Cell towers and cellular antennas have been popping up on church owned properties throughout the United States for many years and many articles have been written about the topic. As a wireless consultant I am pro-cell tower for a number of reasons. Cell towers improve public safety. Most emergency services including police, rescue and fire departments communicate through wireless technology. Cell towers also improve the quality of life of people not even subscribing to wireless services. Having a world-class wireless network in a town or municipality attracts business and is a key component of any city infrastructure.
Church properties make great locations for Flagpole cellular towers and stealth steeple sites or traditional towers. Look, God doesn’t need the money that a cell tower lease generates, but chances are your congregation’s budget could benefit from a blessing from above.
Churches need to carefully examine subleasing language proposed by the wireless carrier in the cell tower lease. They must control the ground space. Also, before signing a cell tower lease churches need to find out exactly how leasing to a wireless carrier relates to their tax status, and also make sure that the lease includes language that protects the organization. In fact, since cell phone tower leases are extremely specialized churches should “Make plans by seeking advice;” (Proverbs 20:18a) especially since leasing to a cellular carrier is a long-term commitment. However, carriers are looking for a quick deal in most cases, so don’t waste too much time in committee because the paralysis of analysis will cause the cell phone company to look at another location.
It’s funny that some people get flustered over the fact that Churches allow cell phone towers to be built on their properties. Just because an organization is tax exempt or non-profit, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need to pay their utility bills, facility overhead, youth programs and ministry staff. Talking to a church deacon recently he confirmed what I already suspected, their weekly collections have declined significantly in 2009 due to the financial downturn.
My advice for those in the congregation who are against the use of leasing church owned land for the development of cellular towers is to convince thy brethren to give their tithe and to shut off their cell phones during the Sunday service.