Core Questions and Answers
Building Overview & Timeline
Where is the new building?
The new building will be located at 1011 Mansell Road, across the parking lot from where we currently have our church offices.
How large is the space?
Approximately 17,700 square feet.
Why do we need so much space?
This size building provides for our current church needs, while also allowing us to plan for future growth. The space will allow us to build a 400-seat auditorium for worship gatherings, a wing of rooms for children’s ministry and youth ministry, and additional space for community outreach, discipleship training, and many other facets of church life.
Why 400 seats in the auditorium?
In our current setup at Hembree Springs Elementary, we have 250 seats out every week with an attendance of between 170-190 people on a given Sunday, peaking at 220-250 during special services, such as Christmas Eve, Easter, Mother’s Day, etc.
There is a well-known and documented 80/20 rule for church auditorium capacity. When 80% of your seats are taken, you ARE at capacity, because at that point it becomes challenging to find seats. When seats are hard to find, new people aren’t likely to assimilate or stick around.
A 400-seat capacity auditorium means we would likely be looking at around 320 people on a regular Sunday to be at capacity. That number, 320, is the maximum number of people our leadership would like worshiping together in one room, before looking at other options, such as two services (if/when the need arose).
What will happen to the current church office space?
We will release our current church office space at the same time as we transition to the new space.
Are we buying or leasing the new building? We will be leasing the space for a 10-year term.
Have we considered other options?
Yes, we researched and considered several other options before coming to our decision. A brief summary of those options and the reasons they were not selected are listed below in more detail.
We did not move forward with this option for two main reasons:
Last year, when we learned we needed to be out of Hembree Springs Elementary School for the entire summer, we contacted every school within our geographic area that had sufficient facility space for our needs that had an environment conducive to our worship and kids activities. During that process, we were not able to get any interest or permission from any school except Roswell North Elementary School, and there is another church using its space right now.
As we know from our current situation, the option of having a multi-year presence at a school is uncertain and unstable. Even if a school option were available, which at this time it is not, it would be very likely that we would run into the same issue in two years that we’re experiencing now.
Off-hours meeting at another church (Sunday afternoon/evening, Saturday evening):
This option is sometimes used by churches in the very early stages of the church planting process. Our church leadership does not consider this a viable or wise option for our congregation. Not only is there tangible disruption to the established rhythm of Sunday morning worship and the lives of our members, it’s also a significant hurdle to newcomers and visitors. Additionally, there would be a large loss of church identity to borrow space from another church for a significant amount of time.
Owning our own building
There are two main options when it comes to owning our own building. The first is to buy property and build a new space from the ground up. The second is to buy an existing building and turn it into a church. Both of these options share similar disadvantages, which fall into two different categories – cost and availability. A more detailed explanation of each consideration is below:
Build a Church:
Cost: According to some of the local industry experts we talked with, a quick rule of thumb in mapping out estimated cost for a building project (on a completely empty piece of land) is to plan on about $1 million an acre to buy property and develop the land (stormwater, utilities, water, parking lot, etc.). This does not include the cost of the building construction itself, which would cost a minimum of $150/square foot for new construction, if not more. Considering the space we would need to accommodate our current congregation size, while also allowing space for future growth, we would likely need a minimum of 3 acres, when you take into account the size parking lot we would need.
Based on this conservative estimate, our total cost would likely be between $5-6 million, which is more than 5 times the cost of our current endeavor.
Availability: The second issue with this option is the lack of empty land. There are very few, if any, pieces of empty land in this area that we could purchase to build a church. Any options currently out there are not zoned for “civic” use (which churches are considered), and so the process to even consider that direction would involve applying for a rezoning through the city, which is a 4-6 month process and also uncertain. This would happen only once an agreement to purchase the land had been negotiated with the property owner, which pushes the timeframe back even more.
Purchase an Existing Building and Renovate:
Cost: The cost to renovate an existing building is typically less expensive per square foot; however, that doesn’t factor in the cost of buying the property. Most of the available space that we would look at, according to industry experts, would be in commercial areas. On average, those pieces of property in this area cost around $1 million/acre – and that’s before you factor in the cost to renovate the building to make it work for our needs. This option could likely cost us around $4-5 million between both the property cost and the interior renovation cost.
Availability: As of March 2018, there are no publicly-listed commercial properties available that are more than 8,000 square feet of space. Based on the current and future needs of our church, we estimate needing about 3 times as much space. That type of building isn’t currently available in the market right now, period.
Additionally, even if we were able to find a piece of commercial property at the right size, it would also likely need to be rezoned in order to allow a church to use the property, which would take a minimum of 4-6 months, before we could begin construction work.
The timeline for this option is close to 1.5 years.
Alignment with Church Vision:
Fundamentally, our desire is to have our church facility centrally located in the midst of where life and commerce and neighborhoods intersect. We want to have “neighbors” and opportunities to interact with and engage businesses and subdivisions by being located in the middle of where the people of the city live and work. The prospect of building a church on a secluded plot of land does not fit with our desire both to redeem existing space in Roswell and to be intermingled with its people.
