The Importance of Vision
Early last year a church leader named Jim purchased a copy of my book Giving Generously and soon after requested a dozen copies for the church elders. This is a good strategy apart from the obvious fact of increased book sales for me!! The reason is that the whole leadership team gets to learn about the process at the same time. They can reflect, discuss and question together. It is not just one person having a good idea and then trying to sell it to the rest of the group.
About a month later, I was invited to address Jim and his leadership team one evening. The church had a project that had been in the development stage for a year or so. It was to upgrade two halls adjacent to the church which were used for a variety of ministry purposes. It was a worthy project as the halls had been built many years before and it was obvious they needed refurbishing. The work could be done in stages, with a total cost in excess of $1,000,000.
The whole issue was complicated by the fact that the church was between senior ministers. The former leader had left the year before and while the search team were active, no new leader was on the horizon. Conducting a capital works appeal requires bold and determined leadership. However, despite being in this transition phase, the church elders were keen to proceed. They felt the project had been gestating long enough.
I addressed the group and presented the key issues involved in conducting a capital campaign (see Chapter 14 of Giving Generously). One possible way forward was to sell some property that the church owned. I cautioned against this step, in the first instance anyway. I believe it is far better to conduct a capital campaign and only sell property as a last resort. See Beware of selling the farm .
I was impressed by the calibre of the lay leadership. Jim was a driving force and a wise consultative leader. However the other members of the team were intelligent, energetic and make-it-happen type of people who wanted to have a crack at raising the money. I went home feeling full of admiration for the group, but also with a sense of foreboding. I had conducted a number of such campaigns at Figtree Anglican and I knew the focus, effort and determination required. To attempt such a project without a full time senior minister who had earned the love and trust of the congregation, was a formidable task indeed.
Apart from one small further interaction, I had no other input into the campaign, which Jim and the leadership team developed over the next few months. Jim kept the project on track, ensured the components were well executed, made sure it was grounded in scripture and bathed in prayer. The others magnificently played their part, supporting the process and producing an excellent explanatory brochure. Imagine my delight when Jim contacted me about six months later with the news that the campaign had been a resounding success, raising in money and pledges a figure exceeding ten times the amount that had ever been achieved in the past. It did not cover the entire amount but certainly funds a very significant part of the project.
But here is the more amazing fact. I have mentioned the leadership of Jim. He was the locum, the interim minister and Jim was part-time and in his eighties!! This was a truly astonishing result from an outstanding leader and an outstanding leadership team. They are all giving thanks to God.
So if you and your church have a daunting project, commit your plans to the Lord and draw some inspiration from Jim and his bold band of brothers and sisters. You need great leaders…like Jim. Buy the Book