Capital campaigns are a very important moment in the life of a church. You look in the Old Testament, and Israel never built buildings out of the tithe. Israel built buildings out of capital campaigns. So Moses said to the people of Israel, we’re going to build this Tabernacle, bring all your stuff in. They would bring all their stuff in, and finally Moses said, we have enough, don’t bring anymore in. No other leader of God’s people has gotten to say that since, but it was said once, and then in the building of the Temple. David says the same thing. He leads the people to give over and above the tithe for the building of the Temple.
The first thing pastors have to do is to be willing to lead transparently, and that means they have to communicate transparently. What does this look like in their lives? How are they processing their decisions? Like David in
We find that pastors who can tell that story are hugely effective in encouraging people to go there themselves. So that’s the first thing, how can I transparently communicate?
Secondly is that capital campaigns are not about buildings; they are about vision. What is a clear, compelling vision for this church? And what we find is that pastors who can do that with passion and clarity are really going to be effective when they do a capital campaign. What we’re going to see in the future is that more and more churches are going to do campaigns for things other than buildings. They are going to do campaigns for mission projects, planting new churches, foreign or international work and so on. That’s the kind of communication people really need to hear – a clear, compelling vision from a pastor in preaching.
Thirdly, how does someone discern what God wants them to do? Discerning in this equation needs to be very biblical in approach, because this is where people can be open to accusations of manipulation or coercion. With integrity and openness, how do you help people engage in a spiritual process?
We tell people all the time that they have to do something spiritually before they do anything financially in the area of financial stewardship. So how do you communicate discerning God’s will? What we want to do is to have people give over and above what they’re already giving in tithes and offerings, so that’s a kind of a gift where they’re saying: “God, help me to know this. How can I hear Your voice in that?”
And not only do we need to clearly communicate that model as leaders, but also biblically, we help people understand: what does that look like? I believe pastors get frightened of capital campaigns because they think, “I’ve got to preach about money.” I think ultimately they need to preach asking people to consider what sacrificial giving looks like in their life.
Ultimately it’s about vision, ministry, hearing God and really asking people to connect their story to the greater redemptive story of that church. And that’s a wonderful thing to do. That’s such a life affirming, faith enhancing moment for a church when they do that.