Your church capital campaign for new construction, land, and debt relief efforts should be part of an intentional overall approach to stewardship / generosity, aligning with the church’s greater mission.

church campaign for new construction, land, and debt relief

In 2024 when the words “church capital campaign” or “church capital building campaign” are brought up at any leadership meeting, many squirm in their seat and even consider bolting for the door. But you do not have to dread the process or do it alone without good outside help. If unsure where to look for help, please do not have your staff Google something like church fundraising ideas or church fundraisers. This will likely only bring up ways to raise small amounts of money via bake sales, car-washes and doughnuts, but are unhelpful in raising large amounts. These types of church fundraising ideas may be good for youth events, but can undermine major efforts to invite serious givers to fund the core vision and plans of your ministry. Major church stewardship fundraising, like a church campaign, annual stewardship campaign or a church debt relief campaign requires far more than small efforts to raise money.

If your leadership is seriously committed to moving into a major funding initiative, there are many excellent church consultants and a dedicated campaign team that can lead you through a major fundraising initiative. And like our company name, we can also come alongside you to develop effective church fundraising materials for your upcoming church capital campaign, but more on that later.

One church campaign consultant wrote that capital campaigns are a multi-faceted undertaking involving many moving components that all must be coordinated and well timed (especially the capital campaign marketing materials) to set-up the church for maximum success. He then said that the success of your capital campaign is vital to the ongoing life of the church as it helps maintain ministry momentum. Your capital campaign will take your supporters from a point of vision awareness to a point of deep commitment (in time, talents and treasures).

Martin Luther had a defining moment when he said, “There are three conversions a person needs to experience: The conversion of the head, the conversion of the heart, and the conversion of the pocketbook.” But the topic of major stewardship initiatives are hard for ministry leadership to press into with their congregations or supporters. Maybe the reason that capital campaigns are difficult to approach is because so little has been taught on the topic of stewardship. Many consultants will tell you that the topic of stewardship (worshipful handling of money and possessions) is so prevalent in the New Testament that it’s hard to miss, and that a bold and confident approach to teaching it’s principles is imperative to growing a culture of generosity. In his article “Money and Motives,” Greg Laurie says, ““… money is such an important topic in the Bible that it is the main subject of nearly half of the parables Jesus told… One in every seven verses in the NT deals with this topic. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, and more than 2,000 verses on money….15 percent of everything Jesus ever taught was on the topic of money and possessions — more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined… There is a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money.”

A church capital campaign requires a stretch beyond rational thinking in many churches.

Church fundraising items

By definition, faith is more than mere rationality. Great leaders understand this. That’s precisely why those same leaders are not intimidated by the “rationality” of information and facts. Faith in a God-inspired vision leads to trust that surpasses what is “seen” – seas splitting to allow ocean floors to become escape routes; jars pouring out gallons more without being re-filled; and “ministry functions” of 20,000+ ending up with far more food than when they started! A leading ministry fundraising consultant heard a story of an Atlanta ministry that was able to purchase eight acres of land for about $360,000. Two years earlier the owners would not budge off their $1.3 million price tag! Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind (John 9:32 ESV). The miracles of Jesus served lots of purposes, but here John 9, it seems that the main purpose was meant to stretch the limits of rational thinking! Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

A great vision from God draws others to join in the pursuit of it. Thus is the vision behind your church’s capital campaign. See that the vision is clearly and adequately communicated to your donors, and that it’s done in a relevant manner. The hope for your current and future capital campaigns is that God will raise a unified ownership to embrace the vision, as well as its costs.

Church fundraising principles: Unapologetically teach that key to giving is staying open to receiving with a church capital campaign initiative.

church capital campaign

One of the most important principles of giving that every ministry leader should find encouragement in is this: “All giving starts with receiving.” King David saw this firsthand as he watched how the people responded to the need of building the Temple. In 1 Chronicles 29:14, he said… “But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you have already given us!”

