Using churches as wireless sites is not a new phenomenon but one that will continue to grow as the demand for wireless services continues to grow. While we have yet to find a church that would not like the benefits of accommodating a wireless carrier on their property, we have found that very few churches are in a position to do what it takes to address the situation in a comprehensive manner. It has been said that churches are really good at page one of a lease, but these leases are generally 30+ pages and this is certainly one of those situations where the devil is in the details.
Churches are generally:
- Unique just like all families
- Staffed by volunteers
- Run by committees
- Used to "doing business" once a month
- Governed by individual or denominational polity
Churches are not generally:
- Blessed with subject matter experts
- Able to make quick decisions
- Savvy to the terms and conditions necessary in leases with wireless companies
- Up to date on current/future wireless trends
As time goes by, and we are involved in more and more situations, we see the value of our advocacy on behalf of churches. Now that some of the initial arrangements made by churches and their lawyers a decade or two ago are starting to expire, we are being brought into eye-opening situations. Not that things were done in an inappropriate manner (at least by the church), but these arrangements were made by well-meaning folks that had no particular experience in such things. We have also found that, more often than not, the lawyer used for these negotiations were the ones who would do things pro bono, irrespective of that particular lawyer's area of expertise. Generally, our biggest proponent in any congregation now is "the lawyer" who is a member of a congregation. Without us, there is tremendous pressure on them to produce in an area in which they have no expertise. "The lawyer" generally appreciates our involvement more than most.
We have a saying that if you don't know where the cow pies are, you are going to step in them. We have found that some churches are simply cow pie magnets. Most carriers will give a church a standard lease that is weighted solely towards the carrier. Most churches will modify that text to the best of their ability but have no idea of what needs to be added to protect the church. We use our own lease that has been through an army of lawyers, both from churches and from carriers. We address things that are unique to churches and we make no apologies for that. First and foremost, our clients are churches, not tower companies.
The intent here is not to be negative, it is simply to point out that churches are the corporate body of God. They are the feet on the street. They are gathering places for worship. They are doing the good works, saving souls and making sure people get into Heaven. We participate in those things with our own churches. Our mission is to help churches with their finances so that they can do those things which they are called to do. Getting caught up in things of the World, especially things as worldly as wireless communications is something that we feel is better taken care of by us and can be tremendously burdensome to ask of a church to do by itself.
We will all stand in judgment one day and we hope to hear "well done, my good and faithful servant, thank you so much for helping my churches!"