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Rent Relief and a Plan for the Future

By John Muzyka

If you are leasing a space for your church, the time has come or passed for your first lease payment in the midst of COVID-19. You may have been OK last month, because you had gathered a few weeks before social distancing guidelines were encouraged. But now many people have been furloughed or their business has seen a drop in income. Lease and mortgage payments may be another story. So, how should you approach your landlord?

Many landlords are working with their tenants, but not every landlord is in the same position. It is also common that many landlords look at church tenants differently than commercial tenants. I’m not saying that perspective is right, but it is often reality. If you need to seek relief on a lease payment or a mortgage payment, here are a few steps to take.

  1. Approach your landlord with a specific request. Ask and you shall receive is what I believe the Bible says in Matthew 7:7. Scripture also says “You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Ask for help as needed. Be prepared to provide accounting that shows why you need the relief. Let the landlord know specifically what percentage you are down for this month’s giving and any other steps you have taken to address the issue.
  2. Communicate what your church is doing to help and assist those in need. Ministry does not stop when the church is not gathering. In fact, in many cases, the church is stepping up to serve the community.
  3. Be gracious and patient. Some landlords are in a good spot to handle a month of reduced income. Others may be over leveraged, and any financial pressures that tenants request may be difficult for them. This landlord may be one of your mission fields. Be gracious, patient, and Christlike. This may be the only witness the landlord will encounter during this crisis.
  4. Offer a solution. Ask the landlord to pass on 2 months of rent now and offer to extend your lease an additional 2-4 months. This way the landlord gets the lease income back at the end of the lease, and you get relief today when you need it.
  5. Have a plan. The landlord may question if you are going to be able to pay in the future. Communicate to the landlord that when the church can gather again, you have a plan to engage your members and the new members that will visit and possibly join. Let them know that you understand that the new normal will bring opportunity and that you have a plan in place.

Today, more people are watching your services online than normally come through your doors. When this crisis is over and we gather in person again, every church will need a specific plan to engage the new people that will walk through the doors. That plan or strategy cannot look like it did in the past. These people found you in a time of crisis and as you intentionally connected with them online. When we gather again, we must have a plan to intentionally connect with people in new ways. It may take several months before online worshipers become in the building worshipers. Start planning for that engagement now and stick to it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Muzyka

John Muzyka (@JohnMuzyka) serves as a Senior Director at Church Realty in Plano Texas since 2006. John serves churches as they sell excess property for commercial use, sell existing church facilities, purchase buildings to convert to church use, purchase land, and lease space for church plants. John specifically focuses on serving church plants and multisite churches as they pursue facilities to launch new churches and campuses. John assists the church by identifying options, defining market areas, and counting the cost of the options as they seek to address their ministry and facility needs. Simply put, John helps church translate their mission, vision, and values into a real estate strategy. John currently resides in Frisco, Texas with his wife and two sons. www.churchrealty.com

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