If you’ve given any thought to a church renovation or new building project, you know there’s a lot more to consider than just the design and construction of the building itself. Getting the entire church membership on board with the vision is very important, as is a successful stewardship campaign to fund the church building project. For this reason, we recently reached out to a stewardship consultant, asking him for insights into the stewardship process to help church leaders like you plan a successful stewardship campaign.
Introducing Dr. Bob Hallett
Today we’ll share part one of that recent dialogue with Dr. Bob Hallett of TLC Ministries. Originally from Canada, Dr. Hallett came to Christ at age 15 and began preaching just a few months later. Over time, his ministry expanded to include the roles of pastor, evangelist, and then church consultant, with a particular focus on capital campaigns. In 1990 he founded TLC Ministries, based in Indiana, to help churches recognize the spiritual decisions that support financial stewardship, and the important connection between stewardship, discipleship, and commitment to the church.
Launching Church Building Projects in a Culture of Fear
We asked Dr. Hallett what he considers to be the most significant change in raising funds over the last five years, and his answer was “fear.” When the bottom dropped out of the economy in 2008, many families experienced layoffs, reduced hours, and having to take jobs with less money and fewer benefits. And when the church’s families are in financial trouble, the church is also in trouble, because that fearful attitude spreads to all areas of life. Often church leaders are hesitant to launch something as large as a church building project in the face of this uncertainty.
Fear isn’t just an issue for the present according to Dr. Hallett. There is also fear for the future of the church. Today there’s much less sense of church loyalty, and doctrinal loyalty, than there was in the past. This means that people wander from church to church until they find one that will cater to their needs. This also means that when (not if) trouble comes to that church, they will move on in search of another church. With all this movement, it doesn’t take much change to undermine the financial stability of a church that is already in trouble.
Fortunately, Dr. Hallett said we have seen some shift back toward commitment to larger projects in recent years. Churches are starting to trust economic times again, and are starting up projects that had been put on hold. This time, however, the churches seem to see more urgency in the projects and their purpose than in years past.
Generational Differences in Giving
Next Dr. Hallett talked about differences in giving patterns based on the age of the giver. In general, older generations want legacy giving, boomers want regular giving, busters are more project-driven givers, and younger generations feel that they have so many problems of their own that they cannot give.
Of course, there are exceptions to broad generalities like this. Everyone, especially younger generations, wants to see the value that their giving will bring; they do not want their gifts to be wasted. It also seems that most people will respond to a worthy project when it is perceived as an urgent need that will bring eternal benefits; in other words, a “worthy cause.”
With so much uncertainty in the economy, according to Dr. Hallett, people will give in general, but they are more reluctant to make a commitment to future giving because they do not want to find themselves breaking a pledge to God or the church if something drastic happens in their families. This means that, in recent years, a larger proportion of people are giving to a church building project without making an actual commitment or pledge. This is especially true for younger generations.
Stay Tuned for Part Two
Our conversation with Dr. Hallett concluded with a discussion on when to start fundraising and the biggest reasons that church building campaigns don’t meet their goals. These will be covered in our next blog post. Meanwhile, to learn more about many other aspects of church remodeling and building projects, sign up today for our free i3 webinars.