Church leaders and their congregations know the importance of maintaining the structure that houses their ministry. They want to preserve the value of the building for future generations, protect their assets, and maintain the safe and efficient operations of the facility. Unfortunately, churches frequently find themselves addressing problems of deterioration and safety as they happen, often without the necessary funds.
How can churches avoid the fiscal crisis of system failures, which without available funds, can close down essential programs and services? One approach is to adopt a preventive maintenance plan. Such a plan can reduce the overall costs of keeping the facility fit and usable by including realistic estimates of repair and maintenance in the congregation’s annual budget.
Preventive Maintenance Plan for Churches
What should a plan for church repairs and maintenance include?
1. Facility Assessment
Church leaders need a comprehensive or "big picture" assessment of the building's current state. An annual inspection of the facility will provide the necessary evaluation of its various components and systems. An experienced general contractor is a good resource for identifying immediate repairs that need to be made as well as helping to develop an ongoing plan for repair and maintenance.
2. Annual Maintenance Plan
After the facility inspection, it's time to create a plan for how to address the maintenance problems and needs. An annual church maintenance plan, based on the needs of the facility and its equipment, should include a checklist and timeline for the regular maintenance activities.
Leaders should also plan and schedule additional preventative maintenance and repair as they correspond to the checklist. Finally, an operations manual should be created to help explain maintenance procedures and activities on the list.
3. Church Financial Plan
It is helpful to develop a financial plan for short-term and long-term system and equipment upgrades. This financial plan should align with the broader budgetary and ministry goals of the congregation. With the maintenance plans in place, congregations can evaluate, prioritize, and financially prepare for the repair and replacement of equipment. Some budgetary best practices that church leaders can use to support the maintenance plan include:
- A reserve account for emergencies and repairs
- Coordinated maintenance plan that aligns with the annual budget, seasonal tasks/calendar and cash flow for the organization
- A long-term (10-year+) capital improvement plan
It is vital for church leaders to make sure that the congregation knows how resources are being used. Without a professional facility manager, most churches rely upon volunteer leaders, which can result in irregular maintenance. When leaders share the preventive maintenance plan and communicate maintenance needs more broadly, their congregations are more likely to know what is needed and give support.
Churches and religious institutions may be Godly sanctuaries, but they are run by very human people who often juggle many roles and responsibilities. When it comes to financial planning, budgeting and dispersing, it is critically important that these tasks be managed with knowledge, integrity, and professional expertise. Volunteers and staff must be involved, but financially sound churches do it with the guidance of a qualified professional.
Charles P. Myrick is a Washington, DC accounting firm offering specialized CFO services to churches and religious institutions. Myrick CPA was voted Best Accounting Firm in DC, 2016 and 2017, Washington City Paper Readers’ Poll. Request a confidential consultation, today.