6 Signs Your Congregation is Financially Healthy

dollar-sign-1317230-mLast week, I wrote a blog about Stewardship and Discipleship: Two Sides of Same Coin. Stewardship is the way we use our God-given gifts – talent, time, and treasure – to carry on Christ’s work in the world. We are his disciples.

As part of stewardship, it’s important to understand the financial health of your church and its members. The decisions you make about money are part of stewardship and discipleship.

Here are 6 signs that indicate a church congregation is financially healthy:

1. Understands the concept of stewardship
Do your members understand that all giving – of themselves and their resources – is a result of God’s goodness and generosity? We are meant to spend our lives as disciples of God, growing and learning in our faith.

2. Discusses money in worship
A church must be able to discuss money in the context of worship instead of considering it as a subject only discussed in financial meetings or separate from the congregation. Church members need to believe that the church’s financial health and well-being matters to every member in every pew.

3. Considers offering part of worship
Your congregation should feel that the offertory is an integral part of the worship service. Just like the wine and bread are gifts we bring to God’s table, we present ourselves as an offering through our financial gifts.

4. Talks openly about money
Church members and leaders need to be able to talk openly about money and church finances. How we use our money – as individuals and as a collective – says a great deal about our values and priorities.

5. Engages in mission
Financially healthy congregations engage in mission beyond their own doors and include mission in their stewardship plans. When people see their money being used for God’s work, it reinforces the joy and culture of generosity.

6. Plans for the long-term
A church with a financial vision and long-term plans can see the future of stewardship. Developing a budget and conducting a capital campaign are both long-term processes that require a complete understanding of your church’s financial goals and objectives.

Think about your congregation and where you are in your stewardship efforts. Do you have areas you can improve? How can you challenge your members to do more?

To talk more about your church’s financial health, please email or call Church Campaign Services at 888.558.6873 today.

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How Do You Show Pastoral Leadership in Stewardship?

Originally posted by Andrew Kukla in his blog, “Wrestling with Discipleship.”

Today I would like to address you not as a pastor but as a father. To do that properly, I first want to address you as a son. People ask me if I became a minister because my parents were ministers. Yes. Though not as they mean it. My parents were never paid by a church.  But I grew up there. My parents were present in all facets of church life. They taught Sunday School, led youth mission trips (my dad using vacation from his family run printing business to do so), served as deacons and elders, and at various points even as volunteer coordinators.

I was never made to go to church. I loved being there. I remember running from elementary school and stopping at a friend’s house to have snacks before continuing on to church choir. I remember not only going to Sunday school but volunteering as a youth helper in the younger Sunday school classes and nursery (we were that family that spent 3 to 4 hours at church every Sunday morning and then would come back for youth group on Sunday nights). I remember strange “old” faces of people (I was a kid, everyone was old) I would never have met in any other ways but they were interested in me. They helped raise me. I could rattle off names that go to faces I can’t recall and faces whose names I maybe never knew. These people fed me, laughed with me, taught me, formed me… they loved me. I owe my life to them. It’s no wonder I wanted to live my life for the church that has lived its life for me.

Fast forward to being a parent. Three years ago Caroline and I started a call process to find a new church. Not a job. Not a place of employment. A place to raise our family and a place to give life to, just as it gives life to us. We were determined that our calling would be to a place that would raise our children – would raise ALL children. And God found us just such a home.

Now I’m raising children who love church. I mean it. My kids love being here. When Wednesday rolls around and it’s hard to get them out of bed in the morning, all we have to do is say: “Tonight is LOGOS.” And our kids give a shout of glee and start getting dressed. I am not kidding. This is a father speaking and that is a gift I can never repay. I love seeing my kids love something that I love and that has loved me. This is why I give my life, why we give our lives, to the church. Because on fundamental level we know our lives are better for it. This is the joy I experience in giving… is that it’s always receiving. Our life together is all about mutual love and support and the more I have given the more I have received.

Caroline and I talk every year about our pledge. It was something I grew up with and was more new to Caroline when we first started out our life together. Every year we do our best to increase our pledge. And I do not do it because I work here. I do it because “here” loves me – my family – and the world. And that is value I place above all others. But our pledge isn’t just about money. It’s about cooking in the kitchens, it’s about thanking Sunday schools teachers… maybe even becoming one. It’s about INVESTING in love with our whole lives. Investing in a community that exists to love us. Investing in a community that loves us and teaches us to love others.

