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7 Lessons About Facility Stewardship I Learned The Hard Way

I am thrilled to share this  post with you.  It was written by Steve Caton, part of the leadership team at Church Community Builder.  Have you ever met someone that you know immediately that they “get it”?  Well…that is Steve.  He get’s it spiritually…professionally…emotionally and has a real passion for the church.  In addition, he is a heck of a lot of fun to hang with.

This guest blog by Steve is a real life story that I am sure is far too often the case and not the exception.

7 Lessons About Facility Stewardship I Learned The Hard Way

My former church was once a growing, thriving church. We grew from a plant to about 1,500 members in the first 10 years. It was everyone’s belief (including mine) that if we built a new facility, we could grow to 2,000 or more. So, we marched forward with that new facility without hesitation.

What we didn’t anticipate was the impact the building project and subsequent growth would have on our culture, something we had fiercely defended up to this point. When the building opened, we got the initial boost of new people, but they didn’t stick because the processes to ensure we stewarded those people well did not exist. In short, we never connected them to the church.

The disruption in our culture cost us not only the new people, but it also alienated many of our already connected and very committed base. As a consequence of our decision, our growth actually stopped and then started moving backwards. (Never a good thing!) Today, that church runs about 700-800 people. What a tragedy!

Here are 7 lessons about facility stewardship I learned the hard way:

  1. Align your vision, leadership strategy, and facility goals. If something doesn’t fit, don’t do it.
  2. Facilities don’t “build community,” but they can support it.
  3. Facility expansion will either improve the strength of your community or wound it.
  4. Evaluate proposed facility improvements through the lens of process. Count the cost before the expansion begins. I’m not just talking about construction dollars.
  5. Be clear about why the facility expansion is necessary. Will it contribute to your culture or take your focus away from it?
  6. When you understand the “why,” be ready to translate that into what you do as a church. Growth of any kind requires change and adaption to a new normal.
  7. Expand your church processes (e.g. assimilation, small groups, outreach) to account for new growth. Do this before the growth occurs.

It’s not good enough to know how to expand your facilities. Leaders much recognize what created the need, how the facility expansion will affect culture, and what preparation is necessary to sustain the natural growth that occurs during an expansion project.

If you are prepared and have taken these 7 things into account, then this could be a healthy exercise for you and your church. If not, you risk a breach of trust that may never be reclaimed again with those who helped you get where you are today.

Thanks Steve…I have seen this far too often and this is great advice. If you are considering a building project make sure you contact me and check out Visioneering Studios for help with planning, design, construction and facility management