As a church leader, the short and long-term health of the church is paramount to all you are planning. You might even be facing a significant capital project, which often creates a sense of uneasiness or uncertainty. There is a definite fear of the unknown before initiating any kind of significant capital project. Those who may be approaching this for the first time or at least the first time in a long time can get lost in the sheer enormity of such a project. Such large projects can include:
• New Build/Relocation
• Planting churches
• Debt retirement
Having been involved in over 500 church campaigns of various capacities, countless pastors and church leaders have sought our advice over the years. Impact Stewardship understands the various
requirements of a successful capital project and campaign. If your church is facing a unique and significant opportunity in the upcoming year or in the near future, understanding what needs to happen PRIOR to undertaking a capital project is crucial. Embracing this critical truth early in the process is an important step that leads to success.
The Purpose of this Document
Your mind is likely racing with multiple things to consider prior to beginning a significant capital project, which is completely understandable and common. For this reason, we feel compelled to share our thoughts and expertise by identifying the three major steps every church must take PRIOR to entering into a successful capital campaign.
It is our hope that you read this post and come back and read part two (In January) and three (In February), and/or download the entire guide, which will help you understand each of these elements more fully and gain the practical wisdom within each step as you seek to tackle a capital project. Included in the whitepaper are worksheets designed to be part of a team discussion, or can be individually worked through.
Step One – Assessment
Assessment is the risk/reward judgment call that you as a leader are going to have to make, which comes with incredible opportunities and significant challenges. By breaking these into smaller parts, we want to reduce the fear and stress of this stage in the process.
• Assessing all project options
• Assessing the best process for my church
• Assessing all available resources
Assessing All Project Options
There are a variety of projects the church may be facing, with most large projects falling into one of the following categories:
• Expansion or addition of current facilities
• New build or relocation
• Planting churches
• Large scale renovation
• Finally eliminating that large monthly debt payment
Sometimes more than one of the above apply. Believe it or not, what some church leaders perceive as a priority need might not be what the rest of the church sees as the actual top need. The church might prefer a project designated for phase 2 of your building to take priority over Phase 1. While other churches may opt to pay off the debt first before starting another building project. Debt might be a hot button issue. Knowing what your members are committed to is a critical step that must be taken prior to starting construction or a capital campaign. By conducting a feasibility study early in the process, all of the things mentioned above are easily identified and can be directly or indirectly addressed.
The Difference Between Fans and Supporters
This is where it is important to know the difference between fans and supporters. It is easy for church members to be a fan or jump on the bandwagon of a positive majority. Many of whom when
directly asked by someone on staff may sense the pressure of conformity and agree initially, but have questions later or different priorities when it comes to financially supporting the project. Therefore, we suggest conducting a third-party feasibility study like ours, to gain an objective view of the existing support and priorities of your members.
Assessing the Best Process for My Church
“Passing the Baton”
A recurring mindset and common approach to the entire process is what we call “passing the baton”. This is a simple systematic process where no steps cross over. When one step is completed, the next begins. Often by following this antiquated methodology is where the breakdown typically occurs. This process usually seeks out an architect first to gain a conceptual idea of the design and a rough cost estimate. Then after receiving the cost estimate from the architect, the church seeks financial assistance from a church lender. Once the funding question is batted around, the church often turns to the builder. At this point, a more accurate cost of all that is involved is given to the church. Unfortunately, some churches “abandon ship” or contact a capital stewardship firm as a last step. A sample timeline along with typical questions asked of each group is listed here.
Sadly when church leaders follow the “passing the baton” timeline, the original plans often come to a halt and/or an attempt to make snap last minute adjustments are made. These adjustments rarely prove effective and short-circuit a much greater potential. Here is why.
The “passing the baton” process inherently creates a lack of communication at all levels and causes a breakdown in momentum. In addition, it can create a great deal of frustration and erode the trust between church members and a pastor or church leader. These headaches can create anxiety for leadership and leaves too many uncertainties of how to proceed. Going back and making considerable adjustments usually extend the original timeline given to the church. Occasionally, churches ask architects to scale down the project, which leads to unfulfilled space needs. Sometimes, churches go so far as asking builders to cut corners to save initial cost, end up costing the church more in the end.
Download the whitepaper now to understand the effectiveness of the “collaborative team effort” and the entire three-part blog series with worksheets included.