Capital Campaigns gone ugly: Number Two
Another unsuccessful capital campaign project happened at a church in Southern California where I actually worked. (So maybe that says it all – the problem was my involvement.) This was a store front church that had stayed in the same location for seven years. When the rent got raised substantially, the leadership (including me) began to ask the question: “Do we stay a store front with the increased rent or do we buy a building and raise money to build onto it?” After a lot of prayer and wrestling, we decided to buy a 1.5 million dollar facility in a crime ridden neighborhood with hopes to make significant differences in the lives in the vicinity.
Now, 1.5 million is a lot of money for a church with 100 members. And a 1.5 million dollar building in California is small and in need of huge renovations. To make a long story short, there wasn’t any extra money to bring in capital campaign consultants and thus we were left to plead for money at almost every turn using blueprints and hopeful visions. With all of that, we basically wore the congregation out and split the church into those who wanted to move forward with this expensive project and those who wanted to throw in the towel. Ultimately, we did not raise the funds and ended up having to go bankrupt. It was a major blow to everyone involved and this failure left the church having to borrow time at another church’s sanctuary for Sunday mornings.
Now I can’t say that a firm of architects who could use 3D animation and virtual tours to show off the coming vision would have suddenly made the money come rolling in. But it wouldn’t have hurt. We needed clear church design plans. We moved in faith but I think it was more wishful thinking. And we were pretty heavy handed with our money requests. Overall it was a church capital campaign with no capital and no real campaign. With my backwards 20/20, I think we should have stayed in the store front for several more years as we slowly raised the money for a building. Unfortunately we didn’t and it cost us in every way. A strong and dedicated and diverse congregation was splintered by these poor efforts. I regret my part in it.