Wednesday, July 14, 2010

5 OPTIONS- Reprise

Last week I wrote about the five options that I perceived our congregation had in front of us regarding a building. A few people left comments and gave suggestions. Now it is time for me to weigh in with my opinion on the options.

Option 1 is to build the big building that we would like to own. This is appealing because it is exactly the building that will best serve our needs. This option is not feasible at this time because it is too expensive. The Executive Director of our denomination told me that this option is financially not an option to us right now- though it might be in the future.

Option 2 is to do nothing. Our Executive Director also informed me that this option is not an option to us either. It was very clear to him that our facilities do not facilitate our congregation. We need to do something. While we have made these facilities work for us for a period of years, we have not seen any growth. It is likely that our facilities are hindering people from checking out our congregation.

Option 3 is to build an addition to our current chapel. There are several ways that this could be done, but the elders have suggested that the best type of addition would be a multi-purpose room that would initially serve as a sanctuary and would have bathrooms. Our current chapel would be converted to classroom space. This is a very attractive option to me. It is far less expensive than building an entirely new building. It could be built much sooner and would make our current property usable to us. This option could be done in such a way that the addition would not infringe on the site plan for the larger building and parking lot. That means that if God chooses to bring many more people to our church, that we would still be able to build the larger building where we had originally planned to build it. This first addition could later become a fellowship hall, or we could add onto it in the back to make it a gym.

Option 4 is to sell our property, buy a parsonage, and lease a meeting space for the church. This option is unlikely to work from a strictly financial standpoint.

Option 5 is to sell our property, purchase a building as a space for the church to meet, and help the pastor find his own housing. This option is also appealing to me, but I fear that I need to be careful of my motives for liking this option. I have worked out financial scenarios where this option is possible for our congregation. The advantage is that the church gets into a usable and more affordable property, and perhaps is able to do it in a short period of time. The disadvantage to the church is that it would only own a building and not a parsonage. This is where I say that I have to watch my own motives. Parsonages can be very good investments for churches because once the house is paid for, the church only needs to pay utilities and maintenance for that house instead of paying a pastor enough money to rent or buy a home. Some pastors appreciate not having to be responsible for the home in which they live. But many pastors (myself included) enjoy the experience of home ownership and appreciate the security it provides. It seems to me that many churches that already have parsonages tend to keep them, but churches that don't already have them don't bother acquiring them.

The elders of our congregation have had some extended conversation about these options. At this time we recognize the need to continue to reach out to our community and strive to grow our congregation. At the same time, we want to make plans for facilities that actually will serve our congregation. I would say that we are leaning toward eventually adding an addition to our current chapel, but that decision is certainly not finalized. We are currently trying to improve our financial situation so that we can pursue better facilities. Please pray for the church and leaders to have wisdom. Pray for God to provide opportunities and finances. Pray for us to act with wise faith.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


This blog was started because the Building Committee of Cottrell Corners Community Church thought it would be a good way of keeping the church informed as to the progress of building program. I trust that this blog has accomplished that much and more.

In this article I would like to speak for myself rather than for the Building Committee of the church. I would like to present what I consider to be all of the options that the church has regarding a future building. Our Committee only has the task of preparing to build a building on our current property. Today, I would like to suggest that this building is only one of our many options. I don't necessarily intend to sway you as to which one we should pursue. I would like to point out that we have choices. We are not yet locked into any course of action. We should consider our alternatives. Perhaps you will think of an even better alternative that I have not considered.

Before presenting the options, let's first remember what we are doing. Cottrell Corners Community Church is a small congregation that has been around for almost 16 years. We gathered for worship for the first 10 years at an elementary school in Aberdeen, NJ. Six years ago we purchased four acres of land in Old Bridge. We renovated a small chapel on the property which is where we have been gathering for worship ever since. The property also contains a parsonage and a rental home. The chapel does not have classrooms or bathrooms, and the chapel only has room for about 80 people. A low ceiling in half of the chapel presents some challenges to visibility. In addition, the chapel sits over 200 feet from the road and is blocked from view by trees.

In order to solve these challenges a Building Committee has been formed. The Committee determined that we should build a building in the front of our property that can be seen by the road. The building should have classrooms, bathrooms, a kitchenette, and a sanctuary with seating for at least 150. Floor plans for this building have been acquired from an architect. An attorney and engineer have been retained. A builder has been discovered. Some money has been raised. Financing has been explored. The engineer has explained the permit process.

The first, obvious, and probably most desirable option for the church is to build the building that the committee designed. This building was designed with our exact needs in mind. It will be an attractive building that simply by sitting on the property might attract people to visit the church. The only thing that is keeping us from building this building is the cost. The committee has succeeded in planning for this building to be built at a very reasonable cost. The problem is that we don't have the $500,000 (minimum) that is needed or the means of paying the additional mortgage on that amount.

The second option which the church could pursue in regards to a building is to do nothing. We are currently surviving in these facilities. We are paying our bills. We are meeting for worship and Bible studies. The work of a church is at least partly being accomplished in our current building. This is the least expensive option, though it could become very expensive if our failure to build also results in a failure to grow or handle growth. Incidentally, the option of doing nothing is the default option. This is the option that we are actually pursuing if we decide to wait to build a large building until we secure enough money for that building. While we might be okay for a time to pursue this option, I believe that the long-term health of the church will be advanced better through an option that puts us into a facility that meets our needs.

A third option to consider is to do smaller building program on our property. An addition that is built onto our current chapel would be far less expensive than a new building that is built out front. The reason is partly because the addition would be smaller and partly because the addition would not require the extensive site work that the new building requires. If we were to build a decent sized "box" in our current parking lot we could have bathrooms, a kitchenette, and a sanctuary. We could connect it to our current building and use that building for classrooms. We could make the addition quite tall so that it would be seen by the road, especially after we finish taking out a few trees from the treeline. The new parking lot could be gravel and simply extend into our front lawn.

A fourth option is to sell our property, buy a house for the pastor to live in with the profit, and lease a property to use as a church building. This is basically what the church did for the first 10 years when we met in a school. Those years have shown us that we don't want to rent a "Sunday-only" property. But if we could lease a property that met our needs we might be able to get into a more usable building sooner. I personally don't consider this to be a strong option due to the financial considerations. The lease rates per sqare foot in our community make this option difficult to achieve.

The fifth option for our church would be to sell our current property, purchase a new church building, but not purchase a pastor's home. I would need some initial help getting into housing, but it might be able to be done. The advantage of this option is that the church might still be able to own a building. It would be a building and property that had space for our needs, including classrooms and bathrooms. We would have to find a property that we could acquire cheaper than our current property. We would put the profit from the sale of our current property toward the purchase of the new property. We would need a new mortgage for the remainder of the sale amount, but that new mortgage would be less than our current mortgage.

These are the five options that I can think of. Please comment on any other options that you think up. Also, please comment on which, if any, of the options you believe to be most useful to us at this time and why. I'll wait a little while to give my opinion, but if you read this post carefully you will probably see which one's I like the best.