The principle is this: Receive to give…to receive more…to give more. When you boldly live this way as a pastor or church leader, God’s people will step up by giving towards your vision above and beyond! To grow this kind of heart for giving, the leadership will have to be willing to talk seriously (to teach) about money (stewardship) during your church capital campaign season. One church stewardship coach suggests that your congregation will be far more receptive than assumed, as long as the teaching is Biblical, clear, and sincere. This same consultant says that any attempt to address stewardship from and end-around approach will be cause for suspicion.

Churches should think faithraising for their stewardship and capital campaigns, instead of traditional fundraising.

church materials - faithraising

A bright-eyed Cub Scout, both hands full of cookies, approached me one Saturday as I exited the Lowe’s. Honestly, as I looked at that young entrepreneur, my first impression was to tell him, “No thanks.” Fortunately for the Cub Scouts, his shrewd mother said, “Tell him we take donations!” So, I put $7.00 in his jar and smiled. That is fundraising in a nutshell; giving out of a sense of obligation towards a cause you may or may not really care about. Faithraising on the other hand, is investing in a community/world changing vision with the expectation of God-sized impact. Faith-raising is beyond the guilt of “donation obligation,” and is rooted in vision and promise.

For successful church capital campaigns, clear communication and financial buy-in must exist at the leadership level.

church fundraising male

Before your church embarks on a vision for ministry whose implementation is going to cost at least two to three times its annual budget, there is no debate that the most basic communication need comes from the top…from God who initiates all visions. However, once you are convinced the Lord has prompted you toward a capital campaign, then you must make sure your leadership team is crystal clear on the details.

In other words, clear communication among leadership is paramount before you share anything with your congregation. Theologian, author, Michael Novak says, “Clarity of what works is an ethical imperative.”In church campaign communications (or your church fundraising materials), it is vital that the vision, and its needs for fulfillment, be clearly understood by those in leadership first. Until it is, any ideas or plans should go no further! Peter Marshall, Chaplain to the U. S. Senate, said, “Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for.”

A leading church stewardship consultant wrote, “recruit people who understand generosity to lead your campaign. While it seems obvious, it might surprise you that many congregations often “settle” for leadership in this area of the Church’s life rather than actively seeking persons who are passionate about stewardship.”

Also, it is helpful to do a feasibility study to check the “pulse” of your congregation. Most capital campaign consultants offer this service. If potential major donors generally like the idea, the leadership can move forward in introducing the idea of a formal capital fundraising campaign to the congregation. Cultivating relationship with potential major donors will require serious effort from the church leadership and senior pastor. The senior pastor carries the banner of the vision, and will need to challenge major donors to consider being lead givers. The church’s pastor(s) can uniquely share the vision, objectives and needs through informal home gatherings as well as one-on-one lunches, appointments and leadership banquets. Major donors can be asked to prayerfully consider a significant gift. That gift can be a catalyst that God can use to propel the effort. It is a Biblical model found in the leadership of Kind David when offering his own lead gifts (publically) and calling other major donors (and everyone else too) to join him.

So, long before any architects and builders are retained, or any related matter is made public, church leadership must be clear among itself:

  1. What is the Lord’s direction for the church?
  2. How does a capital campaign connect with the overall vision for ministry?
  3. Why do we believe a capital campaign is the right solution?
  4. When is the best time to begin?

campaign. Agreement and commitment among itself is vital. And on top of that, lead pastor(s), the church staff, its elders, deacons and/or board, as well as any other church leaders should offer the initial commitments in the capital campaign. This shows the rest of the congregation that the leadership is serious about what God is calling them to. Gathering lead (advance) gifts from the church’s spiritual leaders wil give needed inspiration and momentum to the congregation and its generosity level.

