Why You Should Consider Phasing Your Next Building Project

It doesn’t occur often, but occasionally I run across an article, webinar, or blog post with content so good I am eager to share it with you and expand upon it. Such is the case with a recent post from Tim Cool at eSpace, called “If It’s Phase-able, It’s Feasible.” I’ve known Tim for almost 15 years now, and have high respect for the work he does for ministries around the country.

church buildingTim and I share a common frustration – seeing a set of well-intentioned church building plans sitting on a desk in the office that will never be built. Why? Because the church simply cannot afford to build what was designed.

How does this happen and, more importantly, what can you do to avoid making these same mistakes that lead to a similarly expensive and ineffective result? Let’s get to that in a moment. But first, some important background information.

HOW IT USED TO BE
Twenty-five years ago or more, it was fairly common that a church with a need to take on a construction project would do a three-year capital campaign to support it. As a result, the church building was built, being funded by the campaign, and the church incurred little to no long-term debt. Results in capital campaigns in those days averaged returns of approximately two times the annual income of the church.

TODAY’S CAMPAIGNS
Today, results in capital campaigns continue to return approximately two times the annual income of the church. However, that same church building project may require multiple campaigns and/or significant long-term debt to fund the project.

So what has changed? We raise the same multiple of income today as we did then. Church buildings built then were regularly funded with one campaign with little to no long-term debt, but today multiple campaigns and/or long term debt are required to build.

3 Common Mistakes Churches Make When Budget Planning

Working with churches in the realm of generosity, I see it quite often – common mistakes in the church budget planning process. I see these with regularity, which makes me wonder if perhaps you too have committed one or more of the three most common mistakes in your church budget planning process and not realized it. (It’s ok – not only will I share with you what these three mistakes are, I will also share some ideas on how to avoid or fix them!)

church budgets

The three mistakes listed below come straight from a recent webinar on the subject. You will want to pull it up soon to hear Jim Sheppard, one of our Principal Partners at Generis, and William Vanderbloemen of Vanderbloemen Search Group discuss these common mistakes made in the church budget planning process.

MISTAKE #1 – Operational Expense Mistakes
Regardless of church size and mission focus, there are three common line item “categories” in every church budget: people (personnel) expenses, building/facility expenses, and everything else (ministry, missions, etc.). What problems do we typically see in this area?

Churches often let the people and building/facility expense categories grow too large, at the expense of ministry and missions. The most common mistakes here are:

  1. staffing expenses that have grown larger than they should for a specific church’s model of ministry.
  2. facility costs, usually including over-sized mortgage management, on a space that is too large or was a bit too aggressive financially to construct.

If you have too much going to one or both of these categories, little is left to actually fund the mission of your ministry! For example, if you have 50% of your budget going to personnel expenses, and 40% to building/facility expenses, that only leaves 10% for everything else. And that 10% is supposed to fund all of your ministries and missions while staying within budget.)

So what portion of a church’s total budget should these categories hold? That depends largely on your individual church, but here are some benchmarks to consider:

  • Personnel
    The standard rule that has floated for years is to keep personnel expenses between 45-52% of total budget. But that isn’t appropriate for every church. It’s too much for some, and perhaps not enough for others. It depends on how you do ministry, and what resources you provide.

    • Are you a staff-driven church, or one that is more congregationally driven, leveraging a large volunteer pool?
    • What kinds of programming do you offer? A church that offers an on-site counseling center, daycare, or school might have larger personnel budgets than those that don’t have those programs on site.
    • A church that outsources some roles might have a lower total personnel expense. I am seeing more and more the outsourcing of several areas previously handled by church staff, including communications (print design, website creation and management, video production of church announcements, etc.) and finance (accounting, payroll, etc.).
    • What is too much or too little? Vanderbloemen shared that a personnel budget running lower than 40% or higher than 65% would both be numbers that might indicate need for some study and review.

New Resource: Understanding and Engaging Your Givers

Count on it: your givers and potential givers are not all alike. In fact, they break down into at least four kinds of givers.

increase giving e-bookThe Generis team has just released a new resource designed to help pastors in churches across the country increase giving – with all four types of givers.

This new, 26-page e-book will share with you the differences between each of the different types of givers, as well as what you can do to bridge the gap between funding and vision.

