Does a Capital Campaign make a church relevant in the community?

FaithBy Andy Bygden

“I came back because this is where I “grew up”. In those days’ church was where my family came to worship, where I met many of my friends, and where we came even when it wasn’t Sunday!”

These are words from a parishioner at a church I recently visited. But they are probably the same words many have said in many churches, including my home church. In my visits to many churches I have seen the ups and more downs than I care to see and now I have come to a definitive conclusion; I don’t want to see more downs.

In February I was at a church that had announced its budget and it was down again. I think to myself as a summer time boating person; if my boat expenses were more than my willingness to put into the cost of boating, I would eventually let the boat go and no longer have that in my life. What if Church is like that? What if this type of gathering was not going to be part of someone else’s’ life because of me?

Things sure have changed. But things are changing everywhere. My friends and I are older (and wiser) so I might not be the one who would go to events and activities like the ones I used to go to, but I’m sure the younger generation would.

I think this is what it means to get the community to see Church as a relevant place in a time when churches all around us are struggling for new people to join their services.

A capital campaign is often seen as necessary just to get on top of deferred maintenance or retire some huge debt, but it is also what is done to renew and build up. It can build up brick and mortar and it can also build up one’s faith.

At the church I visited they had a capital campaign 20 years ago to replace a furnace and what also happened is that they saw a 24% increase in annual pledges after the campaign was over. I think it happens because they engaged with people in a “project of faith” and it invigorated the congregation beyond the project and maybe even grew some people’s faith in what church meant to them.

Now I can’t stand here and tell you what faith is so I’ll just say it as St Paul said it: Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. (Heb 11:1).

So I am supporting the capital campaign in my home church. Not because I know it is the best thing to do, but because my hope for the next generation is that we grow in faith within the community and continue to be relevant to the community at large for many more years to come.

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