We Focus On Your Facility…

…so you can focus on your mission.

That is more than just a tagline for our team.  This WHO we are.  It is WHY we do what we do. That is HOW we do what we do.

I am yet to find a pastor that went to seminary with the primary reason of focusing their energies, time and ministry on a building. I know a few Business Administrators and Executive Pastor’s that have previous experience in the world of the built environment…but that is not WHY they got into vocational ministry.

And yet…how many churches in America could continue to function without a facility? I dare say that every church…the body of believers…in North America relies on a facility in some form or fashion.  This reliance may be on a physical structure that they assemble in to worship, educate, disciple and/or meet the needs of others.  If you are a “home-based” church, you are reliant on a house or similar.  If you are 100% internet based, your church is still reliant on a facility to host your servers…to produce video and audio content.

I get it…the “church” is NOT a building.  I preach that at every speaking engagement and project we serve on.  The building will never save a soul.  It will never disciple a Christ-follower.  And yet, we have a reliance on it. I also get that this is a “First-World” issue. All of us have pointed to how the body of Christ can function in very austere settings in other countries.  And yet, here we are…reliant on a built environment.

So what are you to do?

First, be thankful we have such facilities to assist us in spreading the gospel.  Don’t despise it.

Second, don’t take it for granted or take a posture that we are entitled to these physical blessings.  Money does not grow on trees, as we all know, and it requires money to own a facility.  Did you notice I did not say BUILD…I said OWN.  When you evaluate the cost to own a facility, 71-80% of the total cost of ownership is in the OPERATIONAL costs…and usually, only 20% (over a 40 year period) is the cost to build.

Thirdly, do not try to go it alone.  As a ministry leader, you need to focus on the ministry, mission, and vision of what God has called you to.  That means you need to rely on others to plan, build, and care for your building. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  1. Hire the needed people on your staff to steward what has been entrusted to you
  2. Adequately fund your General Maintenance budget to avoid deferred maintenance
  3. Outsource duties and tasks to specialists (i.e. HVAC companies for Preventive Maintenance)
  4. Set aside appropriate Capital Reserves for the inevitable future costs
  5. Obtain a firm grasp on your current facility needs related to space allocation and Facility Condition
  6. Implement systems and processes to increase operational efficiencies (and energy efficiencies) such as software applications, system integrations, policies and procedures, workflows, etc.

Need some help to get started?  Let us know how we can help.

Your Church Has Been Offered a Facility…Now What?

I was privileged to recently sit with Dr. Thom Rainer and talk about a significant and growing topic…the “adoption” of a used facility.

Dr. Rainer, Jonathan Howe and I discussed facility management and why a free building could be the most expensive building your church has.

Some highlights from this episode include:

  • Total annual operational costs of your church building should run between $5.50-$7.00 per square foot.
  • Does your church facility speak the same language that your church culture speaks?
  • Never accept a free facility without a facility assessment to determine how much it’s really going to cost you.
  • Does your church truly have a grasp on how much your facility costs to run?

Listen to the entire podcast HERE.

I Have a Confession About Caulk

We have all heard the saying, “The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes”. We chuckle at this…as we cannot imagine that if we were a Cobbler that we would not provide shoes for our kids.

There are lots of variations on this old proverb…but I have a new one-

The Facility Stewardship Guy Has No Caulk (or at least forgot to use it)!

I am embarrassed.

No joke…I have talked about how caulk is only good for a year in almost every workshop I have done in the past 10 years. I have guilt-ed my audiences and readers to the fact that if they are not caulking…or at least inspecting the caulk…on an annual basis that we not properly stewarding what God entrusted to us. I have sat with Dr. Thom Rainer and told him how we did a regression analysis on the use (or lack thereof) of caulk and the long-term impact on facilities if you don’t caulk.

Well…I noticed that some of my siding was not straight on my porch…so I got up on a ladder to inspect…and peeked behind the siding…and what did I see…ROT!!! Yep…the area in question had been built (I use that word loosely) prior to us buying the house…and it is 10-12 feet in the air…so I never got up to look at it in the 21 years we have lived here.

Upon inspection, guess what I found.  That’s right… NO CAULK – EVER.

So…I am living what I have preached…but not in the proactive way (the good stewardship way).  We are now replacing the siding, the plywood, and wet insulation.  Check this pic out:

So…let’s do a quick cost analysis:

  1. If I had caulked the windows at the top “J” molding of the siding every year…for 21 years…I would have spent about $252. (3 tubes of caulk at $4/tube X 21 years)
  2. Instead, I am spending $3,400 for repairs and other upkeep.

