For churches at any stage in their development, the question of whether to rent or buy is tough to answer. Church plants may want to start out leasing to allow for flexibility, but at what point are they ready to purchase? An established church may choose to rent a non-traditional space to save on costs, yet they may wonder if their ministry could grow better with their own building.
Here are the pros and cons of renting or buying, along with everything you should consider before buying a facility
Renting a Church Building
Leasing a church building has a number of advantages that churches of all sizes can benefit from, especially a new plant. The benefits of renting include:
- Fewer maintenance responsibilities
- Less expensive than buying
- Limited commitment
Renting offers more freedom, allowing church leaders to focus on their ministry instead of building maintenance. Most leases last just a year, so you can move if need be. But there are also some major disadvantages to renting, such as:
- Changing lease terms
- Landlord supervision
- Potential scheduling conflicts with other tenants
In summary, renting leaves you subject to the supervision of a landlord. You could be evicted or forced out by an increase in rent. You will have to get your landlord’s permission before making any updates or renovations to the space. You might even have to share with other tenants, which could cause scheduling conflicts.
Because the space is not your own, you can’t always do what you want with it. That can limit your ministry.
Buying a Church
Church owners enjoy a variety of benefits, including:
- Full control over the look and layout of the building
- Freedom to hold any event throughout the year without pre-approval
- More creative upgrades possible without the interference of landlords or outside building owners
Purchasing rather than renting gives you more control. But like renting, there are some drawbacks when it comes to buying a church, including:
- More expenses up-front
- Complete responsibility for upgrades and maintenance
- Need for financing and additional fundraising
Buying a church is simply more involved in the long run and tends to cost more up front. Appraisals, purchasing fees and other fees add up fast. You will probably need to raise additional funds from your congregation to help finance the purchase, and will probably end up financing at least part of the purchase. Buying is often a challenge for new church plants with limited funds.
Questions to Ask When Buying a Church
If you decide that it’s time for your church to buy, it’s important to gather all the necessary information before making the purchase. Here are some things to consider when buying a church building.
- How much can our church afford to finance? Are we able to raise the additional funds needed?
- How much will it cost for the deposit, down payment, closing costs, and other fees?
- Are we financially ready to take on mortgage payments?
- Do we have sufficient income and assets to qualify for a loan?
- Do we have any equity in the current building? (Only applicable to churches that currently own a building.)
Questions about the Lender and Loan
- Does this lender have experience working with churches?
Does this lender have an honest reputation? What have other borrowers said about them?
- Is the interest rate fair and something we can afford?
- Is the loan fixed or permanent? (You want to look for permanent financing.)
Questions to Ask Your Team
- Are we making this decision for the right reasons? Are we motivated by a desire to grow our ministry?
- Are there repairs or improvements we could make to our current building rather than buying a new one?
- Is our congregation growing faster than usual right now? Would it be better to wait until that growth slows down before deciding on how much space we need?
- What kind of building do we want to buy? Must it be an old church, or would it make more sense to convert another building, such as a retail space?
- Do we have the staff or volunteers to maintain a church building, finances, and programming?
Making the Right Decision for Your Church
Deciding whether to rent or buy your church facility is a complex process. You should consider all facets of the issue: finances, team capacity, physical space, congregation size, and of course, God’s will for your church. If it is God’s will for you to buy, He will provide the necessary funds and financing. If you find yourself leasing for now, be content with the space He has provided and trust that He is working through your ministry.
Furnishing Your New Space
As you’re considering a facility for your church, also be mindful of furnishings for your new space. You will need seating and possibly a stage or altar, depending on your style of worship. We ask you to prayerfully consider ChurchPlaza for your church seating needs. We have been providing high-quality seating to America’s churches for over thirty years! It is our mission to protect and serve your church.