Church Campaigns Gone Ugly

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.

 

 

Church Capital Campaigns: The Bad, The Ugly and the Good

Capital Campaigns gone bad: Number One

I was a pastor for 18 years before moving into marketing and media and I have seen three different sets of Capital Campaigns. Two went bad and the other went well. Let’s look at each of the three examples one by one and I’ll tell you why these turned out the way they did so you might not fall into the same holes.

Case Study One: A large mainline church located in a downtown that needed redevelopment – the leadership of the church was watching and even forecasting the movements of its VIP congregants to the vibrant and burgeoning new churches (that had all the bells and whistles) in the southwest part of the city. This mainline church had a great reputation and was still full of people but its people got scared. Because of their fear, they hired a pastor whose number one job was to bring this 150 year old church up to date. This pastor grew up in a Marine family and having been brought up in this way, led this way. In other words, he was going to raise the money using all sorts of manipulative methods to get a lovely Family Life Center built so that less people in the congregation would be tempted to leave. After all, what church wants to lose its giving members because the church is missing a gym, a basketball court, a huge game room and valet drop-offs. This sort of amenity-based church is common nowadays because most people in America are mega-entitled and they expect to be given the best of the best, even if that best has nothing to do with the work of the Kingdom of God. So, this really wasn’t the pastor’s fault or the leadership’s fault, or really anybody’s fault. It was just a church trying to hang on using human nature and battling culture.

So, what went wrong?

This church as it began to pitch this sort of mega-church style did so with a lot of talk and no show. Consultants were brought in to teach the leadership how to pull more money from the congregants using mainly out of context Bible verses and peer pressure. Even though companies with the ability to use technology like 3D animations to give a clear picture of what the final church design would be existed, this church decided to cut corners and just bully pulpit the congregants into a sense of responsibility. Most congregants were not pleased. They were not included in a change agency model and so the members felt forced by the pastor and his staff. Nobody likes to be forced. And nobody likes to give extra cash to a project that they cannot see.

In short, here is what happened. The Family Life Center got built for ten million dollars that the church had not even come close to raising, factions arose who actively fought the project, and ultimately the church lost more than half of its members to the churches on the SW of town because they were tired of being pushed around. The pastor was fired and now on Sunday mornings, what used to be a bustling church has become an empty church. It’s a sad story. But it’s one that you can learn from no matter what sort of field you are in. If you are going to add edifices to your current one, you need architects with vision and technology as well as a change agent model of transformation to get it done with the least resistance.

That’s case study number one. We will talk about the other two in future articles.

Journal of a Road Warrior: Part one

For business purposes, I travel to represent my company for three months at a time in various places. I usually stay in short term furnished housing or corporate housing and admittedly I get a bit lonely. So, I decided to start this journal here to remind myself that I am still human – to stay connected to my soul rather than just blurring away in my body day after day as a machine doing tasks. Not that my job is that bad – I get to do sales and marketing for my company and my company treats my fairly. And when I travel all of my expenses are covered. So, that’s the good news. The bad news is that I do most of my traveling in West Texas, which is not known for its culture or beaches or mountains (highway overpasses are the highest peaks you are going to get and blowing orange dust are closest you are going to get to sandy beaches.) Still I hear that most people here are friendly and I aim to find some charm in these humble outposts.

 So, here we go: Day one staying in my comfortable Lubbock Corporate Housing

 Today I woke up early in my extended stay and decided that I should make the most of my Lubbock short-term housing situation. I have a one bedroom with a lot of space in it, but I saw the pool outside and I determined that I ought to break it in. So, I threw my swim suit on and went for a few laps in it. No one was there and so I used the pool as a workout for the day. I am an observer and despite the empty pool, I noticed that there were a lot of cars in the parking lot, which meant lots of people had accidentally chosen to be in my sphere of personal influence. As an extrovert, I planned on meeting as many of my neighbors as possible.

 And why not? You never know the connections you might make if you just introduce yourself to others. Sure, some people might think you are a weirdo because we live in a world where there are lots of weirdos who carry around chloroform and who are trying to take advantage of new targets. But I will do my best to ingratiate myself to my fellow corporate housing road warriors so I might have some close acquaintances before I leave.

