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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Stewardship and Discipleship: Two Sides of Same Coin

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 2.32.04 PMI have been thinking about discipleship recently and the enduring saying, “Stewardship is everything I do after I say, I believe.”

Stewardship IS discipleship – it is a complete reorientation of our lives toward God. Stewardship and discipleship are synonymous with each other. The decline of discipleship may be one of the gravest threats facing churches today.

1 Peter 4:10:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another,
as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

It’s important for churches to recover the discipleship message that proclaims every legitimate human activity is a response to a call from God. Every human being is called to be, in all of life, a steward of God’s creation. As disciples of God, we are stewards and caretakers of God’s gifts. Everything we have is a gift from God, and God asks us to use it all for His purposes.

One part of the definition of stewardship that often gets overlooked is that the gifts we have, whatever they are, we have them because God has given them to us. We have spiritual gifts – Gifts of prayer, artistic ability, and organization. But what about our time or our money? Our time, talents, and treasure are from God. It’s up to us how we use those gifts, including how freely we give them away.

In the church, our worries about stewardship tend to focus on money, but stewardship is also about mission. It’s about explaining to people that the church is doing God’s mission and that it will truly transform our lives and our communities. Each of us – and our gifts – is an integral part of that mission.

What stewardship is…

  • Sharing in God’s mission with a glad, generous and grateful heart
  • Prayerfully responding to God’s call
  • Using our gifts – whether it be time, talent, or money – to help the church achieve its vision
  • Transforming lives in our community
  • Something that makes us blessed to be a blessing

Is your church creating a message of stewardship and discipleship as two sides of the same coin? To talk more about your church’s stewardship message, please email or call Church Campaign Services at 888.558.6873 today.

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 Much Money Can Your Campaign Raise?

ID-10085522There are many factors that will contribute to the success of your church’s capital campaign. You can change or positively address some of the factors while others are out of your control.

Following are 6 primary factors that have the greatest impact on how much money you can raise and how successful your campaign will be:

1. Urgency
How immediate is your need for funds? Do you need to initiate ground breaking or want to retire debt in order to expand your opportunities for ministry? You may want to time your capital campaign plans with other goals for the year. You may feel that delaying your campaign may negatively impact your results.

2. Focus on stewardship
Giving that is spiritually rewarding to the giver is more likely to be supported by your church members. Many churches today are struggling with the concept of stewardship and generosity. So, how do you balance being sensitive to the needs of your members with the desire to live generously? Read more in our blog, “How to Create a Culture of Generosity.”

3. Compelling Vision and Case for Support
When you embark on a major capital campaign, you need both a compelling vision of what you want to accomplish and a plan for how to get there. Without a clear vision, you will struggle to capture the imagination and hearts of your donors and volunteers. In addition, your members must believe wholeheartedly that the vision can become a reality.

Your Case for Support will bring your donors and volunteers on board to support and promote the campaign. The specific objectives of the campaign need to be outlined so that everyone is on the same bus going to the same destination.

4. Inspiring Leadership
Your leaders are the backbone of your campaign. From the pastor and the campaign chairperson to the sub-committee chairs and volunteers, everyone must be working toward the same end result. Through trust and confidence, the leadership will inspire others to join in the vision and achieve your campaign goals. Strong leaders turn a vision into reality.

5. Timing/Economic Uncertainty
The timing of your campaign can have an impact on the amount of money you raise. Your campaign funds may fall during a recession when finances are strained and money can be tight. While it may affect the results of your campaign, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doomed to have a poorly-performing campaign. If the vision and leadership are strong, you can build a successful campaign even in tough financial times.

6. Campaign Readiness
When you’re preparing to conduct a capital campaign, you need to be sure you’re asking the right questions. Use the “Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign” questionnaire to decide if your church is ready to move forward.

