Temporary Church Space Could be the Permanent Solution | Church Realty

A Temporary Church Space Could Be The Permanent Solution

By | Real Estate Resources

Before you commit to lease or purchase a church facility, you must get clarity on who you are and what your ministry is called to do. Doing the groundwork to define your mission, vision, and values is an essential first step before pursuing real estate. The next step is to understand your capacity. Capacity is not only your financial capacity but also the market capacity, what it costs to rent, lease, or purchase a church building in your target area. Learning to optimize the temporary church space and operate in a way that will allow you to set aside funds for a future space will position the church to secure a facility if a facility is a part of your strategy.

When people join a congregation in a temporary church space, they often look forward to the day their church will have a permanent building to call home. They see the setup and tear down “phase” as merely a phase and are often anxiously awaiting a building. 

This is usually not just limited to the people; the planter also often feels that getting a facility shows that the church has “arrived.”  As a church real estate agent, I also had this view to some extent. Everything I did drove a church to a more permanent facility or a building.  However, I now have a new approach — coaching the planter to challenge what facility they think they need as it relates to their clarity and their capacity. 

Below are the stories of three different churches and how they are reaching their target area without owning a facility:

Temporary Church Space Could be a Permanent Solution | Church Realty

Church in the Center (CITC) in Houston, Texas

This church is located in the medical district around MD Anderson. CITC specifically reaches medical students and medical professionals in the medical center district. They often have a revolving door as many students are only in Houston for a season and then move on. 

They hold three different meetings during the week. They meet in different spaces and have not had an exclusive space for any time in their seven years of ministry. The spaces available in their area are limited and expensive. During the week, they utilize free or rented spaces for Sunday Worship, Bible Studies, and other gatherings. 

All of this has resulted in a consistent, but not expansive budget. Moving out of the medical district to secure a building would take them out of the place they have been called. CITC is exploring the options and counting the cost of each part of their ministry to determine if they should stay mobile or if they should secure a seven-day-a-week lease space.

City Church in Plano, Texas

 This church is meeting in the Angelika Theater in Legacy Town Center. Legacy Town Center is a mixed-use development at the center of one of the hottest real estate markets in Texas. Companies like Toyota and Liberty Mutual are joining Frito Lay and JC Penny as they call this area home to their corporate offices. 

City Church is five years old and has always been in a mobile location. To find a building or lease space, City Church would need to relocate to a different area. Pastor Ray Harmon shared with me that they have been called to the Legacy Town Center Area and he understands that relocating out of it would not be in line with who they are called to reach. 

City Church is looking to see how they can leverage the theater space and other spaces around them to be the best stewards they can so that they can be a generous church. Like CITC, City Church is in a high rent district, and the spaces that they may use look different than what they had pictured two or three years ago. By leveraging the Theater, engaging in Apartment Life ministry in Legacy Town Center, and ministering to the people who live and work in and around Legacy Town Center, City Church can show the love of Christ to many people without buying or leasing a building of their own.

Chase Oaks Church in Plano, Texas

This church planted a Hispanic Campus on the east side of Plano. Chase Oaks is a multisite church, but its Hispanic Campus functions as a church plant. The church meets in a local elementary school while doing seven-day-a-week ministry in the Chase Oaks Family Center just down the street. This ministry center allows Chase Oaks to offer ESL classes, Bible studies, and other ministry programming during the week. 

We have seen the ministry center concept work in Texas, California, and Seattle in a multisite context. The community center can be an excellent option to provide church planters with a midweek space to offer youth programs for their families.  

Buying a Church Building Isn’t Always the Destination

These examples show how you can successfully use temporary church space for your ministry without buying a church or building a facility. If your church is considering a space outside your target area, we encourage you to consider how that move will affect your ministry; sadly, we have seen a five-mile relocation contribute to a church plant losing core members and end up shutting down. Exploring every temporary option available can help you leverage your existing space at an affordable cost to keep the focus on the ministry in front of you.  In the meantime, saving cash to set aside to secure a space in the target area will prepare you to lease or purchase a space. In the examples above, real estate prices are expensive, and opportunities are limited.

Before Making a Real Estate Decision, Challenge Your Leadership to Answer the Following Questions:

  • Why do we need a building?
  • Have we maxed out the space we currently have?
  • Can we afford a facility in our target area? Know what it costs to secure a space. Save funds.
  • Are we ready to increase the amount we spend on a facility?
  • How can our church best utilize space in our target area?  

If you do not know the answers to the above questions, then we would recommend you pause before signing a lease or purchasing a building. 

Count the cost, get clarity, and develop an understanding of your capacity. 

A building or lease space is a tool that can add value to your ministry, but a facility that does not align with your clarity or capacity can cripple your ministry. A space that does not fit your budget or moves you away from your target area can cause you to miss opportunities to maximize your ministry. As you process your facility options, make sure your team understands why each option is the right space or the wrong space. Push your team to ensure you do not occupy a space for the wrong reasons. 

Remember, the church is not a building; a building is a tool to be used by the church.

Contact Church Realty for Help Finding a Temporary Church Space

We’ve helped so many churches across Texas find the real estate solutions that best fit their ministry and mission. We can help you, too! For experienced advice from real estate professionals who understand the needs of a church organization, contact our Plano or Houston office today.

Top 10 Things to Know Before You Lease a Church Building | Church Realty

Top 10 Things to Know Before You Lease a Church Building

By | Real Estate Resources

We often get calls from churches asking for lease space. Most of the time, churches don’t know how much space they need or how much spaces cost in the marketplace. There is also a great deal of information regarding building codes, finish-out costs, and securing permits that are unknown to those who call. Before you lease a church or start shopping around, we advise the church to get an understanding of your space needs and your budget. The following are the top 10 things that a church must know before they lease a church building.  

