How to Stop the Summer Slump at Your Church

The Summer Slump. Every church leader knows exactly what those words mean. It means a drop in attendance, decreased participation, and reduced giving. According to statistics shared by LifeWay, when compared to highest attendance months, average Sunday morning attendance drops by 23 percent in June and 34 percent in July.

This can be demoralizing to a church leader, as well as financial administrators, as the ministry attempts to make progress toward the vision with less people and money. If an unexpectedly deep summer slump is experienced, it can impact the church’s ability to build momentum in the fall as energy and funds are needed to replenish unplanned losses.

In a recent survey, we asked churches of all sizes and denominations how they handle the summer slump. The answers varied from “waving the white flag of surrender” to “taking out a loan” to “doing nothing!"

So, what is a church leader to do? Some leaders have taken a passive approach saying, “Let’s just see how it works out.” This has come with varying outcomes, but usually delivers less than desirable results. However, there is a way that could prove profitable. We’ll call it the “Proverbs 21:5 Road Map” – a way to Stop the Summer Slump, or at least prevent summer slumps from zapping all of the momentum from your church.

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5

In Proverbs 21:5, Solomon shares two potential outcomes: profit or poverty. If given the choice, of course, we would all choose profit over poverty. In this verse, great wisdom is provided to show us how to produce profit. Solomon says it is important to have a plan. Read Proverbs 21:5 again. Do you see it?

This is our first clue to Stop Summer Slumps: We must have a plan! Do you have a plan to address the summer slump at your church? If you do, fantastic! If you do not, a free resource has been prepared to help you craft a great plan.

But, as we read Proverbs 21:5 again, we see that one more thing is necessary to achieve profit: diligence. “The plans of the diligent lead to profit...” Even if we prepare a great plan, it will fall short if we don’t stick with its implementation.

This summer, make it your goal to develop a plan to stop the slump, and implement systems so it will be followed with diligence. If you do this, you will be well on your way to profit – positive momentum, increased attendance, giving, and engagement with ministry initiatives!


We’ve developed a free resource to help your team craft a plan to address the slump at your church. It’s a three part plan and you can download a copy of the plan HERE

12 Things You Should Do When Walking Into an Existing Leadership Culture

A 2011 study by Lifeway Research shows senior pastors across the United States are staying at their local churches an average of 3.6 years. While much has been written about how to increase longevity, little has been written about how pastors should step into their next pastoral assignment.

Unless you are planting a new church, you will be inheriting another church’s leadership team – often staff, but definitely lay leadership. So what should a new pastor do with a leadership team that is firmly in place? How should a new pastor lead a new group of leaders who hired you and, frankly, are now paying your salary?

The following are 12 things you should do when walking into an existing leadership culture:

  1. Establish Your Expectations Before The Interview Process – What you want to hear from leaders at a church you are considering is, “We’re willing to do whatever it takes.“ This is a sign of a much healthier mindset than a leadership team that says, “This is how we’ve always done it.”

  2. Honor The Past – You are standing on the shoulders of pastors and people who came before you. Whatever the condition of the church, people gave their blood, sweat, tears, money and prayers to get the church to where it currently is. You can never move into the future until you first honor the past.

  3. Help The Leadership Become Outwardly Focused – Early on, ask the questions, “If we were to close our doors today, would this community miss us?  Why or why not?”

  4. LISTEN – Identify your influencers. Go sit down with them and hear their stories, even if you know you have disagreements with them. Tell them you just want to hear what their heart is for the church and community. Ask them what they think God wants to do? And do not patronize them. Make sure you take copious notes of their responses so you can remember them. This shows you really care about what they have to say.

  5. Focus On Influencers Who Are Just About There – There will always be those who disagree with you or the vision. Instead of focusing on those who disagree, look for the key influencers who just need a little bit more influencing and information. They may not have all the details nailed down, but they say, “Pastor, count me in.” This group will become your primary vision carriers.  

  6. Steward Your Time And The Vision Well – Pour about 80% of your vision casting into the people who are the most excited, most committed, and who love God with all their heart. If you do this, those who are uncommitted or on-the-fence will follow. However, our tendency is to do the opposite. We often spend 80% of our time with the people who are not for the vision and will not advance it. This is wasted leadership capital.

