Putting the New Back in “New”

Putting the New Back in “New”

How old is your “new” fellowship hall or your “new” children’s wing? For the typical church, putting the tag “new” in front of any building simply means it was the last structure built or renovated. For many churches, their “new” whatever was built in the last century! One of the most under-reported needs of churches today is to update and renovate their facilities to meet their present and future ministry needs. I summarized this in issue 19 by saying, “One of our problems moving forward isn’t simply that the church is filled with “old people.” The facilities are old.” It’s a reality that young families don’t want to visit a church that looks old. If you want to stay in ministry beyond 2030, it’s time to act.

Last week, I started a series on holding capital campaigns called Giving Away the Farm. In this series, I will write on the basics of raising over-and-above funds so you will be prepared for future ministry. In this issue, Putting the New Back in “New,” I will share why you must consider capital campaigns. It is my position that every church, no matter your age, must retool for the 2030s and beyond. By doing so, you not only ensure the longevity of your ministry but also create a more inviting space for the younger generation.

In Issue 19, I laid out the four major types of projects we are seeing. Here is a reprint of those, plus one addition:

  • Renovation – 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 – 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 and the technology infrastructure for remote engagements.
  • Adoption/New Campuses—Mega–churches and medium-sized churches will typically have one church with multiple locations, including online.
  • Debt Reduction—My advice is to become debt-free as quickly as possible. When hard economic times come, any debt becomes a brick weighing you down. You can delay paying the staff, but you can’t delay paying the bank. Being debt-free gives you freedom and more money so you can pay the staff (and yourself!).
  • New Buildings – We are seeing a trend in fast-growing churches building new facilities. While new buildings are not going up as fast as in previous years, they are nonetheless making a comeback.

Does your church campus need any of the above in the next five years? Is your “new” facility older than you? Are your facilities enhancing your ability to do ministry or a deterrent to doing ministry? If you had the money now, what would you update, repurpose, or build? If you can quickly give an answer to these questions, my question is, what are you waiting for? Every month you fail to plan to raise over and above money you make it harder for the future.

Updating a church’s HVAC system or roof alone could add up to thousands of dollars. Most churches don’t have the money in reserve to meet these needs. Some churches need to do all of the above to prepare for future ministry. Again, my contention is that every church needs to raise dollars to meet these needs. Doing so now, while we still have Boomers active and engaged, is crucial to establishing financial stability in our churches.

How much can you raise in a capital campaign? The other day, my former stewardship firm posted an ad telling churches they could help them predict how much they could raise in a capital campaign. They know better, but like many firms, they are giving you a sales answer and not the truth. The truth is capital campaigns are raising less than ever for many reasons. We used to say that any church could raise between one and a half to three times its annual operating budget in a capital campaign. That was essentially a dishonest statement. Campaigns that raise more than two times a church’s annual operating budget did so based upon the strength of large five and six-figure, and sometimes seven-figure, gifts. Does your church donor base have those types of donors? The average church doesn’t. So, how much can you expect to raise?

1 time. As in one times your annual operating budget. So, if your annual budget is $500K you will probably raise in that range of dollars in a capital campaign. That is the new normal when it comes to how much you can expect to raise in a capital stewardship campaign. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently. Anything above that is driven by Legacy gifts.

While raising only one times your operating budget might not seem like a lot it is at least a good start toward raising the dollars you need for the updates your ministry requires. When it comes to raising funds for capital needs, I developed what I call The Rule of Thumb for Full Capital Campaign Dollars…

  • If your need is more than one time 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.

Let me share with you another rule of thumb…

The larger the amount you need to raise, the longer you will need to give to the process.

So, how much do you need to raise in the next five years to position your church for the future? Probably a lot more than you think or would like. Yet, if you wait, the likelihood of ever raising anywhere close to what you need becomes more difficult with each passing day. The Tyranny of the Urgent is keeping most church leaders from even thinking about this issue, much less doing something about it. It’s time to get up off the deck chair on the Titanic and start getting to work fixing the holes in your ship! It’s time to put the new back in new, positioning your church for the future.

I’m going to help you do that for free! Let’s get started!

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

OnlineGiving.org, the leading online giving processor in America, sponsors my writing. Find out more about their services at https://www.onlinegiving.org/.

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