October 31, 2011
Today’s post was written by Tim Cool, who is the founder of Cool Solutions Group and who has spent the past 25 years working with churches on their ministry facility needs. Cool Solutions Group is a provider of industry leading software solutions to assist churches in promoting their Facility Stewardship Initiatives. For more information on facilitEspace and ministrEspace and how they interface with Shelby/Arena products, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a thought-provoking question… maybe just provoking to some… but it is one that I think needs to be addressed.
I am a firm believer that everything on this earth belongs to God. Our money, our houses, our cars, our families. The Word of God. The people we encounter….and the facilities that we worship in. I believe that God has entrusted us with the stewardship of all of these items. For me, I believe that stewardship is less about what we give and more about taking care of what we have been GIVEN… and what has been entrusted to us!
So, how do we define entrusted? According to dictionary.com, it can be defined as follows:
ENTRUST: to charge or invest with a trust or responsibility; to commit (something) in trust to; confide, as for care, use, or performance
What does that mean to you? To me, it means that when something (or someone) is entrusted to me, I am responsible to care for it… to be in charge of it… to be responsible for it. Sounds a lot like stewardship.
If you have grown up in the church or have been involved in church for any period of time, you have heard the term “stewardship”, and I am sure that in almost every case, it revolved around money or raising money. In these cases, we are generally talking about financial stewardship, which is a critical element of our spiritual life, as well as the life of our ministries.
The word “money” is used over 140 times in scripture, and if you add terms such as “gold” and “silver”, the number is huge. For example, words and phrases revolving around financial matters are mentioned more often in the Bible than prayer, healing and mercy.
But stewardship is not just about money and finances…it refers to (as its definition above indicates) the caring for or oversight of something of someone else’s. The EPA has a section on their website that explains “environmental stewardship”. They define it as:
Environmental stewardship is the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment.
So, how do we apply this to our ministry facilities? Do we really believe that God has entrusted these to us, thus making us stewards of their care and oversight? I have witnessed churches and ministries spending millions of dollars in the construction and renovation of their facilities,but then fail to maintain them (i.e. steward them). They wave the banner of “stewardship” when raising money to build them…but then neglect to steward them after dedication (i.e. care, management and maintenance).
Now, I do not know very many churches that are not using some form of accounting software to manage their flow of “stewarded monies” and track congregant giving. This is great and I applaud churches for being diligent with the monies entrusted to them. Many churches use membership management software to steward the people who God has entrusted to them. Again… hats off to you.
BUT, I am shocked at the number of churches that do not have a proactive, effective and efficient way of managing the use and care of their facilities. Do we not believe that the care of our facilities is an important aspect of our stewardship initiatives? Do we not believe that we will be held accountable for how we steward all of the blessings that God has entrusted to us? I would argue that Facility Stewardship is actually a key component of Financial Stewardship. That is why we believe so passionately that having the right tools to schedule and plan the use of your facilities, as well as manage service requests, work orders, vendors and equipment, is critical to the short term and long term financial and physical health of a ministry. Facilities are intended to be used… which requires planning and coordination. I love it when I see a church’s calendar jam-packed with ministry activities, but that requires planning, coordination, physical care and attention. All facilities deteriorate… PERIOD… and we need to be vigilant with our care of them. If we do not, we will end up with facilities that do not properly reflect our mission, vision or culture. They will become functionally and physically obsolete… and who does that serve? In far too many cases, the facilities become a deterrent to reaching others instead of a tool to enhance ministry.
So, if stewardship is important to your church, don’t neglect your FACILITY Stewardship.