I was a senior pastor for twenty years and have been working with pastors for over thirteen years. In that time I have made a lot of mistakes as a pastor and seen pastors make a lot of mistakes.
One of the biggest mistakes that pastors make is waiting too long to make a decision. My ministry is primarily focused on helping churches in the area of stewardship so most if not all of my observations are in that arena. I find that nearly every pastor is behind when it comes to project development. While there may be a multitude of reasons for why pastors are prone to this mistake it none the less is a constant. Too many pastors simply underestimate how long a project will take from start to finish.
Here are some factors to consider…
A project from start to finish could run twenty four to thirty six months! That building you feel you need now might not be ready for two more years. Planning with architects dealing with zoning and compliance issues can take months in and of themselves. That is before you ever put a shovel in the ground. Most buildings will take from twelve to eighteen months to complete. You can count on your building costing you more than you want and taking longer than you want. If you need it now you had better get started.
Banks are requiring more from churches which as a result takes more time for money to be released. I had one banker tell me recently that they would not loan money to a church until six months time had passed of their capital stewardship campaign. He wants to see performance not excitement. Commitment cards are nice but it is cash that counts. If you don’t have a loan you will not move dirt. If you are not moving dirt, your building is delayed.
Capital stewardship campaigns typically run six months from planning to commitment day. We can and do campaigns quicker. Need always trumps timing. However when you hurry a campaign the results are never as good as when you put thoughtful time into the process. The fastest campaign time line is three months. We recommend at least six months.
So, add up all the time lines here. Let’s be conservative and say the building preparation and planning from the architect takes six to eight months. Your city is a breeze to work with but it will still take in all probability two months to get all the permits approved. The bank won’t lend you money unless your finances are in order AND you are in the midst of a capital stewardship campaign. A campaign will take you four to six months on average. If the bank wants to see performance from the campaign that might take another four to six months. Can you see why starting sooner is important?
Long range planning is essential for a successful project. While you might think that project is two years down the road now is the time to start working on seeing that it is only two years down the road. If you do not do a good job of planning it might be four or more years or never before it comes to pass. Can you really afford to lose that time and momentum? It’s later than you think! Start today to plan for your future.
Mark Brooks- The Stewardship Coach
Founder and President, The Charis Group and Charis Giving Solutions