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 in the worship center, not enough space in the children’s ministry area, or a run-down student ministry center with outdated technology.

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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?


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 We Do What We Do – A Reminder

This fall has been filled with the busyness of another campaign season. Much like you, I’m running from one meeting to the next. And when I’m not in a meeting, or traveling to one, I’m preparing for the next video conference, giving analysis, or on-site visit. It is a true blessing to be very busy in this ministry!

worship center construction

But I saw something recently that helped me slow down. It helped me remember the main reason why I do what I do. My guess is that you could use a reminder of why you do what you do on occasion too, so I took out the smartphone and snapped a picture that has already become a favorite in my library.

I’ve said it for 15 years now – ever since beginning my work in generosity and stewardship consulting. It’s not about the building (or the renovation, or the money, or the fill-in-the-blank). As churches conduct generosity initiatives to fund God-inspired vision, we always need to remind people that while the building they are hoping to fund is a desired outcome of the project, it in itself is not the true vision behind the initiative. The building is but another tool in the ministry toolbox that we pray God will use to reach others with the good news of Jesus Christ.

5 Sure-Fire Ideas for Success at your Church’s Grand Opening

Last weekend was awesome! I had the privilege of worshiping in a brand new worship center at a church I’ve been partnering with for the last couple years – Harvester Christian Church in the greater St. Louis area. It was their grand opening weekend, and excitement filled the air.

Harvester Christian Church

It was a blessing for me to see the fruit of their dedication and efforts, and to celebrate with them. Seeing what happened that day, and hearing of what happened at another church a colleague of mine has been coaching, made me want to share these successes with you – to encourage you and to give you ideas on how to make something similar very special for your people. So here are several ways to ensure the success of your church’s grand opening.

1. Conduct a Soft Opening
Much like a new restaurant serves their family and friends before opening the doors to the public, it is wise to have a soft opening a weekend or two prior to your publicized grand opening.

Church Financing and Stalled Building Projects

During the last 18 months I’ve had multiple opportunities to speak at seminars and conferences in different parts of the county. In most instances, there have been in the audience architects, builders, general contractors and other professionals who serve churches and faith-based ministries through the construction industry .

church financing

During Q & A sessions and one-on-one conversations, the prevailing discussion centers around church financing. The common reason for stalled building projects among churches relates to the client’s inability to secure financing for their project.

Navigating Capital Projects in a Tough Economy

Our first “On the Table” luncheon was a hit!

Fifty Kansas City area ministry leaders assembled at the Hereford House for a great time of food and fellowship, with the opportunity to hear Senior Pastor Derrick Lynch of Blue Valley Baptist Church tackle the topic that was “on the table” - Navigating Capital Projects & Funding Ministry in Hard Times.

Here is a summary of Pastor Derrick’s comments:

Can you afford the project on the drawing board?

The Importance of Follow Up – Part I

Congratulations to St. John’s Lutheran Church in the St. Louis metro area. February marked the end of their 3-year capital giving initiative. They finished the effort by collecting 99.6% of the total amount committed back in March 2007!

Last week I was on-site with a capital campaign client, touring their new facilities while meeting with the pastor to review strategy. With 8 months remaining in their three-year giving phase, the church is running at 105% of projection!

The 1% Generosity Difference

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to assist Morning Star Church, O’Fallon, MO with their annual giving appeal. This is my second initiative with the church, having led a capital project there two years earlier.

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We have a toolbox full of strategies that assist churches and non-profit ministries as they seek to accelerate generosity towards their ministry, and this was another opportunity to put those tools to work.

One of those strategies involves an encouragement and challenge to the congregation to consider increasing their previous years’ giving by 1% – taking a step toward the tithe, (or above the tithe for those who are already giving at that level).

Tying Your Project to Mission

This past weekend, Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church unveiled the next step in their campus development – and it has access to parking as its primary focus – building a bridge for $5,000,000. Now that’s exciting isn’t it?

I’ve led a couple of clients through initiatives to raise money for parking and access related issues. This can be a tough project to fund…UNLESS you successfully tie it to your mission.

Living Word Church Celebrates Generosity

Even in trying times, generosity can flourish! Remember to thank your congregation for their faithfulness in giving to Kingdom initiatives.

Living Word Church, in Wildwood, MO engaged us for help with their annual stewardship initiative this fall. Here is news of their results, as shared by pastor Michael McIntyre:

Last week in worship, Mick Rembold, the Executive Director of “Will You Grow?” shared with us the incredible results of this campaign. So far this year we have received 274 pledge cards. Last year at this same time we had received 253 pledge cards. This represents an increase of 8% in pledges – which is VERY good. However, it gets much better! The 274 pledges we received represent an increase of $497,550 over last year – that is a 34% increase! This is nothing short of spectacular!

I really want to impress upon you how staggering these numbers truly are! Rusty shared with me that Generis considers a 15% increase to be very successful when the economy is strong. But you, the good people of Living Word, more than doubled what Generis considers to be successful; and you did it in a time when our economy is in the tank! In the words of our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23) We challenged you, and asked you, “Will You Grow?” and you answered with a thunderous YES!

There can be no doubt that 2009 is going to challenge us financially, but with your faithful response to God’s call, I have no doubt that we will meet any challenge that comes our way. I am so very proud of all of you. Thank you for your commitment to Jesus.