The Truth About Capital Campaigns

The Truth About Capital Campaigns

It’s time my industry started telling churches the truth about capital campaigns. The traditional approach to capital campaigns died long before COVID19 hit. That program-driven model was designed and developed in the last century and it needed to die. Yet change is hard not simply for a church but also for companies. Smart leaders were already asking, what does the campaign of the future look like? Now as we move through COVID19 everyone is asking questions. At least they should.

The value is in the question. Too often we are asking the wrong questions. For instance I recently received an email promoting a webinar on capital campaigns. It started with this, “…many pastors are now asking: What is the future of capital campaigns?” I had to laugh. First, I laughed because right now in my experience about the last thing pastors are asking me is about the future of capital campaigns. The only ones I know asking that question are capital campaign consultants who are out of work because few churches are holding capital campaigns. They are simply trying to survive. My ultimate problem with the email is it’s asking the wrong question.

Asking the wrong question can and will lead you to incorrect conclusions that ultimately lead you to make poor decisions. That is why the value is in the question.

“Think before you produce. Ask the “why” before you explore the “how.”

Phil Cooke, “Maximize Your Influence: How to Make Digital Media Work for Your Church, Your Ministry, And You.”

Phil Cooke could have written the above quote about the question, what does the campaign of the future look like. All of us in the Church world are trying to figure out what the future is. Most are focused on how to do this or that post COVID. The question is why do it at all?

We must answer the why of raising capital dollars before we arrive at the how.

I believe not only should churches be asking this question about everything post COVID but so should the stewardship industry. Here some questions I think all in my field need to ask ourselves,

  1. Is our ultimate concern the health of the Church or the survival of our company?
  2. Are we a ministry or a business?
  3. Are we too wed to our way of doing things that we are unable to see another better way?
  4. Are we asking questions, probing for answers or simply attempting to “sell” our program?
  5. Have we made our process a sacred cow that we worship at the expense of our churches?

Here is a truth. None of us clearly knows what the capital campaign of the future will look like post COVID19. Anyone who tries to tell you they do is guessing. We have simply never been down this kind of road before. As a result it is far too early to be asking the question about capital campaigns post COVID. We need to explore the why before we establish the how.

Here is a reality for a growing church. Growing churches will always need to raise over and above dollars. We may have seen the passing of the large auditorium and even large campuses. Yet, growth will always demand dollars above and beyond your operating budget. How do you raise that money? The answer to that question is going to be different from church to church. The truth is,

Capital campaigns are not dead but they are different!

I have been for the last five years developing a system for churches to raise generosity from this week’s offering to any over and above giving you need. The need hasn’t changed but how we meet that need has. Let’s talk!

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach


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