Thursday, July 23, 2015

Church Capital Campaign – Popular Misconceptions

There are many misconceptions, and what many church members and leaders think they know about a church capital campaign is simply not true.
  • Misconception #1 – All they do is preach about money.
    • A church capital campaign is really not about money – it’s about the mission. We actually talk about stewardship of at least 5 other things besides just money. A capital campaign is not really about money - it's about God's provision for the mission and the work God has given to the church.
  • Misconception #2 – We can do it ourselves. This is both true and not true.
    • Yes, you can do it without help, but just because you can, does not mean you should. (See 1 Cor. 10:13DIY capital campaigns raise, on average, only about one-half what churches who get expert coaching raise.
  • Misconception #3 – A capital campaign pressures people. Both true and not true.
    • properly run church capital campaign does not pressure or coerce people into giving. You can certainly do a church capital campaign poorly (and many churches do), but a proper capital campaign does not use pressure, gimmicks, or guilt.
  • Misconception #4 – We can do this quickly.
      • Not taking your time will reduce the effectiveness of the campaign. A proper campaign schedule gives you time to do it well without burning out staff or campaign team while also increasing the spiritual and financial results.
Learn more about how to organize and execute a biblical church capital campaign
church capital campaign

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Prices Are Going UP - NOW Is The Time To Build, If You Are Able!

It may never be cheaper to build your church than it is right now

Waiting to build is likely to increase cost and/or reduce what your church can build.

Design and construction costs have steadily increased over the past couple of years. A recent email from the San Francisco Institute of Architecture confirms that Architectural and Engineering costs are rising substantially:
"Architects and engineers are getting busier, and fees are going up substantially for all categories of service, and for all building types, in all regions of the U.S."  (Source, SFIA Guidelines email, 2 June 2015 )
If the church's future church construction costs increased by only 10% and your financial ability did not increase that much or more, then you will be building less new facility at the future date than you would today.  In any case, inflation will eat away at what you will be able to build at some future date.  

If your church's giving increases at the same rate as increasing costs, the best you would expect out of construction would be to pay more in the future for the same facility you could build today at a lower cost.

The Cost of Borrowing Is An Added Complication

Interest rates have begun to creep up from a multi-year low, and it is anticipated that the rate of increase will only accelerate starting later this summer or fall.  The combination of increased church design and construction costs coupled with decreased ability to borrow (due to increased interest rates) will impact the church's future ability to borrow.

Summing It Up

This quote from Shakespear's Macbeth may be quite appropriate, "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly."  A delay in starting a church building program WILL have financial consequences.  

If you are not ready to start - DON'T, but if  building is something you are seriously considering, and you are just waiting for the best time, now may be the time to start the first steps in the church building process.  The first step would not COMMIT you to building, only to finding out the answers in order to make an informed decision on whether or not to proceed.

Do You Need Some Answers?

Your church will benefit from clear and objective answers to these questions:
  1. Does our church need to build, and if so, why is building the right answer?
  2. What do we need to build, and why is that the right answer for our vision & mission?
  3. What can our church really afford to build, and how will we pay for it?
  4. When can we/should we build?
  5. Is it feasible to build on this site or do we need to acquire more land or relocate?
  6. Would planting another church or starting a remote campus be a more viable alternative to building or relocating?
If you need answers to these and other questions, a Church Needs and Feasibility Study is the appropriate first step.  It will not only objectively quantify the answers to these and other questions you may not have considered, but will provide the foundation for both capital fundraising as well as church design.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Church Construction Planning - Understanding Needs & Feasibility

A Church Needs and Feasibility Study is the Critical First Step in a Church Construction Project

Several years ago, the Rainer Group was commissioned to study the impact of building programs on churches. From their study of 321 churches came several interesting facts that must be taken into consideration by any church planning to build.

Point 1: Many church leaders expressed concern after their building program, feeling that their builder had encouraged or guided them to build facilities that were too small. 
  • Seeking counsel from a builder on church construction issues is wise, but how many builders or architects have the financial expertise and in-depth understanding of the church’s financial situation to direct the church on how much building it can afford to build? The answer pretty much rhymes with "hero."
  • To be honest, in church building programs it is much more common that the builders and architects have to be “reigned in” to stay within the budget than to recommend too small of space. After all, the more they design or build, the more money they make.
  • The problem here is perhaps these churches lacked an objective understanding of what they could truly afford to build and what the best church building solution would be within their budget. The building budget and prevailing construction costs determine the size of the building while ministry needs dictate the layout of the facility.
Point 2: The Church’s level of satisfaction with construction was much higher with multi-purpose buildings or multi-building solutions and lowest with dedicated fellowship halls.
  • Quoting again from the study, “The lowest level of satisfaction tended to be the result of building a fellowship hall that did not have function beyond fellowship gatherings and meals. The highest level of satisfaction surprisingly took place in multi-building projects in a total church relocation.” 
  • This concept was presented again later in the report, “Multi-purpose buildings bring the greatest satisfaction to church clients after the fact. Before the fact, many churches may lean toward single-use facilities.”
  • The dissatisfaction of many churches in building may often be due to a lack of understanding of the true church building requirements (both long and short term) and the possible solutions that may be implemented to meet those needs. 
  • This issue, like the preceding one, comes down to understanding what must be built, why it must be built, what it will cost, and how it will be paid for - all before the church starts to build. This understanding is the fundamental purpose and goal of a feasibility study
"A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power. For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory." Proverbs 24:5,6
Point 3: A church needs and feasibility study tends to make for better church building programs and happier outcomes.
  • Quoting from the study, “We did find a strong correlation in overall satisfaction with the building project if a feasibility study was conducted. The disappointment, however, is that only one-third of the churches conducted a feasibility study.”
  • While strong correlation that does not necessarily mean causation, the implication is that they did enough further research to validate cause and effect. In this case, the operative phrase is, “if a feasibility study was conducted.” This then squarely identifies a causal relationship. They were satisfied because they conducted a feasibility study.
church needs and feasibility study
Determining Needs and Feasibility in Church Construction
Despite the best of intentions, churches typically lack two critical qualifications for conducting a church needs and feasibility study: experience and objectivity.

With isolated exceptions, most churches do not have the across the board experience in ministry needs analysis, financial analysis, projection, church design or church construction to be effective in performing a church feasibility study. 

This lack of experience prevents the church from:
  1. Knowing the right questions to ask.
  2. How to properly evaluate the answers to the questions they do ask.
  3. Being able to translate this into an actionable plan.

Improve Your Chance of Success:

Follow the link to for more information on determining church needs and feasibility in church construction.

Monday, May 18, 2015

New Resouce - Help For Church Building Programs

If you are contemplating a church building project or any significant type of church construction, you owe it to yourself to check out this new collaboration between two successful church building consulting firms, AMI Church Consulting and Findley and Company.

Help for church building programs
Church Building Services, LLC

Do You Know the 11 Basic Steps In a Church Building Program?

Church Construction Projects actually start long before the church hires an architect or builder. Church Building Services offers wise counsel and assistance from the earliest conception stage all the way through to taking possession of your newly constructed church facility.

Church Building Services, LLC functions as a consulting ministry to churches that need to build, expand, relocate, or renovate church space.  Unaffiliated with any church architectural firm or church builder, we provide objective counsel and assistance that is unaffiliated with firms that have a financial stake in the church building program. 

“By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong, And a man of knowledge increases power. For by wise guidance you will wage war, and
in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
Proverbs 24:3-6 NASB

Download Free Church Building Resources

Free 22-page booklet - From Dream to Dedication
Free 53-page preview of the book - Preparing to Build

The principles and associates of Church Building services live by the motto, "Church First."  We consider the mission and needs of the church to be our first priority.  We offer the abundance of counselors referenced above, who provide the church with guidance as to proper process and the experience to minister to the church through any or all of the typical steps in a church building program

The difference between a successful church building program and other kinds can be attributed to wisdom or luck. This is too big, expensive, and mission critical to leave to chance. 

