Five Reasons NOT to Launch a Traditional Church Capital Campaign

Congratulations! Your church is in a season of growth! But as a Lead Pastor or Executive Pastor, you’re aware of some space-related “choke points” developing that will hinder future growth if they’re not addressed. You may have a lack of seats
 in the worship center, not enough space in the children’s ministry area, or a run-down student ministry center with outdated technology.

church capital campaign

As you’re recognizing the need to address these issues, you’re also recognizing the need for additional resources to fund the growth. Before long, the talk will likely turn to planning and implementing a major giving campaign of some kind.

But what should be the approach for your church? Is a traditional “over and above” type capital campaign the ideal solution? Are there other options that might provide the needed funding, while at the same time addressing other general stewardship and generosity issues that likely exist in your church?

ONE FUND INITIATIVES

There is an alternative approach to a traditional capital campaign, and it’s called a One Fund initiative. Rather than asking people to commit to a gift in order to fund a project (or projects) that is “over and above” their regular giving to the church, a One Fund asks people to consider their total giving to the church.

A One Fund asks three questions:
1. Where are you on the journey of giving back to God?
2. Where does God want you to be on that journey?
3. What would it look like to move in faith to that place God desires for you?

More specifically, in a traditional campaign:

  • The focus is project-centric or church-centric.
  • The purpose of the campaign revolves around the need of the church to receive money to fund a project.
  • We ask people to consider their relationship with the church.
  • We direct attention to what the church wants from givers.

By comparison, in a One Fund initiative:

  • The focus is giver-centric.
  • The purpose of the campaign is the need of a Christ-follower to be generous.
  • We ask people to consider their relationship with God.
  • We direct attention to what the church and God want for givers.

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.

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!

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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.

Lack of Vision Reflected in (Lost) Giving

It has been an amazing few months in my ministry with Generis. God has allowed me to witness several magnificently extravagant gifts as part of accelerated giving initiatives where I’ve been blessed to participate as consultant and partner to my church clients.

church vision

I’ve seen individuals and families make commitments of $500,000, $1,000,000, $1,500,000, $2,000,000 and $3,000,000!

It is amazing to see God move in the hearts of those He has blessed financially to make huge differences in Kingdom initiatives for church ministry, local outreach, and national and international missions efforts.

More Sign On to The Giving Pledge

This week it was announced that more billionaires have signed on to take the Giving Pledge, a challenge by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to give away at least 50% of one’s wealth. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is the latest to join in the effort. Estimated to have earned $6.9 Billion from the social media website’s creation, Zuckerberg is one of the youngest to take the pledge at age 26.

church giving challenge

“People wait until late in their career to give back,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “But why wait, when there is so much to be done? With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts.”

Zuckerberg’s business partner Dustin Moskovitz, also took the pledge, along with 15 other newly committed philanthropists. They include Carl Icahn, Michael Milken and Steve Case. You can read the complete list of donors and their letters here.