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.


  1. hmmm . . . and I thought I was overthinking . . . have to put some prayer on this . . . Pat

  2. Dave...it's hard to believe we have so many options. This really sums up the entire wide spectrum of our situation, doesn't it? Safe to say we're at option 2 until we decide to move ahead with another option. much to pray about and ponder.

  3. The first option is definitely the most desirable option however our church cannot afford $500K on top of our current expenses. Granted we’ve only been raising the money for about a year and half it will take a while for us to provide the necessary funds outside of God performing a miracle by providing the money or the people to pay for it.

    The second option (our current situation) is not ideal we have children’s classes in the pastor’s home we have no bathrooms in the chapel, and the chapel has limited seating. We could do nothing but it would be uncomfortable and not very appealing for visitors.

    Third Option is tempting it will give us bathrooms in the chapel, more room to grow, and have class rooms for the kids all in the same building. I haven’t punched all the numbers so I’m not sure how expensive or in-expensive this option would be. The downside for me is that when you first pull up you’ll see a big gravel parking lot which again isn’t too appealing to visitors. The elderly will have trouble walking on it and our big pretty green lawn will be taken over by gravel.

    Fourth Option: Having been there and done that this option is not ideal because it could be expensive to rent, it’s tough to utilize the facilities throughout week, it’s also nice to have the pastor on premises and also it is very annoying to set up and break down each week.

    Fifth Option: If we were going to do this option I would modify it to include a purchase of a parsonage on the property because we couldn’t afford to pay for a new building and pay the pastor enough to afford the cost of living. I could see this option working but the big problem with this is that we would have to find a church property that has a parsonage that is for sale that is close to our current location and is cheaper than our current property.

    Sorry I don't have a solution just prayerfully considering the pros and cons of each option.

  4. After giving it some thought I think I would propose a Sixth Option which is really a combination of option 2 and 1 or 4:

    We continue to take pledges for another year and have a large focus on evangelism and other related events (Concert(s), Back to Church Sunday, Friend Day, etc.). Then in a year we might (1)have more people to pay for the larger building (2)we would have at least more money based on collecting pledges for the year and build the addition

  5. Dave - Lots of options you have here. This is an interesting situation. I don't know much about your community or how your specific church operates, but where I am, we don't provide our pastors with houses nor even housing allowances. We just don't have the budget for it. I wonder if that is kind of an old school model (where there must be a parsonage). I have spoken to many pastors over the years who prefer not to be on the same property as the church as it separates their family time with ministry time - kind of a buffer zone.

    Personally, I would say option 5 is a wise option. Although acquiring a church property is not necessarily that easy.

    I also like the idea of using empty storefronts - they usually are very negotiable on rent and have lots of parking and many already have bathrooms and are ready to do whatever it is you need inside for walls and such. In our area in Indiana, there are plenty of them, and the other plus is that many of them are within walking distance for many people in the community. We have seen a huge surge in our food outreach simply because we moved ourselves from the country, to the business district in the city. We suddenly became accessible to the people who needed to be reached by us.

    Building definitely has its advantages though - that way you get exactly what you want (or can afford) and what best fits your needs. Room to grow is nice.

    It really also depends on what you believe about debt. Personally, I don't think that a church community should go into debt to purchase property. I believe that the Bible is pretty clear that the borrower is a slave to the lender, and that debt is bondage. Proverbs has over 20 verses that speak of debt, and none of them are favorable.

    In the natural, we sit here and wonder, "Well, how on earth can we raise $_________?" But as Christians, the reality is that we serve an amazingly supernatural God who opens doors that are unimaginable and unexpected. I would definitely encourage you all as a body to begin praying for the Lord to raise up a Cyrus (kingdom-minded businessman or woman) who will pour in to your ministry - who understands the principle of sowing and reaping (the kingdom system!).

    That really doesn't answer your questions for the short term... I can't even imagine winter times with no bathrooms in the facility! Anyway, just my two cents. I will be praying wisdom and discernment over you and those in the decision chairs. I pray that the Lord would release financial blessing over CCCC. (Mal. 3:10!)

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  8. Josh- I too would much rather own my own home than live in a home owned by someone else. Does your church pay the pastors at all? If so, then they should designate a portion of that amount as a housing allowance because it will help the pastors pay less in taxes.

    I agree that option 5 is a possibility, especially with the option of using a building that was not previously used for a church. The challenge would be getting the property re-zoned. In our current town a church needs to have 2 acres in order to build. I don't know if they would let us purchase a smaller property as long as it already had the usable building.

    I hear what you are saying about church debt. The current leadership here (including myself and John who also commented on this post) inherited this situation where we have a very large debt load. That is a big part of our challenge. In order to make this property usable, we need to spend even more money (that we don't yet have). I agree that avoiding debt is a good principle, but I have not yet come to the point where I believe that churches should never take on debt.

    John- I don't think that the modification you suggested to option 5 is practical since there are no existing churches for sale in the area, and if they had parsonages and were more usable than ours, then they will probably be just as expensive. Another consideration is that I would like to keep my kids in the same school, but we don't want to limit a church location based on that criteria.

    I'll try to write a follow-up article today or tomorrow.