Monday, August 27, 2012

Building Costs

An article a few months in a facilities magazine reflected that the true cost of building in not in the architect's fees, furnishings, or even in the actual construction of the building. The article stipulated that over 80% of costs of a building are in the maintenance and operations of the structure.

Say a building has a lifespan of 50 years. The first year the building is built. The next 49 years the building is used for its purposes. Over the course of the 49 years, the cost of the utilities, maintenance, repairs, improvements, alterations, etc. will cost at least four (4) times as much as the initial construction done in year one. That operations cost (the one over the 49 years) does not include the cost of any personnel associated with that structure: custodians, employees, technicians, etc.

Before (BEFORE) you build a building, look at your budget and your future revenue streams. Does your budget have the financial margin to grow and absorb the cost of a new building. Can you afford the additional utilities and maintenance costs? How will you pay for new heavy equipment and major repairs (e.g., HVAC or a new roof) over the next few decades? (By the way, if you set aside funds 10% of the original building cost into a reserve account to cover those costs, you'll have enough to cover all major repair costs over the life of that building.) Is your budget healthy enough to add staff to take care of the buildings over its lifespan and ministers to put on programming in that building? Ask these questions ahead of time - you won't regret it.

Also, before you build, think creatively as to why you're building. There are some opportunities that if a church is willing to think outside the box, you can leverage a lot of resources. Here are a couple of examples:
  • One church wanted to build a parking deck. Members of a Sunday School class knew that the city also wanted to build a parking deck in that area of town. The city and church worked together - the church provided the land and the city paid for the construction and they got a win/win. The church gets a parking lot it uses for free each Sunday and it didn't have to pay for the construction; the city got the parking it needed but it didn't have to buy the land.
  • A church wants to build a recreation center. What if the church worked with a local fitness center: the church offers the land and the fitness center builds the facilities? Church members can use the center for free and the church then has people right next door who may have never gotten near a church - a mission field right next door. And the church didn't have to find $5 million to build a center and then $200,000 a year to staff the facility.
  • The same could be done with a daycare - collaborate with a respectable day care center to use church faciliites for the benefit of the church, the center, and the community.
Think long-term and think creatively.
Lead On!

Monday, August 20, 2012

What Hasn't Changed?

My missionary/pastor father was born in 1928. I distinctly remember going on vacations where he wore a coat and tie every day - of vacation! That's who he was and the generation of which he was a part. He went to church every time the doors were open, even when he wasn't the pastor of the church.

It's been 32 years since he died. And times have changed - dramatically. My children don't go to church in "Sunday go to meeting" clothes. They wear what they wear to school - shorts, flip-flops, shirts (we usually do require a solid color shirt, not a logo shirt).

What else has changed in church from 30, 40, or 50 years ago? Actually, EVERYTHING!
  • The music we sing to
  • The instrumentalists
  • The "hymnals"
  • The pews
  • What people wear
  • The Bibles people bring (mine is on my iPhone)
  • How people learn (in the middle of a Bible study, someone will pull up a doc from the internet)
  • The "Sunday School quarterlies"
  • Mission trips
  • How we do missions
  • How members support their church financially (electronic offerings are increasingly the norm)
  • etc., etc.
I can't think of a single area of church-life which has remained stagnant in the past 30 years (except maybe the sermon!).

Okay, now think 30 years from now to the year 2042. If you think we've had a lot of change in the past 30 years, it's going to be increasingly exponential change in the next 30. That leads me to ask:

Are you being intentional in preparing your church for upcoming changes? OR Are you just going to let the changes happen to you?

Change will happen - you can't stop time, don't even try. But you can get ready for change. I'm not saying you have to embrace every change that comes along, but you don't have to fight every change either. Pick and choose your battles (the best piece of advice my mom ever gave me!) - learn what changes your church should adopt and adapt to. If you resist change, your church might end up with closed doors. Your church will be stronger in the long run by developing a healthy attitude to change.