Keeping the factors above in mind, here are the typical Capital Campaign Financial Expectations:

Initial Campaign
New construction or an addition: 2-5 times annual contributions
Deferred maintenance: 2-3 times annual contributions
Debt retirement: 1.5-2 times annual contributions
Endowment funding: 1-2 times annual contributions

Subsequent Campaigns
Phase II – 60 to 70% of the first campaign (adjusted for potential loss of major gifts due to death, retirement, etc.)
Phase III – 50 to 60% of first campaign, adjusted.
Long Term – an amount equal to debt service on loan if the case is made.

Download a PDF version of the Capital Campaign Financial Expectations.

To talk more about planning your church’s capital campaign and how much money you can expect to raise, please email or call Church Campaign Services at 888.558.6873.

How to Create a Culture of Generosity

hand-766795-mLast week, I posted a blog written by my son, Andrew Kukla, called, “How Do You Show Pastoral Leadership in Stewardship?

As we continue to recover from the Great Recession, many churches are struggling with the concept of stewardship and generosity. So, how do you balance being sensitive to the economic times with the desire to live generously?

Here are 4 ways to encourage a culture of generosity in your church:

Preach generosity
When you preach generosity, you provide the knowledge to empower your members to live a generous life. Stewardship asks followers of Christ to demonstrate the abundance of giving. You can create a culture of generosity when you preach and teach the missions of generosity and stewardship.

Lead by example
Generous churches are led by generous pastors who model stewardship through transparency and openness. Church leaders also influence giving levels by example. High-capacity givers can set the bar for others to give. Leaders also need to provide specific, measurable data on giving so that church members know their gifts matter.

Celebrate it
Generosity doesn’t happen on its own. It must be a thread that runs through the whole church. It is shared with every member in every pew. One of the greatest motivations is to join others in serving a cause. Celebrate the good things that happen in the lives of others because your members gave.

Give thanks
Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Let members know that their generosity matters. Living a more generous life matters. Thank people again and again for everything they do.

What are you doing to cultivate a culture of generosity in your church? To learn more about how you can help strengthen your members’ generosity, please contact Church Campaign Services by email or call us at 888.558.6873 today.

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

The Challenges of a Second Capital Campaign

two-736618-mYou’ve conducted your first capital campaign and are feeling good about the results. Now it’s time to start the second campaign.

This campaign, even more than the initial campaign, may need the help of professional fundraising counsel to receive the results you want. The second campaign brings new challenges and motivations to give.

Church Campaign Services can help you face and overcome these challenges. Some things to consider include:

  • CCS can bring insight into renewing the excitement of the first campaign.
  • Over a three-year period, mission goals can change and we can help your church articulate new mission objectives.
  • Members who participated in the first campaign are often at a different place in their faith journeys. You may need to approach them with a revised message.
  • A second campaign needs be as successful – or even more successful – than the first effort in order to ensure the financial stability of your church.
  • Your church may have gained new members who did not experience the first campaign and need special consideration.
  • Church personnel can benefit from a “refresher course” in the campaign process.
  • By using CCS to relieve staff of some of the planning and oversight, the staff can dedicate their time and energy to doing the critical one-on-one contact with members.
  • CCS has years of experience developing successful plans for subsequent campaign efforts.
  • CCS understands your denomination and emphasizes stewardship to increase commitment and enhance the credibility of the campaign.

If your church is considering a second – or even third campaign, call Church Campaign Services or email us to talk about how we can provide the support to make your next campaign as successful as possible.

What Happens When You Have Two Campaigns in the Fall?

fall-leaves-1432748-2-mAs a result of conducting literally hundreds of annual operating and capital campaigns simultaneously for churches over the past fifty years, Church Campaign Services recognizes the following likely outcomes of a well founded and planned dual campaign effort.

1. Year Round Stewardship
Churches that experienced the greatest success in any type of financial campaign were ones that emphasized the year round stewardship of members’ time, talents, and resources. These congregations understood the importance of pledging and how offering back to God all that God has so generously given to us is the most important underlying stewardship principal.

2. One Percent Increase in Annual Support
When combination campaigns are conducted, it is customary to ask each individual or family pledging unit to consider a one percent increase in their annual giving support for the church. CCS has found that a one percent increase in annual support is realistic and can in fact be managed by most members of a congregation who are currently pledging or giving regularly.