If Your Church is Going to Build, WISE BUILD

Help for church building programsI doubt that anyone could argue with the concept of, "If you are going to build, do it wisely!"

We call the unique combination of our philosophy, process, and vendor-independent services, WISE BUILD

WISE BUILD will save your church time, money, effort, and stress in the church building process. If you are a church planning to build we can help.  

Here are some of the areas in which we can assist:

  • Pre-design planning (Needs and Feasibility)
  • Capital Fundraising and general stewardship development
  • Real estate search, investigation, and purchase
  • Selecting the right project delivery method
  • Selecting and negotiating with architects, builders, design-build firms, engineers, and other church building team members
  • Contract negotiation
  • Project management
  • Project closeout and turnover
How Can We Help Your Church?

Friday, April 24, 2015

3 Must-Have Survival Tips for Your Church Building Program

It’s a jungle out there” is a phrase we have all heard to describe how dangerous things can be. Church construction can certainly be described in this way since there are more ways for things to go wrong than right. Today, commercial construction is more complex and convoluted than ever, and in order to make it through the “jungle” you have to know how to survive.

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” Proverbs 27:12 NIV

3 Tips To Help You Not Just Survive, But Thrive In A Church Building Program:

Survival Tip #1 - Don’t Underestimate the Danger

In order to see the “danger” we need to understand what is at risk if a church building program fails.
  • Confidence in the leadership
  • Health and overall effectiveness of the ministry
  • Unity in the body and the risk of increased conflict and strife
  • Increased burden on staff and reduction in staff effectiveness
  • Money – a LOT of money that was given sacrificially
  • Ridicule. Luke 14:28-30

Survival Tip #2 - Don’t Underestimate the Value of Proper Process

Take “refuge” in proper process. Your  building program should follow a proper process that is based on knowledge, wisdom, and experience; all critical components that are needed to ensure the finished project is a success.
  • Know the right steps to take. (Knowledge)
  • Understand the right order in which to take each step. (Wisdom)
  • Execute the steps correctly, the first time. (Experience)

Survival Tip #3 - Don’t Overestimate Your Knowledge or Experience.  

There is a fine line between faith and foolishness. Avoid “paying the penalty” by honestly and objectively assessing the church's abilities and experience (or the lack thereof) as it pertains to commercial construction.
  • Gain a clear understanding of the entire depth and breadth of a church construction project from start to finish 
  • Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, and unless you are a retired or active construction professional, you have a knife.
  • Be willing to bring in qualified help to sit on your side of the table. “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Proverbs 1:5 NIV
If you interested in learning more about a guide that can safely lead you though the jungle, follow this link to learn more about How To Reduce Risk In Church Construction.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Avoid Entering the “Wide Gate” Leading to Unbuildable Designs and/or Inflated Construction Cost

Jesus said it well in Matthew 7:13, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.
Jesus knew culture and society would be a constant pull in the wrong direction, but this wisdom is also applicable to a church building program. Following the crowd is often not the right answer, for as many as 80% of churches make similar types of mistakes very early in the process; mistakes that end up costing time, money and more.
For churches looking to build, common practice is to call an architect to design a building, and then receive bids from contractors to build the building. This is a common practice, the wide gate if you will. It may be common process, but not necessarily the best practice for your church. There is a better process, if you know how to do it.

Millions of dollars are wasted each year by churches on building designs they cannot afford, and/or in unplanned cost overruns.

