song. Well, we are not talking about spinning wheels today, we are talking about one of the most ignored parts of your facility…the roof.

We generally do not think of our roofs until we experience an issue. Considering a properly installed roof can last several decades with very little issues, when we notice them it may be a very big deal to rectify. Unfortunately, many of us do not know what to look for or how to perform preventative maintenance on a roof.

It starts with understanding what type of roof system (or systems) your facility has. It could have shingles, be a metal roof, a single-ply membrane, a built-up, or any combination of roofing types depending on the size of your facility. Not just the material type is important, the slope of your roof is important as well. The steeper the slope, the more specialized the contractor needs to be in order to properly and safely work on it. It is hard to make repairs on a surface that you are not comfortable working on. The converse is true as well; a low slope roof takes someone who knows what they are doing to ensure drainage occurs the way it is supposed to.

If you have not gathered the data on your roofs, now is the time. You should have the size of the roof (I prefer using roof squares as the unit of measure), the type of roof, brand/color of the material, warranty information, and a record of inspections and repairs. You should also have a preventative maintenance schedule. The most important part of a preventative maintenance plan for your roof is simple: regular visual inspection.

I know that seems simplistic. The reality is we often wait until we see the issue from the bottom of the roof (leaks coming through the ceiling). Inspecting the roof annually helps us to spot the problems before they make it through the many layers to the ceiling. By the time an area becomes saturated enough to leak inside, there is damage to the substrate, the surrounding building materials, the insulation, as well as the potential for mold.

When we are thinking of the roof, it is also important to talk a bit about flashing. Flashing refers to any water-resistant material that is used in a roof system at the transition between the roof and another building element, a change in roof plane, or a roof penetration. Essentially, flashing is installed anywhere the roof is not able to lay on a singular plane uninterrupted. Proper flashing helps keep water out, improper flashing invites water in. Most roof leaks can be traced back to a failure in flashing. Many times, areas that are deteriorating can be quickly addressed with a proper sealant; assuming of course that you are looking for them every year.

I could go on regarding roof maintenance and inspection…but I have a better idea. Church Facility Management Solutions is providing a FREE webinar this month on Roofing. We will be going over roofing types and how to maintain them to extend their life. Why not join us, hear some great info, and get the chance to ask questions of or team of experts? We look forward to seeing you there!