In addition to overseeing the maintenance and improvement of their church's facilities and equipment, often including the church's transportation fleets, the role manages staff and volunteers, a budget, and that's not all.
"The church facilities manager faces the overwhelming size of their facility, the demands put upon them by staff and the congregation, and the fact that churches are now about much more than Sunday activities. There are activities seven days a week," says Josh Euerle, vice president of Communications for the National Association of Church Facilities Managers, and also the facilities manager of Riverside Church in Big Lake, Minnesota..
With so many areas of focus, the idea of adding professional development on top of it all can seem daunting, but, according to Euerle, that's the best thing facilities managers can do: "Take every opportunity to learn more."
He continues: "Most facilities managers don't think about becoming one when they grow up'. Most come from other professions that maybe had one aspect of church facilities management, but the challenge of the role is that it's a little of everything."
Jim Wagner, general manager of the Worship Facilities Conference and Expo (WFX) and publisher of Worship Facilities magazine, agrees: "Most facilities managers sort of land in their positions and may have no formal training. They certainly have some expertise, but it's not holistic experience."
So, what's a facilities manager to do? Keep learning and develop community, say Euerle and Wagner. And, the Facilities Management Learning Module offered by WFX is a great place to start.
"[The Facilities Management] learning module teaches how to budget, plan and practice life cycle management, and how to communicate facilities needs to ministry-minded leadership," says Wagner.
Taught by a blend of professionals from inside and outside churches, the sessions offered will cover financing and budgeting, insurance, disaster preparedness and emergency management, energy efficiency and more. But, perhaps most importantly, the module and conference as a whole offer great networking opportunities for facilities managers.
"The best way to learn is from other facilities managers and WFX is a great place to do that," says Euerle. "The sessions are packed with information, but I've always gotten so much out of the relationships I build. You form friendships and then have a community for bouncing around ideas and growing knowledge."
A focus of this year's module is compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Sessions will cover the brick and mortar aspects of a compliant facility, as well as issues surrounding attitudes and awareness. "This piques my interest because I manage an older facility," says Euerle. "Every time we make changes to our facility, we're also looking to make it more accessible."
Also expected to be popular this year is a session dedicated to the financing of energy efficiency improvements.
"Balancing facility excellence with cost-effectiveness is perhaps the epitome of good stewardship," says Wagner. "Above all, we hope this module will support facilities managers in that regard."
"Looking into the future, facilities managers need to be good managersof time, employees and resources. Professional development is how that happens," concludes Euerle.