Sunday, April 23, 2017

Seminary PL42: Facilities

This is the eleventh and final post on church administration in my "Seminary in a Nutshell" series. In this series, I first did a section on the Person and Calling of a Minister. Now this is the forty-second and last post in a section on the Pastor as a Leader (see at the bottom).

The previous post looked at communications. This final post is about facilities
1. Gary McIntosh and Charles Arn, in What Every Pastor Should Know: 101 Indispensable Rules of Thumb for Leading Your Church, give several principles for facilities. While these do not all have to do with church administration, here are some that give good background:
  • A facility would ideally be 65 to 80 percent of room capacity to encourage growth. If your worship room is less than 50 percent full, you should do some rearranging. If it is more than 80%, consider structural changes, a building project, or additional services.
  • The lobby capacity should be 60 to 70 percent of the worship room capacity. This is for fellowship.
  • There needs to be a balance in space between: a) parking and seating, b) parking and people (half the parking as the people), c) child care and worship attendance (to accommodate 25% more than worship attendance), d) fellowship space and attendance (also to accommodate 25% more people outside of worship for small groups, Sunday School, etc).
  • One acre of land for every 100 in worship
  • Parking capacity puts a cap on growth
  • A church needs enough restrooms to accommodate everyone in a space of 15 minutes.
  • If the interior of the church is more than 15 years old, it probably is hindering growth.
  • 80 square feet of space for each child on a playground
2. Most churches have individuals who serve as trustees. In some cases they are elected. In others they might be appointed. These are individuals who have the authority to sign checks and are tasked with the maintenance of the church property and facilities. In general, they engage the legal dimensions of the church as concerns property, mortgages, and bequests. My denomination requires that there be at least 3 trustees for a church, but a larger church may have up to seven.

At least one member of the board of trustees should be a member of the larger church board. The trustees should not be empowered to make major decisions apart from the direction of this larger board. However, trustees are usually empowered to make routine decisions and expenditures up to a certain amount. More than that amount, they usually have to get approval from the larger board.

Here is a typical list of areas that are usually are the direct responsibility and are under the supervision of trustees:
  • insurance--does the church have sufficient and proper insurance as it relates to the church property?
  • Does the church have a custodian(s) to clean the property and keep it functional and attractive for its use?
  • Is the church appropriately secure? What steps need to be taken to keep the church safe?
  • Is everything functioning properly in the facilities? What is broken that needs to be fixed? Does the air conditioning/heating work? Is the roof leaking?
  • Is the church up to code with the city and zoning laws?
  • Is the property ready for its use this week?
  • Church vehicles--is the van working well? Is it safe? How are the tires?
  • Restrooms work? water flow? lights working? sidewalks cracked? landscape nice? classrooms functional? ... do we have enough toilet paper? Some of these might more directly fall to a custodian, but the trustees are ultimately responsible that these things are being taken care of.
3. The smaller the church, the more likely that the pastor will absorb some of these functions. Some pastors are quite handy when it comes to practical matters. Others are quite idea oriented and less likely to think of such things.

For example, let's say you are having baptisms on Sunday morning. How long does it take to fill the baptistery, if you have one? How long does it take the water to heat up? A green pastor usually only has to have one major mess up in this area before he or she remembers that it may take half a day's time to fill up and heat the baptistery.

Is the heat or air on sufficiently ahead of service for the temperature to be comfortable by the time people arrive? Are you wasting money by using the air or heat when people are not going to be in the building?

Is the church unlocked for those who arrive early to set up things or practice for the worship service? Does the lawn look good for Sunday morning? Like it or not, a church with an attractive property is more likely to grow and one with an unattractive property is likely to decline.

4. Culture changes and facilities expectations change. As I look back over the last fifty years, expectations have changed for what a good facility would be like. Older folk used to resist any change to the church buildings they grew up with. Meanwhile, younger folk used to mistake the latest fad for the new permanent thing.

We've been through the round churches (that had no direction for expansion) to the multi-purpose facility (that served as a gym when it wasn't being used as a worship space. The key learning is that none of these structures are wrong but neither are they the final structure. Over the next fifty years we will no doubt see varying trends in church structure again and the only ignorant person is the one that assumes there is a permanent answer. Change is a constant when it comes to such things.

5. Major expenditures arise from time to time, and we shift into fundraising mode. Does the church need a new roof? Does the church need a new central air conditioning/heating unit?

With growth, the church may need to expand its facilities or move to a new location. Again, these good situations will call for the engagement of knowledgeable, wise individuals who can help with a host of small but important decisions relating to facilities. Plans will need to be drafted. Contractors will need to be hired. Although trustees are usually volunteers, they are crucial to a well-functioning church.

Next Sunday: Foundations 1: The Law 1 (Content)

Leadership in General
Strategic Planning
Church Management
Conflict Management
Church Administration

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