How Heritage 21 Works with Your Specific Situation

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Introduction: The Heritage 21 Foundation has worked with many churches to help them address different needs and situations. In the following article, Blair Bryan, one of the Heritage 21 trustees, describes our approach to helping churches address their unique situations and gives some examples.

I’ve discovered the importance of stretching every day for my own personal flexibility.  If I do my stretching exercises, I feel better.  As a result, these exercises enable my body to be healthier.  Maintaining good flexibility is so important for the body.

I have also learned the importance of being “flexible” whenever Heritage 21 Foundation (“H21”) is working with different congregations.  While it’s critical to remain consistent to the core principles of Christian faith and our values as a foundation, it is also important for H21 to appreciate that each congregation is unique and, therefore, might require unique or new solutions.  A goal of H21 is to be constantly “stretching” in our learning, so as to be “flexible” in developing approaches to help churches that meet their needs.

Here are a few examples of unique solutions H21 has used to help congregations with their unique situations.

Example #1: Renewal. This church had been slowly declining for many years, but the members were still highly engaged, their leadership was strong, and the church was open to several changes for the hope of attracting the lost to Christ.  An H21 counselor team worked with them over a year to help the develop a new vision and clarify a game plan focused on engaging their community. As a result, attendance has grown, and this congregation is now on a path toward successfully impacting their community for Christ.

Example #2: Reform. What happens when a church’s attendance declines, while its building is trending toward functional obsolesce? That was the scenario this church was facing. Every year they were experiencing escalating occupancy costs, decreased giving as their membership dwindled, and the church was taking on debt to remain open.  One church leader described their building as a “financial albatross” for the church.

The elders and ministers decided that to be good stewards, the church would do better to sell their property and reform as a new church.  After an unsuccessful attempt to sale their building using residential real estate strategies, the church asked Heritage 21 to sale their building as a commercial property. Our commercial real estate experts helped them sale quickly and for a good price, which allowed them to pay off all church debts and set aside significant financial reserves for their move.  The congregation moved into a rented facility that required less maintenance and expense.  Even after all these things were paid for, additional funds remained from the property sale, so the church decided to financially support several new church plants.

By making the difficult decision to sale their property, this church released itself to be a healthier, growing church in their same neighborhood and to help new churches in other parts of the U.S. They multiplied their stewardship impact by not holding onto a piece of property they could no longer afford.

Example #3: Repurpose. A church that had been large 40 years ago had now become a small church with attendance averaging below 50 attendees.  The church members remembered a past that was full of good works and good people, but now couldn’t figure out a realistic way to recapture that past. 

A H21 team worked with the church to develop a strategy for revival, along with metrics to measure future success.  While this church desired renewal, after 6 months, they realized that the church no longer had the emotional or people strength required for a renewal.  After open deliberation with their active members, they decided to work with Heritage 21 to sale their building and repurpose those funds to help new churches.

Together, we created a stewardship agreement that gave H21 clear instructions from the church on how the sale proceeds were to be dispersed over the next 3 years. With this stewardship agreement in place, the church deeded their property to Heritage 21. Heritage 21 then managed the property until it was sold. The funds were placed into the Heritage 21 Foundation account to be dispersed according to the church’s stewardship agreement. 

Heritage 21 helped the church celebrate its rich and fruitful history with a “homecoming” event, created a video to capture their wonderful story and the funds from the sale of their building supported many great evangelistic efforts and good works within the Kingdom. This church left a legacy that will impact generations into the future.

Each church situation is different, so each solution needs to be different too.  It’s important for H21 to bring flexibility for every scenario.

If H21 can help your church gain greater clarity and understand options available, we have people with the right kind of expertise and experience to assist you in this process. Please contact us to ask any questions. The purpose of Heritage 21 Foundation is to serve our fellowship and help churches through difficult transitions.

May God bless you, your congregation and his greater Kingdom.

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