Real estate serves your church, but shouldn’t define it. Your ministry strategy should define your real estate opportunities, but real estate opportunities should never define your strategy. These buildings are intended to do one thing: Facilitate an experience at a healthy price point. It is important to understand how and when to move from one phase to another.
At Ministry Solutions, we’ve talked about the benefits of temporary facilities when it comes to flexibility, cost, culture, and the like. One thing that I feel doesn’t get considered enough as an option is this: Sometimes instead of jumping from a temporary environment to a semi-permanent or permanent space, it’s a better choice to add another temporary venue.
Meaning, if we look at everything through the lens of cost against capacity, and maintaining the highest need, which is flexibility, it would often seem to make more sense for a church to have 2 to 3 temporary locations, build up the critical mass of givers, volunteers, and staff, before spending millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a permanent or a semi-permanent location.
If you are in a market that is semi to high density then multisite is likely in your future. It would be prudent to create a heat map of where all of your donors are coming from, see if there is a concentration of people coming from one or more other areas, and identify another temporary location in that area before taking on the burden of a building. Ask a church in that area that has one service if you can use or rent their facilities while you grow. We have seen churches do this, and it’s mostly been successful. By the time they are ready to go into a permanent facility, they’ve built a much larger and much more involved congregation to shoulder the expense, allowing for faster and more efficient growth.
The keys to moving from a temporary to a semi-permanent environment are usually pretty simple if you follow the ministry capacity model we’ve identified. It’s all about cost to revenue. This move is actually one that involves more qualitative factors and forecasting, as long as the finances make sense.
From a cultural and qualitative standpoint, it makes the most sense to graduate due to volunteer fatigue and the need for permanent children’s space. Typically, a graduation out of a temporary environment has little to do with adults in seats. We have seen a consistent trend in growth, specific to dual-income households with kids, when churches who are tight on space move from having set up/tear down environments to a more permanent and secure location. Does this happen for every church? No. But it does for those churches with a clear demand for space and a focus on family ministry.
Whether or not you should move out of a temporary environment is a much easier decision than choosing whether you should go to a semi-permanent (lease) or permanent location. And then, if the lease option doesn’t work, you have the question of whether to buy land and develop a new space, or to adapt and reuse an existing space.
Our team at Ministry Solutions has assisted churches all around the country in navigating the hiccups and hurdles of expansion projects, saving pastors like you millions of dollars in time and resources.
We would love to offer your church a free analysis to help you understand the best pathway to eliminate the guesswork, accelerate the process, and say yes to growth!