Positively and boldly approach your church capital campaign and building campaign.

church materials fundraising

Besides regular weekly and monthly giving/support, a capital campaign is often the largest revenue source your church will ever receive.That is really good news. Unfortunately, too many churches just share the envisioned ministry budget with their constituency, include a giving card and envelope, and hope for the best. Recent surveys show that this approach has proven very unsuccessful, and can lead to loosing a lot of regular and potential givers, especially possible large donors who want to give to something that makes a difference, and that is measurable. And, on top of not having a vision-based approach to their capital campaigns and/or debt relief efforts, ministry leaders too often see the process as something they are almost ashamed of. Once started, many church stewardship consultants have to firmly persuade lead pastors to stay with the program.

With that mindset, it is no surprise that the utilization of communications (incorporating church fundraising materials) is ignored for fear of sending a negatively perceived message. But unfortunately, having no approach to communications still sends a very clear message, and a bad one at that. Positively leveraging carefully-craftedfundraising materials to communicate the particulars of a vision, plan and goals will eliminate the passive message that says, “we have no vision,” or at best, “we do not have a vision that we are excited about.” Churches that experience successful giving to their capital campaigns do three things well in the area of church fundraising materials. These organizations reflect back on their journey, are vision-drivenand boldly publicize their campaign. These essential elements (explored in more detail below) should be top of the list for church fundraising program ideas. Your supporters want to understand what they are actually giving to. Make sure that your leadership gives them the necessary stewardship materials so that they can deeply understand and embrace what you are envisioning. Take note from the best campaign consultants: potential supporters will give to a cause that inspires them, and one they can believe in, before they will give to a mere institution. And if you inspire your giving base, you may want to make ministry plans on how you are going to leverage the increased funds, because a strategic church campaign (even with a debt reduction component) can far exceed the proposed vision funding needs and/or remaining loan payoff!

Reflecting on your church’s journey in previous capital campaigns.

church fundraising couple

Rev. 12:11 says, “And they have conquered him (the accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”This says that retelling your redemptive story has power. And it is safe to conclude that this applies to more than unmerited grace that awakened one’s individual faith, but of all the ongoing graces that have allowed the people (corporately) of your churchto be used of God in significant Kingdom work. Looking back, in the hope of growing everyone in memorable gratitude and gracious living, should be done over and over. But more than just the stories from end-receivers of the church’s ministries, this is a great opportunity to celebrate specific stories of how God has moved in the lives of those who have trusted Him through giving generouslyto previous fundraising and capital campaigns.

Good church fundraising materialsgive these stories a “shelf life” far past merely speaking/sharing them. In successful fundraisers for churches, these stories offer traction to your teaching on stewardship. They also inspire other people to join you in your call for their generous partnership. These personal narratives, shared strategically as part of communicating a larger vision, can help unify your diverse givers – especially in the context of a church where the donors “see” and “serve” with each other regularly. Future campaigns become chance to share encouraging stories, which will set you up to re-cast your vision!

Capital campaign participants who give generously often report increased happiness and well-being.

Church fundraising pamphlets

A leading church consultant shared this data with me years ago. A study in the Journal of Science analyzed the spending habits of 600 adults and how they related to the participants’ happiness. “We hypothesized that spending money on other people may have a more positive impact on happiness than spending money on oneself,” researcher Elizabeth Dunn wrote. “Participants who were randomly assigned to spend money on others experienced a greater happiness than those assigned to spend money on themselves.” (Vim & Vigor, Summer 2010).

Church capital campaigns can be something to look forward to. With a commitment to: 1) make your campaign an intentional part of your overall approach to generosity,  2) stretch beyond rational thinking to think faith-raising, not fund-raising,  3) unapologetically teach on receiving from God as the source of generosity,  4) work from a unified and participating leadership,  5) positively and boldly approach your campaign,  6) share the great stories that God has done in your midst,  6) offer a fresh and inspired vision,  7) leverage compelling campaign materials, your campaign will be spiritually growing experience for you and your supporters!

Optimizing Church Fundraising for Church Capital Campaign Success

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