  7. Identify YOUR Inner Circle – Positional influence is irrelevant here. Identify and train 10 to 15 individuals who are absolutely sold out to the vision. They have influence over circles and family groups a new pastor cannot get into.  This new inner-circle will bring the biggest momentum shift to the church and your leadership. They will make your job as a new pastor much easier.

  8. Look For Invested Leaders – Sitting around a Board table does not make you a leader. Leadership is influence, not a position. You can’t influence effectively if you are not invested. You must lead by example. It has been often said, but it is true – show me your calendar (time, talent) and check book (treasure) and I will show you the leaders who are invested.

  9. Look For Praying Leaders – Your leadership team must be absolutely devoted to prayer. Their spiritual temperature has to be higher than the rest. This is a quality you simply cannot teach. As a new pastor, when difficult times come, you need men and women who will surround you in prayer.

  10. Look For Leaders Who Are Sold Out To The Vision – You must also surround yourself with people who keep the main thing the main thing. They are not easily distracted or diverted.

  11. The Elevator Principle – John Maxwell writes in his book, Winning With People, about the “Elevator Principle” which teaches, some people take you up, some people take you down. A new pastor should spend time with those who energize him. Ministry is hard enough as is. Do not spend the majority of your time with draining personalities who do not bless you or advance the vision.

  12. Protect Unity Above All Else – I mentioned the importance of listening earlier. Do not feel you have to win every argument or be right all the time with your new staff and Board. Know which battles are the most important. Unity creates and sustains momentum.

I would like to thank Senior Pastor Brian Grow of First Christian Church in Dyersburg, TN for his assistance in writing this post.

This post was written by Brian Dodd, Director of New Ministry Partnerships for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. You can read more thoughts from Brian on leadership at BrianDoddonLeadership.com.

A Pastor's Secret Weapon for Casting Vision and Fundraising

This blog was written by Brian Dodd, and originally appeared on his website, BrianDoddonLeadership.com. Check it out for more great insights on leadership!

I was recently with a group of pastors when the keynote speaker said, "I have come to learn that all churches are personality driven. Because if not, how do you effectively cast someone else's vision?" While I disagree with him, I conceptually understand what he is saying. But after all, it was Jesus who said in Matthew 16:18, "Upon this rock I will build my church."

There is still the issue of how to most effectively cast vision. Not all pastors lead churches they planted, or were involved in crafting it's mission and values. Most pastors lead churches with are board, committee, or lead by the congregation. So, how do you effectively cast vision you may have inherited or adopted, but did not birth?

Often, the best communicators of your church's vision are those most affected by it; those who are it's beneficiaries.

Adam Grant in his wonderful book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, studied fundraising for universities. He found that average students, those who were beneficiaries of alumni donations, were three-times more effective at phone solicitations than university officials.

While universities and churches are completely different environments, the following are six lessons about vision casting and fundraising we can learn from this study, and apply to church leadership.

  1. Many pastors and church leaders are nervous about asking givers for additional donations.
  2. Therefore, inspiration can actually be outsourced to beneficiaries.
  3. The message from a beneficiary can feel more authentic, honest, truthful, and less manipulative than coming from certain church staff.
  4. Rather than feeling nervous, beneficiaries are excited to ask for financial resources to help more people just like them.
  5. Pastors should describe the vision, and then invite beneficiaries to bring life to the vision.
  6. The pastor's message should be an overarching vision to start the car, and the beneficiary's story should provide the emotional appeal that accelerates the car.

For the best example I have ever seen on the pastor providing an overarching vision, and beneficiaries giving it life, watch the video below. I will then have a few final applications.

Applications from the video:

  1. Financial Leaders Want to Feel Loved and Valued: Beth Marshall said, "I think they really love us." In a world where it seems all love is conditional, the churches who grow are the ones who practice unconditional love. When Beth experienced this, her response was, "I want to go back here."
  2. Financial Leaders are Attracted to Big Vision, So Give Them One: Beth said, "When you set goals, they are always so monstrous."
  3. Financial Leaders Want to Know the Results: Leaders do not have time to waste. They want to know the results of what they invested in. Beth added, "When we met, and exceeded, that goal, we all say, 'Why didn't we pray bigger?'"
  4. Financial Leaders Want to Leave a Godly Legacy: Brian Morgan stated, "I wish I could have grown up like our two girls are growing up."
  5. Financial Leaders Give Maximum Dollars to the Best Opportunities for Life-Change: Financial leaders have multiple options to give, so they will not waste resources or opportunity. Paul Marshall pointed out, "I bet the amount he (Brian) gave, and I don't know what it was, but he would give that today to see his girls come to Jesus. And I've got that for my kids and grand-kids."
  6. Financial Leaders Never Know Their True Impact Until Fully Unleashed: Perry reminded the couples, "When we gave, we thought we were giving to the Anderson Campus. But, we weren't giving to the Anderson Campus, because God's plans are always bigger...None of us had any idea."
  7. Pastors Should Raise as Much as Possible. Just Do It the Right Way: After hearing story after story, it is clear the generosity of these two couples, and thousands of others, helped pave the way for God to do incredible redemptive acts in the lives of people.
  8. Financial Leaders Desperately Want to Be Attached to a Vision Greater than Themselves: Perry Noble said, "In 2004, we had no idea, and what's more amazing is we still have no idea."
  9. Numbers Matter to Financial Leaders, and Not Just Financial Numbers: Perry concluded by saying, "Every number has a name. Every name has a story. Every story matters to God."

So, if you want to more effectively disciple and engage financial leaders, use your secret weapon - the beneficiaries of their generosity. 

For more insight on how to disciple financial leaders, download our free eBook, How to Disciple Financial Leaders, by clicking the button below.

The Two Most Important Questions Pastors Need to Ask When Raising Money

This post was written by INJOY Stewardship Director of New Ministry Partnerships, Brian Dodd, and originally appeared on TonyMorganLive.com. For practical advice on getting un-stuck, check them out.

I hear these questions most often from pastors beginning the capital campaign process: 

  • How much can we raise?
  • Are we ready to do this?
  • Can you understand our unique environment, because no one does ministry like we do?
  • How often will you be here onsite?
  • What is your fee?

These questions, while important questions to ponder, focus on transaction. After all, you must count the costs prior to building, right? They are just not the most important questions church leaders should ask as they begin the process of raising people and resources.

Rather, the two most important questions pastors need to ask when raising money, and heading into a campaign, are: 

  1. What do we want our campaign to look, feel, and sound like?
  2. What do we want to see God do in the hearts and lives of our people through this process?

Rather than focusing on transaction, these questions focus on transformation. Let's break them down.

1) What do we want our campaign to look, feel, and sound like?

A capital campaign is not a fundraiser, or some type of fund.

Each church has a ministry plan, a facility plan, and a funding plan. A ministry plan is everything God is doing, and wants to do, at your church. The facility plan is the brick, mortar, curbing, yellow lines, and infrastructure that facilitates what God wants to do. The funding plan is the fuel that makes ministry a reality. Your capital campaign should fuel and facilitate what God wants to do at your church. It should resource your ministry plan.

An effective campaign feels like a natural next-step in the life of your church. For instance, if your church is creative, fun, upbeat, evangelistic, and non-pressure, then your campaign should be as well. It should look, feel, and sound like your church's culture and DNA.

2) What do we want to see God do in the hearts and lives of our people as we go through this process?

Assuming Jesus does not come back, let's fast-forward to the year 2027. If you were to ask the people in your church, "Do you all remember when we did our capital campaign back in 2017? What specifically do you remember about the campaign?" The truth is, unless someone gave a round number like $10,000, no one will remember how much he or she gave. But what they will never forget is what God did in their lives during that time.

  • People will remember how they sacrificed, and God honored it.
  • Others will remember an audacious number God asked them to give, and how He miraculously came through.
  • People remember job offers and healing that took place.
  • Still, many more will remember trusting God for the very first time with the two things the world worships most - money and possessions.
  • Most importantly, they will remember they gave sacrificially to a building where their children or grandchildren met Jesus for the very first time.

There are strategic and pragmatic elements to the capital campaign experience. But, if you want an experience that builds a culture of generosity, and is remembered for eternal life change, start with questions which prioritize transformation over transaction.

Capital Campaigns - Consultant or DIY?

This post is written by Robert Dial, and originally appeared on his blog. Robert helps pastors and church finance leaders make informed decision. You can learn more about Robert's ministry here, and follow him on Twitter here

Growing churches often find themselves in the need to renovate or construct additions, or to build a new building and/or buy land. Growing churches can fund these solely on a cash basis, or can be combined with some debt. Either way, there's the need for fundraising.