Most church plants and multisite campuses start in a one-day a week space or a leased facility. The list below outlines critical factors to consider as you look for space.

Lease a Church in Texas with the Help of Church Realty | Church Realty | Houston and North Texas

Get a Clear Understanding of Ministry Needs

Get clarity around your mission, vision, and values before locking up space.  

  • Minimum requirements: To seat 150-175 and have three to four classrooms and a foyer, you will need at least 4,000 square feet.
  • Ideal Space: To seat 250+ and have several classrooms and offices, you will need at least 6,000 – 10,000 square feet.
  • If you have young families, you will need to have clean/safe classrooms. For example, the floor should be carpet and not tile; otherwise, you can bring in an area rug.

Ensure a Certificate of Occupancy

A church falls under Assembly use. The building inspector will require specific improvements for a space to go from office to Assembly.

  • Assembly use will have specific requirements for doors, fire safety, restrooms, etc.
  • Will you have access to enough parking? Do you need a parking agreement?

Check for Fire Sprinklers

Does the space have fire sprinklers? 

  • If not, will it be required? If the space is over 5,000 square feet, it will most likely be required. If the space is already a church, it might be grandfathered in.
  • What will it cost? Does the property have a large enough water line coming to the building to have the right amount of pressure? If not, this expense will be significant.

Keep a Margin in Your Budget

Church plants need to save money for future facilities. Whether preparing to buy or leasing additional space, you must save cash.

  • Between facility rentals, staffing, and programming, make sure that you are saving cash for future facilities.  
  • Consistently pay a specific amount to a designated account over and above your current facilities’ payment. This will show that you can afford more payments then you have, and it creates a fund for future facilities.
  • If you have a “deal,” do not get used to having a small facility payment. Having a below-market payment can hurt you down the road when a lender looks at your history.

Explore All Options

Define your target area and know the market. If the market is too expensive, then stay mobile and live lean. A building may not be the right answer.

Keep Proper Financial Records

  • Preparing for the future means keeping proper financial records from the start.
  • Find a local CPA that understands churches or a volunteer member who has a solid financial background.
  • If you use a volunteer, make sure you have controls in place to protect the church. We’ve all heard stories where the church member that was in charge of the finances takes money from the church.   

Don’t Allow a Paster to Co-Sign or Guarantee a Lease

  • Some landlords will require a personal guaranty for the lease. I have a rule that says, under no circumstances will a pastor co-sign or guaranty the lease. Why? If the church is in default, then the Landlord will expect the pastor to pay.
  • Solutions include re-paid rent or having a sending church guaranty a portion of the lease.

Know the Lease Rate

Most lease rates are quoted as an annual number.

  • If the agent quotes the space as a $12 per square foot lease, that translates to a 4,000 square feet space that will cost $48,000 per year or $4,000 per month. Under that scenario, the space could be quoted at $1 per square feet as a monthly number.

Investigate the Lease

  • NNN – This is an additional $ amount that covers Property Insurance, Taxes, and Common Area Maintenance
  • Gross – The lease rate covers the additional expenses in the quoted rate
  • Industrial Gross – The additional expenses are included in the rate but will have a base year, and the tenant will be responsible for increases.

Get Professional Assistance

  • The landlord will likely have a real estate professional on his/her side. Get a real estate professional on your team, too.
  • A lease is a legally binding document, and a real estate agent is not an attorney.  When signing a lease or any legally binding contract, seek the counsel of a real estate attorney.

Lease a Church in Texas with the Help of Church Realty

Many of the items on this list have stories that go along with them. We have seen a fire sprinkler issue cause a church to lose their security deposit, and they were never able to occupy. Not keeping proper financial records and not having cash set aside caused a church to miss the opportunity they had been pursuing. If you need help preparing for future facilities, email us for a free consultation.

Top 10 Things to Know When Buying a Church Property | Church Realty

Top 10 Things to Know When Buying a Church Property

By | Real Estate Resources

In a previous article, we discussed the Top 10 Things to Know When Finding a Facility for your Church Plant. That post addressed the things you need to know when leasing a space for a church plant. After growing in a lease space for a season, many churches look for a permanent home that they will own. This first purchase is often comparable to a starter home for a young family.  This facility will serve as a place to expand ministry opportunities without overstretching the budget. Before you shop for space or start calling on signs, we advise the church to get an understanding of your space needs and your budget. 

The following are the top 10 things that a church planter must know before buying a church property.  

Whether you are purchasing an existing church building, a building to convert, or land, the following is a list to guide you as you evaluate options.

Buying a Church Property Takes Research | Church Realty


Understand what you can afford.  Is this a cash purchase? Will you get a loan? If so, what is your loan capacity?

  • Market Capacity: Understand what it costs to buy a building in your market. Costs and Supply and Demand vary from market to market.
  • Loan Capacity: What is the amount that you can borrow?  Just because a lender may loan you $2,000,000, you may have an internal limit. Know before you shop publicly.
  • Cash Reserves: Many lenders will require 20 – 30% down, but they also will want you to have six months of operating capital in the bank.

Ministry Needs Guide Your Facility Needs

A building is a tool for ministry.  Your ministry should dictate the facility you need. If you have an adult Bible Study on campus, then you need more classroom space. If youth and sports are a vital ministry, you will need a gym. Before you owned a building, there were vital ministries that were important, and a new facility should not change that to the detriment of your church.

