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Churches and Real Estate

“The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth He has given to the sons of men.” Psalm 115: 16

With the ownership of real estate, churches have tremendous opportunities to not only create an inspiring physical space for worship, but to also make wise business decisions that allow the faith community to thrive. As with many things, however, real estate transactions can be complex, and often require a sophisticated approach to properly shield churches and their membership’s tithes and offerings from unintended and unanticipated consequences.

The next time your church’s leadership considers buying or selling its building or some property, recognize the following:   

  1. The law matters! There are legal ramifications that accompany the sale or acquisition of real estate. Have you consulted an attorney to help you evaluate next steps?
  2. Zoning matters! There are often local zoning codes that govern the use of the property you are buying. If your vision is to someday outgrow the building you are acquiring, make sure local zoning will allow you to expand the physical structure.
  3. The contract matters! There should be provisions in the contract to protect your church from environmental and zoning issues down the road. Think: When did Noah build the ark? (Answer: Before the rain.)

As we all know – we are merely stewards of the Church’s resources. Accordingly, all church leaders should do everything in their power to better safeguard the faith community when acquiring and selling real estate.

Brian W. Fox