The Daughter of a Real Estate Guy

My dad was in real estate and there are certain bits of property advice I brick and mortarremember intermingled with the usual fatherly advice you might get about driving or being safe on a Friday night.

  • Avoid flat roofs.  They are more likely to leak.
  • Make sure the soil perks.  Flooding is a mess.
  • Buy the smallest house in the best neighborhood.  Property appreciates.

These are not necessarily true today because there are new ways to drain water. And real estate is not necessarily the best investment.  And so it goes – too – with church property, and business properties in general.  Conventional wisdom changes with the times.

Check out this article about the shifts in brick-and-mortar retail properties.  Like everything else, retail businesses are shifting but one size doesn’t fit all.  The same is true for churches.

For one thing, we don’t necessarily need to own a church building.

It depends on your communities context and mission.  But basically, note whether or not your church building fits your current mission.

  • Do you still have an “education wing” which was a popular addition after World War II that might be dated now?  (Lots of classrooms.  No children.)
  • Do you have a kitchen that can accommodate huge church suppers even though you don’t host huge church suppers anymore?  (Or is your kitchen tiny and you are serving large community groups?)
  • Do your hallways, stair steps, and bathrooms still reflect the abilities of your founding members when they were 30 or 40-somethings?  (But today, you need an elevator and wider doors/bathroom stalls.)

Building decisions must be based on mission.  (How can we use our building to serve the neighborhood and what do the neighbors need?)  But sometimes we base our decisions on money (We don’t have any) or stuck thinking (Nobody in our church needs an elevator so we don’t need to install one.)  Or maybe we want service to be all about us while there are community partners who could work with us – financially and otherwise – to serve collaboratively.

Although people seeking spiritual community and purpose  are more than “consumers” or “targets” Entrepreneur article notes something interesting here:

“According to the U.S. Census, 92 percent of purchases continue to be made off-line. And, contrary to popular belief, as many as 82 percent of millennials say on surveys that they prefer to shop in a brick-and-mortar store.”

People want a connection.  Maybe we don’t need a connection when we buy a sweatshirt.  Or maybe we do.

But we definitely need to connect when we want to help refugees or make sense out of a national tragedy or find comfort after a  personal loss.  We definitely want to connect on the big things – at least eventually.

And so we need to innovate the way people find us and the way we serve them. Sometimes we need buildings and sometimes we need something else.

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