How to Buy a Church Building: The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Church for Sale

How to Buy a Church Building: The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Church for Sale

Whether you’re starting a new ministry, or your church congregation is growing quickly, chances are that you’re considering buying a church building. Although an essential part of a church is rooted in its impact on members, having the right place of worship is also important.

However, most faith leaders are unsure about the steps to take when buying a church for sale. From factors like zoning to the value of the property, there are many things you need to consider and steps to take before finalizing the purchase of a church building. 

Buying a church for sale requires a specialized approach that most commercial real estate brokers lack familiarity with. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. This article will cover the benefits of buying a church building. We’ll also cover the factors you must consider to ensure you buy the right building for your church. On that note, let’s dive right in. 

how to buy a church

Benefits of Buying a Church Building

We are often told that the church isn’t a building but a body of believers. This is true, but the church is also a gathering of people in a place. The saints are scattered and cannot be called a church without a place to gather. 

Choosing the right church building to set aside for gospel use can be quite difficult without the right guidance. We also can’t overlook the benefits of buying a church building; below are some of them.

●     It Helps to Maximize the Ministry

As the church grows, buying a church for sale plays a significant role in supporting the ministration of the word. A dedicated church building provides the required fellowship, preaching, and teaching space. It ensures every part of the service can move smoothly. The sound system will have a permanent spot, and you can put an HVAC system in place to mitigate bad weather and ensure people can focus on the prayer and sermon.

Additionally, it maximizes services by ensuring people know where to gather every week and how they can get there. Believers can benefit more from teaching and preaching God’s word when there’s a space optimized for this purpose.

Most churches tend to rent out spaces for their services, but this can be a distraction, distracting members from the experience they should be getting from the word of God. When a church buys a building, it can optimize it to ensure the congregation focuses on the word of God. The right church building can be a strategic tool to support the growth of the body of Christ.

●     Long-Term Stability

Another benefit of buying a church for sale is its long-term stability. Although the church comprises believers from different walks of life, stability in the ministry will always be considered a blessing. The certainty of knowing where the congregation will meet every week can even promote the growth of the church.

By buying a church building, you no longer have to worry if the church will be kicked out of its present space the following month or if neighbors will start to complain about the growing size of the congregation. With the building comes stability and even more freedom to explore the gospel. It also allows the church to sink its roots into the community. 

●     Flexibility

One of the benefits of buying a church is the flexibility it offers. For years, there’s been an ongoing debate about purchasing and building a church. But the flexibility of simply purchasing a church building cannot be overemphasized. It takes years to go from buying land to erecting a facility where you can hold services. The time needed could take years, and you must factor in the cost overruns, unexpected delays, and loss of momentum that comes with it. 

However, when you buy a church for sale, you can move in much faster. If renovations are essential, a few months is all you need, and you can start holding services. Additionally, it makes making design decisions during renovations much easier because you simply focus on how to best use the available space. You don’t have to wonder where the chapel will go or where to set up a kitchen; it’s already available.

●     It Gives the Church a Public Identity

Worship spaces in homes are generally invisible, as only the members tend to know about them. Although this is necessary sometimes, it doesn’t always support the church’s growth. However, a church building serves as a persistent witness to the gospel of Christ. When Christians gather at an identifiable building, it serves as a landmark. Therefore, other community members curious enough to understand the Bible and Jesus Christ can easily find their way to this location.

●     It’s a Long-Term Investment

One of the benefits of buying a church for sale is the long-term investment it offers. Although purchasing a church requires high capital investments and ongoing maintenance that requires allocation from the church budget, it saves money in the long run. 

Rentals tend to cost even more over time, and the constant change of location due to various factors can affect the ministry’s growth. On the other hand, the cost of buying a church is a long-term investment in the church’s ministry. 

By buying a church and having a permanent location, the church can focus its financial resources on the gospel work entirely. Additionally, purchasing a church for sale helps to save money for future members and leaders of the church who will continue to use the building and further the gospel of Christ.

When You Should Consider Buying a Church Building

Although the church is much more than a building, many churches have a building for regular services and programs. Also, it’s a visual reminder to the community that a community of worshippers exists. Although most churches are skeptical about investing in buying a church, below are some situations when you should consider purchasing a church for sale.

