Capital Campaign Playbook author Q&A
I had been involved with over 100 capital campaigns and had been around the church my whole life. There seemed to be a kind of mystery about not only raising funds, but also the powerful spiritual growth that can happen when doing so. I also realized that I had a bunch of coaching techniques stuck in my head that needed to get on paper. So, pretty much everything I know about how to run capital campaigns is in the book.
This is for senior leaders of the church – pastors and laity. This is my tribe. I grew up in a home of parents who were volunteer leaders in the church. I have been in pastoral and executive leadership of churches since the day I graduated college. Church leaders are my tribe – and I have a compassion for them in terms of what we were not taught in seminary.
I hope the practicality of the book will make the idea of “lack of funding” less of an obstacle for ministry dreams that require money. It doesn’t need to be as scary and complicated as many make it. I want it to be demystified so that leaders say, “Wow – I think we can do this.”
The challenges, with a few exceptions, are usually that we don’t have a great handle on money. The people, the leaders, and the church have given money this weird power that it doesn’t deserve. The actual mechanics of a campaign are pretty elementary – but the spiritual, emotional and relational dynamics that fire off whenever we talk about money is where the challenge lies.
This comes from my personal experience. The first campaign I was ever a part of was the one I led as a senior pastor – a very young senior pastor aiming to build the church’s first building ever. I thought the whole thing was about convincing people to give money and what happened was that people’s trust in God deepend. Their
commitment to our church’s mission deepened. So many inner-life things happened. I was so naïve – I thought money stuff was about money. That’s not how it works in the spiritual realm.
The biggest mistakes are made in the preparation phase – long before the congregation even knows about a campaign. Church leaders (who are good-hearted and optimistic) sometimes set expectations for the congregation that are unrealistic or design projects that are beyond capacity. If they don’t do their homework ahead of time about what is reasonable, they can make missteps that the congregation will feel for decades.
Participation is a funny thing. As much as I’d like to guarantee 100% participation in a congregation, the fact is that there is a portion of every congregation that will always participate – they are the ones that carry the weight for so much of the ministry and volunteerism. This is directly linked to giving. If you are engaged, you are likely a giver. And if you are a giver, you are likely willing to consider extra giving to a campaign. So, it is a complex question because I think it starts with a clear and compelling mission that causes higher engagement. Without that, increased participation in a capital campaign is like pushing a rock up hill.
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