Reimagining Your Church Building as an Asset
With real estate in such high demand, many congregations are wondering how to best utilize what is likely their most valuable asset: their church building. A church building is first and foremost a spiritual home for the congregation, but it’s also a resource — what if there’s room to share? The Bay Area’s booming market is hard on cash-strapped community groups and nonprofits, who need work areas and meeting spaces as much as ever. Imagine that your church could expand its role as a productive and welcoming space for the neighborhood while continuing to serve your congregation’s needs. It’s possible, and there are plenty of ways to make it happen.
You might be familiar with one of the most common partnerships between churches and the community: daycares. Leasing your church building to a daycare center can provide revenue for the church, an infusion of energetic young people, and increased visibility for the church’s main mission as families come to the building during the week. Preschools can often use Sunday School classrooms as they’re originally built, which helps keep large-scale reorganization and restructuring to a minimum. Let’s not forget nontraditional daycares, too. Special adult programs can provide a vital role in supporting older adults or those with disabilities during the day while allowing them to live at home with their families.
But churches are increasingly expanding beyond preschools to other neighborhood needs. Coworking spaces are an excellent use of extra room, and they can provide the church with a link to a new part of the community. Another option is to choose a like-minded nonprofit organization to lease part of the church building. Your church can lend space to therapy and support groups, polling places, and public health drives, too. By providing affordable space to an organization whose work you value, you can make a big impact on your community while also allowing your congregation to thrive.
Take on a Tenant or Sell Your Church Building?
DCG Strategies recently helped New Bridges Presbyterian Church in Hayward, California, find a new tenant: a local for-profit preschool. Their experience helps illustrate why it’s important to work with an expert when considering a change. DCG was able to negotiate the lease and untangle a city permit issue that would have been almost impossible for church leadership to handle on their own.
Leasing space can have tax repercussions if a part of the building loses its nonprofit status, so it’s also important to understand this ahead of time and make a plan for how to pay those taxes. Additional uses could also call for different insurance policies; you’ll want to make sure both the church and tenant are protected. DCG was able to walk New Bridges through the entire process, and as of May 2019 the church is on its way to better financial health.
Lastly, if your church does need to sell, do it mindfully. Churches with declining attendance and funding might feel conflicted when it comes to selling a beloved church building— but even this is an opportunity. Consider making a plan that will allow for the church to be repurposed or rebuilt as affordable housing for low-income families, veterans, or refugees. It’s even possible in some cases to partner with a developer or take out a construction loan that would allow your church to retain ownership over the land and generate revenue in the future.
Whatever your plans, make them consciously. DCG Strategies specializes in helping you find solutions guided by your organization’s values. Contact us to learn more about how DCG can help your congregation maximize its church building and resources.