After 18 years of coaching churches through capital campaigns I find some similar comments made at the end of the campaign process. There are always some “Aha!” moments.
A very unfortunate “Aha” moment sometimes occurs about two months into the process when people working on the campaign (pastor, staff, and leaders) come to an unfortunate realization. They should have asked more questions about the project and the viability of the project before they ever began talking to me; much less launching a campaign.
We encourage churches we are talking with to consider a generosity audit before launching into any major initiative involving money; especially a campaign. Unfortunately many churches have gone too far and are ready to go (or at least they think they are) on the campaign. We ask questions of the leaders regarding the steps taken to get to this point and we have to trust their judgment on how ready the church is. Unfortunately, we often find there were some critical questions not asked around the leadership table. Here are questions that should be asked and objectively (internally and/or externally) answered:
- Do we really NEED this project? (not WANT or financially afford) Have we exhausted EVERY possible method to utilize the current facilities to their absolute maximum? Have we spoken to an industry professional who is known for thinking outside the proverbial “box?” Is there any way possible we can continue being effective in ministry and outreach WITHOUT the proposed project? Can we rent? Can we re-finance? Remember; campaigns are hard work.
- Are we (lay leaders and staff) COMPLETELY sold out to the proposed project? Is there anyone on the leadership team and/or staff who has any reservations about moving forward with the project? Unity (100% preferred) among the leaders and staff is PARAMOUNT for the project to be successful. There must be an open forum for leaders and staff members to freely speak up if they are not in agreement with the proposed project. Better to deal with these issues now behind closed doors than in the public forum of a capital campaign.
- Do we have the communication tools to successfully launch a campaign for a project this size? Is our website relevant? Does our website have the horsepower to support video? Do we have video creation and viewing capabilities? Do we have print design capabilities? Is the pastor on Twitter? Do we have a Facebook page and a following of that page? Is the senior staff blogging? Most (if not all) of these communication elements need to be in place BEFORE launching a campaign. They need to be utilized in the regular day-to-day operations before putting them under the public test of a capital campaign.
These are just a few of the key questions to ask before launching a capital campaign. There are many more related questions to be asked as well. This process can be tedious, trying and time consuming. However, the alternative is to get into the campaign and then ask the questions; or worse, have people ask these questions in the public forum of a campaign. I have been there and done that; you don’t want to.
Are you thinking about a campaign? If so, is the leadership in your church asking these types of questions?
If you are planning a capital campaign for your church you will want to download our e-book, The Hidden Costs of a DIY Church Capital Campaign. It will offer imperative information for your team to make an informed decision. You can download it by clicking HERE.