A builder presenting to a breakout group at a church building conference asked the pastors in the room how many of them, when they took over the pastorate, had found building plans in a closet, desk, or box that were never built. Of this group of 22, 20 pastors (90%) raised their hands! If each of those 22 churches spent an average of $60,000 on architectural plans, the pastors in that room alone represented $1.2M of money which were wasted on church building plans that were never built.
Construction cost overruns and change orders are commonplace in the construction industry. With these issues is not a matter of “if”, but “when”. Sadly, many contractors and sub-contractors actively pursue change orders as a method of increased revenue and profit, at the church’s expense. What would the dollar cost of even a 10% increase in your building program be? Wasting precious money in building is largely avoidable with proper planning and management, if you know how to do so.

Two Questions to ponder…

  • Do you want to just follow the common practice of the day, or educate yourself on the options available to you and make the right choice for your church?
  •  Do you want to sail through your building program with confidence in knowing you are following a wise path and have properly positioned your church to receive an affordable and cost effective design with minimal exposure from change orders?
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, 
I took the one less traveled by, 
and that has made all the difference.” 
Excerpt from the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

Just because something may be the common practice of the day, it does not mean it is the right and wise choice for your church building program. If you are interested in learning more about how to avoid the “Wide Gate,” follow this link to learn more from an experienced church construction consultant.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

40 Ways to Hinder Your Church Capital Campaign

Over the months of preparation and execution of a church capital campaign, there are many things the church does to hinder the spiritual and financial results of the campaign.  The list is not exhaustive, as churches can be very creative in sidestepping the best practices, but presented here for your edification is a list of common ways to hinder your church capital campaign. 
Read the full article on Abundant Giving

Monday, March 23, 2015

News Update: Investing in Church Construction Consultant Provides Huge Dividend for a Church in Georgia

Cost is usually the first issue that comes to mind when hiring a consultant. Asking, "How much does a church construction consultant cost" may be a flawed question! What if the consultant is actually an investment that produces a return, not a net cost?

This premise is well illustrated in this case study for church in GA which is certainly glad it made the investment before it was too late.  So without further ado, let’s crunch the numbers…

Before hiring a church construction consultant:

  • Church's building budget was $10M.
  • Architect’s design fee: $550,000.
  • Initial bids received for architect’s design: $14M-$19M. The bids were 40 to 90% over the church's  budget - far beyond what the church could afford.

After hiring a church construction consultant:

  • Project was designed within the church’s desired budget. 
  • Construction was completed on time and final cost was $300,000 under budget.
  • Change orders were less than 1%; far less than the industry average of 5% to 15%.

What Return On Investment Was Produced By The Church Construction Consultant?

The investment produced both tangible and potential savings:

  • Tangible, hard-dollar savings of $300,000 in actual cost savings below construction bid.
  • Non-tangible Savings:
    • A workable plan that allowed the church to proceed with their project.
    • Kept the cost of change orders to less than $100,000, far less than the $500,000 to $1M that would be typical for a project of this size; an additional savings of $400,000-$900,00.
    • Reduced stress and more effective use of staff’s time and talents.
  • Costs that could have been avoided had they hired the consultant earlier in the process:
    • Initial architect fee of $550,000 that resulted in church plans that could not be built.
    • The value of over one year of lost time in the architects original design process.
    • Additional stress and effort on the part of church staff
Total Savings...
  • Even being invited to the project late, the consultant’s fee of $250,000 provided savings of at least $700,000, and as much as $1,250,000. 
    • This is an return on investment to the church between 180% and 400%!
    • For every dollar the church invested with the consultant, they received a financial return of between $1.80 and $4.00! 
  • If the church had hired the consultant before engaging the first architect, there would have been an additional $550,000 in savings, making the savings between $1.25M and $1.75M.
    • This return on investment could have been between 400% and 600%!  
    • If the church had hired the consultant before the initial architect, the savings would have been as much as 6 times the investment!

If you are interested in an investment that will produce great savings in your church building program while also reducing cost, risk, and stress,
see the article, How Much Does a Church Construction Consultant Cost.

Many thanks to Cody Findley of Findley & Co. for this excellent case study on the value of a church building consultant performing as an owner's rep.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How to Reduce Church Construction Cost

The world of construction today is more complicated, and certainly more regulated, technical, specialized, and convoluted than ever.