  • Define your ministry needs
  • As you consider your facility needs, consider how many services you will run and how you can staff volunteer areas.
  • Consider multipurpose spaces? If you build a gym, can it also be used for Sunday morning ministries?


As a church grows, more people usually come to your building. Accessing your property can be a real issue as growth occurs. It is critical to have a minimum of 2 points of access. A church site larger than 5 acres with a seating capacity of more than 500 will need more than two access points. 

  • Ingress – In other words, how people can get into your site. Median openings allow people to travel from 2 directions to turn into your site. Deceleration lanes can help reduce traffic on the road as cars turn into your property at the high traffic times. Remember that by design, many people come to you at once; being able to access your property is essential. 
  • Highway Locations – Many churches want to be on the highway. Having frontage on a service road or highway can limit the points of access.  It is essential to understand where your curb cuts are in relation to on-ramps and off-ramps. If the off-ramp misses your access point, then people either must pass you and turn around, or they must exit at an exit before they see you.
  • Egress – This is how you exit your site. This is critical, especially if you are doing multiple services.  Can people leave the lot while others are diving into the parking lot?  


One of the critical things for church properties is making sure you have enough parking. Many old church buildings are on small sites, less than 2 acres, and often have limited parking. If the building was built in the early to mid-20th century, then many people may have walked to their neighborhood church.

Parking requirements differ from city to city. Be aware that the city requirement may be woefully short for your actual needs. A city that allows one parking space per 5 seats in the sanctuary is not helpful to a growing church. Today, some families may bring 2-3 cars to church based on when family members need to arrive. Be aware of what your congregation needs for parking.  

  • Some cities base parking off seats in the sanctuary – 1 space per 3 seats
  • Some cities base parking off square footage – 1 space per 250 sqft of building 
  • Parking spaces may cost $2,500 per space.
  • Offsite parking can be acquired by agreement or easement.


Capacity can be looked at in two ways: current seating capacity and growth capacity.

  • Seating Capacity – What is the ideal sanctuary size for your church? Today I see more churches with 500-600 seats with multiple services as the solution as they grow. If you are a church-planting church, then a smaller sanctuary with multiple services may be more appropriate than seating 800-1,000.     
  • Growth Capacity – Before building or buying a facility, think about what your growth plan will be. Are you in a position to be a megachurch? Are you going to plant new churches when your current church reaches a specific size or is multisite in your future? Often a church has outgrown its children’s space before outgrowing the sanctuary. Growth can come to a halt when support space reaches its capacity. 

Land Development Costs

When buying land, you must know what it will cost to develop the site before you commit to the purchase. Some sites are “great deals” because utilities and roads are not near the property. A cheap site can become an expensive site when you find out your first phase is to spend $500,000+ to bring the necessary utilities to the site. Utilities like water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, electricity, and gas are critical. A water line could be onsite, but it might not be large enough for commercial development. 


In many cities, church use is allowed by right. Other cities may require a Special Use or Conditional Use Permit. A city is not allowed to keep a church from using a property with zoning. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act protects churches in this situation. If a city is citing zoning as a reason, a church cannot use a property; you need to understand your rights.

A church real estate agent should help you consider the current zoning before making an offer on the property. Zoning actions like a Special Use Permit does require additional costs and help from an architect, engineer, or zoning specialist.

Change of Use Requirements

When a church buys a building to convert it to church use, the city building inspection department will be vetting the property under an Assembly Use. This may change the building and code requirements for the finish-out. Items like fire sprinklers, fire alarms, exit doors, ADA are all items to consider.

When a church buys an existing church building, many code items may be grandfathered in. If you spend $50,000 in renovations, you may be required to bring things up to the current code. Get a clear understanding of this early in the process.

Audio Visual Costs

Understand the audio and visual costs. The AVL budget may be critical. I have worked with churches that determined the most important thing was that they wanted to ensure that people would hear and see the message. AVL is sometimes overlooked early in the process. New spaces may need a sound system designed for that space.

There are purchase and lease options for AVL equipment. Get quotes from multiple professionals.

FF&E (Fixtures, Furniture, & Equipment)

These are the items that fill your space. From the lobby to classrooms and offices, all these items cost money. I have seen churches that have selected the things they want for the room and then allowed members to tour the space and choose the items they would like to buy for the building. When moving from leased space to a larger facility, there is often a need for additional furniture and fixtures. Include this in your budget.

Contact Church Realty for Help Buying a Church Property

If you need help preparing for future facilities, email 4phases@churchrealty.com for a free consultation.

Thoughts on Reopening Churches in 2020 | Church Realty

WE are the Church: Thoughts on Reopening Churches

By | Real Estate Resources

The Church is not a building. 

This is not breaking news or new information, but it is more real in the Spring of 2020 than ever in recent history. Around the world, the Church is growing in places where there is not a physical building. In our western culture, we are viewed as a “real” church when we have a building or physical location. But now, here we are in 2020 not able to meet in our facilities. 

More people are seeking answers about their existence, people are hurting, and the Church is shining the light of hope as bright as ever. More people are viewing services online than average attendance pre-shutdown. Pastors and church leaders are working more hours than ever during this crisis. Now, talk has begun about how we will go about reopening churches. How we will gather again once social distancing is behind us?

We are the Church: Thoughts on Reopening Churches in 2020 | Church Realty

Church During a Crisis

Before this crisis, I and many others were skeptical of “online church.” 

I may have said that wasn’t church. Some chose not to venture into online church because of their convictions. Their theology said, “We, the Church meet in person, gathered together, to worship or participate in sacraments.” 

But now 10 weeks into COVID-1, we are all meeting online. During this crisis, the Church has continued to meet while not being allowed in our buildings. 

