Renting Your Church Facilities: Planning Now for the Future

Renting Your Church Facilities: Planning Now for the Future

Isaiah 43:19: Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
While all of our churches have experienced tremendous disruption in our normal routines during this pandemic, some congregations are taking this unexpected free time to do some creative thinking about the future of their churches. This includes looking for new ways to increase their income. While renting a church's facilities is not a new concept, considering it a sustainable source of revenue may be considered a new approach for some. Regardless of whether your church is just beginning to consider space sharing or if you've already been renting space but want to maximize its income potential, now is truly the perfect time to design a strategy that you can activate as soon as you re-open.  
My church, First Congregational of Ridgefield, CT, had been experiencing declining membership and income for several years. I volunteered to lead a task force to explore the idea of renting our facilities to outside organizations. It took us seven months to do our due diligence. But, once our strategy was approved, we immediately began to enjoy a new source of income by renting space to a wide variety of organizations.
When I talk to other churches about our experience, one question I am often asked is how to price the rents a church should charge for their different rooms. Your rates will be determined in part by the characteristics that make your space different from other spaces available for rent in your area. So, some simple research you may want to do includes exploring:
  • What other organizations in your area currently rent space
  • Their functions, e.g., classrooms, kitchen, large meeting halls, etc.
  • Their availability - day? evenings? weekends?
  • The number of people each of those spaces can accommodate seated at tables and/or seated in rows
  • What those organizations charge for those spaces
You also want to consider other factors such as your location. For example, even if you consider your church "in the middle of nowhere," you may be equidistant between two cities thereby making it an ideal location for meetings or events that would draw attendees from both cities.   
There are many other considerations and decisions to be made before you begin to rent your space. For example, commercial rentals can sometimes create tax liabilities. See pages 144 and 160 of the Church Finance Handbook for more information on these issues. They key is to do your homework. By approaching church rentals as a business, you can create a strategy that will ensure success.

While the financial benefit of renting space was immediate at my church, there have been two other benefits we had not originally identified:  greater community engagement and having new people become acquainted with our church.

We have been blessed by this initiative, and so can your church family.


bridget johnson head shot.jpg
Bridget Johnson

Bridget Johnson is the Director of the Center for Transformational Leadership.  

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