When to vacate a building?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by jshurley04, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. jshurley04

    jshurley04
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    We are small church just east of San Antonio that has had some very rough years for the last 10 or so. It was all under the same pastor and it is not that he did anything wrong specifically, it just was a case of rough times for the church.

    Because of this, the church has had very little money on a regular basis and has not met their bills on some occasions including the mortgage note. Because of this, much needed maintenence on the building has gone undone and it very much looks poorly. At the moment we need about 10k in foundation repairs, 3.5k in carpeting, 2k in paint and wall repairs, about another 7 or 8k in a new outside AC unit and another 18 to 20k to replace the rear AC unit completely along with all the rear duct work due to a ducting recall that was never accomplished and now we get to pay for it. We also are in need of replacing our exterior sign that is falling down which would cost around 2k. This does not include the estimates that are still in the works for the replacement of our eves and painting as well as new siding that must be replaced because it is falling off and we can see the insulation from the outside. This does also not include many other things that need to be done in order to present our church building as something that we care enough about to make it look minimully acceptable. Then there is the roof, a vaulted roof/ceiling that waves at everyone that goes by and that pulls into the parking lot. One other note, the church has provided a parsonage for the pastor (myself) that sits on the same property as the church. It is also in great need of repair, but that is another story and not as important as the church building.

    Thus my question, at what point do we cut our losses and sell the building and property to get what we can and find something else? or do we stay and plung ourselves into debt that we have no hope of paying back at this time. Do we just sit and wait for the people to give up and leave because the visitors that we get say they like the church but simply feel unsafe in our building because of the effects of the foundation issues? We are a small congregation that is trying to rebuild and recover from the years of neglect and not having the blessings of God on our church. We still owe about 30k or so on the mortgage that we are struggling to pay each month.

    My friends on the board, I could shurley ;) use your help in this area. I am seeking wise counsel so that I may lead my flock in the best possible way. I have an officers meeting to discuss these issues next Friday night. I await your counsel.
     
  2. rbell

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    Mainly, I offer my prayers. There are many, many folks much wiser than I regarding these issues.

    One thought: I don't know what "flavor" of baptist you are (SBC, IFB, other)...just thinking: are there any contacts (for instance, if you're SBC, an association) who could offer a sister church some help?

    Maybe a church could come do some mission work for you...that happens in SBC circles all the time. There's a fantastic group, not specifically SBC (I don't think) called "Carpenters for Christ." THey are men that go off during the summer and build/rebuild/repair churches. Maybe they're worth looking up.
     
  3. tinytim

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    I wish I had some advice, but I don't.. But I too will pray for God's guidance.
    rbell had a good suggestion about a sister church helping.

    There may be some older and wiser pastors on here that have been there, done that, that will chime in and give you guidance.

    I will be in prayer though.
     
  4. exscentric

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    One group was mentioned, there is also hard hats for Christ that is mission based and they do the work and guide volunteers if you pick up the materials.

    They might also be able to give you some idea on your question of sell or repair.

    Don't know how you feel about it, but there are funds for historical buildings as well if it qualifies and it sounds like it might be old enough for that. The county or city might have some ideas for you as to where to look.

    Many churches have hired one qualified man to direct volunteers. If folks would commit themselves a lot could be done.

    A new place certainly won't be cheaper!

    forgot: 610 N First Ave., Kelso, WA for hard hats and they may have a website.
     
    #4 exscentric, Mar 21, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2007
  5. Trotter

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    Rough spot to be in.

    As rbell said, though... seek out any association help you can, even if you are not in the association. In my area, the local association heads up a project called Ocoee Outreach (Ocoee is one of the main streets of downtown, as well as a local whitewater rafting river). OO brings in teams of teens and volunteers over the summer to do repairs and renovations to homes of the poor... lots of them here, as a part of my county actually ranks among the poorest in the nation.

    Many churches in my area also send teams to other places to do work. Many of these teams have professionals in them; electricians, carpenters, plumbers.

    Here's a link to the contact info for my local association: http://tinyurl.com/yrsh2p

    Give them a ring and ask to speak to Randy Bonner. Tell him that I gave you his number (Lamar Trotter), and ask him about any churches who may be sending teams out. If nothing else he can give you the numbers of the people you would need to reach, or will pass along the info to them.
     
  6. Jeff Weaver

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    Dont know if this will work for you or not, but certainly has for my church.

    1st. Take a skills inventory. Who in the congregation can do what needs to be done. If they can and will, then materials will be certainly cheaper than a whole series of contractors. Basic carpentry isn't rocket science, and sounds like a good bit of it is the basics. Repairs walls, painting, etc. is labor intensive, and if you have folks in the congregation who have/are willing to try, should save a pile of money.