This was a direction our leadership confirmed and presented before the congregation at the beginning of 2017, when we shared our philosophy of facilities going forward, that we would seek neither to “borrow” nor to “buy”, but to “lease.”
We do understand there are certain financial advantages to owning our own building and eventually holding an asset. However, at this juncture in the life of our church – in line with our vision and with the availability, timeline and financial requirements being what they are, not to mention the unmistakable way in which we’ve seen God open doors – we believe that our best move is to proceed forward with leasing and building out a long-term space at 1011 Mansell Road.
What happens after 10 years? Couldn’t the property owner decide to not renew our lease?
While possible, this scenario is highly unlikely. Given the specific construction and space layout needs of a church facility (auditorium, classrooms, welcome area, etc.), it would be very hard for the property owner to re-lease this space to another tenant in 10 years.
Re-leasing to another tenant would require another established church in the area to take our building layout as-is, which is incredibly unlikely. At that point, it would be a much smarter decision for the property owner to continue leasing to the church tenant that has occupied the space for the past 10 years.
What if the property owner sells the building?
The lease would remain in place for the remainder of the 10-year term and be passed along to the new property owner. If that property owner wanted to get us out of the building, they would have to buy us out. This is not a likely scenario, as the current property owner for this building is well-known in the region as one that keeps its properties and does not sell them.
Does our 10-year lease come with any particular financial benefits?
Yes. We have negotiated free rent during the entire build-out phase, which means we will not pay rent until a Certificate of Occupancy is approved by the city and we take possession of the facility. Once that happens, we will not pay rent for the first 4 months, and then will receive 1 month of free rent each year for the next 5 years.
Is there enough parking?
Yes. There is more than enough parking around the new facility at the times when church-wide events will be scheduled – on the weekends and after working hours during the week. Parking will be slightly more limited during regular M-F work days, but will still easily accommodate smaller gatherings.
When do we expect to begin construction and how long will it take to complete?
We expect construction to begin in June, once the architectural plans are finalized and the permitting is completed and approved by the city. The entire project should take at most 4-5 months, with the conservative goal of being in the new space by November 1, 2018.
Are there phases to this expansion?
No, this is one large renovation project. Since we are not occupying the space currently, we are able to renovate the interior all at once. Our plan is to complete the full renovation prior to November 1, 2018.
What is our contingency plan if we are unable to hit the November 1 date for the space to be ready?
Right now, we are thankful that we are able to stay in our current space through November 1. In the middle of March, we did not have access to our current space at Hembree Springs this fall, which is one of the many ways God has provided for us and has assured us that he will continue to lead us throughout this project.
Our goal of November 1 already has a built-in buffer of about 2-4 weeks. The General Contractor has estimated being able to complete work by October 15, potentially as early as October 1 depending on when the architectural work can be finalized.
To ensure things stay on track, RCC has established a project management team, with Charlie Brock serving as project executive to oversee construction, architect, billing, etc.
Lastly, in light of our most recent conversations with the principal of Hembree Springs, we feel confident that, if we needed a couple additional weeks on the backend of this project, the school would be agreeable to allowing us time through the end of 2018.
Are the elders in alignment with this move and project?
Yes. Our elders have been part of this entire process and are in complete agreement that this is the right move for Roswell Community Church, and more than that, that this is where God is leading our church community.
Is Matt here as Lead Pastor for the long haul?
Yes. Matt is 100 percent committed to Roswell Community Church both now and in the future. He and his family intend to remain at RCC and continue the work and mission of this church community.
Cost and Financing
How much will the project cost?
The estimated cost to renovate and build out the interior space is ranging from $900,000 to just under $1 million. RCC leadership has made a very intentional decision to not allow the project to go over $1 million – that is a hard ceiling when it comes to project cost.
How do we know that the cost is not too much and not too little?
We are gauging this estimate on project quotes we’ve received from design and architecture groups, quotes from general contractors detailing the actual construction, as well as research from other churches in the area that underwent similar projects. As we finalize the quotes and project specifics, we will be able to confirm that everything is in line with our budgeted cost for the project.
How will these funds be used?
We are still in the process of finalizing quotes from general contractors, which means that we don’t have an exact breakdown of how this funding will be spent at this point. However, what we can share with you right now is that the main categories of spending include things such as architectural and design plans, demolition costs (equipment and labor), interior build-out costs (equipment, materials, labor), audio/visual components, electrical, plumbing, furniture, etc.
Construction projects tend to go over budget. Have we planned for that?
To ensure this process goes as smoothly as possible, we will contract the majority of work to a General Contractor. The basis of payment for this contract will be Cost of the Work Plus a Fee with a Guaranteed Maximum Price. The Guaranteed Maximum Price will be based on a firm bid provided by the General Contractor in cooperation with the architect and with the input of RCC’s building committee. Any changes will be approved by the building committee and subject to the budget set by the Elder Board.