 After my swim, I came inside and made use of the breakfast that was provided. It was the sort of breakfast I had come to expect while on my many trips – basic but good enough to energize me for the day. Then it was off to shower, get dressed in my shirt and tie and go start my marketing contacts for the day. I don’t want to get much into my work here in this journal because most days are the same old, same old, but if something interesting pops up, I’ll let you in on it. Anyway, it was a regular day and a successful day as I began my three months in Lubbock, Texas. One thing surprised me about Lubbock this time. It has been a year since I have been here and I was blown away by the growth of the business markets – especially in the restaurant world. I felt like I was in Dallas – everything from Twisted Root burgers to Saltgrass steaks. I avoided those for this day and went for two of my local favorites for lunch and dinner – One Guy from Italy and Spanky’s – both incredibly unhealthy, but amazing to the taste buds.

Anyway, I guess this will be just my introduction to my journal because not much else happened today. I hung out in the lobby reading the newspaper to catch sight of some of the other people staying there and then I was off to my own bed. Overall a good and solid day of work and life. Tomorrow I will make first contact with someone – see what they think about the world we both walk around in…

 Until then, keep moving and breathing deeply.

Corporate Housing is a necessary Good

Corporate Housing is a necessary Good

(Let me say before I start – This is a review of short term housing I have had experience with over the years. I’ve been in plenty and wanted to share what I think about two places I would consider as exemplary.)

Corporate housing, specifically corporate housing Lubbock, Texas, is also known generally as short-term furnished apartments. But, not all corporate housing spaces are created equal. (I’ll say more about that later.)

Anyway, I have heard several of my colleagues who got caught with me in Lubbock for several months speak of corporate housing as a necessary evil. Because of what they had to say, I started to dread my rookie experience in one of these extended stay apartments. They made it sound like we were going to be trapped in bed bug-ridden prisons with dirty sheets and disgusting comforters – showers shooting out low water pressure ice cold water and toilets housing mini-alligators or huge rats.

I knew my company, which had sent us to Lubbock for longer term surveying work was cheap, but I just didn’t want to believe the horror stories of where we would be staying. But still, I prepared. I bought bug spray, a sleeping bad with my own pillow and a large pot to heat up water for the baths I would be taking.

Fortunately my colleagues who had been on similar trips were lying through their teeth. The corporate housing we got to choose was called Home Style Suites (www.hssuites.com) and it was the exact opposite of what had been described to me. It wasn’t a necessary evil but a necessary good. There were fancy beds, excellent showers, plenty of room to stretch out, a good sized TV placed in front of a comfortable couch and all the stuff we needed to feel treated like loved employees instead of ones deserving of a torture lair.

I was so glad that we had been put into a clean, furnished suite. It made doing the hard work we did during the day a lot easier knowing we would be crashing at a nice spot near several restaurants. Since then we were sent into a different corporate housing suite (www.athomecorporatesuites.com) and when we found out that it was run by the same owners who ran Home Style Suites, we breathed a collective sigh of relief.

And we were not disappointed. It was just as good as its sister company. Now, when those two have been booked up and we were forced to try other options in town, there was no comparison. I won’t name names because I have been told if you don’t have something nice to say you should say nothing, but let’s just say this other place really sucked – it was like that had cut every corner possible.

I’ll leave it at that.

 

Private Schools versus Public Schools

Private Schools versus Public Schools

As a student in Lubbock, Texas, I grew up going to public schools. From preschool through graduation, I navigated the system pretty well and must say that I enjoyed it (not the classes as much as the social and sports side of things). I never even knew what a private school was and what it offered thus I never asked to be put into one. Public school was all I knew as a kid and it was great.

As an adult, I know a lot of people who would not even consider putting their kids into public schools. They tell me that there are not enough spiritual elements, that the classes are too big and that there is a lack of safety. In most cases, what they say about public schools is true. But I probably need to say it really depends on what public school you go to. Some of the newer ones I have heard about have great administration and excellent teachers. My nephew who has been in private school since pre-k has decided to switch to public school for 3rd through 6th grade after taking a tour of a new school building which bustles with a lot more children and the promise of new adventures.

