Most of the church leaders I meet with think that pre-campaign planning begins with the campaign itself. It actually begins before the campaign is even conceived.
The fallacy or risk in not strategically approaching the pre-campaign process is grounded in the assumption that everyone will say “yes” and support this new effort (mission project, new building, etc.). Even if you know the congregation on a whole will say “yes,” it’s common courtesy in a relationship to ask and not assume or demand anything.
Think about how weird it would be to get married without asking the other person to marry you. It doesn’t make sense in personal relationships, and it certainly doesn’t make sense when considering the relationship of the member to the church. No one…I mean no one…likes to be told what to do. A personal invitation will make all the difference.
Here are 4 things I recommend all church leaders do before you start any type of campaign:
1. Gain clarity about where your church is today. Jim Collins would say, “Face the brutal facts.” There is a HUGE chance that the perception of the person in the pulpit is SLIGHTLY different from the person in the pew. You need to know if the people in the pew (those who will execute and, ultimately, fund the effort) perceive the same need in the same way you do. The easiest way to accomplish this is through a guided discovery process that uncovers all financial, interpersonal, and ministry aspects of your church. This should be completed by an outside party because the church leader is too close to the situation to have any real perspective.
2. Meet with the people in your church who are your pillars of influence. Influencers may or may not be high-capacity givers. I would suggest that all your high-capacity givers are influencers but not all influencers are high-capacity givers. You need this group behind you. When you know you are on the same page, you have the confidence you need to move forward and you know others are ready to defend the direction you are heading when (not if) “the static” begins.
3. Examine your personal inhibitions about money. Few church leaders find it natural to address the subject of money. However, your personal objections and inhibitions don’t erase the fact that Jesus spoke more about money than he did about sin and salvation. Part of the responsibility of leading God’s church is cultivating the resources God intended to fund the Kingdom. Generosity/stewardship doesn’t just happen; it’s intentional. I’m convinced that a leader who can’t ask for financial support from his congregation is not ready to lead a campaign. Period. End of discussion.
4. Connect the campaign to Kingdom impact. There is a rising tide of what I call the hybrid campaign. All the elements of a traditional campaign exist accept the total amount raised is parsed out among international mission efforts, local mission efforts, and on-campus/multi-site improvement or expansion. Whatever the elements of the campaign are, the goal is not the work in and of itself. People don’t want to fund more busyness. Rather, the goal is to increase ministry impact, expand Kingdom initiatives, and multiply ministry opportunities. The goal should be to create a more sustainable, high-impact Kingdom footprint than the church has today.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is! If you’re thinking about skipping over the pre-campaign process, let me caution you to do the homework necessary to be ready to ask your congregation to support the direction you are headed (that will probably cost millions of dollars) when they have plenty of alternative giving options available to them.
Are you ready to lead your church through your next campaign?