We have learned A LOT in the past 3 years. I think I now know what the hardest part of planting a church is. It's not people leaving. It's not hiring staff. It's not finding musicians. It's real estate. Finding a place for a growing new church to meet in a town like Greenville is extremely frustrating. We have been doing some searching over the past 6 months, looking for our next step. Our current building has been great, but we do not own it. That means that we do not have complete control of our future, and that future has looked tenuous at best over the past year as the main lease has changed hands.
Things look good right now, but when we first got word that our building was up for sale, we started an all out search for possible buildings. Here is what I've found:
- Retail space is expensive! A Bi-Lo grocery store that is 1/2 mile from us recently moved to a new location. They still have 9 years left on their lease, so they are looking to sub-lease 60,000 sf. to anyone but another grocery store. I made a call on it because it's literally down the street from us. It would only cost us - $510,000 a year!!!
- They do not want to lease or sell retail space to churches. I have had good conversations with realators until they found out it was a church. That usually ends it.
- We have grown to the point where we need enough space and parking that we also cannot afford. Ah...the other side of growing with unchurched, young people. The part they don't tell you about in the books! :)
- Warehouse space looks affordable, until you factor in the upfit. Most do not have air conditioning and/or enough parking. You also have to build a lot of walls.
- Greenville County schools will not let churches in them. We also have 2, count them, 2 movie theaters.