We “go to church” in our living rooms.

We gather in small groups on Zoom. 

So now, churches are all weighing the decision to reopen. This decision and pressure weigh on the church planter and the pastor of a giga-church equally. But just as there is not a cookie-cutter approach to multisite or church planting, the decision to reopen and the path taken may be different for each church. 

Questions to Consider for Re-Opening Churches

Consider the following questions as you and your leaders discern and develop your plan to reopen:

  • How does our theology inform our decisions about gathering?
  • What is essential for us as the Church?
  • When we meet, what is our purpose; to gather for worship or to unite with our friends?
  • What do we need to do differently from the past?
  • Are we talking about gathering to worship, or are we just talking about programming?
  • We know some people will not come back immediately. How will we continue to connect with our online audience?
  • How will we engage the online audience to be functioning members instead of an audience of numbers?
  • How do we need to change our space to meet in this new paradigm?
  • What steps do we need to take to be considerate of others as they join us?

The Right Timeline for Your Ministry

Part of the pressure that pastors are feeling is that some percentage of our communities are ready to open back up and shake hands as we did before. But, others need time and space. 

Balancing the needs of people will not be easy. Weighing your decisions based on your beliefs is a good line to hold to. Consider everything from your gathering to your online services and discipleship pathways. If a solution does not fit within your theology and convictions, then throw that option aside. 

There is a great harvest and revival ahead. We must be the Church and let our theology guide how we engage those that join us. 

This may mean we need more members of the body to personally disciple their families and their neighbors in their homes and local communities. This may look different to a senior citizen who may not come back for 8-12 months, or a new believer who has never been to church. Yet, through it all, we the Church must remember the Church is not a building; we are the Church!

Relocating a Church? Avoid These 4 Common Mistakes

By | Real Estate Resources

As churches start to grow, they start evaluating their long-term facility needs. This need is most often felt in the children’s ministry. We hear statements like, “We have kids everywhere on Sundays. We keep trying to figure out what to do with them.” This often leads to discussions and evaluations of relocation or expansion. These congregations realize that facilities often restrict churches from fulfilling their mission.

If this sounds like your community, now may be a time to consider relocating a church. Begin by having the leadership team sit down to develop a specific, detailed plan of action. The plan, when in alignment with the vision God has given them for their church, will guide your efforts to find the right location for your community.

Relocating a Church Comes with Common Mistakes | Church Realty

Here are the four mistakes to avoid when relocating a church.

  • Faulty Information – Collecting and relying on estimates that don’t take into account the total cost of relocation will set the entire project on a bad foundation from which recovery may be impossible. Take your time to understand every moving part of relocation before you begin to put together your plan. Count the cost before you set out.
  • Overconfident Estimates – God is in this with you, but he wants you to be a good steward of what you have now. Understand what your capacity is and what is available to you for a new location. Don’t get trapped into thinking, “if we build it, they will come.”  That was a movie about a baseball field, not the lives of disciples God has given you responsibility.
  • No Thorough Project Plan – In thinking through a plan, the most important starting point is a communication plan. How are you going to inform and get buy-in from your congregation? They need to understand why you need to move, how you chose the new location, how it fits into the vision and mission of the church, and what their part is going to be in the relocation project.  The rest of the plan is executing the “work.”  But without a good communication plan, you will “work” more to bring you people along than to move.
  • No Team of Experts – A poorly thought-out relocation plan that fails will weaken a church and the credibility of its leadership. Save your dollars and your leadership team’s reputation by building a team of professional advisors.  Moses had Jethro to be an advisor, and you should have no less.  Hire professionals in their field that understand how a church makes decisions and have the experience to help you develop a winning plan.  Your team would include a church real estate professional, a construction company, an architect, and a project manager.

Relocating a Church in Texas? We Can Help

Church Realty helps churches just like yours buy and sell church buildings to find the space that fits their mission. If you are considering a church relocation, or simply want some real estate advice from proven professionals, our team can help. Fill out our contact form to reach a member of our team today.

Multisite Churches in North Texas: A Strategy or A Solution?

By | Real Estate Resources

Churches of all shapes and sizes are searching for locations to maximize the impact of their ministry. From the downtowns of our largest cities to the suburbs, church plants occupy schools, hotels, theaters, and shopping centers. Every church needs facilities that meet the needs of their ministry in order to share the Gospel effectively. Whether it is finding enough sanctuary seating or having classroom space for toddlers and children, the church faces questions about how to be most effective as they seek to reach people in new and different places.

Does the Facility Meet the Mission?

At the core of the evangelical church is the desire to reach as many people as possible with the saving message of the Gospel. A megachurch and a local community church must both face the same question: Does the facility allow the church to accomplish its ministry effectively? A small church building that seats 200 people may have great preaching and programs, but if there are not sufficient facilities to meet the needs of the ministry, then growth will stop, and people will search for another church that provides better programs. Likewise, a megachurch that builds a 5,000 seat sanctuary must make sure that the education space that is built is strong enough to support the seating capacity. Church leaders must consider how their facilities affect the ministry. 

The Growth of Multisite Churches

As churches evaluate their facility issues, the options of expanding, relocating, and multisite are options that are considered. In a survey of the largest 100 churches in America, there are more multisite churches than there are megachurches. In this survey, conducted by Ed Stetzer and Lifeway Research, 75% of the 100 Largest Churches in America are using Multisite, and 59% of the 100 Fastest-Growing Churches in America have more than 1 location.  When church leaders meet to discuss the mission and vision of the church, multisite is a hot topic as a strategy to reach people in different locations. So the question presents itself:  Is multisite a strategy or a solution?