This new resource will:

  • help you identify the different givers in your ministry
  • give best practices to engage different types of givers
  • encourage and equip your discipleship efforts
  • and much more!

The more you recognize different types of givers and meet them at their level of need and expectation, the stronger your culture of generosity can become.

This guide, available to you now as a free download, was designed to equip you with the knowledge Generis has gained through 3,000+ successful capital campaigns. This e-book provides you with a practical tool to help fund your church into its next phase of ministry expansion.

DOWNLOAD E-BOOK

Looking for more resources like this one? Check my resources page for more great material!

Looking for more information or personal assistance? Let me know. I’d love to help you and your church fund its God-sized vision!

Pastor, what would best help you encourage generosity?

I did something a couple years ago that was super helpful to me and to the churches I serve. I asked for feedback. I asked for input. I asked the church leaders in the trenches day in and day out what they needed most in the realm of generosity.

communicationkidThat feedback led to several practical blog posts about creating a culture of generosity, preaching on generosity, and how to talk about it outside the offering moment. (Great stuff – thank you for requesting it!)

It also led to the creation of several e-books about giving technology, communicating to impact giving, and the importance of recurring giving.

And now it’s time to circle back and ask again:
What do you need, want, and desire most to help you and your team impact the generosity of your people to fulfill the God-sized vision of your church?

As is always my focus, I want to make sure I’m providing you what you need – not just what I think you need. So I would love to give you an opportunity to share with me exactly how I can best help you.

Please take five minutes to answer a few quick questions for me. I’ve put together a short survey (yes, it’s short – I promise!) to allow a quick and easy way to speak into what’s coming in the near future.

Now is the time. The floor is yours.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

TAKE THE SURVEY

Blessings,
Rusty

 

5 Things People Need to Know Before they will Give

Your people have questions. And they’re not just about the next children’s ministry event or where to take their canned goods for the food pantry. They have questions about giving – big questions about why they should give and what happens to their money when they give.

people need to knowAs their pastor, it’s your responsibility to make sure they have  answers to these questions. This is an opportunity for you to make sure your people are being guided and encouraged on their generosity journey, all while making sure your God-sized vision for ministry is being funded.

So here are 5 questions your people are likely asking, based on 5 things people need to know before they will give. (Trust me – most of your people are asking at least one of these questions!)

1. CAN I TRUST YOU?
The news is unfortunately frequent with stories of improper use of charitable gifts – the Wounded Warriors Project being the most recent example. People want to give where they know their gifts will be stewarded well. Be transparent. Work to build integrity and trust in your personal leadership, and in those in positions of leadership. Communicate well, and often.

Follow through. Do what you say you are going to do. Don’t ask people to do something you yourself are not doing. (Be an example.) People give to those they can believe in and trust. How have you shown your church is trustworthy in the last six months?

2. WHAT’S THE VISION?
Givers give when the mission of the organization aligns with their passions. Most people aren’t as motivated by need; they give to vision. It’s not about the money, but what the money will accomplish. It’s not about facilities, but the ministry the facilities allow.

The Ultimate Church Capital Campaign Guide Now Available

With experience leading over 3,000 capital campaigns and generosity initiatives, the Generis team has learned a thing or two about funding ministry. Now you can benefit from that knowledge – through the Ultimate Church Capital Campaign Guide.

Church Capital Campaign GuideCampaigns can be approached from many angles and with differing attitudes – excitement, optimism, hope, caution, hesitation, and even skepticism. Some church leaders have previous experience funding projects and ministry that influences those ideas and attitudes, while others are looking for a new, fresh approach altogether. And let’s not forget that many pastors don’t like talking about money (and many of their people don’t want to hear the pastor talk about money).

Whatever your perceptions around capital campaigns, this new guide (now available to you as a free download) will provide you with a wealth of information, including whether your plan is on track, should be delayed, is wise, or is unwise. It will answer some questions you don’t even realize you have!

This 69-page resource covers topics like:

  • common campaign mistakes
  • the role of the pastor
  • developing major gifts
  • a campaign’s spiritual impact
  • the importance of prayer
  • the time needed to implement a successful effort

A church campaign should be transformational, not transactional. This e-book will explain how a capital campaign can actually affect heart-level change and further disciple your people in the area of generosity.

This guide was designed to equip you with the knowledge Generis has gained through 3,000+ successful capital campaigns while providing a tool to help you fund your church into its next phase of ministry expansion.

