Monday, October 21, 2019 15:20

Five Reasons to Fix Up Your Facility

Cleaning Bucket Small

Now that Christmas is over, are you ready for Easter? During the Christmas season your church facility takes a beating. The hauling and hoisting of Christmas decorations inevitably leaves its mark on walls, floors, and doorways. Extra visitors track in more snow, dirt, and salt than normal. You have about ten weeks to give the place a facelift.

And that's the least you should do. But what about the bigger facility issues such as roof repair, re-striping the parking lot, remodeling bathrooms, and other deferred maintenance items? Is it wise to spend that money on an aging facility? And specifically, should we spend that money if we think that someday the church may relocate?

Recently while coaching a church about possible relocation, this issue arose. "How much money and effort should we put into present facilities–even if we don't plan to stay?" It seems this is a dilemma many churches face.

The question behind the question is this: "What's the building here for?" Is it a tool for ministry? If so, then make it a good tool. It is unfair to expect quality ministry from your staff and volunteers while providing them an inadequate facility.

A quick and easy way to figure out what needs to be changed is to take photographs. The camera doesn't lie. Guaranteed: It will see things you don't see. And these photos will help you see what first-time church visitors see!

Ask key volunteers to give input on what could be done to make their jobs easier. You'll be surprised what you learn. And some things can be done at relatively low cost.

So here are five reasons to fix up your facility (even if you don't plan to stay). A clean, well-maintained, up-to-date church facility does at least five things for you.

First, it enables ministry. Isn't that what the building is there for anyway?

You're doing ministry in the building now. And present ministries deserve the best you can provide. But also, sometimes with minor changes, you can prepare the church for new or increased ministries.

The nursery is one key area to pay attention to. Moms and dads don't want to leave their children in shabby surroundings. Repaint, re-carpet, increase the lighting, and clean, clean, clean! During the week, keep foot traffic that is not nursery related out of that room.

Second, a fresh facility makes a good first impression. "You never get a second chance for a first impression." And like it or not, your church is being judged by the first impression you give your guests. Opinions are formed within seconds. The decision to come again (or never again darken the door) is made long before visitors ever hear the pastor preach.

Church visitors are judging your commitment to excellence by tangibles before intangibles. They are sizing up your values before they ever even enter. The parking lot and the building's exterior are your face to the world.

Third, a well-kept building boosts morale. The condition of the building reflects the self-esteem of the congregation. In real estate it's called "pride of ownership." For churches, it's a matter of stewardship.

Studies show people prefer to attend a church that is at least as nice as their homes. Generally speaking, they don't want to worship in a place that is perceived as less attractive than the places where they work and shop. And they are less likely to invite their friends to worship with them in a facility they are ashamed of.

Think about how often stores in your church's community remodel. I walked into the local Einstein's this week to discover it has been remodeled and redecorated. The place hasn't been there ten years, but they felt the need to make improvements. How long has it been since your church made visible improvements?

Fourth, keeping up with maintenance supports a top sales price and enhances salability. Residential real estate professionals advise homeowners about improvements and their effect on sales price. However, even if a change doesn't increase sales price, sometimes it may increase salability.

For churches, the trade-off between cost of improvements and potential sales price is not easily discerned. Nonetheless, here are seven areas that merit your attention.

1. Keep the parking lot in good repair. Winter takes its toll. Fix the potholes, repair the cracks, re-stripe.

2. Refresh the landscaping. Overgrown shrubs hide the building, darken the interior, and may create safety and traffic sight-line concerns.

3. Focus on the front entrance. Is the front entrance the real entrance? Are the doors clean and in good repair? Is debris swept away at least weekly? Carpets that are dirty or wrinkled and rippled leave a bad impression and may create a safety risk.

4. Spruce up the restrooms. Give the ladies room extra TLC. Once in awhile someone has got to get down on their hands and knees and scrub. Look up; clean the exhaust fans, too.

5. A clean, bright, safe nursery is essential to young parents especially.

6. Evaluate the sanctuary from a first-timer's perspective. They will be in that room for at least an hour. That's plenty of time for them to scrutinize it. What do they see?

7. Don't forget the hallways and common areas. Most churches can increase the lighting, freshen the paint, and everyone benefits.

Fifth, a well-maintained facility keeps you from having to reduce the price in order to sell. Deferred maintenance always costs. Usually, it's more than if the job had been done when first needed. It's proverbial wisdom that "a stitch in time saves nine."

A few years ago, when we put our house on the market, we repainted, re-carpeted, replaced the orange countertop . . . and then moved. My wife said "never again." She's right. Likewise, if the church needs a facelift do it now! It makes sense to enjoy the immediate benefits of enhanced ministry, better visitor retention, increased morale, and hopefully a higher sales price–even if you later decide to relocate.

Keeping your church building in good working order is a matter of stewardship. Jesus taught His disciples that if they were "faithful with a few things," He would put them in charge of "many things" (Mt. 25:23). The benefits are great. The results could be eternal.

This article is reprinted from a previous Excelerator!
(c) 2008, 2011, Linden D. Kirby, Excel Ministries, Inc

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