We’re also anticipating doing some of the work ourselves (demolition, painting, etc). Since we’ll have a detailed line-by-line project bid from the General Contractor before we start, we’ll have a chance to cut or shift as much as possible before we even begin.
How will we be funding this project?
We will be entering into a time of church-wide giving during April. Over the next several weeks, our church leaders will be asking every person that calls RCC their church home to make a financial commitment to the future of RCC through this project. This commitment will be above and beyond what is currently given by each person annually to the church.
Will we need to take a loan to get this done?
Yes, we are pursuing a “bridge loan” through a couple of local banks who have a lot of experience lending to churches just like us for these kinds of projects. A bridge loan will allow us to pay for the design and construction upfront, which is important since we are working on a short timeframe and won’t have the full amount in cash needed by the start of the project.
We do not want to carry any long-term debt as a church. Therefore, although we are willing to use a short-term loan like the bridge loan to provide cash for the buildout, our desire is to have any loan repaid as close to the completion of the project as possible.
Why do you believe RCC can expand its giving (hit our financial goal) beyond what is currently given?
This is one of the many reasons our leadership team decided to bring in outside help. We have relied on experts in this area, specifically within the church community, to take a look at our church’s type, size, giving history, etc. This analysis has confirmed that this amount for our church is reasonable.
What will happen if we do not hit our goal?
We have estimated about $900,000 for this project. We have kept the designs as modest and simple as possible, in alignment with our leadership’s desire to be responsible stewards of our church’s finances. Along the same lines, we also want to make sure that when we invest in this build out and new facility, we create an ideal space for our community that reflects our culture and allows us to grow well over the coming years.
If we do not hit our full financial goal, there are some adjustments we can make to the project (in terms of layout, audio/visual, flooring choices, etc.) that will provide only the essentials—a bare minimum to exist within the space. Depending on where exactly we land within the funding goal, we may also look to our reserves to cover a portion of the project, depending on the gap between the goal and total project cost.
Once we’re in the new space, what will our NEW monthly budget call for with the new building?
We expect our overall budget to increase by about 20%. To help us transition into that difference, we are looking for ways to trim our current operating budget, both immediately and over the next several years. However, since staffing comprises 50% of the budget, we are limited in the scope of what we can reduce. We will remain committed to our missionaries and key ministries.
How will this impact our current ministries and giving categories (missions, benevolence, etc.)?
We are committed to continuing to fund all of our key ministries. However, during this particular time period, we will be prioritizing giving to the completion of the facility project. We believe it’s essential to prioritize allocating funds to our new church home, which will help us ensure that we, as a church community, can continue building our capacity to give and support these key local and global ministries far into the future.
Are we financially healthy as a church?
Yes, we are a financially healthy church. We have operated under budget for several years now, which has allowed us to build up financial reserves and emergency funds that are now providing us with a strong financial foundation as we step out in faith with this project.
Is RCC willing to use the church’s financial reserves? If so, to what degree?
Yes. We have approximately 7 months of operating costs in our reserves, and we are willing to use up to 4 months of it on this project. However, we would rather preserve as much of the reserve as possible to assist with any unexpected future needs.
Personal Financial Commitments:
Will I be asked to support this project financially?
Yes. Over the next several weeks, we will be preparing as a church community for what we will call “Commitment Sunday” on Sunday, April 29, in support of this project and the future of RCC. During this worship gathering, we will all bring forth our financial commitments. You will be asked to make your commitment using a Commitment Card, which is detailed below.
What is the length of my financial commitment?
We will ask you to make an overall financial commitment through April of 2019, over and above what you regularly give to the church. As part of your commitment, we will be asking you to bring a “cash in hand” portion of that total number on May 13, 2018 to help us prepare for the start of construction.
Having this cash portion up front will help us minimize the total amount of the loan we will need to begin the project, while also reducing the overall length of the loan. Simply put, the more cash up front we have— the smaller and shorter the loan.
What is a Commitment Card?
The Commitment Card is a physical card that each person in the church community will receive in preparation for “Commitment Sunday.” The card will have two important details – 1) your TOTAL financial commitment that you will pledge through April of 2019, and 2) the amount of that overall commitment that you can provide for this project in cash on May 13, 2018.
These cards will be handed out to you on Sunday, April 8th and will be available every Sunday during April and also at the church offices. Commitment Cards must be returned to RCC on Sunday, April 29 during “Commitment Sunday” (or before, if you are unable to be with us that day).
Completed Commitment Cards will be placed inside a sealed envelope (which we will provide) in order to ensure confidentiality.
Why do I need to complete this card? Why does this card matter?
This card is an important way for our church leadership to receive financial commitments in a consistent manner. It will allow RCC leadership to have a record of what our community has committed to financially, which helps us during the loan application process. See question above for information about the “bridge” loan we are pursuing for this project.
When will I be giving?
You will be making your commitment to give on Sunday, April 29 during “Commitment Sunday”. You will then bring your “cash in hand” portion on Sunday, May 13.