Get a Loan in the ‘New Economy’: Five tips that can help churches secure more favorable lending terms.

An emphasis on changing its culture to reach a younger generation has helped the Copper Pointe Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, quadruple in size in recent years.

The evangelical church — with ties to the Assemblies of God — has grown to more than 2,500 people at its weekend services.

Copper Pointe’s seeker-friendly approach has helped fill the pews but created a financial challenge, according to David Gaona, a longtime lay member who serves as the church’s treasurer. “You’re reaching out to a segment of the population that has no concept of tithing, for one,” says Gaona, a certified financial planner. “And secondly, they don’t have a lot of money.”

Despite lean coffers, particularly before the economy improved, the church was able to buy an existing warehouse and expand its facilities to accommodate the burgeoning flock. And this year, Copper Pointe renegotiated its mortgage to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest.

The church’s annual interest rate of 5.5 percent was lowered to an average of 3.45 percent for two bank loans negotiated by Nathan Artt, principal of Ministry Solutions, a consulting firm based in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Banks have really opened up,” says Artt, assessing the state of the church lending market in the wake of the 2009 recession. “The challenge the church has is getting the banks to understand their financial statements. But if you can do that, you’ll have a myriad of options available to you.”

Other experts interviewed by Church Finance Today echoed Artt’s positive assessment, with a few caveats.

This article appears on the October 2014 cover of Church Finance Today, a publication of Christianity Today.

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