What makes a capital campaign successful?

People are often confused about what the defining moment of successful capital campaigns are – that special insight that makes them successful.

Of course, there are several moments throughout a capital campaign that have significant spiritual impact, and effect the trajectory of the church.

Many pastors and church leaders think it is the Commitment Event. When people bring their pledges or intentions as a measurable expression of the work God has done in their hearts, that is a very significant moment. But, that is not the defining moment.

Others think it is when the permitting process is approved, and ground is broken. The ball is rolling, and things are beginning to take shape. Steel is going in the air, and the future is coming to life. This is, without a doubt, a very significant moment of celebration, but not the defining moment.

What about when you finally get into your building, or burn your bank note? This is the starting line; now, ministry can be facilitated as God is calling your church to do so. Therefore, this is a significant moment. But, again, is not the defining moment.

So, if none of these important events is the defining moment, what is?

A life walking with Jesus is a life marked by continual surrender to Him. As we become more like Him, we begin to live more generous and open lives, because that’s Who He is. In a truly successful capital campaign, people go on a spiritual journey that helps them connect to the generous heart of God. They then see Who God is, and respond in the only appropriate way, worship and surrender.

The key phrase here is, “spiritual journey”.

Therefore, the defining moment in a campaign may look something like this:

  • When a husband and wife sit down at a kitchen table, open their Bibles, lay out their budget, look at each other, and say, “Honey, the pastor and our leadership have been talking about financially supporting our church’s future. I know you’ve been praying. So have I. What do you think God is telling us to do?”
  • When the college student, working a part-time job, sits in her dorm-room and asks God how she can be a part of the work He wants to do through her church.
  • When God grabs the heart of the successful businessman, and shows him that security and riches are found in Him, not any treasure of this world, causing the businessman to grow in generosity, see the gift of giving, and become a major player in God’s vision for the church becoming a reality.

 

Those moments, multiplied a dozen, a hundred, or even thousands of times at your church, are the campaign’s defining moments.

Why? The kitchen table conversation is the expression of how God has changed a human heart during the campaign. The dorm-room prayer is evidence God has built something far more than brick and mortar. The moment of surrender shows a life now marked by faith, generosity, and sacrifice. The ripples of those moments will be felt for years, even after the giving period has concluded, and the building’s newness has worn off.

So, enjoy the Commitment Event, because a lot of hard work and prayer went into it. Celebrate the permit process, and the construction of your facility. Soak in the new paint smell. And give praise to God for the hundreds and thousands who will give their lives to Him in the new building.

But never forget, this is all the result of a defining moment when one or two individuals bowed before God, with open hands and open hearts, and asked Him what He would have them do, trusting Him to provide as they surrendered and sacrificed.