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Assessing All Your Options

A Guide to A Successful Building Project

There are a variety of projects the church may be facing, with most large projects falling into one of the following categories:

• Expansion or addition of current facilities
• New build or relocation
• Planting churches
• Large scale renovation
• Finally eliminating that large monthly debt payment

Sometimes more than one of the above apply. Believe it or not, what some church leaders perceive as a priority need might not be what the rest of the church sees as the actual top need. The church might prefer a project designated for phase 2 of your building to take priority over Phase 1. While other churches may opt to pay off the debt first before starting another building project. Debt might be a hot button issue. Knowing what your members are committed to is a critical step that must be taken prior to starting construction or a capital campaign. By conducting a feasibility study early in the process, all of the things mentioned above are easily identified and can be directly or indirectly addressed.

The Difference Between Fans and Supporters

This is where it is important to know the difference between fans and supporters. It is easy for church members to be a fan or jump on the bandwagon of a positive majority. Many of whom when directly asked by someone on staff may sense the pressure of conformity and agree initially, but have questions later or different priorities when it comes to financially supporting the project. Therefore, we suggest conducting a third-party feasibility study like ours, to gain an objective view of the existing support and priorities of your members.

Assessing the Best Building Process for Your Church

“Passing the Baton”

A recurring mindset and common approach to the entire process is what we call “passing the baton”. This is a simple systematic process where no steps cross over. When one step is completed, the next begins. Often by following this antiquated methodology is where the breakdown typically occurs. This process usually seeks out an architect first to gain a conceptual idea of the design and a rough cost estimate. Then after receiving the cost estimate from the architect, the church seeks financial assistance from a church lender. Once the funding question is batted around, the church often turns to the builder. At this point, a more accurate cost of all that is involved is given to the church. Unfortunately, some churches “abandon ship” or contact a capital stewardship firm as a last step. A sample timeline along with typical questions asked of each group is listed here.

Sadly when church leaders follow the “passing the baton” timeline, the original plans often come to a halt and/or an attempt to make snap last minute adjustments are made. These adjustments rarely prove effective and short-circuit a much greater potential. Here is why.

The “passing the baton” process inherently creates a lack of communication at all levels and causes a breakdown in momentum. In addition, it can create a great deal of frustration and erode the trust between church members and a pastor or church leader. These headaches can create anxiety for leadership and leaves too many uncertainties of how to proceed. Going back and making considerable adjustments usually extend the original timeline given to the church. Occasionally, churches ask architects to scale down the project, which leads to unfulfilled space needs. Sometimes, churches go so far as asking builders to cut corners to save initial cost, end up costing the church more in the end.

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Chuck Klein

Chuck is the principle owner and President of Impact Stewardship Resources, Inc. since 2009. He previously held the position of Vice President of Administration from 2000 to 2009. Having been involved in over 300 campaigns since entering the capital stewardship consulting field, he also has an extensive background in Christian marketing (retail and music). Chuck entered church consulting with the purpose of creating innovative programs that communicate biblical principles, promote church vision and build God’s Kingdom.

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