That is 14 times as much. This reinforces what we have said before, that the cost to address deferred maintenance is many times more than properly addressing the facility in an intentional and proactive way.

Lesson Learned!

 
 

Who Rebuilt The Roof?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facilities are only a tool.

Facilities cannot save or heal you.

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

 

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.


Foundations: The Unseen Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

> Its foundation is 30 feet deep

> Weighs 5,850 tons

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


Build Your Church Before You Build Your Building

A number of years ago I did a blog series based on a book with some pretty simple and insightful ideas. That series was based, with permission, on the book Simply Strategic Stufby Tony Morgan and Tim Stevens. I strongly recommend that you pick up the book as there are 99 great insights.

As I look back on 2017, the truths that Tim and Tony wrote about have become acute to me as I have served and met with dozens of church leaders. Our team has worked with a number of churches that could not articulate their vision, mission or focus. When asked to communicate about their vision, they were quick to tell us about the WHAT they do (programs)…but when challenged to drill down further, they could not explain WHY they did those things and heard crickets when asked to define WHO they were as a church.

To me, that is tragic…and sad.

I used to do a workshop for the NC Southern Baptist entitled “Why Build When you can Grow“. That workshop was intended to challenge the traditional thinking that you needed an owned facility to grow your church. Frankly, that is as far from the truth as you can imagine. With that said…if you have explored all of your options and facilities are still the right choice, then by all means pursue that…but do it the right way.

OK…enough soap-box preaching…let’s re-visit what Tim and Tony have to say:

SIMPLY STRATEGIC STUFF #38 – Build Your Church Before You Build Your Building

Those of us who have rented space for church services have heard people say, “Tell me when you are in your own building, and I might visit then.”

But the church building isn’t the church. The church is a living organism. It is the people. It is those who have given their lives to Christ and have gathered locally to make a difference in their communities. There are churches all over the world that have no building or facilities and yet are living, thriving local churches!

Addressing the ministry vision, mission, focus and values is the first step in lasting and intentional facility stewardship.

Putting up a building before the church is ready could cause troubles down the road. Do the following before you consider breaking ground:

  • Define your mission, vision and values
  • Build broad ownership of those defined values through your entire core of believers
  • Make sure that your leadership team is strong and growing
  • Develop a culture of volunteerism
  • Develop an infrastructure of leaders and systems that can handle the demands of a facility
  • Take the spiritual temperature of your church, and make sure that the people are continuing to take spiritual steps.

Make sure that having a facility will serve the purposes of God in your community. Make sure that it will facilitate reaching more and more people for Christ. Remember, the church is a living organism made up of the people Christ died for.  A building is only beneficial if the people are thriving.

Great insights! I would add that the above truths are not only for churches that are currently in temporary space or rented facilities…but for any church that is considering an expansion or building program of any kind. Addressing the ministry vision, mission, focus and values is the first step in lasting and intentional facility stewardship.

The above steps and tenets are universal. They can be your guide to an intentional impact; or if left unaddressed, can lead to a status of a country club or wandering in the wilderness.  In the words of the Grail Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade“You must choose. But choose wisely.”


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.

Lowering the Drawbridge

In Medieval society, a drawbridge was used by the people of a castle, facility or walled city to prevent outsiders from getting in. The design purpose of the drawbridge was primarily for military defense, so enemies could not even get to the gates. It basically told passer-bys – STAY OUT – . It allowed people to stay huddled in their fortresses and keep the rest of the world out. They would build a moat or place the castle on a ridge surrounded by a precipice so that it could be completely secured and impenetrable…until you lowered the drawbridge or some other means of transversing the divide could be conceived and constructed.

When the drawbridge was lowered, the edifice and its occupants were unprotected. They were vulnerable to attack as well as allowing access to those in the villages, region, community, etc. But if things ever got tenuous or uncomfortable and  “messy”, the occupants could quickly raise the drawbridge and close off access once again.

In modern society, we do not see many drawbridges at peoples homes, businesses, commercial complexes or churches. However, metaphorically, we still  have  erected them in many aspects of our lives. We have contrived theoretical drawbridges and moats around many components of our existence. We try to keep ourselves “safe” from outside influences and by doing so, shut out the harmful as well as good that could impact our lives.

Figure out how, in your context and community, to lower the drawbridge and invite the community onto your campus.

In relationship to our churches, many of us have done the exact same thing. We have built environments that feel cold and isolationist to the community or worse…blatantly tell people to STAY OUT.  “Church Parking Only”. “Members Only”. “No Trespassing”.