    What specifically is wrong with the foundation? Cracks, settling subsoils? Even that might be doable with the right professional guidance. See if you can find a qualified soils engineer who will give you (at least consult on the cheap) the solution. Perhaps it can't be done by your congregation, but then again....

    You dont say what size the congregation is other than "small." We have a church of 15 members, who recently completely renovated the meeting house and built a fellowship hall, without going into debt. Members of the church did a majority of the work.
     
  7. jshurley04

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    Our Smallness

    We are a congregation of about 25 or so on average. I have one faithful man in the church and my ladies are a majority of retired homemakers/farmers wives. About 10 to 12 of my 25 are children, my own or bus kids. We still owe about 28k on the building and we have struggled for years to pay that. We have received estimates on the foundation repairs in the range of about 8k which actually seems a little low. We have been given a firm estimate of 2.8k for the outside unit of the auditorium and about 7.8k for the complete replacement of our 25 year old rear unit. We have been give an estimate of about 3.4k for replacement carpeting in the auditorium and still need to address the 1/2" wide cracks in the ceiling that are at the peak of the vault.

    Roughly we are looking at somewhere in the area of 60k or so just in repair/maintenence/remodeling plus the amount of the mortgage. I am having a hard time justifying spending that much money and not gaining any classroom space or office space or auditorium capacity. We are also on only 1.5 acres so we have no room to build if we went that route.

    I need to make a reccomendation to my officers so that we can present options to the church. I am just at a loss for what to do. I have spoken with pastors that I respect and not been given an answer other than, "Wow, tough decisions ahead, huh?" That is not exactly helpful. I just need some guidance on how to proceed. This is a matter of prayer but I also believe that seeking counsel is also wise.

    Thanks
     
  8. rbell

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    Have you thought about sharing a facility with another church? Maybe you could do an after-lunch SS and worship service (just a 'fer instance'). If you guys have your heads on straight (and you seem to), and you link up with a sister church that has their heads on straight...for a year or two you guys could really save up and come up with a good plan that is well-thought out...and isn't tainted by the pressures of "right now."
     
  9. Trotter

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    A few churches in my area use school gymnasiums or cafeterias as thier meeting place. Most of them are new churches that have gotten too big to meet in a house, but haven't saved enough for a building. At least one is using one of the middle schools while they build a new bigger church (they sold their old one, but zoning held up construction). One church meets in the YMCA.
     
  10. blackbird

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    rbell is on target on this one!!! Many associations now are gearing their men up for exactly that-----repair/construction teams---you can find them just about anywhere now. They'll come in---asess the work needing done---then scedule times they can come in and work----you supply the materials, naturally.

    Whatever state you live in---if you are an SBCer---contact your state baptist building---tell them what you need---and they'll send out the right person.
     
  11. jshurley04

    jshurley04
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    Vacating a Building Not an option

    Well we just had our Easter services, complete with the Lord's Supper this evening. I think that I have just about decided that the focus on our building is taking energy and focus away from what we should really be doing, reaching people. We had over 23 for children's church (5 adults) and only 11 for the adult worship and then only 9 total for the Lord's Supper. I believe that I have allowed myself to be distracted by our building and have not been following up on some of the more basic things like personal contacts and visitation. Maybe my preaching is not the greatest, but the guy that I am following was much worse, so I am told. So I am making a public statement that until we get back to doing the things that we need to, we are only going to do the minor things and let God handle the major. While I am not going to take any focus off of our children's ministry, we are going to put more focus back into our adult ministry. I have stacks of cards and decision lists that the former pastor never followed up on, now it is my turn to do what should have already been done.

    Thanks for the input and please keep us in your prayers, because right now the trustees of the church and the pastor are all fighting some form of discouragement. Our ratios are way out of whack and it is time do find some better huntin' dogs. (Them's technical terms here in Texas) I am a young pastor and quite frankly feel very overwhelmed and under prepared and have questioned if I am in over my head and that maybe God brought us here to prove to me why He was not using me before or to be the catalyst to go ahead and shut down this church by ineptitude.

    I hope that this has not been a downer, but I very much feel like I am failing God and this people. I am off to a pastor fellowship Monday night and Tuesday and Lord willing I can make some contact with another pastor of like mind (direction and style wise) to get a word of encouragement and maybe even to mentor. That has always been my desire was to work with someone for a while before pastoring, but no one wants to mentor the young guys, they just want to stick them in a ministry and let them learn it the way they did, the hard way. I just feel like there is so much that I need to know about the daily operation of a church and planning and motivating. I'm sorry for dumping on this list like this, I just didn't know where else to turn to at 1:15 am the day after Easter.