Lead On!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Generous Living

  • My daughter participated in Relay for Life a few weeks ago. This event is put on by the American Cancer Society to raise funds for cancer research.
  • Last week, my church had a yardsale to raise money for youth to go on a mission trip.
  • A couple of months ago a friend participated in St. Baldricks - an event during which people will shave their heads to raise money for cancer research.
  • Every time I go to Starbucks, they give me the opportunity to buy a mosquito net for $10 for give a few dollars for some cause.
Every week I'm given the opportunity to be generous - to give a few dollars to people or a cause that is worthy of financial support. There are countless ones that don't deserve your money or time - it is up to the donor to do his/her due diligence to ensure that the cause is worthy. But for the ones that are worthy, how are you giving to them. More importantly, is "generous living" part of your nature?

A few years ago Oprah interview some poeple who came into sudden wealth. Some were lottery winners and others were actors. All said they were mobbed by family and friends who wanted/needed money. The bottom line that everyone agreed with is that sudden wealth magnifies your innate personality: if you are stingy, you will be even more stingy with your money; if you are innately generous, you will be even more generous with your new money.

Children learn more by watching than by listening to their parents. If they see their elders being generous, I want to believe that these youngsters will grow up being generous (that is a hope of mine, I don't know that there is any documentation to prove that). I've seen that lived out many, many times in individual situations - youth will be naturally generous because that is what they were taught by their parents.

All of us can be examples of daily generosity to individuals and causes. All of us need the practice of being more generous. All of us should be examples of generosity to the next generation. Generosity is not just about money, but also about your time, your skills, your expertise, your wisdom - its about being generous with YOU!

What are you doing to live out generosity? Do you take advantage of those opportunities that literally come across your path or do you ignore them? Do you research the causes that are requesting money or do you ignore them or give them a token gift instead of really digging?

Then, when you are living out your generosity, do you tell others about the neat cause or purpose? Make sure your motivation is pure - don't tell others to get them to applaud you, tell others because you want them to be aware of how they can help, too.

Make generosity part of your DNA. Make it so that when other people talk about you, the word "generous" is used countless times. Make "a generous person" the words that should be on your tombstone.

Why do this?
  • If you are a follower of Christ, you'll be generous because God was and is generous and you are commanded to be generous (you have absolutely no other option).
  • If you are not a follower of Christ, do it because there is no downside to being generous. When is the last time you heard someone get criticized for being "too generous?"
Give. Be generous in all you do, every day, so that people will automatically presume you will be wisely generous.

Lead On!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Conversations Not Confrontations

In elementary school I remember the entire class being punished because of the infraction of one person who would not come forward and admit to what he or she did. Instead, all of us got punished. I've seen that happen in churches and church staffs, too. Because of one person's actions, an edict is issued or a policy is passed which applies to everyone.

Church policies have their place but my experience is that when you have formal policies, then you need "policy police" to enforce them. At worst, that can lead to a culture of negativity or fear or confrontation. Many church policies are created in reaction to one incident in an effort to prevent future situations. My experience tells me that often these are over-reactions to one occasion. Instead of passing policies, let me suggest that church leaders act as leaders and confront the person that caused the situation.

Actually, confrontation has negative connotations but there are positive ways to have a confrontation. So, intead of using a negatively-tinged word, I'll switch to the word "conversation." Rather than have a confrontation, have a conversation.

A conversation - a constructive, positive, "one-minute-manager" conversation - can do a lot to salvage the employee or volunteer in ways that a policy can never do. In fact, the person that caused the incident may never associate that his action resulted in a policy. Policies require time and discussion among a bigger group when that may not be necessary.

So, please talk with people - have conversations. Help the person understand how his words or actions were received by others, how what she did caused confusion, pain, or even disruption in the organization. Show that person how he could have handled it better or what she should have said. Do this in a conversational way, not confrontational.

At the end of this, you will have saved loads of time in not passing a policy when then requires further policing. You will have gone straight to the source of the issue. And you will have had a conversation which will lead to better communication among everyone in the organization.

Lead On!