Acknowledging & Connecting with those who rent your church building

Carolla

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This is on my mind - so hoping some of you might have thoughts to share. Many churches (mine included) now rent space to various community groups/businesses for programmes, regular gatherings, courses, events etc. Rental income helps to support building expenses of the congregation, and it's also considered a way to connect with community - although in my experience this focus has held far less importance than the income aspect, sadly.

If you rent space - do you mention in your church calendar and/or weekly newsletter what activities are going on - or do you only list the activities of your own congregation? Ours in the past has listed both - with our own activities in bold text & other items in regular font. Wondering about the practices in other churches and hoping to hear from you.

Also - how do you refer to these groups? Are they 'renters', 'tenants', 'community partners', 'neighbours' - looking for some new language in our place.
 

BetteTheRed

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Better not use 'renters', unless you're going to declare that income separately and pay taxes on it...

We use "community partners" pretty well exclusively, although I'm not sure how we regularly refer to the Korean Presbyterian congregation that shares our space.
 

Carolla

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Indeed Bette - 'renters' or 'tenants' are not favoured by me either - from both a tax and connections perspective. So I'm trying to propose an alternative.

Do you publish the ongoing events in your congregation newsletter?
 

Mendalla

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I can't even remember what the fellowship used. They had a couple groups renting the hall on a regular basis (maybe still do). I think we informally called them "renters" but perhaps we used different terminology in the formal records for reasons you've cited.
 

paradox3

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I have only heard them called "the people who use our building" or by the name of the group. No, we don't have their events published in our bulletins.
 

Mendalla

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No, we don't have their events published in our bulletins.
I don't think we ever put anything in our bulletins, but one was renting the hall on Thursday nights for a meditation class and we let him put a poster on our notice board since it was of interest to some UUs.
 

BetteTheRed

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We have a large printout - 4 ledger sized sheets. On the office window. Gives you the details of who has booked what room, inside groups and partners, for two weeks. So if you come in on Tuesday, and look at the office window, you will find your AA group in Memorial Hall, your Tuesday Night Progressive Group in the Oak Room, etc.
 

Carolla

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This new amalgamated church plans to maintain two campuses for the initial period - with worship occurring on Sundays at only one site. Admin staff will be only at that site. Both sites have lots of rentals. It's a bit of a conundrum how to integrate congregational activities, encourage 'cross fertilization', and improve awareness of the community partner activities in both buildings. I feel that providing space for community partners is an important thing that churches do - but if 'people in the pews' are mostly unaware of such stuff that occurs (because we don't tell them in easy ways) I think we miss opportunity to promote this important contribution to our community. Plus, when the activities are taking place in another building - out of sight, out of mind - no awareness or interest easily occurs - the importance of the 'other building' soon erodes in the grand scheme. There was some thought about publishing the community partner schedules separately from the congregational activities, with different list for each site - but that somehow seems less inclusive, more insular, easier to ignore. So I guess I'm just musing on this aspect today ....
 

Mendalla

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Semi-related, I was perusing my old family church's website and i see that the co-op preschool where my little brother went for a time is still operating there. 40 years they said in their last JNAC report. Must be nice to have a partner around for that long but what impact would it have on the partner if the church got into a situation like yours?
 

Carolla

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Aside to Mendalla - we actually did have a situation like that years ago - also a nursery school operating in our CE wing for decades. Fire Marshall closed down our building. Fortunately the nursery school was able to relocate to an empty RC elementary school across the street - where they continue to operate, happily. There is possible future redevelopment of that land too ... who knows ... it is very true that many churches do provide these valuable spaces to a whole variety of programmes & services that directly enhance community life - which changes as churches are sold, properties redeveloped ... it's often an unrecognized consequence so thank you for raising it.
 

ChemGal

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From an outsider perspective, I am at least used to seeing what's when (and sometimes the room) on a calendar. I often hear the organizer refer to 'renting out space'.
 

Carolla

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Yes - I too have seen online calendars used to post the events & room usage. It can be really helpful when trying to schedule in an event to see what might be available. Churches seem to be quite variable in their adeptness at using technology!
 

GordW

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Better not use 'renters', unless you're going to declare that income separately and pay taxes on it...
Not quite that simple. From a property perspective the laws will vary by province (as definition of who pays property tax is a Provincial power while the actual tax rate is set at the municipal level) In part it depends (afaik) on percentage of building being used to produce rent and percentage of income of the congregation generated through rent. You can rent out some part of the building and not have it impact your tax status.
 

GordW

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Yes - I too have seen online calendars used to post the events & room usage. It can be really helpful when trying to schedule in an event to see what might be available. Churches seem to be quite variable in their adeptness at using technology!
Calendars (online, posted on a wall whatever) only work if a) they are kept up to date and b) people actually look at them. I have watched an active congregation member stand beside the calendar posted on the wall and say she never knows what is happening in the building--she just needed to turn 90 degrees and read.

The other challenge s that there are often people in a congregation who think that because they are in the congregation they should get the room they want when they want it, regardless what the calendar might say,
 

Jae

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We don't rent to outside groups. Our philosophy is - the church should pay for its own building.
 

Mendalla

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We don't rent to outside groups. Our philosophy is - the church should pay for its own building.
It's not just for money sometimes. It can be missional as well. The fellowship has certainly always preferred renters who fit with their values in some way.
 

revsdd

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I don't think we call them anything in particular. We have a "Bookings Committee" that looks at requests for the use of space. Whether something is publicized or not would depend on what it is. Is it something members of the congregation would be invited to attend or not? If so, then we'd publicize it. If not, what's the point?

And it may just be me - but I get uncomfortable when the church starts playing what are essentially semantic games in order to avoid paying taxes.
 

Luce NDs

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I don't think we call them anything in particular. We have a "Bookings Committee" that looks at requests for the use of space. Whether something is publicized or not would depend on what it is. Is it something members of the congregation would be invited to attend or not? If so, then we'd publicize it. If not, what's the point?

And it may just be me - but I get uncomfortable when the church starts playing what are essentially semantic games in order to avoid paying taxes.
Dark games a normal in business as it goes ... motivation or the great MO? Moe ... sometime blinded ...
 

Mendalla

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I don't think we call them anything in particular. We have a "Bookings Committee" that looks at requests for the use of space. Whether something is publicized or not would depend on what it is. Is it something members of the congregation would be invited to attend or not? If so, then we'd publicize it. If not, what's the point?

And it may just be me - but I get uncomfortable when the church starts playing what are essentially semantic games in order to avoid paying taxes.
Are these occasional or longterm rentals, though? I think a one time, or occasional, renter is going to be different than having someone using your space on an ongoing basis (daily, weekly, whatever)? I imagine occasional rentals wouldn't register on the tax man's radar but having a regular "tenant" might.
 

Carolla

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Whether something is publicized or not would depend on what it is. Is it something members of the congregation would be invited to attend or not? If so, then we'd publicize it. If not, what's the point?
For me, the point would be to try to build some awareness amongst those in the congregation that the building is an important community hub - that more goes on there than their own Sunday worship, Tuesday afternoon bridge game, UCW and choir rehearsal. That perhaps these things might be of interest to them or their families, or neighbours - and happening unbeknownst to them right in their own church building. Perhaps as a starting point to be more outwardly interested in the broader community activities?
 
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