Avoiding Church Planting Failure

At the inception of starting a church, it is essential to understand the mission and vision of the church. Many church planters start their church based on a call from the Lord and begin with a small number of resources and the prayers of the people or church that sends them. Today, traditional church plants have a failure rate of close to 50%. Despite great church planting organizations like Acts29, church planters face an uphill battle. Church planters work hard to plant a church on limited funds, in rented facilities, and with minimal staffing. Often a young Pastor and his young family enter a new environment with limited organizational or financial help from a sponsoring church. On the other hand, these great church planters go out into their personal “Jerusalem” and get plugged into a community and build relationships that help build the foundation for the new work, the church plant. Church planting is key to the great commission, yet many are starting to question there a better way to avoid seeing 50% of church plants fail and see a Pastor burnout.

Multisite Churches as a Ministry Strategy

Traditionally growing churches have started church plants as the church seeks to Biblically spread the Gospel and start new works in new locations. The model of a church sending out a Pastor with their prayer, blessing, and some form of financial support is changing. 

Today, many healthy churches are exploring multisite to begin new “church plants” in new cities, states, and even around the world. Multisite has become an option that allows churches to plant new starts with strong leadership, financial strength, and better resources. As churches explore multisite, they come to realize that multisite enable the church to be a better steward of resources.  

Mike Buster, the Executive Pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, called the move to multisite “an issue of stewardship.” As the Plano Campus grew and members were being added from cities 25 minutes away, the leadership found that many were driving a great distance to church but that those people were not as likely to bring their neighbors with them. The first multisite came as a result of seeing a large number of members in the “380 Corridor,” which was a strong growth area. The “North Campus” would enable these members to reach their neighbors in their community. The addition of the first multisite for Prestonwood, allowed the church to “leverage their resources” and to be a better steward of those resources to reach people for Christ.  The decision to start multisite falls in line with the mission statement of the church, and Buster indicated that pursuing the multisite model must line up with the mission of the church.   

There is a great need in the church today for the church to be “in the community.” The trend of home groups and multisite both point to the need that the church must be local in its ministry.  Multisite can be a successful strategy to reach people by activating each member to be more fully engaged in their fellowship. At Church Realty, we have heard many Pastors talk about the members that are willing to drive long distances to the church they love, but they struggle to bring the people they live with to church. The strategy of multisite allows members to be ministers and actively engage their community and reach people for Christ. 

Multisite Churches as a Facility Solution

Often, a church committee considers expansion plans yet determines that the budget is not workable. More churches are starting to consider the option of buying an existing building that is affordable and operating it as a multisite. Many churches start their first multisite as a way to solve a facility issue. 

LifeChurch.tv started their first multisite in a theater as they had reached capacity in their six services at their church campus. The church could not afford to build as it would cost too much and take too much time. This is a real situation for churches of all sizes.  If a church has already reached capacity and wants to start considering a building program, it will be necessary to count the actual cost to build the facilities. It will also need to count the cost in terms of ministry space and the ability to sustain membership in an already maxed out facility.

Kevin Penry, Operations Leader at LifeChurch.tv, said the first multisite came as a solution to a need to provide space for more people.  Similarly, The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, realized that they had reached capacity at their campus.  Brian Miller, Lead Pastor of Ministry Services, said they had reached capacity in multiple services and were praying through their next steps to address the issue. In discussing the steps that led to multisite, Miller said, “We did everything we could with our building; multisite was not a part of a plan, but rather the provision of God provided through a church about 30 minutes away that approached the Village about a merger”.  This enabled members that drove from a great distance, to shorten their drive and become active members.  Miller stated that multisite had not been a strategy; it has been taking the ministry to the members allowing them to be intentional within the communities where they live.

Other smaller churches have started their churches with the multisite model at a very early stage.  A church that is less than 200 members, leasing in a shopping center that is considering a multisite as a solution, would be wise to count the cost and talk to others that have done multisite before fully pursuing multisite.  Kevin Penry commented that “if you can do church where you are and don’t need to do multisite, don’t do it.”  The wisdom in this statement is as follows:  1) Multisite is not a fad that everyone needs to try 2) Multisite is a tool of the mission, not THE mission 3) If it is worth, do it well and then replicate.  The decision to start a multisite as a solution must be made by a strong home church that is solid in membership, grounded in its mission and vision, and financially secure.

Is a Multisite Church the Best Fit for Your Ministry?

While many churches embark on the multisite experience as a solution to a facility problem, the repeated theme I have heard from each of them is that multisite is about discipleship.  Multisite is about mobilizing members to be more active in their community and focused on a mission to bring their friends and neighbors to church.  “Multisite is a strategy for growth based on discipleship,” says Brian Miller from The Village Church. 

As we work with churches that are considering facility decisions, we hear the discussions about expanding, relocating, and/or start a multisite.  Multisite can be an effective solution for a church that has reached capacity.  The churches in this article that used it as a solution had more than 2,000 in weekend attendance before embarking on the multisite road.  While it started for them as a solution, it quickly became a strategy that allowed the church to reach more people, and it empowered the members to be more involved.  If your church is considering multisite, please take a moment to count the cost, consider your mission, and begin to take steps to be the best steward of your resources as you use them for ministry.

Contact Church Realty in Plano or Houston, Texas

When you need experienced real estate help to expand or relocate your church ministry, contact our team at Church Realty — with locations in both North Texas and Houston.

