Today is the final (for now) installment in my series of posts about costs. It deals with an issue that very few churches have a solid plan for – retirement schedules. I’m not talking about people here, although it vital to have good retirement benefits for your staff team. Rather, I am referring to setting up a schedule to replace various pieces of equipment, facilities, parking lots, etc… as they break, wear out, or become outdated. 

Let me go to bat for (and pick on) production, since it’s an area I know well. It is EXTREMELY rare that I see a church with a plan in place to swap out and update gear. Rather, they use everything until it breaks – and that usually happens during a service. I speak from bitter experience – we lost an overtaxed side-screen projector one time in the middle of a service at our main broadcast campus…on Christmas Eve.

We all know why these retirement schedules don’t exist…money. It costs cold hard cash to buy replacement gear, and there are a lot of other more pressing issues…or so it seems. In reality, it’s an example of reactive thinking – we wait until something happens TO us, rather than proactively deciding what we want to happen. A retirement schedule allows to potentially sell or trade in gear while it still has some value. However, for this even to be a talking point at your church, you need one critical item: trust. The senior leadership and production people must be on the same side (or the senior leadership and the facilities people, if you’re talking about carpet or an air conditioner, etc…). So how do we get there? 

On the senior leadership side, two words… Be reasonable. Gear doesn’t last forever. Anything that moves or generates heat will eventually break. Carpet wears out. Technology changes. Work with your teams to put together a list with reasonable lifespan for each item: that way you won’t be shocked – or, worse yet, angry at your team – when something goes down or has to be replaced.

On ministry-area leadership side, it’s the same two words… Be reasonable. Don’t disguise your desire for the latest technology by painting it as an essential upgrade if it’s not. Understand that senior leadership is responsible for the WHOLE budget, not just your area, and that money is not unlimited. Research and come up with REAL projected lifespan numbers, not just ones that are going to allow you to have the latest and greatest. 

There is no useful budgeting process that will occur without accounting for “retirement.” With a solid plan in place, everyone can breathe easier…

“Preparation makes you brave.” – Ryan Holliday

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