5 Options to Recreate the Church Property

As you wander around the campus, the echoes of what the church used to be speaks to your soul. Where families and children filled the halls, today, you hear the shuffling of feet from the current members, a reminder of what has changed throughout the decades. 

The church building and property may be too large for your current needs, and you may wonder what the church should do. Here are five options that I would encourage you and your church leadership team to review.

Option 1: Do Nothing.

Change is difficult in the most desirable circumstances. But change in a low season is almost impossible without a robust and determined group of leaders who want to see the church live again. If a church chooses to stay stagnant and waits on someone to show up without doing their part, then nothing will happen. Nothing plus nothing equals, well, nothing. When church leadership does nothing, nothing happens. When the church’s culture is nothing, God rewards the church with nothing. Over time, a nothing mindset will slowly destroy the church until nothing is left.

Option 2: Share the Property.

Most church properties are used three times a week for four to six hours weekly. For most of the week, the building and grounds are underutilized. Have you ever thought about sharing your property with another church or ministry? 

When I pastored in Louisville, Kentucky, the church had too much space and few people to fill it, so we decided to share facilities with an independent African American church and a Hispanic congregation. Working together, we lowered the cost for everyone by sharing resources split three ways. In time, this partnership strengthened each of our congregations and provided vibrancy to the property. Another way to see the blessing was instead of three rooms filled with fake flowers to decorate the church, it became one, and the two others became an office for one of the churches and a Sunday school classroom for all three churches to use.

Option 3: Rent the Property.

In previous decades, a church was built for size; today, they are built for ministry. With land prices increasing over time, selling and buying/building elsewhere is not cost-effective for smaller, struggling churches. Have you considered finding a smaller location that your church can rent, and rent out the larger church campus to a thriving church while holding a long-term lease on the original property? 

A positive cash flow for your smaller church venue will enable your church to save money over time and reinvest in your rented church facility, original campus or a new outreach ministry.

If your church grows in the rented location and needs more space, the church can always move back into the former main campus at the end of the rental agreement with the leasing church. If your church decides to stay at the rented facility long-term, you can renew the long-term lease on the original church-owned property or sell the land to the current renters. Either way, you have developed a cash flow that will continue to help the church far into the future.

Option 4: Sell the Property.

When the church was built, no one could imagine you might have to sell it someday. Over the decades, the lack of maintenance, the aging population and poor community engagement led the church to sell the property. Think about it this way: What if selling the current facility to another church or commercial developer gives your church a new lease on life? What if a new location, facility and community focus is like a heart transplant that provides the body with life for decades? 

Instead of fearing change, the church can lean into the transition by recalibrating the church’s ministry vision with the new reality by using the new lease on life to recapture God’s focus.

Option 5: Recreate the Property.

For far too long, members have allowed the past to dictate the future when all the church needed to do to live again was to evolve with the times and community around them. Instead of looking at the physical footprint of the church with dread, see it as an opportunity to reimage the space with new ministry opportunities in mind. Where one classroom used to have children sits a room filled with ‘stuff’ that no one had the heart to throw out. Instead of having more closets, why not turn the classroom into a computer room as part of a new afterschool program in partnership with a local elementary school? Or turn one empty parking lot into a new basketball court for the community to use when the church is not in session. 

Recreating is not ending the church. It is redesigning your current space with the original mission in mind, to win people to Jesus. Do not allow fear to control the church’s faith. Dream again! Believe again! Live for Jesus again! 

Desmond Barrett
Desmond Barrett
Desmond Barrett is the lead pastor at Winter Haven First Church of the Nazarene in Winter Haven, Florida. He is the author of several books, most recently, Helping the Small Church Win Guests: Preparing To Increase Attendance (Wipf & Stock Publications) and has done extensive research in the area of church revitalization and serves as church revitalizer, consultant, coach, podcast host and mentor to revitalizing pastors and churches.