In preparing a church for a capital campaign, I asked the leaders about their vision for their church, and how it related to the building project. Their candid response was more like a confession—“We didn’t realize that the building project was supposed to be connected with the church’s mission and vision.” Then we talked about letting the demand for ministry space drive the building design, and not just the common “build it and they will come” line that works only in the movies.
Not only does the church need to have its corporate vision developed before it plans to build, the people need to have a personal vision for the mission of the church. Most church leaders assume that if they tell their people about the proposed project of the church, that their people’s support of it will be automatic. Then they enter a capital campaign only to discover their people are not as supportive as they had hoped and expected. What went wrong? Are people not supportive, did they just not have the money to give, or is there another cause?
The people in most churches are supportive of a capital campaign when there is both a corporate and a personal vision for their church. Information about a need is not the same as a vision for it. The reality is that people may donate to a need, but they will sacrifice for a vision and a project that they own themselves.
Personal ownership must be developed both for the need for the improved facilities, as well as what should be incorporated in those facilities. The best way to help people embrace the purpose of the proposed facilities is to have them wrestle with the problems of their current facilities, and to determine a solution. The best way to help people embrace the scope and particulars of the project is to ask and encourage their involvement and input into the planning stages for those improved facilities. Remember, people will support their own ideas better than someone else’s ideas and plans. If you want the support of your people, you must ask for their input on both fronts.
Since people give better to a vision than to a need, it is imperative that both the corporate and the personal visions be developed before a church enters any major funding effort. Otherwise the results of their capital campaign will be minimal, disappointing, and insufficient to fund their church’s project. The project may be a very worthy and necessary one for the church, but people will not support it at a sacrificial level until they see its urgency and its worth to them personally. If you want your people to give, you will take the time and effort to develop both the corporate and personal visions.