DOWNLOAD GUIDE

Looking for more resources like this one? Check my resources page for more great material!

Looking for more information or personal assistance? Let me know. I’d love to help you and your church fund its God-sized vision!

 

Five Keys to Our Successful Generosity Initiative

I recently had the chance to do something I really enjoy doing – talking with a pastor who just finished up a two-year generosity initiative using our One Fund approach. This particular pastor leads a growing church that has surpassed its goals, so the conversation was encouraging for us both.

pastor meetingBecause I value sharing with you what I see working in other churches across the country, I wanted to let you in on a few key points he shared with me. Whether you are considering accelerating generosity in your church in the near future, or you just need a healthy dose of encouragement today, this post is for you!

So here is Pastor Matt Miofsky giving you five keys to a successful generosity initiative, based on his experience over the last two years at The Gathering. (These stories you’re about to read are just amazing – too good not to share!) Thanks Matt for your willingness to share your journey with us!

_____

1. Prepare yourself ahead of your congregation
The winter before we launched our One Fund initiative called Chain Reaction, Rusty issued a challenge: my wife and I should go through some personal generosity introspection first, ahead of our people. And we did.

We were in the process of buying a new home at the time. When we stopped to talk about our personal levels of generosity, we soon realized we couldn’t be the generous people God was calling us to be and still move forward with the purchase of that home – at least not at that time. It would have throttled our ability to give at the generous level we sensed God challenging us to attain.

So we made a commitment. The topic of home buying was off the table for the next two years. We set a goal of doubling our tithe for Chain Reaction, and we gave more than we have ever given before. My wife and I found so much joy in being generous! It helped us be content in our home for two years. We could now talk with authenticity about what we were learning. And it equipped us to lead stronger conversations and to ask better questions.

A Practical Sneak Peek of My New Generosity E-Book

It’s e-book launch month again! And after the feedback I received from my last e-book, I can hardly wait to get this one in your hands. As I promised in my last blog post, this is another very practical resource to help your church accelerate generosity – this time with a focus on intentional communication.

Generosity Speaks E-Book Promo Graphic

While my co-author and designer Kaycee and I are finalizing the very last details, I wanted to provide you, my faithful blog readers, a sample of what this resource holds for you and your church.

So let’s take a look today at chapter 4 – specifically the section on worship bulletins. (I told you it was super practical!)

FROM GENEROSITY SPEAKS:

Part of the purpose of your bulletin, whether you are intentional about it or not, is that it informs and educates those who have just come through your doors, especially the very first time.

Do You Limit the Generosity of Your Church?

Do you limit the generosity of your church? Now, I have to believe you would never intentionally limit the generosity of your church. In fact, I believe you would love it to improve, to grow, to flourish. But are there things you are doing unknowingly, or habits in place at your church, that hinder or interfere with your giving culture?

limited giving aheadI just returned from the UnEarth Conference in Jacksonville this month, and I was blessed again to share information with church leaders from across the country on the topic of generosity. This time the topic was “8 Ceilings that Limit Giving to Your Church” (and several solutions to fix them). My thanks to colleague Brad Leeper, President of Generis, for contributions to this content!

Today I’ll share with you these “ceilings” and we will explore the solutions in my next post, so stay tuned!

First, let’s look at something quickly to get us started. From data collected through Generosity Audits and giving analyses of hundreds of churches, Generis has found the following to be the typical pattern in church giving:

OF 100 PEOPLE

  • 50 give nothing
  • 20 give $1,200
  • 30 give more than $1,200
  • If you have 10 elders/deacons/trustees, 2 are likely not giving
  • 1/3 of your staff is likely not giving

Now those figures might surprise you, but here’s what is typically going on behind the scenes to create such skewed giving metrics.

Accelerate Generosity at Year-End

Non-profits have recently begun their year-end appeals. Why? Because they know that the largest percentage of charitable giving occurs during the last two months of the year.

year end church generosity

What are you doing to accelerate generosity toward your ministry in 2011? As people begin to consider how to invest the last of their charitable dollars this year, you will want to have top-of-mind position with your congregation.

To do this effectively, consider all your communication channels. E-mail news, newsletter, worship bulletin, pre-service slides, pre-offering stories and updates, video blog, and weekly e-mail communications.