What you don’t know will cost you…

reduce costKnowing how to manage your project “in house” is a critical factor in reducing church construction cost. Bloated designs, design creep, finance carrying cost, liens, litigation and legal expenses, change orders, and so on are all factors in increased church construction cost. According to industry statistics for commercial construction, change orders alone typically range from 5-15% of the original contract price. Much of what drives up cost is avoidable with proper planning and management; that is, if you know how.

5 steps to reduce cost…

  1.  Make sure your budget is driving your design, not the other way around.
  2. Understand the various project delivery methods and perform due diligence before hiring your design and construction team.
  3. Make sure the contracts you sign are reviewed from a legal and technical perspective for accuracy and fairness.
  4. Be prepared to deal with change orders from a technical and contractual standpoint when they arise.  
  5.  Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. Make sure you have as much knowledge, wisdom, and experience on your side of the table as those sitting across from you.

If reducing church construction cost and achieving the best outcome for your church building program is your goal, follow the link to learn more from an experienced church construction consultant.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Avoid This Expensive Church Capital Campaign

The Church Capital Campaign Solution Most Churches Should Avoid...

  • Will almost certainly be the one with the highest overall net cost.
  • Will have the least spiritual impact on your church members.
  • Will be the most stressful and least effective.

Avoid This Costly Mistake In Your Church Capital Campaign!

No doubt you to learn how to avoid this type of expensive and ineffectual church capital campaign and the vendor who offers it.

The answer may surprise you! 

So without further mystery, allow me to direct you to a resource article that will explain this in more depth. Follow the link to learn more about how to avoid the most expensive church capital campaign.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Church Capital Campaign Overview Video

Last week I posted this introductory video on the Abundant Giving church capital campaign. If your church is planning a biblical church capital campaign now or in the future, please take just a few minutes to learn how to unleash abundant giving in your church -  I think you will be glad you did, if only to understand the theological truth represented by the header graphic.
church capital campaign

Abundant Giving Church Capital Campaign

Friday, February 14, 2014

Timing the Church Capital Campaign

Church Campaign Calendar
Give Yourself Time To Do It Right!

Don't Make This Common Mistake

One of the most common mistakes made by churches in their capital campaigns is not beginning to prepare soon enough.  Churches that are interested in a church capital campaign fail to realize that the organization and preparation should start  six months or more before their commitment Sunday in order to have the greatest spiritual and financial impact.

This does NOT mean that you spend 8 months talking about stewardship and money.  What it does mean is that you begin to organize and equip the church campaign campaign committee well in advance of when you want to be in front of the congregation.  For a fall capital campaign, this ideally means beginning in the first quarter of the year.  For a spring campaign, you will ideally want to start in late August or September.

With few exceptions, the public portion of a church capital campaign will typically be timed to complete before school is out in the spring or before the beginning of the holiday season in mid-November.  Why, you might ask? The public phase is typically 5-7 weeks of preaching, teaching, prayer, and excitement building. Trying to do this while many are on vacation or otherwise preoccupied with holiday events is counter productive.

A Church Capital Campaign Takes Time - If You Want To Do It Right

It's much easier to do a church capital campaign badly than well.  It takes far less effort, thought, and time. There are nearly an infinite number of ways to run a church capital campaign, but only a very small subset of those will produce the spiritual and financial results that you need and desire.  

A capital campaign is a critical component of your church building program or your financial strategy to retire debt.  Whether to retire a burdensome debt or to raise money for renovation, expansion or new construction, your church's capital campaign is too important not to do correctly.  A failed campaign means you negatively the ministry.  A failed campaign is also not easy to fix.  You may well have to live with these results for the duration (typically 3 years) of the campaign.  