    Thanks
     
  12. Hope of Glory

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    Well, I can tell you that you have been given some good advice, without specifics on your particular situation.

    You can choose to sell or repair.

    If you sell, you have to meet somewhere. What are those options? How much will it cost?

    Locally, the Methodist church and the JW's were helped by their sister churches over the last couple of years. The Kingdom Hall was erected by a hugh team from all over the country, and except for the foundation was completed, including carpeting and pictures on the walls in 24 hours.

    All I can offer is my hammer and my saw if I make it to Texas as planned this Summer, but what little I can offer is available. I'm also free to preach and/or teach a Bible study seminar using the computer as a tool.

    The church that I come from has all the maintenance and repairs done by those in the assembly whenever possible. Interestingly, those in the community pitch in with those we cannot do, often being done by atheists who think we are a good influence on the community. (Small church also with about 25 member in the Winter, double that in the Summer.)

    BTW, if you're interested, I can send you a CD with a couple hundred messages from another Community Baptist Church in Tennessee.

    Oh, one thing that I would not do: You mentioned the possibility of accepting debt that you cannot pay. Don't do that! In my opinion, if you do that intentionally, that is theft. If you overextend yourself innocently (unforseen circumstances), I think it's regrettable, but not theft, but intentionally? Poor witness.
     
  13. SaggyWoman

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    Some thoughts, if you can handle these options.

    1. Sell.

    2. Lease/rent space to other small language churches. Share the joy!

    3. Lease space to a day care if appropriate.

    4. Connect with your association and become a sattelite for church planting or an outreach center.

    5. ????
     
  14. David Lamb

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    Yes, I have heard of a growing number of churches here in the UK who meet in hired premises (Community Centres, schools, village halls, and the like). Many of those, including my own church, have never had their own building, but I expect some will have discovered the advantages of hiring a hall, and decided to sell their buildings. The advantages are not only financial. Meeting in a hired building can provide a good way of explaining what a church really is - not an edifice of bricks and mortar, but a group of people, sinners saved by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    And to the original poster J Shurley, you are not failing God's people just because the building in which you meet is in a bad state. You would be failing them if you forgot or neglected those words you have as part of your signature, "Building Disciples that Build Community." Whether you end up meeting in a hired room, or whether the Lord enables you as a church to repair your present building or purchase another, remember those encourageing words by our Lord about building and church in Matthew 16.18:

    I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

    Take heart from words such as those found at the end of Romans 8, in verses 31 to (or "through" as you say in the States:) 39.

    Oh! May God answer your prayers, give you and your church help and guidance!
     
  15. j_barner2000

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    Brother, we are all praying with you. Perhaps, the Lord knew you are the man to build His church there. Maybe He placed you there to get the congregation back on track.

    Perhaps, like suggested, some of the minor repairs could be done by members and neighbors. Our church has grown because I got to spend time helping neighbors help the church with maintenance issue.

    Try to get the things which are more cosmetic done in the least expensive manner. Talk to the other pastors in the area, you may be surprised to find they could use some voulenteer labor too. Get the churches to work together and help each other help each other.

    Again, we will be praying with you as you serve Him in the easy times and the difficult times.
     
  16. jshurley04

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    Time to vacate?

    Well, just an update.

    Part of the problem has been money, so we have simply decided to do what we can do and go from there. We talked about moving, but that is not reasonable to do right now. So we are going to stay put unless God brings along an offer to buy to property for what we would "need" out of it to move elsewhere. (Need = an insane amount of money that would foolish to pass on.)

    Another part of the problem has been the fact that I have been church focused and NOT church focused. I have focused on the building exclusively and as you pastors know, this is very detremental to the growth of the church body. We are going to do what we are able to make things look as nice as possible but we are no longer going to focus on the building's needs as the number one priority. We are going to focus on the needs of the body as number 1, 2, and 3 from now on. The building will be taken care of as we are able. If we grow the body above our average of about 26 (including about 15 kids) then we can begin to look at doing different things because we will then have the resources.

    If I do not begin to focus on the body then the building won't matter. I am a body man, because that is what is leaving when Christ says to "Saddle Up" and come on home. Thanks to all for your input and yes there are somethings that we are going to consider, such as the Texas Baptist Men and the BBF Builders as we are able to get the money together for the materials. Thanks.
     

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