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Firm Foundations – new resource from the Evangelical Alliance

Helping churches navigate challenges and opportunities in finding places to meet and call home

Firm Foundations is a new resource from the Evangelical Alliance to help churches navigate challenges and opportunities in finding places to meet and call home.

Over the last few years the Evangelical Alliance has spoken to many churches that have experienced challenges finding properties to meet in and encountered hurdles relating to cost, bureaucracy and opposition.

Churches that are part of our One People Commission, which represents churches from different ethnic groups, have experienced these challenges most acutely, and when we talked with them about policy priorities, this came at the top of their list. 

For 2,000 years churches have met in many different locations, from open air spaces, to homes, to spectacular cathedrals. In the 21st century we find these locations are still being used, but converted shops, engineering factories and industrial units have been added to them. On one industrial estate in south London more than a dozen churches meet on any given Sunday. 

In developing Firm Foundations, we have met with churches of many different forms and heard stories of trials and triumphs. We’ve heard of God’s provision and the perseverance of churches pressing through to establish a place to call their home and a base from which they can reach out to the local community. 

Firm Foundations covers:

  • What church leaders should think about before embarking on a property project
  • Different options for churches, such as renting space for a meeting, leasing buildings, or buying your own property
  • An overview of the planning system
  • Checklists to guide you as you approach different options
  • Case studies to inspire and encourage you, as well as highlight some of the hurdles

Many churches make use of community or commercial buildings such as schools or theatres to meet in on a Sunday, with the incumbent challenge of setting everything up and down each week. Other churches meet in church buildings that are not their own, which can often take the form of an afternoon service shoehorned between the morning and evening services of the host church. While there is potential for significant partnership between underused buildings and floating congregations, these are not without their own pitfalls.

We have also heard from churches that have been stung by significant costs through rent reviews or have been forced to move out at the end of a lease after investing a significant amount of money in the building. On top of these stories are the long and often arduous journeys of churches buying and building their own property, from tussles with local authorities to obtain planning permission to escalating costs and securing finance for the projects. 

The challenges that churches face are considerable and the breadth of accounts we have come across illustrate how necessary a resource such as this is. But the potential for mission in collaboration is untapped, and the opportunities for unusual and unexpected developments should not be underestimated. In this resource you will read about partnerships for the gospel that have seen dilapidated buildings come to life and churches that prayed and preserved until they had a building that matched their mission. 

This resource is a starting point for churches grappling with property issues. It provides advice to help churches navigate the complexities involved and stories of churches searching for buildings so their mission can thrive. Owning a building is not the solution in all cases, nor always necessary. A building is not the church, and it is vital that as congregations wrestle with the questions and considerations related to this, they do not lose sight of God’s mission and their part in it. 

Our hope is that this resource helps churches of all shapes and sizes to build firm foundations as they reach out to make Jesus known in towns, cities and villages across the UK

Firm Foundations is exclusively available to members of the Evangelical Alliance. If you are a member login in and click the link below to read it in full.

About the author

Danny joined the Alliance in 2008 and has held a range of roles in the advocacy team. He currently looks after media relations and oversees our advocacy programmes and projects including public leadership. Before working for the Alliance he worked in parliament for an MP and has degrees in politics and political philosophy. Danny is passionate about encouraging Christians to integrate their faith with all areas of their life, especially when it comes to helping them take on leadership outside the church. He frequently provides comment on current political issues, both in Alliance publications and to the press.

See more from Danny Webster

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