As a father of four children who know deep in their hearts that they are loved, I thank you.  I thank all of you who are a part of any such community for the essential part you play in fostering that. Your investment in helping me raise my family. I thank you that you let my kids – and all our kids and adults – know that when life turns bad, when they feel guilt or shame, when they are lost, even when they get to place where they are angry at me and I’m the last person they want to talk to: they have a place to call home that loves them, where they are welcome and safe, and where the faces in the crowd are interested in them.

This is the joy of giving that is really all about receiving. This is why, on this Sunday when we dedicate our pledges of time and money for the coming year at our church, Caroline and I will do so joyfully. Because this community is a joy to us and we want to make sure that continues to be so for anyone who walks through our doors. Thank you!

Grace and Peace,
Andrew

How Do You Show Pastoral Leadership in Stewardship?

duck-crossing-904406-mOriginally posted by Andrew Kukla in his blog, “Wrestling with Discipleship.”

Today I would like to address you not as a pastor but as a father. To do that properly, I first want to address you as a son. People ask me if I became a minister because my parents were ministers. Yes. Though not as they mean it. My parents were never paid by a church.  But I grew up there. My parents were present in all facets of church life. They taught Sunday School, led youth mission trips (my dad using vacation from his family run printing business to do so), served as deacons and elders, and at various points even as volunteer coordinators.

I was never made to go to church. I loved being there. I remember running from elementary school and stopping at a friend’s house to have snacks before continuing on to church choir. I remember not only going to Sunday school but volunteering as a youth helper in the younger Sunday school classes and nursery (we were that family that spent 3 to 4 hours at church every Sunday morning and then would come back for youth group on Sunday nights). I remember strange “old” faces of people (I was a kid, everyone was old) I would never have met in any other ways but they were interested in me. They helped raise me. I could rattle off names that go to faces I can’t recall and faces whose names I maybe never knew. These people fed me, laughed with me, taught me, formed me… they loved me. I owe my life to them. It’s no wonder I wanted to live my life for the church that has lived its life for me.

Fast forward to being a parent. Three years ago Caroline and I started a call process to find a new church. Not a job. Not a place of employment. A place to raise our family and a place to give life to, just as it gives life to us. We were determined that our calling would be to a place that would raise our children – would raise ALL children. And God found us just such a home.

Now I’m raising children who love church. I mean it. My kids love being here. When Wednesday rolls around and it’s hard to get them out of bed in the morning, all we have to do is say: “Tonight is LOGOS.” And our kids give a shout of glee and start getting dressed. I am not kidding. This is a father speaking and that is a gift I can never repay. I love seeing my kids love something that I love and that has loved me. This is why I give my life, why we give our lives, to the church. Because on fundamental level we know our lives are better for it. This is the joy I experience in giving… is that it’s always receiving. Our life together is all about mutual love and support and the more I have given the more I have received.

Caroline and I talk every year about our pledge. It was something I grew up with and was more new to Caroline when we first started out our life together. Every year we do our best to increase our pledge. And I do not do it because I work here. I do it because “here” loves me – my family – and the world. And that is value I place above all others. But our pledge isn’t just about money. It’s about cooking in the kitchens, it’s about thanking Sunday schools teachers… maybe even becoming one. It’s about INVESTING in love with our whole lives. Investing in a community that exists to love us. Investing in a community that loves us and teaches us to love others.

As a father of four children who know deep in their hearts that they are loved, I thank you.  I thank all of you who are a part of any such community for the essential part you play in fostering that. Your investment in helping me raise my family. I thank you that you let my kids – and all our kids and adults – know that when life turns bad, when they feel guilt or shame, when they are lost, even when they get to place where they are angry at me and I’m the last person they want to talk to: they have a place to call home that loves them, where they are welcome and safe, and where the faces in the crowd are interested in them.

This is the joy of giving that is really all about receiving. This is why, on this Sunday when we dedicate our pledges of time and money for the coming year at our church, Caroline and I will do so joyfully. Because this community is a joy to us and we want to make sure that continues to be so for anyone who walks through our doors. Thank you!

Grace and Peace,
Andrew

How to Create a Sense of Campaign Ownership

thumbs-up-1392876-mYou’ve conducted a feasibility study. The pastor and key leaders are in agreement that it’s time to move forward. Now you just need to get everyone else on board.

How do you transfer the ownership of your church capital campaign
to those who will be asked to fund it?

