News Articles

LifeWay partnership helps churches use steeples for ministry funds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Churches across the country have discovered a new way to raise funds for ministry and missions by utilizing an often-overlooked building asset -– the church steeple.

Houses of worship can earn income by contracting with telecom companies to provide use of church steeples to serve as cell phone towers. With the right agreement, steeple towers can be a win-win situation for churches and telecom companies.

Recognizing the need for churches to have an advocate when working with telecom companies, LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention has partnered with Steeplecom, a company with the sole purpose of assisting churches in negotiating profitable contracts for steeple towers.

“Steeplecom is our endorsed provider for the placement of wireless communication antennas in our churches,” said Ron Chandler of LifeWay’s direct marketing department. “When churches sign on with Steeplecom, they have the assurance and comfort of knowing that LifeWay has screened the company.”

LifeWay has worked with Steeplecom to provide pre-approved contracts designed to protect churches while helping them earn the most they can from their church steeple.

Christ Church United in Dracut, Mass., with just 300 members, has partnered with three telecom companies to use the steeple of its 200-year-old building as a cell tower.

“We are an active church,” Larry Zimmerman, the church’s pastor, said. “If we rented out space, that might conflict with our church activities. But with the steeple tower, there is no wear and tear on the building. You can’t see it or hear it. It doesn’t conflict with our ministry at all.”

Christ Church United has used the steeple tower income for missions outreach, special projects and emergency needs not planned for in the annual budget.

Zimmerman said the process of working with the telecom companies has been easy because of a third-party company’s help in negotiations and maintenance. “There is a cost involved,” he acknowledged about aid, “but it is worth it because they oversee the installation and any problems that may occur, although we really haven’t had any.”

Chandler said LifeWay’s marketing department, which helps churches make informed decisions about products and services beyond those developed and distributed by LifeWay, has “studied the industry and the particular service providers and we endorsed Steeplecom because we have found them to be the best in the field and they meet our performance standards.”

Tom Moylan, president of Steeplecom, said churches should be wary if negotiating with telecom companies on their own.

“Churches sometimes can get hoodwinked,” Moylan said. “For example, one church agreed to let a carrier use their steeple for $1,000 per month and they signed away their rights to the steeple. Now, if the church wants to let another carrier use their steeple, they have to ask permission of the first carrier.

“Another church signed an agreement that gave the rights to the telecom for the steeple all the way down to the ground, which meant if the church wanted to sell the church building, they would have to receive permission from the telecom company.”

Moylan described Steeplecom as focused not only on protecting churches’ interests but also on adding resources to local churches hosting steeple towers.

“The goal is to funnel millions, no billions, of dollars into the Kingdom of God,” Moylan says. “This supports thousands of other missions through providing money for the church. It’s awesome.”

    About the Author

  • Jenny Rice