I have to say that both private schools and public schools have pros and cons and that it really depends on where you live and what your financial situation is (private schools in Lubbock tend to be pretty expensive.)

From a teaching and leadership angle, I have to say that when I was a teacher I much preferred private schools. When I was at a public school, I had about 36 kids in each of my classes and they were very hard to control. Plus the support I received was minimal because the administration was so busy trying to keep the parents and kids happy. When I moved to teach at a private school, I had tiny class sizes and thus it was easy for me to direct the lessons. I also had a lot more parent support and I was able to teach a lot of my kids about preparing for entrance exams for college. There were also great counselors who had time to really guide the students. So, from a teacher side, I definitely recommend going private.

 

I am currently working with a private Lubbock pre-k through 12th grade school and it is based on biblical principles. Their mission and vision follows the Golden Rule. If you happen to live in Lubbock, I would recommend going to Southcrest Christian school. If you live somewhere else, I would search for public schools or private Christian schools that have good reputations and which will serve your children.

That’s all I have to say about that…

Find the Right Realtor for YOU!

Finding the Right Realtor for you

 There are so many homes for sale in Lubbock as the city expands beyond even my wildest imaginations. I always figured Lubbock and Amarillo would stay about the same as far as population, demographics, and businesses. I thought West Texas would never experience a sprawl and I especially never thought it would be Lubbock that was doing the sprawling. Anyway, it is happening. There are six new major businesses opening within two minutes of my house and like 5 new housing divisions (I call them all luxury, which to me means too expensive for me…). It’s crazy to see it happen with my own eyes.

 Anyway, Lubbock homes for sale is my focus in this article and while I will talk more about the brick and mortar parts of the housing later, I want to focus on a piece of real estate that people don’t emphasize enough – Realtors. Specifically I want to talk about which type of realtor is right for you. As they say in the business, not all realtors are built the same. So, let me set out some questions you might want to be checking out when looking for the perfect realtor for you. 

  1. Is this realtor a friend (family member) of yours? The reason I ask is that sometimes mixing business and friendship is not the right way to go. I’m not saying this is true for all relationships, but I have experienced some problems with this very association. Your friend might be a good friend but a terrible realtor. So, think long and hard about this one. You might want to buy your realtor friend a dinner or two as penance for not choosing them and then go interview several other realtors with stellar reputations.
  2. Does the realtor have a personality and a style you enjoy or are they your opposite? If I am going to be perusing a bunch of different houses with someone at my side who is supposed to be helping me they cannot be annoying to me. We will be spending quite a bit of time with this person as they seek to find us a good home and so we better get along. Along these same lines, if you have one style of house in mind and your realtor has a different sense of style for you, you are going to be looking at the home your realtor would buy – not necessarily the one you would buy.
  3. Have you asked anyone local for suggestions? Now you might have to be careful with this one because the person you ask might just be steering you to their friends. But getting advice from family, the specific realty companies, and friends can be very helpful.

Okay, I’m going to stop this one for now. There are plenty of other things to look for when looking for a realtor. It’s a major investment so make sure you ask a lot of questions.

Thanks and may you find your Realty Yoda.

Art in Architecture

“Great buildings that move the spirit have always been rare. In every case they are unique, poetic, products of the heart.”
~ Arthur Erickson

This is a cool quote that a top of the line national architectural firm uses to drive their actions in their church design. Halo Architects, which does all sorts of 3D animations and virtual tours to help their clients develop their visions, uses this quote to drive their staff to always strive for great and unique. Some architectural firms I have dealt with don’t have any sort of higher standards, but Halo isn’t afraid to put it on their website so they can let their clients keep them accountable.

I have to be honest. If I were running an architectural firm, I probably wouldn’t think of buildings as “products of the heart.” I’d probably just blueprint them and build them as quickly as possible using only my head to bring them about. And if you look around at strip malls, you get the feeling that the developers simply did just what I would have done – they got it done, but they didn’t strive for beauty and poetry. (note to the reader: Don’t ever hire me to build anything for you. I even sucked at playing with Lincoln Logs.)