There is a big difference between approval and support. Agreeing with the decision to move forward and then supporting that decision with major gifts are two different things.

Ownership of a campaign must trickle down through the entire congregation. That means it must pass down from the campaign leaders, committee chairs, and committee members to the volunteers and donors.

People will only support what they believe in. They need to feel as if the idea is their own. Here are a few ways to build campaign ownership, and in turn, increase campaign giving:

Create a clear message
By writing a compelling Case for Support, you can help everyone understand the vision and mission for your campaign. People give from their hearts. If church members feel an emotional connection to the goals of the campaign, they will give their support.

Have specific jobs
It’s easier for church members to get behind a campaign if they can “own” their part in the process. Giving members a specific job will help them feel more involved in the overall process and its success.

Use the gifts of your members
We wrote a blog about utilizing the gifts of your congregation. Your members have a unique mix of strengths. As you plan and execute your church’s capital campaign, you can use these individual gifts to help you achieve your best results. In addition, people like to feel they have something special to offer.

Feel important and valued
Everyone wants to feel that his or her contribution matters. Whether it’s a monetary gift, or volunteering time or special skills, each member is valuable to the campaign process.

Ask for the donation
While your entire congregation knows you expect them to support the campaign, members still want to be asked. Identify those who will make leadership gifts and take the time to meet with them personally and ask for their support. You can also hold Small Group Gathers and Celebration Sundays to inspire support and a sense of community among members. It’s important that you ask for support rather than assume it will be given.

Thank your members
Be sure to let your members know how much you appreciate their hard work and support. Make it clear that everyone who played a part in the campaign contributed to its success.

By including your congregation in the campaign preparation and execution, they will be able take ownership of the campaign and gladly give their support.

To learn more about building campaign ownership in your congregation, call Church Campaign Services at 888.558.6873 or email us today.

Two Methods for Securing Campaign Gifts

plate-number-2-1201942-mYou have selected your capital campaign leaders and committees, written your Case for Support, and now you’re ready to start taking pledges and gifts. What’s the best way to approach the members of your congregation?

Method 1 – Every Member Visitation
With this method, you make personal contact with each member of your congregation at home, or even at work. Volunteers are recruited and trained to make these personal visits.

Strengths: Face-to-face interaction, builds relationships, typically raises more funds, and there is less need for follow-up. Limitations: Recruiting and properly training enough volunteers.

Method 2 – Small Group Gatherings
This method relies on members attending a gathering in another member’s home. These meetings can also take place at the church if it is more conveniently located. Volunteers are trained and lead the gatherings.

Strengths: Group discussion among members, stronger fellowship, and fewer volunteers are needed. Limitations: More coordination and planning, reaches only members who attend, and more follow-up.

Both methods use mailings, phone calls, emails, and presentations to reach members. Most campaigns today are a hybrid of both methods and incorporate elements of each other. Which method is best for your congregation?

To talk to Church Campaign Services about your approach to securing campaign gifts, please email or call us at 888.558.6873 today.

The Importance of Inspiring Leaders

51040_raised_hands_2I have worked with hundreds of churches over the last fifteen years. I can assure you that “vision” can be seen and felt in a community, when that community shares a common vision for their future. A leader or community with vision sends vibes, which electrify everything they do. But, it is not enough to just have a vision, it must be shared and accepted to be effective.

So what are the three ingredients in this sought after culture?

1) Imagine what can be
Visionary leaders see things and events as they can be. This applies to relationships, motives, and actions. These leaders see things seemingly out of reach but don’t waiver in their desire to reach out for this “new creation.”

Keep reality in mind
Visionary leaders, not dreamers, see the reality of where a community of faith is today, with limitations or broken relationships, and know they can be fixed. This special leader must have the ability to see things the way they truly are so that expectations for the future can be meaningful.

3) Bring vision and reality together
Perhaps most importantly, visionary leaders can draw a line between the reality of today and prayer for tomorrow, and chart a course or path for others to follow. These leaders sometimes walk this path alone – but always, always prefer it if they can walk the path arm in arm with their community of faith. This key step requires a leader who is articulate, supportive of those whose eyes cannot see, and demonstrates their integrity and commitment every day.

Not long ago, a pastor told me that each congregation within his denomination was a “franchise” operator for the denomination and the work of the church. This offhand observation still troubles me, because I think franchises are led by managers not leaders. Leaders break new ground and go places others fear, while managers color inside the lines, fearing failure, but never achieving that “new creation” that can be.

