It occurred to me for the first time early in the life of our church when we were in the beginning stages of raising funds for land and a new building. To buy land and build a building, the church has to run a capital campaign to raise funds. And, to run a capital campaign, church leadership must “vision cast,” which means having some idea of what is going to be built. Right?
But, how do the leaders know what’s possible without knowing how much money can be raised? It gets worse!
Developing land requires going through a very long, drawn-out land development process with the local municipality. The land development process can take a year or more, depending on the area. So, to put an excellent capital campaign together (brochures, videos, displays, etc.) that inspires the congregation to get behind the project, church leaders have to take a huge leap of faith!
It’s necessary to “estimate” the amount of money the congregation can raise (using national averages and giving data from the church) and begin the building and site design with that figure in mind. In other words, the church has to be faithful that God will meet the need and provide the funds in roughly the amount estimated. Not a problem, right? Many churches run capital campaigns, so there are lots of data available on which to base an estimate.
My advice? Hire a good capital campaign consultant and be conservative with estimates.
On the land development side, though, the stakes are slightly higher. To submit something to the municipality, a significant amount of money must be spent on engineering and design. The municipality requires that the church knows “exactly” what it will build in detail. And, once the review and approval process starts, the church is pretty much locked in. Unless the church is willing to undergo several months of redesign and re-submittal, it must build what’s approved. This is the craziest part. The capital campaign is done, and plans have been submitted to the municipality, but the church doesn’t have a firm estimate of what it will cost! Why? Much of the details on what is planned have to be on paper before a contractor takes the project through the bidding process. If, during the bidding process, the church finds that they have significantly underestimated the cost of something, they are already so far down the road that much time and effort is needed to modify the design and resubmit.
After reading this, you are probably so discouraged that you no longer want to try and build something. Well, don’t forget the “faith” part. God is in the process every step of the way, from guiding your vision to gaining municipality approval to providing the resources. You can count on the fact that what ends up being built will be exactly what was supposed to be built at that time.
A building project is a matter of faith and timing.
Here are some helpful things to remember:
Church leadership has to pray a bunch! Keeping God in the process is critical. Leaders should be in constant prayer and constantly open to promptings from God. The congregation should be prompted to pray for the project as well.
Start way ahead of time! Begin the process as soon as there is a vision and a reasonable idea of what will be needed. Starting serious work as much as five years ahead of time is not “too far” ahead!
Create a “Building Fund”
Start putting money in a building fund as soon as possible. A few hundred a week might not seem like much, but it adds up. Having some money to work with early in the process (way ahead of beginning a capital campaign) will allow the church to finish some preliminary design and discovery. This helps to firm things up before getting serious about raising funds.
If you have questions, post a comment or contact me.