One of the issues that churches fail to consider when building or renovating new space is the
future cost of operating that space. A new space presents potential increases in utilities,
cleaning supplies, janitorial services, insurance premiums and maintenance costs even if it is
never used! 75% of the lifetime cost of a building is in maintenance. Add to that the expense of
doing ministry in that space- expendable materials, equipment and staffing, and your church
could spend many thousands of dollars over the coming years. Maintenance costs can be
estimated by square footage (in our region $5- $7 per square foot annually), projecting from
current costs, or by more complex tools like a lifecycle cost analysis. I suggest using a variety of
tools and seeing how they compare with your current pattern of expenses.
What can you do about these costs? Here are three ideas.
1. Build green: While you have the money in construction funds, install LED fixtures
and more efficient HVAC systems. For an upfront cost of $60,000, my church is saving
$10,000 a year on utilities. Solar is another option and there are ways that donors can
legally get the tax credits for significant upfront investment while your church benefits
from the electrical output.
2. Develop multiple sources of income: rental on use of space, dedicating other
rental income, and setting up an endowment for future costs. Fees for services like
exercise classes are permissible as long as they stem from the ministry and mission of
3. Escrow funds for known future expenses: Elevators have to be serviced ($2000 a
year or $400 an hour) and gym floors have to be refinished ($6000). Better to set aside a
little each year than try to raise it all at once with a “love offering” that cuts into budget
It’s a great day when the contractor ceremonially hands over the keys to your new space. Plan
ahead for the days to come and you can enjoy many years of good ministry.
Dr. Paul Raybon is the Barnabas Partner covering the Western Carolinas You can contact him