Capital Campaigns Should First be about Growing Disciples.

Leaders come to the conversation about capital campaigns with a wide variety of experiences, assumptions, and expectations.  While churches typically launch capital campaigns to underwrite a new project or eliminate existing debt, leaders in well-designed campaigns quickly learn that raising money is only one of many areas of impact a capital campaign can have.  Pastors often share with me their surprise and delight about the spiritual growth their church experienced during a campaign.  It is in the realm of spiritual growth where disciples are made, leaders lead, and people change their orientation to money in such a way that they are never the same again.  Discipleship, not fundraising, is the primary calling I have to this ministry at Horizons Stewardship. It is also why our mission is to both Fund Ministry and Grow Disciples.

Will a Capital Campaign Cause Ministry Funding to Decrease?

A common objection many church leaders have about capital campaigns is their concern about the effect a campaign will have on general giving. The assumption is people will just shift their current giving to the campaign fund thereby reducing giving to the annual ministry funding plan.  There are enough stories floating around of churches who have experienced this to raise concern, but my observation in over 18 years of this work is this almost always occurs in self-led campaigns or with inexperienced campaign counsel.  With skilled campaign counsel, it is extremely unlikely that your church’s annual giving will decline because of a capital campaign.  In fact, capital campaigns are great stepping-stones to growing giving of all kinds- annual, special, capital, and planned giving. 

How to Leverage a Capital Campaign to Increase Ministry Funding.

A well-designed campaign is an exciting experience that organizes a local church around a single goal and point of impact. As a result, a capital campaign becomes a crucible for spiritual growth and transformation.  A capital campaign alone rarely increases other forms of giving significantly, but it can prepare the fields for a great harvest of generosity.Today, most churches that engage Horizons for a capital campaign are also choosing to engage in a Next Level Generosity process with coaching to increase other forms of giving as well.  Next Level Generosity begins with a Discovery assessment that compares the church's current practices with over 30 best practices known to impact the level of generosity in churches.  Discovery findings are used to design a year-round generosity initiative to increase annual giving, special giving, planned giving, and where appropriate, capital giving as well.  When a capital campaign is needed, it is designed into the plan as a catalyst of change.  No other generosity development tool can drive change as quickly and efficiently as a well-designed and well-executed capital campaign.  Here is why.

Reasons Why Capital Campaigns Are Great Starting Places for a Next Level Generosity Initiative.

1. Capital campaigns start with a significant vision.

For a successful campaign, the church, guided by campaign counsel, must create and develop support for a compelling ministry plan that clearly articulates its impact in terms of lives changed. Peoples' imaginations are activating and their hearts are engaging when this occurs.  People attending your church want to be part of something that is significant, tangible, and meaningful.

2. Capital campaigns invite people to join a common cause which promotes a shared identity within the church.

When you organize a church-wide effort to accomplish a significant ministry goal, you will inspire people to see themselves as part of the life and legacy of your church. This shared identity will bind your church together and inspire persons to see how their participation will multiply the overall impact.

3. Capital campaigns provide an easy place for people to start giving.

Many leaders believe most people in their church are already givers. Unfortunately, this is not true. In the typical US church, only about one quarter of members and regular attenders give more than $200 per year. A capital campaign offers an exciting project that is clear, measurable, and relatable. A capital campaign invites persons to take that first step along the giving path. This can have lasting implications on a giver and may be what the Holy Spirit uses to inspire a lifetime of generosity.

4. Capital campaigns are catalysts for spiritual transformation.

When you invite your church to rally behind a common God-inspired vision, cultivate a conversation with God to stretch beyond what they believe is possible, and then see the impact of that project take shape right before their very eyes, it changes your church and the giver. It's rare that people grow on their own. It's much more likely in a shared giving experience that provides the context and challenge to take their next step in their generosity journey.

5. Expanding your ministry makes a positive statement to your community about your commitment to them and provides an invitation to be part of something exciting.

While there are many reasons why churches raise money today, most capital efforts continue to be focused on equipping and expanding local ministry efforts. When your community sees you building, expanding, or renovating your facilities, it tells them that you're growing and remain committed to doing ministry locally. What an incredible invitation for them to, perhaps, join you.When the people in your church experience the joy of joining God in changing the lives of others, their life is also changed.  If discipleship is your goal, then the capital campaign is a viable, proven, and demonstrable discipleship engine that can create a new reality for your church.  If you are considering a capital campaign, I encourage you to seize the opportunity created by the campaign to embrace a year-round Next Level Generosity initiative, not only to increase your annual and planned giving, but more importantly to grow disciples more fully into Christ’s image.

Next Step: 

If you would like to learn more about how a capital campaign and a Next Level Generosity Initiative can help your church fund ministry and grow disciples, click on the button below to schedule a 20-minute conversation with me or another Horizons Ministry Strategist or reach out to us at

Learn more

Do you want access to more practical tools to help you cultivate a culture of generosity in your church?  Visit our Giving365 resource center.

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