Downsizing a Church? Tips for Finding the Right Space | Church Realty

Downsizing (or Upsizing) a Church? Tips for Finding the Right Space

By | Real Estate Resources

Most church plants and multisite campuses launch in a temporary space. In the beginning, they simply do not have the resources or loan capacity to buy a 50,000 square foot building. And a temporary space can be a smart strategy for the initial season of ministry. As a church plant grows, they begin to offer additional ministries and have more children. To continue serving the church community, there’s often a natural movement toward a facility with certain security and safety needs. 

On the flip side, a church that built 50 years ago when the church had more than 1,000 members may not fit the same congregation that is now under 200 members. This scenario often involves a community that is going through a significant demographic change. Just as a 50,000 square foot building would not fit the church plant, a 50,000 square foot church may not meet the needs of an aging congregation of less than 200 senior adults.

The Building Needs to Match the Ministry

We all know the church is not a building. That being said, most churches will build or buy a church building. At times, buildings built 40+ years ago no longer fit the current ministry, and both the church and the building decline. Our team had the great privilege to serve Royal Haven Baptist Church in Dallas, TX. This church was, at one time, a growing and thriving congregation. But over the years, as more people moved to the suburbs of North Dallas, the demographics changed significantly. A sanctuary that sat 900 now had a weekly attendance of 70 people. This church struggled to make decisions about their facility issues for ten years. At long last, a buyer came along and an opportunity to relocate from their 80,000+ square foot building to a 30,000+ square foot building. The church right-sized its facilities, and within two years, they were growing and had more than doubled in size. They were able to merge with another church and began new ministries in their new neighborhood.

Like the established church at Royal Haven Baptist Church, church planters need to evaluate their facility as a critical ministry tool. 

Whether they use a one day a week space or an exclusive lease space, the church must consider if the space they have fits their ministry. The church that started in a community center without a defined worship room may need a new space that has a larger worship area and a better area for children. A simple move from the place you met when 50 people were coming to a space that fits a congregation of 150 can create a better opportunity for your guests. I’ve had several conversations with church planters recently that said their current worship space was full and a little awkward for a new guest. Church in the Center in Houston previously used a spot in the medical district. They recently moved to a local YMCA and, in just a couple of months, are seeing an increase in attenders. Leaders must continuously evaluate the tool and how it fits your ministry. You may need to consider a relocation like Church in the Center, while another church may just need to add additional service times. 

A Vision for the Future, Not the Past

Recently we met with a Pastor that has been at a church for four years, following the 20+ year ministry of the church’s founding pastor. The new pastor has the vision to plant churches. The church started with plans to be a megachurch in the community, with room to build and receive thousands of people. The pastor understood that they could try to be the church that the building was built for 20 years ago, or they could be the church that they have a vision for today. If they are going to be the church that they have a vision for today, they need half the building they currently have. They need to right-size their facilities to maximize their ministry effectiveness. This is a counter-cultural thought. Many leaders are pushing to be the next big church and build out a campus or multiple campuses. This pastor pressed into who this called out people, the ekklesia, is called to be and is leading his people to right-size so that they can most effectively accomplish the ministry that God has set before them. 

Is Your Church Building Serving You?

Do you have the right tool to maximize ministry? Does your facility facilitate ministry, or does it limit ministry? Growth and measures of success should be contextualized in your context. Your facility, location, staffing, and debt are all factors to consider based on your ministry. Are you positioned well? Is your facility, staffing, or debt right-sized for your budget and your ministry strategy? Right-size your ministry and be the church — whether downsizing a church or upsizing.

When you need help downsizing a church, finding more square footage, or relocating your church building, we can help. Contact our Church Realty team today.

Finding Facilities for Multisite Campuses

By | Real Estate Resources

Today there are more than 5,000 multisite churches in America. That means that ten percent of Protestants attend a multisite church. Churches located in population centers of more rural areas are looking to multisite campuses as their strategy to reach more people. 

As a church considers multisite expansion, they must be able to articulate WHY they are launching a multisite campus. We encourage church leaders to get guidance from the experts to evaluate the process and equip your team with the tools you need to launch effectively. 

Jim Tomberlin and the Multisite Search

Jim Tomberlin pioneered multisite expansion in Colorado in the mid-’90s and has since used his experience and wisdom to serve churches through his company Multisite Solutions.  

Jim tells churches that the #1 decision for a successful launch is finding the right campus pastor. Then, he says the biggest obstacle is finding the right church facility. 

As a strategic partner, we help churches locate space as they prepare to launch. If you are planning to launch a multisite campus, here are things to consider as it relates to a facility.

  • Define your Target Area – Before securing a facility, we need to determine the right target area. A general rule of thumb is to start a campus 15 to 30 minutes away from the sending campus. In a rural area, the campuses might be one hour away. The time and distance may vary based on the community you are in. In more rural settings, many of the people drive further distances to work throughout the week, so a long drive on a Sunday is not as big of an issue. We will help you think strategically and missionally about the right location and how it relates to the sending campus.  
  • Define your Budget – Most churches that are launching are keeping their ears open for opportunities. Looking for options to merge, rent, or purchase a church building are all front of mind. Like a church that is considering a relocation or expansion, you must begin with a budget in mind. Too many times, we have worked with a church that wants to launch a campus in a specific location, but they have not first determined what the funding mechanism or internal budget guidelines will be. Do this first, and you will be prepared the moment a great opportunity arises.    
  • Know the Market in the Target Area – Failure to understand the market in the target area is a critical mistake churches make when they announce they are going multisite. Securing a facility in one city may cost $500,000, while it may cost $2,000,000 in another town. Announcing to your congregation that you will launch in a city before knowing the market realities can set you up for a momentum-killing false start. Some churches are reluctant to start in a rented facility, and if that is your situation, then you need to know the market and the options available before announcing your launch.
  • Patiently Prepare – Sometimes, visionary leaders want to launch and get started too quickly.  It is not always right to go multisite. If you are in the middle of a building program or are planning towards an on-campus expansion, it may not be appropriate to send 100 to 200 people out to launch a campus. We had the privilege to serve The Village Church as we searched for their Plano Campus.  As we searched, the leadership team and the Plano staff team waited patiently for the right building to come along. They did not wait passively. In the 24+ months that we searched for a facility, TVC grew to 53 home groups that met in homes in Plano and the neighboring cities. This enabled the Plano Campus to open in September of 2014, with 2,000 people attending the campus almost immediately. 
  • Start in a Rented Facility – Most multisite church campuses start in a rented facility. Are you prepared to launch in a school, hotel, or community center? Launching in a portable space is a great way to launch, and it allows you time to see what size facility you need. We highly recommend that you talk to our friends at Portable Church to learn how you can create YOUR space in a temporary venue. The team at Portable Church can equip you with what you need to make a portable space identifiable to your sending campus. 
    • Rule – “A temporary space does not have to be IDENTICAL to the sending campus, but it does need to be IDENTIFIABLE” – Scott Cougill, Portable Church
  • Get the right tool – The building is a tool of your ministry. As we evaluate facilities, we need to know how the campus will function, and if other ministry programs need to happen on-site throughout the week. Will your campus be a full-fledged campus, or will it just be a venue?  

Expanding to Multisite is Personal

In 2011, we wrote a post asking if multisite was a “strategy or a solution.”  Many times, multisite searches began as a solution to a facility problem. Over the years, multisite has developed into a proven strategy to take the church beyond the walls of the existing building. It is often better stewardship to launch a campus than to build bigger buildings. So the answer may not be, Is Multisite a Strategy or a Solution; maybe the question needs to be more personal. Should your church go multisite? Is it a strategy for your church to reach more people with the Gospel? If it is a strategy for your church, then we implore you to begin with intentionality. Develop a plan and know why you are pursuing multisite. Seek wisdom and experience from those who have launched and develop a plan that is specific to your church. 

Connect With Us for Help Buying a Church Facility

My friend Will Mancini from Auxano says it like this. “Vision transfers through people, not paper.” If you are preparing to launch, get the vision of your multisite strategy in the hearts of your people. This will allow your people to launch with you and take ownership of the vision to take the Gospel beyond a building.  We encourage you to seek guidance from the leaders mentioned here, and if you are ready to develop your plan and consider your multisite facilities, then email us at 4phases@churchrealty.com for a free consultation.

Church Planting and Funding a Worship Facility: What Will it Cost? | Church Realty

Church Planting and Funding a Worship Facility: What Will It Cost?

By | Real Estate Resources

Today’s economy requires churches to have specific funds set aside for ministry and facilities. When church planting, the start-up phase requires support from outside groups. It also requires the planter to be a good steward of the limited funds available.

From the beginning of your church plant, we encourage planters and their leaders to set aside funds to buy future church facilities. Part of being a good steward requires discipline in how we use ministry funds to accomplish the work of the church. As guests and members tithe and engage in ministry, they trust that the leadership of the church will use that money in the best way to further the kingdom. A healthy budget at the start, written down, will guide you and serve you well as you grow.

Church Planting and Funding Facilities | Church Realty | North Texas and Houston

How much is enough?

When church planting, people often ask, “How much money should we be saving?” This question generally comes after we discuss setting up a building fund. The answer to the question is not a set answer for every church. Each group is different and every budget is unique. 

My response to most churches is, “Save every dollar you can.” 

You can’t be wrong to start by saving 10 percent and setting it aside as savings. Later on, it may not be a building fund; it may be a rainy day fund. If you are saving money specifically for a building fund, We encourage the church to set a consistent amount aside each month to show discipline in saving.

Setting aside funds will help when a lender sees that a church has consistently paid a lease or a mortgage in addition to putting away dollars for the future. Moving into a lease space may require significant funds to renovate a space, and if you are preparing to purchase, then you will need to have 20 to 30 percent in cash to get a loan.

Spending Needs vs. Saving

In any discussion of saving cash, it is wise to make sure you understand your spending allocation. Let’s categorize your spending into three buckets; Staffing, Facilities, and Programming.  Having a plan on paper from the start will help you set aside funds as you grow.

  • Staffing – This is generally 50 percent of a church budget. Early on when planting a church, you may intentionally keep this cost low by being bi-vocational, and by using volunteers as opposed to paid staff. If you can keep staffing low, then you can better invest in the ministry programs and the location you secure.
  • Facilities – A healthy target is 25 percent of your budget. Many people will use a number closer to 33 percent, but that will tend to put more pressure on your budget. Again, if you can reduce the staffing expense, then you may be able to allocate a little more for your facilities.
  • Programming – This is the ministries you offer. 20 – 25 percent is a good target.  As you reach into the community, events and curriculum for your church will cost money. Programming may also include supporting other ministries or church plants that are important to your church.

Looking at the three buckets above, it is important to point out that you can surpass the suggested percentage in one bucket and make the other two work, but if you go too high in two buckets, then the remaining bucket will suffer. 

A Real-Life Example

The following example is a real story:

XYZ Church had been open for 5+ years. During that time, they were able to use a great location for $1,500 per month. 

Early on, I met with this church and explained that the market area was expensive and recommended they save cash for a future lease or a building purchase. The pastor explained that their mindset was “every dollar in, every dollar out.” I encouraged him to increase his facility expense by paying the church building fund a consistent amount every month over and above the $1,500 they spent for their Sunday rent. 