Two Options

1) Raise the funds utilizing a consulting firm.

Hands down, the single biggest factor in deciding whether or not to use an external firm is justifying the consulting fee. It's either seen as an expense (therefore, with no return) or it's viewed as an investment. 

Generally, churches are frugal and strive to steward their resources very well - as they should. I get that. But, frugality can be a liability at times. I don't know why exactly, but to some, there's an aversion to spending money to make money in the church, even though it's a universally accepted principle by everyone inside the church as valid everywhere else in life and business.

George Barna of the Barna Group was quoted as saying that, "on average, external campaigns raise 50% more than campaigns conducted internally". That's huge. And of course, that's the #1 reason to go external.

2) Raise the funds internally - do it yourself.

Yes, you can. There are times and situations where this may indeed be the best option.

Those are the two options.

Alas, there are no guarantees in the real world. Like anything else, there's a risk. The risk between the two is: will the firm and the fee have a much better Return On Investment (ROI) than the DIY project? Most of the time, the answer is the firm and the fee. Sure, there's always the possibility the campaign will not meet expectations no matter the route chosen - and there are a myriad of reasons this could happen.

Regardless, there's no hard and fast rule that says one method is right and the other is wrong. The only right method is the one God leads you to.

However, to shed more light on it, let's look at some numbers to compare the ROI between the two options:

Comments about the chart:

The biggest assumption is external campaigns do indeed raise 50% more than internal efforts.

The chart also assumes an 80% realization rate in an externally conducted campaign.* For a variety of reasons, it's unlikely you'd actually receive your goal. Given the first assumption, internal campaigns, as presented in this format, on average, receive 53% of goal. Now, whether you look at it like that, or like the initial goal was set lower is a matter of interpretation. I think the latter would be the case. Regardless, the main point is assumption #1.

The ROI section conservatively shows the surplus an external campaign would produce. Another way to view the surplus column would be the actual cost to do a internal campaign. In this light, these costs are much higher than the consulting fee.

Lastly, you see a ratio of the surplus over the fee. Again, this is conservative since it is based upon net amount raised. For example, the real ROI for the first row, based upon gross receipts, is 5.0 times the fee. 

As you can see, the greater the giving capacity, the greater the return, and the lower the risk.

There are a few other reasons to hire a consultant, but let me leave you with just one more.

Most likely, no one in your church has the expertise and/or time needed to conduct a capital campaign with excellence. There are multiple components to a successful campaign that start about four to six months ahead of the launch.

External firms live and breathe the church campaign world every day. Your Pastor and Staff/Key Leadership do not. Your Pastor and Leadership live in a very different world, and have an entirely different focus and set of responsibilities. Asking them to take on a capital campaign all by themselves, and carry on their normal day-to-day ministry focus, is asking a TON. Usually, both efforts will suffer. Hence, why externally conducted campaigns typically achieve better results.

Still not sure?

Take the next best step and just talk to a few consulting firms. Get your team involved in the conversations from the beginning. Seek the Lord through the process.

I've worked with a few consulting firms over the years. The most well rounded firm, in my opinion, was INJOY Stewardship Solutions, which is why I recommend them. Top-notch leadership, process, consultants, and analysts. 

In addition to capital stewardship services, they offer a Financial Learning Experience (FLE) to help your people learn to set goals, plan and budget, and get out of debt. As part of this, they can train people in your church to be Financial Coaches for your church for an ongoing personal finance counseling ministry. You NEED to do this for your people. Of course, it's optional and standalone, so you can do it with or without the capital campaign.

They also have personal finance/budgeting course materials. To jump-start the personal finance ministry, people are invited to the class during the FLE, and then assigned to a church financial coach as needed. (By the way, you can use other materials if you desire.)

They also have a special program (pricing) for churches whose annual budgets are $300,000 and under called Foundations.

Lastly, if God is leading you towards an internal campaign, INJOY Stewardship offers Capital Campaign University - a course to walk you through how to conduct a campaign on your own for only $2,500.

With all this, why not contact them? They're ready for whatever course of action you decide. Give them a call today at 800.333.6509. (I'm not a paid advertiser, just an impressed customer.)