●     When Your Current Facility Has Severe Issues

Not every church owns a building; some churches simply rent spaces to meet. Some congregations meet in homes, schools, or even hotels. Most churches start by meeting in rented rooms before they finally get a building. However, there are sometimes issues with the space you’re meeting in. Maybe the hall can no longer accommodate you, or the building has been sold.

If you’re experiencing issues with your current meeting space, buying a church for sale is a smart option. Although it’s a serious investment, its benefits, in the long run, are unsurpassed.

●     When There’s a Good Opportunity

Sometimes, an opportunity comes along that’s too good to pass up. Maybe a church is expanding and needs to sell its building quickly, or you finally have enough funds to buy the space rather than simply renting. You shouldn’t let it slide when there’s a prime opportunity to acquire a building for your church. However, before you make a decision, communicate with your church team and pray with God to ensure it’s the right move for your church.

●     It’s the Right Time

Even when there’s an excellent opportunity, and your present space isn’t enough anymore, it’s still essential that your congregation is ready for the move. Sometimes, your church must take a long time to buy a church building. That’s why it’s essential to make a move only when you have the full backing of your congregation. Once the congregation is ready for the move and you have their full support, it’s time to take that next stop.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Church Building

When you finally decide to buy a church building, there are several factors you need to consider ensuring you make the right church for the congregation. Below, we’ve broken down the factors; let’s look.

●     Budget

Your budget is the first thing you need to consider when buying a church building for sale. Your choice depends on the property values in your selected location and the amount you’ve raised or will eventually raise. When you consider your budget, it will help you narrow down your options to a financially feasible church building. 

The cost of the property will depend on the size of the building as well as several independent factors like the location. Before you make an offer, you must fully understand your budget. This means how much money the church can continue to raise over time. Additionally, if you plan to take a loan, you should also calculate how much you’d be able to borrow based on the numbers you already have.

Some churches rely on the lender to help them decide how much they should borrow. However, that’s not always the best choice. First, crunch the numbers independently and only take the most comfortable amount. 

Although it’s clear that the budget is one of the main determining factors when selecting the right church, you shouldn’t let it dictate the selection for you. Don’t judge based on costs alone, as we’ll cover several more factors that come into play when buying a church for sale.

●     Financing Options

In addition to cost, you’ll have to consider your financing options. Buying a church is quite like buying a house; there is lots of paperwork you’d have to get through and forms to fill out and sign before you can purchase a church building. Understanding your financing options informs you of what you can afford and where it’s essential to reduce the budget.  

When considering lending, you must prove to the lender that you can afford the building. You’ll also need to create a solid plan laying out where your financing is coming from, future payments, and the down payment you can provide. When taking a loan, most lenders require a down payment. The plan will also include how you plan to gain new members and sustain your church over the long term.

You must also include the church’s cash reserve when creating the plan. However, you also need to have months of operating expenses saved in the bank to cover necessary maintenance after purchasing the building for your church. Although this all sounds a bit complicated, it’s necessary when you’re seeking financing to buy a church building. 

●     Church Size

The size of a building is also a top determinant of the right church for you. If the congregation grows, you need a church building accommodating new members. To determine the right size to look out for, you need to consider several factors:

  • Do you see further growth in the future? If you do, ensure the church is big enough for expansion in the future. Additionally, is there enough land on the property to expand the church without moving again? 
  • The church also needs to consider the ongoing maintenance of the church. If you’re opting for a large building, you need to ensure you can afford the upkeep of the building. Think about renovations and continuous maintenance the building will need.
  • Another factor to consider is the neighbors. Are there shopping centers close to the building that might want to expand and infringe on the space in the future? Are the adjacent buildings going to result in issues in the future?
  • Are there mandated guidelines in the community that will affect further expansions in the future? Sometimes communities have rules on how close a building can be to the road and neighbouring buildings. Consider how these rules can affect the building and plans for the church. 

The items above are a few factors that can help you determine the size you need. Look beyond the acreage when determining whether the church size is right for your church. 

●     Utilities

Access to utilities is a crucial consideration when you’re purchasing a church. Buying a church in a rural area is even more critical. Before you get too serious about buying a church, contact the electricity, water, storm sewer, sanitary, and gas offices to ensure all these necessary utilities are available.

