Prying Open the Future: Three Radical Ideas for Church Real Estate

A church receives $8 million for the sale of its property. Six years later there are high-end luxury condos on the site and $1 million left in the bank. Retail where there was relationship and condos where there was community; ill-conceived efforts shaped by politics and panic. Okay, worst case scenario!

We all know the apocryphal stories of individuals who have won the lottery and five years later are broke and broken. I don’t know the psychological forensics regarding how this comes to be (it would be interesting to discover). What I do wonder is whether this is also the case for churches when they are called upon to deal with the windfall of inner-city real estate. Do we have the social infrastructure and vision to enable this infusion to be anything other than a tsunami?

Three ideas to pry open the future: Legacy vs Lottery, Community vs Condo and Church in the Neighbourhood.

Legacy vs Lottery

What about using legal structures, such as land trusts and life leases, to retain assets which have been developed over the last hundred years and more? Church properties across Canada have been acquired by the actions, hard work and vision of many Christians saying yes to the call of Love.

By retaining ownership of these properties and organizing the financial benefit of these assets to come into the church in a moderated, predictable way over a long horizon, we are giving ourselves time to breathe and discover our calling, to regroup and reorganize as we face exponential change over the next decade.

The quality and type of change to come is probably beyond our imagining. We have had a taste of it with the unprecedented adaptations we have made in response to Covid 19, such as online Church and pastoral care through Zoom. Climate Change will introduce even more “new normals” .

Let’s give ourselves space to breathe by discovering and implementing legal and ownership models which give us time . . . slower money, time to breathe, listen, discern, make mistakes, regroup, grow community, be fruitful and have a legacy for another century.

Next installment
Community vs Condo


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