*Note from INJOY Stewardship: This 80% realization rate is very realistic for those in the congregation who made pledges. However, because of our Followthru Process, we are able to incorporate a large percentage of non-pledge campaign givers, making up an additional 10-20%, on average.

What to Do When Your People Are Tired of Hearing About Money

Pastors (generally) aren't thrilled to preach on money. While discipleship in the area of money is an incredibly important aspect to the life of the Christian (Matthew 6:19-24), it's not the easiest subject to teach on. It becomes stressful to teach on when donor fatigue - when the congregation is tired of hearing about supporting the church financially - is present. So what do you do when donor fatigue is present, but your church still needs money? When donor fatigue is detected during the course of a campaign, two shifts in communication become necessary.

1) A shift from asking to thanking.

Campaign fatigue is not a new threat to vision being funded in a church. Back-to-back campaigns, or simply a long-term journey of constant wanting and asking of the people, can slowly wear a church out. While, "Ask and it shall be given to you," (Matthew 7:7) is in the Bible, so is, "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise," (Psalm 100:4). Your church must hold asking of people, and thanking people, in constant balance.

This is why it is important for churches to take time to breathe - to take a "Campaign Sabbath". This allows your church to look back at all God has done through the sacrifice of His people, and praise Him. 

However, when a church is involved in a campaign where urgency is in the equation, pausing between campaigns is not always an option. Builder costs, construction loans, and expanding ministries all work together to mount pressure on church leaders, and subsequently, donors, to not only continue to give, but even, increase their giving if possible.

In these cases, it's vitally important that we intentionally shift into a season of thankfulness during the campaign. The end result is a healthier population of donors.

Remember, a campaign is not about what you want FROM people, but what you want FOR them.

2) A shift from "sticks and bricks" to future ministry.

As a church nears completion of a campaign, the feeling of crossing the finish line can set in. This is one of the most common enemies to church growth. For this reason, a second communication shift is needed: from "sticks and bricks" to future ministry.

The assumption here is the project your church is currently tackling (construction, debt retirement, buying land, hiring staff, etc.) is being addressed because there are ministry opportunities that are not being met due to it.

The environment you want to cultivate is an environment of expectation: the completion of this project allows us to do what God is really calling us to do.

In this season we begin to shift the vision and the approach. This is the time to begin executing communication forums that cultivate the hearts of the people. The goal is to help shift their focus from the beauty of a state of the art facility to God's call for life change in the community as a result.

Another note of emphasis: If you actually move into a building before the pledges are completed, it is imperative you dictate clearly what it will take to make this new ministry model function. There should also be a cost associated with each element of the ministry vision moving forward. Your congregation needs to know that walking into a new building provides greater opportunities to expand the Kingdom, yet this new and improved action plan requires real dollars.

Remember, regardless of the season you are in, people always need to be informed of two things:

  1. What are you doing with my money?
  2. How is it making a difference?

This understanding will validate the need to continue any outstanding commitments, and help the people see the value in stepping up, rather than stepping down, in their generosity.

Here is the key: People need to see ministry plans as clearly as they saw the building plans.

To retain contributions to the campaign, cast vision for the ministry needs more than the building needs. 

This vision has three characteristics:

  1. It's Clear: The congregation must clearly see the work that is ahead. This is a shift from "sticks and bricks" to ministry.
  2. It's Crisp: The vision must have a crisp call to it, not an ambiguous message. Make the vision distinct and to the point, so they know exactly what will be done moving forward, and can repeat it.
  3. It's Compelling: The vision must connect with their hearts. How will their dollars translate into transformed lives?

What is important to understand is when you lean into what ministry will look like on the other side of a project's completion, it will serve to place emphasis on the necessity of the project being completed more quickly.

As your church begins to shift communication from asking to thanking, and from sticks and bricks to ministry, you will begin to see your congregation's heart shift from fatigue to excitement for what God will do in and through their church.

10 Practices of Pastors Who Effectively Preach on Money and Generosity

Effective preaching is critical to increasing generosity in your church. In 1 Chronicles 28-29, King David stands before the nation of Israel and calls them to sacrifice for the construction of Solomon's Temple. From that text, the following are 10 Practices of Pastors Who Effectively Preach on Money and Generosity.

