Trying to help you find a building is like trying to help you find a wife. I can’t really do that – but what I can do is recommend healthy patterns and help you prepare, so you’re ready when you find her.
1. Get Involved in the Community
We found our building because one of our pastors was a CrossFit member. (Yeah, I know; something good finally came out of your friend being in CrossFit!) The owner of that gym was renting out a party venue, and that party venue became our Launch Sunday space, and we ended up buying the building two years later.
If you’re a church planter moving into a new community, it’s likely you don’t know many people – and you definitely don’t know the real estate. Joining a gym, attending a neighborhood association meeting and getting ingrained in the community might connect you with an incredible facility opportunity you otherwise never would have known about. You’d be surprised how many church planters get buildings because of relationships.
2. Devote Time
Michael Crawford, a friend and church planter, told me to set aside 10 hours a week to find a building. When he said that, I was waiting for the punchline. No way! With all my other responsibilities? 10 hours!? 10 hours. That’s not a prescription, but it was paradigm-shifting and I realized that I wasn’t investing as much time as I should.
Spend that time, especially if you’re in the city, looking at old church buildings that are for sale. Look at local commercial properties, meet with a commercial real estate agent. Gather a team in your church to help lead this charge. Like anything in life, you get out of it what you put in.
3. Talk to a Commercial Real Estate Agent
Connect with an expert. At the very least, they will give you the going market rate of the area. You need to know the average price per square foot of buildings in your neighborhood.
One of the challenges of church planting is feeling the need to take a crash course on every topic. To plant a church, you have to preach, lead and learn a hundred different skills well enough for your church to grow, eventually passing that ministry off to someone who actually knows what they’re doing. Realistically, you’re going to need to have a basic understanding of commercial real estate. That process is greatly helped by having a professional real estate agent who can give you a realistic assessment of the market. The good news is that they don’t cost money (up-front), and they can provide a basic understanding of local properties, giving your church and leadership team the lay of the land.
4. Start Saving/Fundraising Now
You don’t need a building to raise money for a building. But you do need a vision. Our church used the phrase “100 Years for the City.” A gospel-preaching church that will exist in Baltimore city for the next 100 years is a vision worth giving to.
I know multiple church planters who have raised millions of dollars for their church’s future building (that they haven’t found yet) because they want to be ready when they find it. The more money you have saved up, the less a $3 million price tag will freak you out. Having saved up also will give you more momentum when you actually begin trying to secure that facility.
Create a fundraising campaign with a monetary goal, promo material and a commitment card. Incorporate the giving campaign into your sermons, answer FAQs, visit small groups and schedule a “Commitment Sunday” (a subject for another article).
5. Talk to the One Who Owns All the Buildings in the World
If God wanted you to have a building, you would. You can do everything on this list perfectly and your church plant still will never leave your living room. Here’s some encouraging news: God doesn’t need buildings! Read the book of Acts. Homes worked pretty well. Marketplaces are great locations for Launch Sunday. Don’t see a building as the end; see your intimacy with God as the end. He wants to use this process to do the real work: To make you look like Jesus. So relax. Be at peace. Don’t stress. Don’t rush and potentially hurt your church. Walk step by step in the Spirit. Pray without ceasing. And trust that God loves this little church you’ve planted way more than you do, so much that He died for her. Maybe the arduous process of finding or purchasing a facility is the means by which God shows His glory most in your life and in the life of the church He’s trusted you to lead.
6. 8 Proverbs for Finding a Facility
- Buying a permanent facility will numerically increase the size of your church.
- Buying a permanent facility will numerically increase the headaches in your leadership.
- A church needs a healthy leader more than it needs a facility. Protect yourself from overworking.
- God can provide abundantly more money than you think He can – way more! (Eph. 3:20)
- Starting a supplemental stream of income in the building you buy (coffee shop, co-working space, etc.) is a genius idea that’s tough to execute.
- Whatever building you rent/buy, fight to keep a Sunday morning gathering time.
- The building is not the goal; most dying churches have a building. The goal is a church on mission.
- A church with God’s hand on it (Acts 11:21) will have a much easier time getting a facility. One of the best ways to get your church a building is to focus on building a special church.
Published July 11, 2022