3. Proportionate Giving
Members and friends of a church engaged in a capital campaign are generally asked to consider a contribution of between 3 and 5 percent of household income each year over a three year pledge period to realize the capital campaign financial objective(s). This ask is done in accordance with the Biblical concept of proportionate giving.

A typical family will be asked to consider contributing over the next three years approximately 4 to 8 percent of its annual household income to the church. This might equate to a gift of three percent of annual income (up from 2 percent) to the annual operating appeal and 4 percent of annual income over the next three years to help raise the necessary capital dollars.

At the end of the three year capital campaign pledge period, although it is not customary for individuals or families to maintain a 7 to 8 percent of income annual contribution, it is also just as unlikely that they will revert back to giving at their previous 2 to 4 percent level.

A comprehensive year round stewardship emphasis needs to continue throughout the capital campaign pledging period to ensure as little decline in giving as possible once the capital pledge period has ended.

CCS understands that the annual stewardship program – pledging to the church on an annual basis – is the bedrock of successful church financial stewardship. It is this aspect of a person’s giving that must be continually nurtured if they are to grow in stewardship maturity that will ultimately manifest itself in the generous and joyful giving back of all we have to God.

Need help planning dual campaigns this fall? To talk to Church Campaign Services about how we can help, please email or call us at 888.558.6873 today.

4 Strategies to Reduce the Summer Giving Lag

sunset-1442760-mSummer is a busy time. It’s also an active time for many churches. You may have vacation bible school, summer camps, and other summer programs planned.

On top of that, church members can have hectic schedules over the summer months. There are vacations, weekend trips to visit friends and relatives, and shuttling children to all of their camps, sports, and other activities.

You may notice a lag in your capital campaign giving during the hustle and bustle of summer. You can incorporate a few strategies to help keep your pledges and funds coming in at a steady rate.

Celebrate current campaign results
Make sure members know how the campaign is doing so far. It’s through their generosity and ongoing support that you have achieved your current results. Share the good news when you reach campaign milestones.

Remind members of the goal
Refresh everyone’s memory of what the campaign will accomplish. How will the funds raised impact the church and its members? Make sure the vision and mission of the campaign are still top of mind for donors.

Talk about the importance of generosity
If campaign support starts to lag as the weather heats up, it can be a good idea for the pastor to preach a sermon on generosity and stewardship. You can also remind members in bulletins, newsletters, and social media that their support is needed to help reach the campaign goals.

Promote electronic giving
Electronic funds transfer is one of the fastest growing trends in financial services today. An electronic giving strategy that includes automatic withdrawals from a checking or savings account, or automatic payments from a credit card, can help you to promote giving on a consistent basis.

For more strategies on reducing the summer giving lag, please email or call Church Campaign Services at 888.558.6873.

How Do You Choose a Campaign Consultant?

direction-signs-1285311-mYou’re ready to get started planning and implementing your church’s capital campaign. That means it’s also time to consider having a campaign specialist help you guide the process and keep you on the right path. There are several key areas you should assess to be sure the consultant is the right fit for your congregation.

Talking the Talk:
One of the most important areas to assess is whether or not your consultant knows the language of the church. Can they guide you through the steps and maintain the credibility of your membership? Do they understand the roles and the authority given in the Presbyterian church?

Walking the Walk:
Our Presbyterian reformed theology leads us to a unique understanding of money and possessions and the responsibility members have to fulfill the Great Commission. Does your consultant talk more about sacrifice or grace, generosity, and abundance?

Sharing the Walk:
It’s important your consultant shows the proper respect for the existing church culture of possessions and stewardship. Does your consultant want you to follow exacting “rules” for raising funds? Or, do they bring an open-minded attitude of best practices and compromises to fit your culture?

Be Wary of the Easy Way:
If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. The best fundraising process is usually custom-designed to meet your specific needs, rather than a cookie-cutter or off-the-shelf process.

CCS understands what it takes to create a successful capital campaign. For over 50 years, we have been helping our churches – big and small – across the country achieve their goals. Call us at 888-558-6873 to discuss your next campaign.