The next time you walk into a church meeting or worship service, ask yourself if you can feel the vitality and energy of visionary and inspired leadership.

How to Create a Sense of Campaign Ownership

church members support church capital campaignYou’ve conducted a feasibility study. The pastor and key leaders are in agreement that it’s time to move forward. Now you just need to get everyone else on board.

How do you transfer the ownership of your church capital campaign to those who will be asked to fund it?

There is a big difference between approval and support. Agreeing with the decision to move forward and then supporting that decision with major gifts are two different things.

Ownership of a campaign must trickle down through the entire congregation. That means it must pass down from the campaign leaders, committee chairs, and committee members to the volunteers and donors.

People will only support what they believe in. They need to feel as if the idea is their own. Here are a few ways to build campaign ownership, and in turn, increase campaign giving:

Create a clear message
By writing a compelling Case for Support, you can help everyone understand the vision and mission for your campaign. People give from their hearts. If church members feel an emotional connection to the goals of the campaign, they will give their support.

Have specific jobs
It’s easier for church members to get behind a campaign if they can “own” their part in the process. Giving members a specific job will help them feel more involved in the overall process and its success.

Use the gifts of your members
We recently wrote a blog about utilizing the gifts of your congregation. Your members have a unique mix of strengths. As you plan and execute your church’s capital campaign, you can use these individual gifts to help you achieve your best results. In addition, people like to feel they have something special to offer.

Feel important and valued
Everyone wants to feel that his or her contribution matters. Whether it’s a monetary gift, or volunteering time or special skills, each member is valuable to the campaign process.

Ask for the donation
While your entire congregation knows you expect them to support the campaign, members still want to be asked. Identify those who will make leadership gifts and take the time to meet with them personally and ask for their support. You can also hold Small Group Gathers and Celebration Sundays to inspire support and a sense of community among members. It’s important that you ask for support rather than assume it will be given.

By including your congregation in the campaign preparation and execution, they will be able take ownership of the campaign and gladly give their support.

To learn more about building campaign ownership in your congregation, call Church Campaign Services at 888.558.6873 or email us today.

Answers to your Capital Campaign Questions

Answers to Questions Capital Campaign PlanningFrom the first stages of considering and planning your church’s capital campaign to receiving commitments from your members, Church Campaign Services is ready to assist you.

Here are answers to some of the campaign questions we frequently encounter.

What size congregations does CCS serve?
CCS services the entire Presbyterian family. Churches both large and small have consulted with CCS for multiple campaigns.

Why should we hire “outsiders” to help us?
CCS is a non-profit mission entity of the General Assembly Mission Council of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The assistance of CCS comes from within the Presbyterian family. We bring experience and expertise to the campaign process so that your campaign can achieve full dollar potential.

How long does a campaign last?
Generally, it takes about three to six months from the time a church begins the active campaign process to the campaign conclusion and follow up. Each church member is asked to make a three-year pledge to the special campaign over and above what they give to the operating budget.

How much money can a congregation typically raise?
The results of a campaign can vary based on many factors. Typically, a church can raise two to three times what it receives for its annual operating budget, but churches sometimes raise more.

Should we include a mission cause in our campaign?
Yes, we strongly recommend that churches consider a mission component. Not only does it model good stewardship – concern for others as well as ourselves – but experience shows congregations respond positively to including a mission aspect.

Is visiting every member the only way to secure pledges?
While visiting every member is the most effective and productive process, it is not the only way. CCS consultants are trained in several techniques. Many campaigns are a hybrid of two or more methods.

Will having a capital campaign affect pledges to our operating budget?
CCS campaigns always emphasize that a member’s first priority is giving to the operating budget. Capital pledges must be over and above regular giving. In the first year of a campaign, operating budget giving typically remains static, but you may actually see increases in later years.

What time of year is best for a capital campaign?
CCS conducts successful campaigns every season of the year. The best time to begin a campaign is when all the essential preliminary work has been done, and the church and its leaders are ready to move forward.

How long in advance do we need to schedule our campaign with CCS?
Early discussion – even a year in advance of your proposed program – is recommended for the planning stage. The pre-campaign readiness period often takes three to six months. CCS should definitely be contacted by this time in order to build a solid foundation for a successful campaign.

For answers to more capital campaign questions, call Church Campaign Services at 888.558.6873 or email us today.