Once you confirm they’re available, get a rough estimate of how much it will take to keep them up monthly. If they aren’t, you should also ask for an estimate of how much it would cost to connect them to your building. Get an accurate estimate of these expenses and see how they fit into your budget before you make a final decision.

●     Extra Facilities

In addition to utilities, you cannot ignore the facilities the church offers. A church building tends to have most features found in a typical church. However, there are other facilities you might be looking for, and it’s always best to ensure the building offers you most of these features in advance.

Before buying a church for sale, ask yourself what you would like your church to have. Once you can determine the facilities you want to look for, you can see how you can get the best option for your church. Consider if the property you’re evaluating has the facilities you’re looking for, like a lawn or a pavilion where you can hold outdoor activities. 

Additionally, if you want a large parking area for members, ensuring the building has this is important. Parking space is always a huge concern for churches looking forward to further growth. Having enough parking for everyone and many more to come is crucial.

You must also consider how many rooms, offices, and restrooms the building has beyond the churches. Are the multi-purpose rooms available for future events and use? It’s also important to consider how elaborate you would prefer your church to be. Do you want a simple building with crucial facilities or a cutting-edge design that’ll take everyone’s breath away?

While considering the facilities you need, you must also consider how much your budget can cover. However, ensure the facilities available in the church for sale is ideal for you and your ministry.

●     Jurisdiction

Another factor we cannot ignore when you’re looking to buy a church for sale is the jurisdiction it falls under. Every property falls under a certain jurisdiction, and this jurisdiction comes with several rules that determine just how much freedom you have with the building. Each jurisdiction’s rules regulate parking lots, building height, landscaping, etc. 

Before buying a church building, you must first learn the jurisdiction the church falls under and its limitations. This ensures you’re not left arguing over every little discrepancy after purchasing. You can also choose a building that falls into a jurisdiction with regulations that favors your preferences.

buying a church

●     Zoning

A factor that’s just as crucial as the jurisdiction the building falls into is the property’s zoning. Before buying the property, you must ensure it’s zoned for a church. The county or state determines which type of building can be built in some locations. Therefore, zoning regulations can play a big part in helping you decide where to buy.

Although the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act provides churches with the right to use a building for religious purposes, there might be local zoning codes that restrict opening a church in your preferred area. While some locations allow you to open churches in residential areas, a special use permit is required to open in commercial and business zones. Some counties and states also determine the parking space required for any worship area.

In addition to zoning regulations, you must ensure the church complies with safety codes. This regulation usually applies whether you’re converting a property to church use or buying an existing church. It’s even more critical when you plan to carry out extensive renovations on the building. 

●     Accessibility

You can’t decide on the right church building without considering its accessibility. This is even more important if your goal is to grow your church. You want the church to serve the congregations’ needs and encourage the members to invite many people to attend services and events.

This is only possible if your church building is easily accessible. More people will be willing to come to your church if they can easily find it, and there’s no difficulty getting there. If the property you choose isn’t in a central area, you need to consider whether members might leave for more accessible churches. 

Therefore, when buying a church for sale, consider proximity to where most of your congregation lives. Consider the neighborhood and search for proximity to roads and main highways. You should also consider the density of the community’s population. This is because a church in a densely populated area provides a better chance of growth. The last thing anyone wants is to invest in a church building, resulting in a decline in membership.

●     Land Specific Issues

Finally, you need to consider issues specific to the property, not the location or the congregation. This usually includes permit fees, ingress and egress issues, restrictions, topography, environmental hazards, easements, green space requirements, and many more. 

You should get a comprehensive site analysis to determine if there are any land-specific issues you need to be aware of. Doing this can help you avoid future problems like long legal battles that delay the set-up of your church.

Final Thoughts

The final decision to buy a church for sale isn’t always an easy one. A lot of thought and prayer usually goes into making these decisions. However, there are many factors you need to consider ensuring your church is built on a firm foundation. 

Although buying a church isn’t simple, this guide has provided everything you need to ensure a smooth process. All you need to do is follow the tips we’ve shared, and you’re sure to get the best result from your decision.

If you need more guidance with your decision to purchase a church building, we can help. Our experts are always ready to answer any questions about buying a church building. You can also check our website for various resources about buying a church building. Whether it’s about new construction or you’re looking to expand, we can help. We’re always ready to help with your church financing needs; contact us today.

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