Navigating Capital Projects in a Tough Economy

Initiatives // April 14, 2010

Our first “On the Table” luncheon was a hit!

Fifty Kansas City area ministry leaders assembled at the Hereford House for a great time of food and fellowship, with the opportunity to hear Senior Pastor Derrick Lynch of Blue Valley Baptist Church tackle the topic that was “on the table” – Navigating Capital Projects & Funding Ministry in Hard Times.

Here is a summary of Pastor Derrick’s comments:

Can you afford the project on the drawing board?

Make sure you know what you can afford to build BEFORE the architect begins drawing. The lending environment is much different today. Have early conversations with lenders and campaign counsel so you know what is feasible. Then and only then should the architect be given direction to begin.

(I have said for years – assemble your entire team early – the architect, contractor, lender, campaign consultant, AVL, etc. Only then can you be assured that early decisions will be made with complete knowledge of what is feasible.)

Do my people know we need this?

Derrick assumed his congregation saw what he saw, but usually that is not the case. With the time spent in meetings and in prayer, it is easy to become consumed with passion for a needed project. Remember that your average church attendee has not been in those meetings with you, they have not had time to process the need in the same way that you have. They likely don’t know the “choke-holds” that are holding your church back.

Derrick’s church voted to proceed with the master plan with a 90% approval. The following day, the stock market dropped over 500 points. It fell another 5000 points during the next two months in the fall of 2008. But the church moved ahead – there was a sense of URGENCY within the church, that if the project wasn’t addressed, it would hinder the impact of their ministry. People saw the need, they reached a spiritual decision through prayer. Doing the project at a time that didn’t make sense only served to glorify God even more!

What do we really need to build?

Your staff knows better than anyone else about needed space and how it should be designed. They are there every day, working in the facility, conducting ministry. There is no one better positioned to be involved during the design process. It may appear arrogant perhaps, but there is no one better qualified to make needed calls during design.

You have a responsibility to be involved during the design phase. If left to laity, they will cut corners without knowing the impact. (Audio/Visual in the worship space is a frequent casualty!) If you have inherited poorly designed facilities, then you understand this point better than most people.

Derrick’s learning through this project and it’s timing related to the economy: God is never surprised.

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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