1. Pastors who successfully preach on money and generosity speak with their leaders first. 

1 Chronicles 28:1 - "Now David assembled at Jerusalem all the leaders of Israel, the officers of the tribes and the captains of the divisions who served the king, the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and the stewards over all the substance and possessions of the king and of his sons, with the officials, the valiant men, and all the mighty men of valor."

You cannot leapfrog leaders. Nothing offends leaders more than hearing important information at the same time as the "rank and file".

2. Pastors who successfully preach on money and generosity talk to the congregation second.

1 Chronicles 28:2 - "King David rose to his feet and said, 'Hear me and my brethren my people." 

When asking for financial resources, go to the people only after the leaders who have been informed and brought in.

3. Pastors who successfully preach on money and generosity use passion to speak to people's hearts.

1 Chronicles 28:2 - "I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God."

King David was personally invested, allowing him to then translate his commitment to the people.

4. Pastors who successfully preach on money and generosity use facts to speak to people's minds.

1 Chronicles 28:2 - "and had made preparations to build it." 

Financial leaders, in particular, want to know the project has been well thought-through and is doable. King David communicated he had a plan.

5. Pastors who successfully preach on money and generosity point to a brighter tomorrow.

1 Chronicles 28:7 - "I will establish his kingdom forever, if he is steadfast to observe My commandments and My judgments, as it is this day."

King David gave his people hope and courage that they could move into a preferred future.

6. Pastors who successfully preach on money and generosity give clear, detailed instructions.

1 Chronicles 28:8 - "Be careful to seek out all the commandments of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land, and leave it as an inheritance for your children after you forever."

The phrase, "Here is what I want you to do" is powerful. You must provide easy next steps for your people.

7. Pastors who successfully preach on money and generosity give the audience the tools and resources needed for success.

1 Chronicles 28:21 - "Here are the division of the priests and the Levites for all the service of the house of God; and every willing craftsman will be with you for all manner of workmanship, for every kind of service; also the leaders and all the people will be completely at your command." 

People must want to help fund your ministry, and must also be able to fund your ministry. Give them the needed tools, specifically personal financial coaching and online giving options to do so.

8. Pastors who successfully preach on money and generosity focus on God.

1 Chronicles 29:1 - "The temple is not for man but for the Lord God." 

This is the difference between a spiritual journey and a fundraiser. A fundraiser focuses on money or the project. A spiritual journey focuses on attaching people to the heart of God and watching them respond appropriately.

9. Pastors who successfully preach on money and generosity ask for great commitment.

1 Chronicles 29:20 - "David said to all the assembly, 'Now bless the Lord your God.' So all the assembly blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the Lord and the king."

A passive request yields a passive response. Successful pastors make compelling 'asks' of their people.

10. Pastors who successfully preach on money and generosity leave a great legacy of generosity for others to follow.

1 Chronicles 29:26-28 - "David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. And the period that he reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years he reigned in Hebron, and thirty-three years he reigned in Jerusalem. So he died in a good old age, full of days and riches and honor." 

What legacy of generosity are you leaving?

This post is by INJOY Stewardship team member Brian Dodd. You can read more great insights from Brian on his website, briandoddonleadership.com.

Three Key Areas of Leadership Integral in a Campaign's Success

Dr. John Maxwll is famous for his statement, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." That's why any stewardship campaign, capital campaign, or strategy for generosity has to start with leadership.

Before you conduct a special offering you've got to get the leadership piece right.

Before you preach on tithing you've got to get the leadership piece right.

Because you start a project you've got to get the leadership piece right.

In fact, if you don't get the leadership piece right, the other things probably won't matter.

There are three components of leadership that need your attention.

1) Self

The hardest person to lead is yourself.

Raising money at a local church requires a Senior Pastor whose vision for the ministry and project burns in his/her heart, resulting in a passionate move towards action. 1 Chronicles 28:2 records these words from David as he launches the fundraising efforts for the Temple: "Hear me, my brethren and my people: I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made preparations for it."

As the leader of the church, ask yourself this question, "Does it burn in my heart first?" When that question is answered with a strong, "YES!" you can effectively ask those in your church to sacrifice for the advancement of ministry.

