How is your church property benefiting your ministry?
There are generally four key areas that churches discuss regarding financial health:
- General Tithes and Offerings-These ongoing gifts provide the operational budget support for current and immediate needs.
- Missions giving-These gifts are specifically dedicated and allocated to outreach funding for the “Great Commission” we have been called to as believers.
- Over and above needs-These are out of the ordinary needs for improvements and expansion (capital needs)
- Planned & legacy giving-These are important for long-term church financial health. Estate gifts provide future stability and educate givers how they can continue to be a blessing for generations to come through stewardship of assets.
There is a fifth area that is rarely discussed but just as vital for the church when it comes to financial planning: property stewardship.
Often, churches need help finding worship space and facilities as they grow, as well as helping other groups to “repurpose” facilities that are no longer being used by a congregation. It helps to have an experienced partner advise churches on being good stewards of what God has entrusted to them. Sometimes that means tapping into underutilized resources to create real estate income, and sometimes harvesting the value trapped in excess property. Every dollar generated or saved by a prudent real estate decision is a dollar that can go toward advancing the mission of the church.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with Scott McReynolds (http://concordcommercialrealty.com/staff/scott-mcreynolds/) of Church Property Group who assists churches with maximizing and leveraging opportunities that could exist through their current property and real estate holdings. As I always look for ways to help churches in all areas of stewardship, I asked Scott to share a little about this underutilized area of focus in the hopes it would benefit some of you who read this.
Impact Stewardship: Who is Church Property Group?
Scott McReynolds: We are a ministry/division of Concord Commercial Realty (www.concordcommercialrealty.com) that specializes in assisting churches in making prudent decisions on their real estate holdings, allowing me to combine my ministry background as well as our real estate platform as developers.
Impact Stewardship: How do you help the church?
Scott McReynolds: The short answer is that we assist the local congregation in finding additional revenue streams. In the past few years, the major denominations have seen a decline in attendance as well as a decline in giving. Churches have to look for additional ways to cover their operational cost allowing what comes in from the tithe to go directly back in for ministry purposes. Also, if the time comes when churches are no longer tax exempt, it will be a paradigm shift in the way churches conduct business. It is important for the Body to be proactive instead of reactive in this season of the Kingdom.
Impact Stewardship: What do you do?
Scott McReynolds: We actually do quite a bit in terms of assisting churches with the real estate needs. We do some brokerage work in the selling and purchasing of facilities. However, our real passion is working with churches to repurpose and redevelop their existing facilities or unused land. We also work with a lot of church plants in helping them find space. One of the greatest challenges for a new church is finding a location to meet.
Impact Stewardship: Can you give examples of how you have assisted churches?
Scott McReynolds: I can give you a few examples of ways we have helped churches. The first was a congregation in Alabama. They were a “downtown” church and were dying because they were land locked, so to speak. Most of their members had moved to the suburbs. We brought a major grocery store to the table. The grocery store bought the property. With the purchase of the facility, the church was able to relocate and build a new facility. They are now in an area where they are growing and having a major ministry impact. The second is a church that we worked with to bring in a Charter School. As you know, most churches’ educational buildings are not used during the week. With the way they are set up, they work perfectly for a school. The church signed a 5-year lease with the school. From that partnership, the church, over the 5 years, will gross about $1.2 million. This was “found” money for this church and will help them in continuing to do ministry. Lastly, we just had a church, who had 20 acres of undeveloped land, sold it to a Senior Adult Living Facility. Not only does the church make money from the sale of the land, they will make residual money on the operation of the facility. The other amazing thing is that the church has an opportunity to minster to folks who are literally right outside their door!!
Impact Stewardship: How are you different from just another real estate company/developer?
Scott McReynolds: For the most part, every church has a commercial or real estate broker in their congregation. As I stated before, we do some brokerage work, but our desire is to work with churches to be creative when it comes to their buildings or land. In my opinion, outside of its people, the greatest asset a church has is its real estate. Why not put that asset to use? Most churches have land or buildings that are appreciating financially, but they do not put them to use for Kingdom purposes. Think about this, churches could take the resources they have been blessed with, create revenue from them and at the same time be able to minister to the community around them. I truly believe that as the “church”, we need to be finding ways to sustain our ministries.
Impact Stewardship: Why do you feel this is so important or what can you say to a church that is struggling to keep its doors open?
Scott McReynolds: I had a conversation with a director of missions a while back. We were just talking about the state of the church and where things were headed. In the course of our conversation, he said to me “So you are the guy we call when we are out of options?”. I said, no, I want to be the guy you call when you are aware that you might have a problem! Our heart is to see churches keep their doors open and thrive in their communities. Churches are a lot like families, when there are financial struggles it puts a strain on all the relationships. You start to cut programs, you cut staff and before long you are selling your facility to a local developer. One thing I will tell you, is once a church closes its door or sells to a non-church developer, a church will never go back in that space! We must look forward and know that our calling is to strengthen the church and when a church body is financially strong, I believe they can do great work for the Kingdom!
Impact Stewardship: I often have churches contact me to discuss their situation and determine their options when it comes to increasing their giving to fund over and above capital needs. I am assuming you field questions from churches all the time regarding how their property can help fund some their ongoing financial needs?
Scott McReynolds: Yes, in fact, I am open to creating a dialogue with anyone who night be curious how they can better utilize their ministry space and real estate assets.
Impact Stewardship: Scott, thanks for your time. I think this is very helpful for churches to start the conversation.
To connect with Scott, reach him at this link: http://concordcommercialrealty.com/staff/scott-mcreynolds/