In other instances we have designed out campuses in such a way that all you can see is the front door and no sign of people doing life together. Or we develop exterior environments that are tucked away from plain sight of the watching community…trying to get a glimpse of what is behind the scary walls of the ominous church steeple and four white columns.

These are all kin to digging a moat and raising the proverbial drawbridge. Uninviting. Closed. Isolationist.

What might be a better approach, would be to figure out how, in your context and community, to lower the drawbridge and invite the community onto your campus. What things could you do physically, visually, pragmatically, relationally, outreach, etc. that would lower the drawbridge and invite people to do life with you.

Let’s abolish the drawbridge!


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.

What If The Story Is Never Told?

If you have read my blogs or “Why Church Buildings Matter”, you know I am a fan and proponent of “story”. I believe that story is a critical part to our lives and particularly the physical manifestation of our church’s vision, mission and culture via our facilities.

But…what happens if the story is never completed or told? What if everything always stayed in a perpetual state of “draft”? Matthews 5:15 tells us,

“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.”

Stories were meant to be told, shared, enjoyed, and fulfilled.  Think about these questions:

  1. Is the script enough? Will the story be told if all we do is write a script?
  2. Is the set design enough? Will the story be conveyed if we only envision, plan and select the color pallets for the stage set?
  3. Is the storyboard enough? Who actually sees the storyboard? Usually it is just a handful of people.
  4. How many tickets can you sell to a concert of an incomplete symphonic work?

I am going somewhere with this, so hang in there and appease me for a minute.

Stories were meant to be told, shared, enjoyed, and fulfilled.

I did a Google search for statistics about the number of manuscripts that never make it to published book status and how many screenplays end up in the black-hole of the “could have been” file.  The numbers are staggering…here are some of the stats I unearthed:

·         On average, there are 50 spec screenplays sold every year out of 250,000 spec screenplays circulating around Hollywood and various other film making venues.  That translates into 5000 to 1 odds.

·         Odds of fatally slipping in your bath or shower are 2,232 to 1. So you have a better chance of dying due to a shower fall than getting a screenplay published.

·         Literary Agencies typically reject 99.5 of everything they see. Out of close to 500 queries a month (electronic and surface mail) they may receive, they invite perhaps 50 proposals for review. Out of that fifty, perhaps one or sometimes two is ready to be delivered to publishers. So your odds of getting your literary baby to a publisher is 500 to 1…or a .2% chance of getting published

These odd are not great and yet authors, scriptwriters and the like, continue to produce manuscripts, drafts, and screenplays year after year.  Why?  Because there is this hope that eventually they will be noticed or that their proverbial ship will come in and their life will be altered forever. Hope upon hope. Envisioning a better, more spectacular future.

So how does this relate to the story of our church facilities?

I have been serving churches for 31 years…built my first church project in 1986 (before many of you were born) for Bethelview United Methodist Church outside Boone, NC. I have been a part of some incredibly exciting development projects and ministry initiatives. I have been privy to some remarkable stories. The concern I have is when I see a church or other ministry invests tens, and even hundreds of thousands of ministry dollars…entrusted to them by God…to only develop the manuscript or screenplay. They spend countless hours and monies, contributed by people giving sacrificially, to develop pretty pictures, concept drawings, and even complete architectural plans that are just the manuscript of the story. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the creative process and the vision sessions I have been a part of and led. But is that enough? Is the pretty storyboard and fly-through videos of our planned spaces enough? Have we been prudent and diligent in our stewardship initiatives if that is as far as we get?

I say “Not just NO, but….” (you can fill in the rest).

If the story was worth the effort to commit the time and dollars to develop the manuscript…and it is financially feasible (which means your manuscript needs a section on financial responsibility)…and provides the right, intentional tools to fulfill the vision and mission, then the story needs to be told. It needs to come to fruition. It needs to be built…or leased…or purchased…or renovated…or converted.

Don’t allow your manuscripts and pretty pictures to windup in a closet at the church or the pastor’s trunk. We do not have the luxury to gamble with odds like the examples above, with Kingdom assets. We cannot spend dollars, given sacrificially, knowing that the likelihood of reaching the finish line has a success ratio of 500:1. That is a high-stakes venture and not very responsible as a leader. If your team has been properly lead thought a well-crafted process, and has fully vetted your ministry needs, culture, financial capabilities, congregational buy-in, team and other market conditions, then complete the work. Tell your story.

There is a world waiting to read it.

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.