Honoring our Past and Growing our Future

Second Presbyterian Church in Lexington, KYOn Sunday, August 25, I had the privilege of participating in a re-dedication of the sanctuary at Second Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky. It was a greatly anticipated event, and lived up to expectations.

The campaign had a three-pronged objective. The first objective was renewing the Christian Education wing. Next was mission support of youth-based projects local to international. The greatest challenge was to fulfill a vision that had its start over 15 years ago with a previous pastorate and long retired session, revitalizing their worship space.

CIMG5108I have assisted over 100 congregations and supported many others as part of CCS, but seldom have I seen the leadership and persistence it took for this vision to become a reality. The capital campaign started approximately one year ago with the leadership of Rev Dr. Daniel Hans. He recognized that this wonderful community of faith would not be able to “compete” for the hearts and minds of the next generation without fulfilling the vision born of a previous era. It had to be done, but it had to be consistent with the traditions and values that this congregation had established over many generations.

First there was a concept, then a liturgical architect concept, and feedback from members. It wasn’t going to be someone else’s plan for Second Presbyterian – it had to be Second’s plan for its future. Iteration after iteration, through another set of feedback sessions with individuals as part of a feasibility study conducted by CCS, and again back to the drawing board. And then the final proof of the pudding would be to conduct a $1,000,000 capital campaign where every member in every pew would have the final say as to whether the planners and leaders had hit the mark.

CIMG5110The campaign started slowly with Dan and Tom Lingeman, campaign chairperson, believing that this could be done. Bob Elliott, who led the planning team and ultimately would lead the building team, was also right there. Bob was confident that this plan and this campaign would finally fulfill the vision.

In January of this year Tom, Dan, and I were having our usual bi-weekly update call when Tom dropped the bombshell. We could pull out our contingency of additional facility needs, because we were about to reach our goal and the general congregation portion of the campaign had barely begun. There was not just enough to fulfill the vision – there would be more than enough. This campaign would go over their goal by nearly 25%. Abundance and Joy!!!

Vision + Leadership + Persistence = Congregation Success…

And, as Dan said in his sermon Sunday, the sparks of a new vision are already rising as this community of faith again marches forward on its spiritual journey of renewal and a burning desire to pass their values to the next generation.

God has blessed Second Presbyterian Church, Lexington.

Writing a Case for Support

case for supportAn effective Case for Support, or rationale for giving, creates an image for your capital campaign and for the church overall. Raising funds is about emotions every bit as much as it is about logic. That’s why it’s important that your campaign be presented in the best possible light.

The Case for Support should be compelling and persuasive. It should present the vision and the need for the campaign. The case sets the scope of the campaign for all who participate. While it can be tempting to start making changes once the project begins, it’s much easier to stay focused and on track if you have a clear and concise document defining your actions.

We recommend that, if possible, you create a one-page document to sum up your case. This document is not meant to be a marketing tool, but simply a tactical guideline. However, it should contain all the relevant information needed to create the promotional materials that will assist in your fundraising efforts.

Your case for support should include:

1. Background information
To give everyone a better understanding of the current situation, provide a brief history of the church, its mission, and the scope of its ministry.

2. Your vision stated clearly and concisely
The vision statement need only be a sentence or two. The vision should tie into the mission of the church. We were searching for a good example of a vision statement, and decided what’s a better example than Jesus’ own vision:

Mark 10:45
“For the Son of Man came not to be served but serve, and to give his life as ransom for many.”

This vision statement has a broad reach, portrays a big dream, and gets the message across in simple verbiage. It’s an excellent example.

3. The problems that will be addressed
Your case must explain the reason for the capital campaign. Are you building a fellowship hall to encourage member gatherings and more community involvement? Do you need to pay off an existing debt?

4. The urgency of the need
After you present the problem to be addressed, you need to convey the urgency of the situation. What are the benefits of building a new building quickly? How will the church benefit from paying off its outstanding debt.

5. A mission component
It can be helpful to include a mission component in your Case for Support that ties the campaign into the community. However, it should only be included if there is a compelling reason for your congregation to respond.

6. A set dollar goal and obtainable deadline
Goals and deadlines can be scary. But, goals and deadlines work. They are what get people pulling in the same direction at the same time. They help create passion, energy, and enthusiasm for your campaign.

Church Campaign Services can help you prepare a Case for Support and get you on the path to creating a successful capital campaign. Simply email us or call us at 888.558.6873. We welcome the opportunity to talk to you!