Fast-forward four years; the perfect building, a building this church prayed for, became available. The owner was willing to offer seller finance. However, the seller reviewed the church finances as a banker would. In the end, the seller could not reconcile the church’s financial position and would not finance the deal. This church had a strong income of well over $500,000 per year. Their facilities bucket was less than 3.5 percent of the budget, and everything else went to staffing and ministries. The result was that the owner was not willing to get into a seller-financed deal.

Had this church set aside the extra $10,000+ per month that a healthy church would have, they would have saved $480,000+ over four years. With that money in the bank, the church would not have missed this opportunity.

The Lesson to Be Learned

The funds that you set aside are often considered to be a “building fund.” Your church leadership must understand that not only do you need to have cash set aside for capital improvements or purchase, but the church must also have cash set aside for at least six months of reserves for the ministry to run. Most lenders will require a church to have a reserve fund that will sustain a church during a downturn in the economy. When church planting or growing a church, your organization is likely spending every dollar on ministry, stretching to make ends meet. As these churches grow, many seek to add staff to handle the growth.  

There is great wisdom in keeping expenses low and setting aside money as early as you can to prepare to house the new growth.

Set Your Church on the Right Path; We Can Help

This discussion can be a daunting one for many churches. We encourage every church we work with to get a clear understanding of their financial picture. 

If you need an advisor to meet with you and help you get a financial plan together, contact Church Realty, and we will assist you in getting to the right person for your ministry. It may be a CPA in your church or a CPA that serves churches every day. Either way, it is critical to your ministry that the finances are in order and that the ministry plan has a corresponding financial plan to meet the needs of the church. 

As a pastor, you have a great responsibility to guard the gifts given by the people and to use what is brought to the storehouse to the Glory of God and to accomplish the mission that we have been given. Seek wisdom and counsel so that every financial decision is missionally directed and ministry driven.

Are Your Church Real Estate Goals Emotional or Missional?

By | Real Estate Resources

As churches face discussions of expansion, relocation, merger, or closure, the process can become excruciating. Many churches form a church real estate decision-making committee to consider these decisions. Others use the elder team. Still, others leave it to the decision of the Pastor. In my experience, it is critical that these decisions are made by a selected group of leaders, call it a team or a committee, and then approved by the body. 

I once saw a plaque that said:

“For God so loved the world that he didn’t send a committee.”

It’s a funny statement — especially to those that work with church committees. But it is essential to recognize the importance of making these types of decisions through a group of invested individuals. This group should be committed to making a decision that best positions the church to accomplish its mission and vision.  A committee or team must take the real estate question at hand and look at it through a lens that asks the following questions:

  • Does this decision better allow the church to accomplish the mission and vision?
  • What is the cost of not making a decision, standing pat, and doing nothing?
  • Can we afford to take this step? (especially if expanding or relocating)
  • Is this a missional* decision or an emotional decision? 

Are Your Church Real Estate Goals Missional or Emotional? | Church Realty

What is missional?

Missional is a word that gets flagged by spell-check all the time. My definition of “missional” is when every action and ministry function is carrying out the mission of Christ. In other words, all decisions are made with the mission, vision, and values of the church at the core of its purpose.  

Clarity Through Missional Decisions

As a team considers ministry decisions, there needs to be a compelling reason why you will say yes to or no to a decision. We have been in front of church leaders who have said they want to sell their building and relocate, but they have no plan related to that decision.  If your church does not have clarity about how you use your facility or what you need to meet your ministry needs, then pursuing buildings and property will just be another thing that will sidetrack you. A missional decision is one that the church makes with a clear focus on meeting the mission and vision of the church. Many multisite churches and church plants have developed the missional mindset into their ministry.  The decisions they make are based on a specific framework that guides their ministry.

Uncertainty Through Emotional Decisions

On the other hand, 65 to 80 percent of churches in America are in decline or have plateaued. We have been in many of these churches as they face the decision to close or relocate and sell their existing worship facilities. Many times they have failed to ask the questions and make decisions way too late. One of the main reasons they wait too long is because the decision is an emotional one. The people are tied to the building emotionally as they have married, baptized, and buried loved ones there. They have developed an emotional attachment to the building, and to them, the church is the building.

I have encountered churches that have sold a building to another church and acknowledged that some members would stay with the building and join the new church. The place or space has become the church and asking the question should we relocate or close the church is not a missional decision; it is purely emotional.  

Embracing a Missional Mindset

We have seen many churches run in circles trying to decide to move, sell, or change. These decisions can derail a church from accomplishing its mission and vision, but they must approach the decisions from a missional perspective as if it is a business decision.

When a church considers expansion, relocation, merger, or closure, there will be members with differing opinions and emotions. Understanding your by-laws and ensuring that actions follow the by-laws will help you in the process. If you need to obtain congregational approval, then you will need the congregation to embrace the missional mindset. This may take time.

We have watched as Pastors have led their church through a closure and stewarded the season well. When the leader leads well and shepherds the people through these decisions, the result can be a beautiful expression as opposed to an abrupt end. That does not mean that the entire congregation is involved in every aspect of the decision process. Committees or leadership teams will best reach church real estate goals when they keep the mission and vision of the church in mind as they make these decisions. 

Facility decisions and church real estate decisions are not emotional decisions for a church. These decisions are stewardship decisions that affect your ministry. Before asking your people to consider selling a facility, take the time to work through a process that will guide your decision-making process.  

Church Real Estate Experts at Your Service

If you need experienced church real estate agents who understand the unique challenges and rewards facing churches like your own, contact Church Realty. Our ministry-minded strategies can help you reach your real estate goals faster. To connect with a member of our team, contact us today.


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