2) Staff

The second toughest group of people to lead during a generosity effort is the church staff. While this may surprise you, leadership of the staff is vitally important to a successful campaign. Most church staff members are already over-worked and under-paid, and capital campaign will require even more from them. Church staff must be engaged early on, asked for their input, listened to, and supported. They will be chief vision carriers to the rest of the church! Connect their specific areas of responsibility to the vision and generosity efforts.

3) Senior Leaders

This includes key volunteer, financial, and lay leadership. Those closest to you and your leadership will determine your level of success.

The number one barrier to maximum giving is unanswered questions. To experience maximum participation and receipts from your congregation, the senior leaders need to be answering, not asking, them! Provide ministry tools such as talking points, activities, key Bible passages, educational material, and powerful sermons to those key leaders. More than anything, develop strong relationships with your leaders. Most of the largest gifts given to any major fundraising initiative are given as a result of a strong relationship.

Church Leaders: Your church's capital campaign will rise and fall primarily on your leadership. Lead your people through the spiritual journey, and watch what God will do!

The Single Most Important Question in Fundraising

Raising money in church can be confusing.

But there is one question you that you absolutely, positively, must be able to answer.

"Pastor, why should I give to this church?"

Your church members do not have a shortage of giving opportunities in their world. So it's up to you to cast a compelling vision for generosity, and be extremely clear about how giving to your church makes a difference.

It's absolutely vital to have a vision.

And it's absolutely necessary to have a clear project in need of funding.

Whether it's a new building, renovations, multi-site, or a debt retirement issue, getting clear about where the money is going helps people connect the vision to reality. It helps them draw a line between the mission and vision of your church to the current needs.

Sure, this comes with a lot of questions...

  • Do we build a Family Life Center or expand our children's space?
  • Do we build or pay off debt first?
  • Can we combine the two?
  • If we pursue ministry expansion, how can we sequence out which need receives primary funding?

Maybe you're clear on he vision, the projects and the next steps. But, if you're still wondering about funding the vision of the church while starting to fund special projects, keep reading...

Church vision largely centers on the what one can see, feel, and hear on a Sunday. Campaign vision says, "If we build that building, buy that land, or pay off that debt, here's how ministry is going to change, and how our vision takes a major step in becoming reality."

A successful campaign vision contains at least two things:

1) A clearly defined project

This is a specific answer to the question, "What exactly do you want me to give money to?" An example is, "A Family Life Center." The more specific the answer, the more resources will flow toward it. A more specific response would be: "A 25,000 sq. ft. Family Life Center costing $4 million which includes additional children's facilities, a workout area for the community, gathering space for small groups, and an office space. Our desire is to see hundreds come to Christ each year through the ministries this building will provide."

2) A catalyst for making the overall vision a reality

If you only focus on the project, issues can develop. Projects by their very nature are divisive. Some people might want red carpet while others want blue. Some may think the project is too expensive, while others want more bells and whistles. Some may want a Family Life Center, while others may want to pay off debt. This is why it is vitally important to the success of the campaign is on changed lives that will result from the accomplishment of this next step toward the church's overall vision.

If you craft your church's campaign vision with these points in mind, you are well on your way to campaign success.

How to Maximize Funding in Your Church

Since 1992, we have had the blessing of helping churches raise significant money. In fact, we have helped pastors and church leaders with more than 4,000 capital campaigns, raising more than $4 billion for Kingdom impact.

Through these campaigns, we have seen time and time again, the most important ingredient of a fully-funded vision is the vision itself. A successful capital campaign is a vision-driven campaign.

So, let's talk about the vision God has for your church. A God-given vision has three unique qualities:

1) It's Clear

Do people understand the vision? Does it make sense to them? Ask ten different people about the vision of the church. Their responses will help you clearly understand if the vision is clear.

2) It's Compelling

Does the vision connect people's hearts to the heart of God? Is it urgent? Is it vital? Are church members drawn to it? Does it move them to participate?

3) It's Crisp

Is the vision concise? Is it repeatable? If a member from your church encounters an unchurched friend at Starbucks, and is asked what type of church they attend, could they answer in a crisp manner? A good test to determine if your church has a crisp vision is if the vision could be Tweeted.

So here's the question: What is your church's vision? Does your congregation know why your church exists?

A clear, compelling, and crisp vision helps people connect to God's heart, and what He wants to accomplish through your church.