Funding the Vision

Careful financial planning is not optional. It is required for completing a campaign successfully.
I'm sure you've heard clichés such as, "simple as falling off a log" or "easy as one, two, three" or "this is a piece of cake"--but most likely not attached to the idea of raising significant sums of money for a ministry project, a new building or debt retirement. Churches across the country are being confronted with the issues of how, when and what to do when it comes to funding their God-given visions. There are a lot of details to sift through, and just the thought of raising money is daunting--even overwhelming--for many pastors.

That's why many commercial lenders require a relationship with a capital stewardship specialist as part of the overall assessment of an organization's credibility and borrowing potential. Careful financial planning is not optional. It is required for completing a campaign successfully.

There are several thoughts to consider as you ponder the merits of initiating a capital campaign in your church.

First, don't settle for just a fund-raising campaign. More important than buildings is the edification of lives. Long after the bricks and mortar have crumpled, the changes you have helped make in people's lives will endure.

Second, when God gives a dream, people of faith can see what is not yet built. You must see your project in your mind and heart before you can invite others to follow and share the dream.

Third, pray diligently, plan wisely, give sacrificially and boldly follow God's will. The resources needed for your project will be provided.

Before you are ready to begin a stewardship campaign, there are some definite steps you should take as a church that will be a litmus test of sorts. Following are four crucial checkpoints:

1. Define your mission statement. You are not ready to seek gifts until you can make a clear definition of the following: Why does our church exist? (Have you generated a written mission statement?) What special programs, ministries or services do we offer to respond to the needs of the people as reflected in our mission statement?

Is our mission statement quantifiable? (Have you set measurable desired results?) Is our mission statement spiritual and practical?

2. Examine your needs assessment. Ask: What is the reality of our needs? How will our project enhance our programs, ministries and services?

There need not be, and rarely is, a unanimous agreement within the constituency of a congregation regarding the validity of a project. However, building consensus to the vision is essential, and the leadership must be in unity. Articulate a case statement as to why people ought to support the project and outline how a successful campaign will benefit the church or institution.

3. Define your project. You must rely on the leadership and the professionals to stay the course. Create a master plan that can be implemented in properly timed phases.

4. Review your congregation's giving potential. This is where a good stewardship specialist is invaluable--and where a poor one can cause disasters. The process is extremely delicate in that you are dealing with some of the most personal information in a church body. But it is crucial to know information such as how large and committed is the volunteer base, how many donors you have and how much is the current average gift.

So why do some campaigns fail? A few of the major reasons are: poor campaign facilitation; a pastor who does not lead by example; lack of leadership consensus; not getting the appropriate volunteer base; setting unrealistically high goals or pessimistically low goals; starting to work on your project prior to the campaign; and an ill-defined project.

While it is scriptural that "without a vision the people perish," it also is true that without a plan the vision will perish and without funding the plan will perish. So plan carefully and prayerfully.


Jerry Parsons is president of Ministry Resource Group, which specializes in church management and stewardship campaigns. Visit his Web site at www.ministryresourcegroup.com or call (800) 709-4MRG.

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Discouragement can be a serious struggle.

    Guard Your Spirit Against These 4 Crippling Attacks

    Are you struggling this Valentine's Day with one of these discouraging issues?

  • Some of the toughest lessons reap the greatest rewards.

    10 Tough Lessons Every Pastor Should Remember in Ground-Shaking Trials

    One is that your suffering may turn out to be the highest compliment the Father ever gave you.

  • Why Many Christians Misunderstand This Crucial Leadership Trait

    Great leadership doesn't start with a great education, although that is incredibly valuable. ...

  • Worship leaders, keep your team's attitude in check.

    This Can Quickly Erode a Worship Team's Culture

    God has given us talent and He calls for excellence, but excellence with this is not honoring ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Your Source of Unlimited Kingdom Energy and Power

    Jesus said that we can do greater works than He did and that He will do whatever we ask in His Name.

  • What reasons can you think of that leaders might not choose to delegate authority?

    7 Reasons Some Leaders Dump Delegation

    These could have a lot to do with stalled growth and low team morale.

  • These seven responses can get you on the right track.

    Responding Like Jesus When Your Church Kicks You Out

    It's a pain that many in the ministry have felt at least once and maybe more.

  • A 'What's in it for me?' mentality could bring your church down.

    The Mentality That May Be Killing Your Church

    And we wonder why so many congregations are stagnated, plateaued or declining.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders