While many churches suffered in 2009, some fared better than others, and some prospered. Many churches spent 2009 positioning themselves to capitalize on the impending economic resurgence. These churches have become smarter and more informed on how to reduce expenses and plan for the future.
2009 taught us the importance of making church buildings and campuses “green” and more environmentally responsible, and we made a more serious commitment to the environment. Plans were made and steps taken to make church buildings healthier and more energy efficient, resulting in reduced operational expenses and increased building efficiency. Each of these most common action steps will help churches reduce operational expenses:
-use of more efficient plumbing fixtures to reduce water consumption
-use of energy-efficient lighting will save money, improve the quality of light, and reduce maintenance costs
-installation of low-maintenance landscaping
-initiation of recycling programs to reduce waste
-use of non-toxic cleaning products and janitorial supplies will reduce maintenance costs and improve indoor air quality
-implementation of environmental management systems will reduce electrical use and improve the indoor quality of the church
These initiatives resulted in significant cost savings and established the framework for further cost efficiencies in 2010. These initiatives also led churches to implement environmentally sustainable processes that will inspire others and reduce demand on our natural resources. And this contributes to reducing the consumption and waste of building resources and improves the environment while saving money. We learned that “going green” makes good economic sense. Churches can become leaders in environmental quality and resource conservation, adopting best management practices and energy management technologies.
2010 brings significant opportunities for churches to take advantage of historically low construction costs. Construction cost reductions will continue to save churches 20%-30% from recent years. This window of opportunity is projected to last throughout 2010, so it will be one of the best times in decades to remodel, refurbish or build new facilities. The quality of construction has improved as contractors and subcontractors have downsized, leaving the most experienced and talented construction professionals in the construction workforce.
In addition, 2010 will present churches significant new opportunities for additional diversified revenue streams through the development of alternative community ministries. Some 70 million baby boomers will be reaching retirement in six years, and our existing senior population is living longer and healthier lives. Churches will expand their community impact by providing senior housing communities on their campuses. Properly structured, senior housing ministries will benefit the community and provide significant reoccuring revenue streams to the church. This additional revenue will be utilized to retire existing church debt, fund other ministries, or fund new church facilities.
In some communities, churches are strategically located to be able to take advantage of developing mixed-use facilities. These developments can become focal points in the community and can provide much needed outreach ministries. These opportunities will position the church as the heart of its community and provide reoccuring revenue streams.
Churches will have greater access to historically low-cost financing and funding sources throughout 2010. Lenders recognize that churches can be great credit risks if the lending is handled responsbly. Churches will have greater access to numerous funding sources, including conventional loans from banks, credit unions, denomination lenders, bond providers, and private equity funds. There is no shortage of available capital for churches, and the historically low terms and conditions will continue to be extremely attractive.
The combination of historically low construction costs and extremely attractive interest rates will provide an unprecendented opportunity for churches to strengthen, grow, and enhance their ministries in 2010. For those churches looking ahead to the future, 2010 can become a milestone in the history of the church. 2009 is behind us; 2010 will present great opportunities for God’s Kingdom. Now is the opportune time to position your church for the future.