facility condition assessment series, part 4

Table of Contents


Recently, I was traveling and arrived at the airport rental car lot. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had been upgraded. I was told to pick out any car in the lot rather than the mid-size Mazda I selected prior. So, I selected what appeared to be a very nice Infinity SUV. I hopped in and looked for a USB port to plug my phone into to set up the navigation.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to get my phone connected. However, I balanced my phone on the console and ran my navigation app on the phone screen.

It was a bit frustrating. But I went on my way determined to figure out the connection later. That evening, I used my Google skills to look up how to make the connection in this particular model. However, I discovered that this is the one Infinity that doesn’t have the capability. Not much of an upgrade, I thought.

I have driven many vehicles and know quite a bit about cars. But I had never driven an Infinity. I also had not considered that a luxury vehicle wouldn’t be equipped with something offered in many other lesser-priced cars. 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

There are many things a church facilities steward is responsible for. There will inevitably be situations where you lack knowledge or awareness. We have blind spots where you don’t know what you don’t know. 

This is partly due to the lack of training for the role, and partly due to the codes, requirements, regulations, and procedures you are responsible for. For most of us, there is no handbook for all these responsibilities. We learn through doing the job. When one person leaves, their institutional knowledge gained over years of experience often isn’t adequately passed on to their replacement. This lack of knowledge is amplified when those stewarding the facility are part-time staff or volunteers. 

Data Gathered Through Facility Condition Assessments 

In my role as Facility Stewardship Specialist, I use my 18 years of experience to help churches fill their gaps. Through a Facility Condition Assessment, we can identify deficiencies and present opportunities for facility ministers to become better stewards of what has been entrusted to them. 

For example, did you know…

  • You must perform a monthly check of all fire extinguishers in your facility, and document that inspection on the back of the fire inspection tag?
  • If you have Automated External Defibrillator that is used on a guest experiencing cardiac arrest and it doesn’t function because the battery has expired, the church is liable and is at risk of a lawsuit?
  • Emergency lighting needs to be tested monthly to ensure that the fixture will function in an emergency where the power supply may be interrupted?
  • Many of the items in a standard first aid kit have expiration dates, and it is highly likely that you have items in your first aid kits that are expired?
  • You should have emergency evacuation plans posted in all classrooms and gathering spaces clearly showing the exit path to be followed from that exact location, and that it should be posted in the correct orientation so as not to create confusion in exiting during an emergency?
  • You are required that have Safety Data Sheets available for every hazardous chemical used in your facility, even those that you didn’t provide, even those that just showed up, likely left by a well-meaning staff person or church member?

These are just a few of the many safety items that we can identify during a Facility Condition Assessment site visit. But this report goes much deeper. Smart Church Solutions seeks to help churches identify and understand the level and monetary value of maintenance that has been deferred. We also identify the age and life expectancy of capital assets to help plan for their eventual replacement or refurbishment through the creation and/or expansion of a capital reserve plan.

Facility Condition Assessments: A Look Through Fresh Eyes

We also look at your facility with fresh eyes to identify deficiencies that you may overlook or not see simply because you see them every day and don’t notice the things that a guest might see. They are in your blind spot. 

Let’s go back to my rental car for a moment. Why do you think it was important enough to connect my mobile navigation that, had I known that this particular vehicle was lacking, I would have selected a different vehicle?  It is because, as part of every Facility Condition Assessment, I utilize Google Maps to navigate to the church to see how well it directs guests to the facility. Does Google direct your guests through the correct entry drive and to the nearest guest parking locations? Or does it create confusion for them opening up the possibility that they may never enter your building? Do you even have clearly marked guest parking areas?

While there are many things you can Google, we want to come alongside you to fill the gap. We intend to do that through the following:

Social Media

Our Church Facilities Management Solutions group seeks to connect those in facilities ministry with others across the country to share knowledge and insight with one another. 

Software Solutions

Our eSPACE software solutions help manage time and resources through better scheduling, automation, asset tracking, and work order management.

Virtual Conference

Our Church Facility Management Conference(September 13-14) offers virtual workshops on various topics. It also presents networking opportunities with others in the Facilities Ministry for support and encouragement.

Consulting Services

Our virtual and on-site training opportunities help to train facilities teams in best practices in facilities maintenance and custodial services. Our Project Management Services help churches navigate construction and remodeling projects. Lastly, our Next Steps Consulting Services help churches develop a customized and actionable plan for resolving issues identified through an assessment. 

Conclusion: There’s Always Room to Grow

There are always going to be things you don’t know. But we are committed to help you identify and resolve the things you don’t know. We do this so that you can grow in the stewardship that you have been entrusted with.

Patrick Hart
Patrick Hart has served in Church Facilities Ministry roles for the past 18 years in the Pacific Northwest. He is an active member of the NACFM and has served on their Board as Executive Director and more recently as Director of Development. Previously, Pat was in ministry as a Director of Christian Education in the Lutheran Church, worked as National Account Manager for a large telecom company, and has owned his own business.