Our church, like many others, share space. Have it be with another ministry, a preschool or a outside group that rents out the place. It is rare today for ministry space to be sacred and only used by your ministry; which brings up the question of how do we co-exist with other groups in our space? How can you become a multi-use church? I have experienced many benefits with sharing my ministry space. But with every benefit, there are some drawbacks. Here are a list of factors to be aware of to limit the drawbacks of using your space with multiple groups.
Communication// A key to every relationship and partnership all boils down to communication. Clearly defined expectations will ensure a healthy and happy environment. When problems arise, create a open platform to share discuss. This platform must start with a personal relationship- get to know the groups better…you never begin solid relationships with a list of complaints.
In Print// In writing is a smart move for all parties involved. Undeclared or unclear expectations can lead to frustration and at times, with rental contracts, legal recourse. In many of my emails I ask the recipient to email me back within a day or two stating that they understood and agreed with the email. No matter what is discussed, agreed on or communicated; in print leaves little room for miscommunication.
Flexibility// Be willing to roll with any situation. I understand there are certain situations where flexibility is not possible but when a opportunity arises…”go with the flow”. Within multi-use situations you are sometimes in a position you will require some flexibility; so in a sense “pay it forward”. Flexibility does not mean becoming a door mat to be trampled on; sustain agreements but take advantage of becoming a “hero” to others.
Proactive, Not Reactive// This goes back to communication…solve potential issues before your scrambling to react to issues. Being aware of potential situations will be a learning curve. As the facility is used you will pick-up particular issues that need to be addressed in the beginning. For instance when we share space we are quick to ask about the groups storage needs; almost every time they want space to store stuff. We’ve been able to be proactive and point this matter out before scheduling.
Schedule// Sounds silly because every church has a calendar, but create a calendar for your facility use. Even small churches need to keep track of what space is available and not. Have a singular calendar allowing groups to plan and coordinate. Another piece of advice is to have one person be the admin for that calendar. When you empower too many people to calendar admin, a snowball of chaos will slowly grow. At LifeCC have a free Google calendar, with one person charged with being the admin & point person for facility use.
Many of you possibly share space, and I would like to know how you co-exist with other groups. Mastering the ability to share space can open up opportunities for your church building to engage the community. What factors or suggestions do you have when it comes to a multi-use church building strategy?