How old is your newest “new” building? I once joked with a pastor that he probably had a building that his members referred to as “The New…” yet it was years old. He looked shocked and said, “Our “New Fellowship Hall,” is twenty years old!” It was the newest of his buildings and thus still called new. What about in your church?
There is no such thing as the Security of the Building. I will let the Armenians and Calvinists battle it out about the Security of the Believer. However, your members in practice DO believe in the security of the building. When you try to raise money for infrastructure, they often hesitate to do anything to support that cause as they don’t see the need.
But here is the thing, as long as churches thrive, there will always be a need for over and above giving. That will never change. Now more than ever this is true. While large sanctuaries may have seen their day, we are going to see an explosion of need for capital as many of our buildings have seen their best days. As a result, I want to take the month of June to focus on the present and future of raising capital for project development. This Stewardship Coach kicks off a four-part series and is entitled Making the Case for Raising Capital Dollars.
“Build what you need and pay it off as fast as you can!” That has been my advice for the last few years. To start this series, let me share with you a few reasons why I believe now is a good time to build.
- We live in unstable times and the world desperately needs the message of hope that Jesus brings. Now is not a time to shrink back but to advance forward. Facilities do not bring salvation, but they do serve as tools for doing the work of ministering in Jesus’ name. Thus, our continual question must be, how can we best maximize the use of our current and future facilities to advance the Great Commission and equip local churches?
- We have a shrinking window of opportunity with our largest donor class, Baby Boomers. By 2030, Boomers will essentially all be in their retirement years living off a fixed income that today looks more uncertain than ever before. You need to be prepared for this key group’s giving to decline by 30% to 50%.
- NextGen donors have yet to step up and thus need training and development. As a result of devaluing the offering and giving we have generations of believers who are clueless about the importance and power of stewardship. If we do not address this lack of stewardship awareness our churches are headed for failure.
- The cost of everything is rising. In the last few days, I have had clients report to me of final bids coming 25% to 40% higher than just a few months ago. Inflation and supply chain issues will continue pushing prices up and rarely do they go down once they have gone up. Additionally, interest rates are on the rise, so, the money you borrow will cost you more to repay. As I always say, “Your project will cost more than you think and take longer than you like.” Delaying your next project might make it impossible to afford.
- We face an uncertain future. We live in a society that is daily more hostile to the cause of Christ and His Church than ever before. I predict that churches will have a harder time getting plans approved by cities and municipalities. We will also experience difficulties with lending institutions. Another of my sayings is, “The church that survives into the future will be the church that prepares for the future today.”
As a result, now is the time to dust off your project plans! Here are the types of over and above dollars being raised:
Renovation – Every leader reading this has a building denoted as the “new” this or that. That “new” building is probably over twenty years old. We have a massive renovation issue facing us. It is my opinion, based on my observations, that this one issue above all others will force many churches to close their doors due to the cost of upkeep for aging facilities.
Repurposing – COVID has forced us to re-think facilities. This is perhaps one of the biggest challenges we face as we emerge from the pandemic. We must now think and build out physical infrastructure as well as the technology infrastructure for remote engagements.
Adoption/New Campuses – One church with multiple locations, including online, will be the norm not simply for mega-churches but medium-sized churches as well.
Debt Reduction – My advice is to become debt-free as quickly as possible.
Every church that wants to stay open beyond 2030 must address its facility needs and develop a plan for how to raise the funds needed for that project whether it is replacing the carpet or building new facilities. This typically involves some type of capital campaign. How do you know what type of strategy to use to raise capital? Here is my Rule of Thumb…
- If your need is more than one times your annual operating budget, you need to consider a full-fledged capital campaign. Think two to three years.
- If your need is around half what your annual operating budget is, you “might” be able to hold a short capital campaign to raise that amount. Think 12 to 18 months.
- If your need is 10% to 30% of your annual operating budget, you can do that in a shorter time span. Think 3 to 6 months.
- If your need is around 10% you can do that in a one-time offering. Think 1 to 3 months.
That is my case for raising capital. Now determine what your need is and then begin planning immediately.
I love how God gave Nehemiah a vision to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. After casting the vision, the leaders of Israel said, “Let us rise up and build. So, they strengthened their hands for this good work.” Let’s strengthen your hands!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach