by Jac La Tour

ECCU loves to make ministries more effective. For years we did it primarily by financing their facilities, but we also recognize that sometimes buying may not be the best option. This is one reason our ministry development officers consult with ministries—to look at their needs and help them determine if they are better off buying or leasing. From those discussions, here are a few reasons that always top the list when leasing wins out:

  • Save a buck or two. Sometimes, it’s just plain cheaper to rent than to own.
  • Financial Freedom. The advantage of not being leveraged is considerable financial freedom. This freedom allows ministries to focus more wholly on ministry opportunities and enables them to change course as new needs arise.  
  • Adaptability. Ministries with a strong emphasis on their community and the world at large may be less inclined to spend a lot of capital (money and energy) on a permanent facility. Renting creates more flexibility to change and respond to community and missions needs.
  • Imperviousness. When the economy gets ugly, renters are often better positioned to withstand the blow. Ministries that are more leveraged—and in some cases over-leveraged—have considerable constraints when attempting to adjust to tough economic times. They are beholden to the debt they carry. I recently read about a church that took on debt to relocate in a new subdivision. Then came the economic crash, and the church lost it all. Had this ministry weighed the risk appropriately ahead of time, they may have realized that leasing a space was a wiser option.

Of course, there’s a long list of pros for buying as well. My advice? Seek the Lord, wait upon his timing, and consult a trusted financial partner for wisdom about what is best for your ministry.

How about your ministry? What have you found to be pros and cons of leasing and buying?

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  1. The worst situation is when churches and ministries build or buy space that is not truly needed, e.g., an older church that convinces itselt that they need a large gym-type building for a sports ministry that they don’t already have operating. While I agree that buying isn’t ALWAYS best, a growing church that stays in rented facilities too long can also hurt its momentum. Especially in school facilties they are vulnerable to the capriciousness of a disgruntled janitor–I’ve experienced it when I was a church planter. One option churches and ministries might consider is doing a Feasibility or Vision Study before launching a capital campaign. At Excel Ministries we can help them look at the options.

  2. Excellent post!

    Too many ministries assume that they need to own property, when often the mission can be accomplished just as well or even better through flexible use of rental facilities.

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