Facilities Management

July 4, 2019

by the Rev. Mandy Jones is Senior Pastor of Forest Hill UMC in Concord, NC.

Last year, I attended the “Seeds of Change” workshop through Wesley Community Development Corporation.  While at the workshop, I learned that churches use facilities on average 10% of the time.  That means for most churches, we are spending money to heat and cool our buildings 90% of the time with zero benefits to the kingdom of God.  When we begin to think about stewardship of our resources and creation care, we can clearly see that this is not an effective use of what God has entrusted to us.
We can improve our stewardship and realign our resources with better management of our building and grounds.  Facilities management is an effective way to reduce monthly expenses, create space for ministry needs of your church, and support ministries within your community. When evaluating facility management, here are four things to consider.
1. Reevaluate Space Usage
Everyone wants to have their own space for their ministry but having dedicated space for a part-time ministry can be costly.  An easy way to find out how you are using your space is to walk the property and list what days and times each space is being used.  Then look at what ministry days and times don’t overlap.  Could some ministries share the same space?  What are the obstacles to sharing space?  Are we storing things that we don’t currently need?  While not everyone in your context may be overjoyed with the idea of sharing space, most people understand and appreciate the opportunity to be part of a process that helps reduce the financial burden on the church, while fully using the resources that God has provided.

On our journey, we….
  • Created a task force with the responsibility of ensuring that our church was being the best steward of both our finances and space.
  • Crafted a strategic plan for campus usage so that we could have a clear vision for the Church Council and the congregation.
  • Anticipated and encouraged flexibility in the process and reported back to the leadership as plans developed.
  • Included important stakeholders like the Church Council and Trustees.
Keys to success
  • Cast a vision of why you are evaluating space.
  • Communicate clearly and openly your desire to make the best use of space and resources in order to gain support.
2. Install Wi-Fi enabled thermostats.  A simple solution to save money in your facilities is to manage your HVAC systems.  If you are not using a space, it should not be kept at the same temperature 24/7.  If you install Wi-Fi enabled thermostats, you can program HVAC needs based on the programming needs of the week.
On our journey we...
  • Installed Wi-Fi enabled thermostats three years ago and we have reduced our electricity usage by 18% and our gas usage by 15%
  • Planned ahead with calendaring in order to schedule correct temperatures to maximize efficiency.
  • Discovered that when we are not on campus, we can still check the temperature of a building and correct any HVAC system issues by making repairs early.
Keys to success
  • Ensure that only a few people have access to adjust the thermostats.
  • Assign the responsibility of programming thermostats to one person that is aware of all the needs of the facility.
  • Special consideration should be given to areas that store instruments.  Instruments are not able to withstand extreme temperature changes.
  • Do not turn off HVAC units.  HVAC units help to regulate humidity and reduce stagnate smells. 
3. Partner with community ministries.  Space is a valuable commodity in our communities.  Many times, an organization asks to use the church and out of the goodness of our hearts, we allow other organizations to use our space without charge.  While it may not seem like it cost us anything to loan our building, the cost is incurred in the wear and tear on the building and the addition of utilities.  As stewards, we are to be managers of all that God has entrusted to us.  It is not good stewardship to allow another organization to consume resources that the local church needs to not only survive but to thrive.  It is smart to know what it cost to run each building on the church property so that when a community ministry wants to share space, we can share the burden of cost.
On our journey we...
  • Discovered that when we consolidated our ministries, we had a building that was not needed. 
  • Realized managing and allocating space effectively meant we could lease a building without changing our level of ministry to the community.
  • Generated income, reduced utility cost, and helped local ministries by being able to lease a building to a Homeschool Coop. 
Keys to success
  • Know how much each building cost to operate.
  • Have a routine maintenance plan for facilities.
4. Facility Management is an ongoing process. The more you work toward managing facilities, the more possibilities emerge.  The process takes time and will need to be implemented in stages.
On our journey we...
  • Began in the fall of 2018 and continue to develop and execute our strategic plan.
  • We have reduced our overall budget expenses for utilities and maintenance.
  • We are now looking to renovate space to be more cost-effective.
Keys to success
  • Think outside the box about how you traditionally use space.
  • Expect change along the way.
  • Remember the less you spend in utilities, the more you have to spend on mission and ministry.  Communicate this to key stakeholders and celebrate the successes. 
Leadership Development