Summary of Conversations about Renting and Building On

From Joanna; January 27, 2016

I spoke with 5 Mennonite pastors who pastor congregations that rent space:

–4 congregations rent outright (One of these used to own the building and then sold it to the school that was renting from them; now they rent from the school)
–1 congregation owns .6% of the building (the church office) and rents worship space weekly
–3 rent from other congregations; 2 rent from private schools; all 5 are growing or stable

Positive Aspects of Renting mentioned by pastors:

*The biggest advantage noted by all pastors was not being responsible for building upkeep
–financial advantages (allows for more contributions to other ministries)
–feel like it is good stewardship; building is used a lot
–pastor is around colleagues rather than alone in building
–for those renting from churches, partnership with another congregation
–one pastor specifically mentioned sharing Ash Wednesday and Good Friday services and joining with the other church’s youth group for some activities

Negative Aspects/Potential Problems of Renting Space mentioned by pastors:

–can be difficult to negotiate worship and Sunday School times if renting from another church

–2 churches meet Sunday evening; other meets at 9:30 and feels rushed to be out by 11:30 for other congregation to come in

–have to wait on permission/action of others for desired changes and repairs to building
–have to schedule church activities around other other group’s activities
–have to negotiate signage
–can’t leave worship table set up or church materials on the walls
–one pastor mentioned that as renters they get blamed for problems
–depending on space, setting up every week takes a lot of time/energy
–depending on space, it can be a problem for the pastor to have an office in a different building

*Most talked about the importance of renting from/sharing with a group that has similar beliefs and values (in terms of peace theology, LGBTQ inclusion, etc.)
*All the pastors I spoke with were happy with renting overall

I spoke with 2 Mennonite pastors (WDC) who led churches through a major addition project:

–The gym/classrooms/kitchen addition in Topeka cost approximately $750,000.
*attendance grew during building process
*was a “marathon” process where ideas and price tag kept evolving
*they found raising money easier than they thought it would be
*different people rotated through leadership in the process

–The sanctuary addition at Shalom (in Newton) cost approximately $600,000.
*church has grown from 140 to over 200 since addition
*some people were concerned about spending so much money on themselves
*had to reduce cost from original concept; still some concerns about acoustics
*concern about going into debt
*building project takes A LOT of energy

–Both pastors felt the additions were the right thing for their congregations at the time.