Does your church meet in an older facility that’s in need of maintenance or upgrades? Maybe the electrical wiring is outdated; the carpet is moldy; the old boiler or furnace can’t keep up; or the parking lot looks more like a motocross course than a smooth, safe surface.
What if your congregation is growing and your facility no longer seems sufficient? Classroom space is crowded; the kitchen no longer meets the needs of your congregation; your worship space is cramped; or you lack a common gathering space.
Maybe you are meeting in a theater or other rented space, and you want to purchase land or property for your first—or second or third—church home.
Or, your current church loan no longer works for you. The interest rate is too high or the terms are a problem. A refinance would definitely make things better.
These and a host of other scenarios can impact your church’s ability to sufficiently reach more people with the love of Christ.
If one of these scenarios speaks to your church, finding a suitable lender for your church loan is your next big challenge.
As you research and pray about finding the best lender for your church, here are five must-haves to consider in your search:
1. Make sure your lender embraces a consultative approach to your loan and not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Churches are unique, and your loan should not be treated the same way as a loan for a brewery, a manufacturing expansion or a restaurant. Plus, each loan is different in relation to its terms, interest rate, and numerous other aspects.
Ensure your lender not only understands these things but practices them as well.
2. Does your lender have church-lending experience?
As we just mentioned, churches are unique. And your church is unique. If your lender doesn’t have church-lending experience—and this doesn’t mean one or two other churches—then the lender might not be able to effectively address your challenges.
Having a decent-sized portfolio of other church loans should be an essential requirement for your next church loan lender.
3. Is your lender willing to walk with you throughout the process—and after?
Some lenders want you to sign the papers, and then they move on. What if you have an issue, need to refinance, or just want to talk through some potential challenges?
Make sure your lender is not too big where they don’t care about you or your situation. Are you just a number and a figure on their bottom line?
4. Is your lender familiar with large and small communities?
Some lenders provide loans largely in metro areas. Some provide loans primarily in smaller communities or rural areas. A well-rounded lender will have experience in all types of communities.
If you want a lender to specifically understand your unique location, ask how many other clients they have in communities just like yours.
5. Is your lender ministry-focused or business-focused?
Do they understand your motives, purposes and passion? You are a church designed by God to bring Good News to your community. You’re different than just about every other organization who has a loan with them.
Ensure they know that, understand that, and treat you that way.
These are just a few must-haves for churches considering a loan. We’ve been working with churches across the country for more than 60 years: from rural to suburban to urban—and congregations of all sizes.
If you want to discuss these must-haves more, or ask questions about the loan process at CIF, we’re here to help.
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