The End is Nigh?
That is, for using Church buildings as a base for enterprising service and mission.
A significant concern for post holders serving IBEX in the Church in Community Officer post these last 9 years, has been to advise and guide the redevelopment of Church and community buildings for good use with the communities in which they are set.
Much support has been given by myself and my predecessor to people exploring options, and in particular helping point to where resources can be found to aid the development of buildings, as a base.
This all derives from the notion that buildings from where community work, and engagement, emanates are a community asset. They just need some help to evolve their use in the 21st century. So models exist around developing the social enterprise value of a building, for instance.
All this has been deeply challenged by the Covid-19 crisis, as highlighted by IBEX’s Secret Church Treasurer (read the blog here), writing early on in the crisis, when building use was being discouraged, cancellations of meetings from users were flooding in, and financially many churches and community groups saw severe financial losses looming. The model of using the buildings as an asset was being severely tested. At that point, they were proving more of a liability.
Many advice and support organisations completely redesigned their services for staff to work from home, and use the telephone and online conferencing facilities, instead of in person meetings.
As you read this almost a year on, what is the situation now?
Is the model we had up to March 2020 now defunct?
Or are there signs of resumption of purposeful use of buildings, some signs of hope in the new normal?
IBEX wondered if we might have a follow-up consultation, to take the pulse on this. If you have some responsibility for buildings and are wondering what the next steps might be, or for finding funds in these desperate times, then such a consultation might be for you. We would like to hear from you.
Perhaps you attended one of the IBEX support and training events and would like to tell us how you got on and how the current situation is affecting you. What does the future hold for you?
Sadly, due to staff changes and the demands of GDPR, we do not have a record of everyone who attended these events these last 5 years or so. But presuming you kept in touch, via this newsletter, you might be reading this here.
If a consultation, conversation, would interest you, then do drop us a line on email@example.com
We are thinking of doing this online, probably using good old Zoom, with which we are all now over-familiar with. But it does make meeting and travel much easier.
We are thinking of doing this springtime, March or April, by which time some dust will have settled and the outlines of what a new normal for the use of buildings as Assets, or being a liability, will be clearer.
We all have the wisdom to bring on this, so do get in touch, if you would value this opportunity to chart new paths, and models, post the covid crisis.
Questions might cover:
Do we still need all the buildings we have? If not, which ones do we keep, and which do we discard? How does one decide that, when people can passionately love their building?
People are often happy to close declining Churches and Community Halls, as long as it isn’t their building, but someone else’s down the road: how do we tackle that dynamic?
What changes might be needed in designing and developing, to meet the post covid 2020 needs for community use?
Or perhaps this all but a blip, and we will be back to the way things were before we know it?
Or is starting from considering buildings use, as some of our partners believe the wrong question in the first place?
Do we discern what God is wanting us to be engaged in the community, and only then do we consider what and if buildings are needed for these purposes?
These and your own questions can be explored.
Let us know what would be of use, and we will endeavour to get people along who might help us begin to tackle them.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Rev Tim Clarke
Church in Community Officer