A poorly run campaign that does not have the proper emphasis can reduce general fund giving, cause people to question the vision, or even questions the leadership's ability to lead.  Properly done, we expect that not only will you achieve your financial goals, but we typically see a 10-15% increase in general fund giving! Added to this financial result is an increased passion for the vision and mission of the church and increased commitment to achieve the church's ministry goals.

You have a choice, not terribly unlike the choice God said to Israel in Deut. 30:19, "... I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants." You too get to choose, choose well!

Adequate Time 

  • Provides the time to recruit the right people, hopefully those other than the 10% that already do 90% of the work.
  • Provides time to get the right people equipped for this important ministry.
  • Allows the campaign to more easily fit into an already busy calendar.
  • Reduces the stress and time commitment on staff and the normal "go-to people" who already do so much.  Avoids burnout. 
  • Gives more time for spiritual development in the very important doctrine of stewardship and generosity.
  • Allows the campaign to be about more than money, but about generosity and stewardship of all God provides, including:
    • Time
    • Talents
    • Treasure
    • Truth
    • Testimony
    • ever'Ting else
  • Allows you to take your capital campaign from good to GREAT.
  • Lastly, it allows the staff and capital campaign committee or team to have a more relaxed schedule over the summer vacation or winter holidays.  Scheduling and motivating volunteers is difficult at best, this is much easier for staff as well as for the volunteers on the various capital campaign teams.
In short, time is your friend in a capital campaign.  Spreading the effort out over a longer period is a blessing to both the staff and the capital campaign team.  On my checklist, I have over 130 individual tasks and milestones that comprise a successful church capital campaign. It's not easy, if you are going to do it right!

If you are interested, you can request a free report on the top 10 quality factors that differentiate a successful church capital campaign from the "other kind."  You can email me to request a free copy be sent to you.

Last Word

Last, but not least, you may be interested in this article on how to avoid the most expensive church capital campaigns. You may be surprised by the answer, but the math doesn't lie.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Church Building Consultant Website Live

I am pleased to announce the new website for our church building consulting services is live.

Also visit my Abundant Giving site for information on the church capital campaign or raising money for a church building program will happen on my Abundant Giving website.

See you there!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rethinking Church in the Gym

Before you rule out doing church in your gym or multi-purpose center, see what First Assembly of God in Meridian MS did with their gym when they had to move out of the sanctuary to be able to continue to accommodate growth.
Recognizing that the church needed an interim solution while it prepared for its next phase of building, they invested in decorating the gym to serve as the temporary new sanctuary. If you look carefully, you can see the wood floor, but it sure looks like anything but a gym.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Give Your Church $1,500 For Free

What minor (or perhaps major) sacrifices are you willing to make for the advancement of the Kingdom of God? This article was written with an eye towards increasing giving to a church capital campaign, but is equally true for everyday giving.
  • Giving up just one fast food meal per week for a family of four saves well over $20 per week or more than $1,000 per year.
  • Putting off buying a new car for three years would save a great deal of money. The average car payment is around $420 per month which equates to over $5,000 per year.
  • Giving up a one weekend getaway per year could easily free up $500 or more per year.
  • Instead of going out for lunch from work, bring a bag lunch twice a week (or more!). This would easily save over $10 per week or more than $500 per year.
  • Studies indicate the average American goes to the movies 5 times a year at an average cost of $12.50 (with popcorn). For a family of 4, giving up movies would free up $250 per year.
  • Skip the candy bar and soda at the gas station and save $2.00 per week or over $100 per year.
  • Trim your cable or satellite TV package and save $10 per month and save $125 per year.
  • The average household grocery bill for a family of 4 is over $800 per month. Clip those coupons and shop those sales to trim 10% out of the budget and save $1,000 per year.
Implementing just one-half of these lifestyle sacrifices (excluding putting off a car purchase) would free up over $30 per week for the Kingdom with no impact on the household budget.

You are able to give the church an extra $1,500 for free - since it did not cost you anything extra to do so. To this "free money", you should add a financial contribution as God has prospered and provided for you to do.