Even though I wouldn’t build great buildings as Erickson suggests or as Halo actually does, I have had lots of experiences being inside of great buildings.

When I was in Red Square in Moscow, I was blown away by the architecture. Just being there made my heart move. I felt like I could just sit there all day and be inspired to write a sweet poem or maybe a creative short story. Buildings that make you want to stay in them are truly uncommon. I had this same feeling when I was in the Guggenheim near Central Park. I knew that the architects not only wanted the building to house art but to be art. I’ve even been in churches (ex. The Crystal Cathedral, etc.) that try to honor God’s creative beauty in its design.

I could go on and on about my experiences, but I think you get the point. I’m interested though – where have you been in or near a great building? How did it make you feel? How did it move you? Did you want to stay longer?

Hit me with comments…

Live Poet’s Society: Aloft

Beauty among ugliness -
Beauty among ugliness –

The following is a poem written by an artist I have come to not only respect but like – Check out his writing at www.bendonley.com – Or to keep him fed, hire him to be your SEO and marketing guru.

Question is:  Do people read poems anymore?  Are there any romantics or philosophers left to consume good words placed well?

I think this stuff is beautiful – sad and desperate – but beautiful.

What is your take on it?

——

                                                Aloft

In the meantime, as a lily aloft in dead fields –

Thoughtful

Kind and beautiful one could be

Better

Becoming better

Instead of seeking greatness in human memory

Instead of chasing

Just being planted here

Watered from below and above

Bent by winds but never carried away by trends that prevail

Being okay with a day to day placement

Thankful

Less likely to bemoan this stay or to pursue a stray escape

Days will go and come and go and then they won’t

Lily no longer

Pressures to be a rose, long gone

To impress, long gone

To do, long gone

 

May this meantime not be mean time

May this meantime not be me time

May this meantime not be meaningless

 

I wait aloft in these dead fields, and not alone.

 

B.D.

————–

Don’t you ever feel just like this?  Like you are stuck in a spot where you don’t belong?  Like you are the only one who is trying to live out beauty when everyone else has decided to decompose?

I can so identify with the pain of this guy’s stuck-ness.  I can also identify with his desire for the days to come to an end so that all the pressures of this world can be taken away.

I’m a big Kingdom of God believer and I want it to come – I think he does too.  Anyway, regardless of what you believe as far as afterlife, I think we can all agree that this now-life is a hard one.  And I think we can also agree that if we are going to be here a while in the midst of “dead fields,” we might as well stand tall showing off our creation and we better find someone willing to stand with us.

There ain’t nothing like lonely, boys!

Okay – Do your art today – whatever it is – And do it well!

ArtCAT? Do we deserve a pass?

punch
I have a friend who has a very different mind than mine.  And a very different passion.
He wants to become a plastic surgeon, which he says is going to be his way of bringing art and medicine together.
“People will be my canvas.”
That’s what he always says with tongue in cheek, because he knows that in truth, “People will be his meal ticket.”
He is an “artist” who will never starve – that is, if he can get into medical school, pass it, not kill a bunch of people during his residencies, and not become an opiate addict or Fight Club style insomniac.
I think he will make it.
Anyway, he said something to me the other day as he headed off to attend his official  2015 mcat prep course with an armload of some “great study” books that are known as mcat examkrackers or maybe mcat animal crackers or possibly both.
Here is what he said that challenged me quite a lot:  “It’s funny to me that I do all of this mcat prep to even get the chance to become the sort of doctor I want to be.  But, you don’t do any sort of prep to become the sort of artist you need to become.  You just grab a piece of paper and write.  Or you grab a roll of canvas and start painting.  No wonder you artists starve…”
He was half joking and half raising a vital question I’ver never given much thought to:  As an artist, what sort of devoted preparations do I make to even qualify as someone who is worthy to do art?
I once studied art.
I’ve read books.
I’ve been to museums.
I’ve taken some online guitar lessons.
I’ve watched Rachel Ray.
I’ve attended conferences.
But, I cannot say with confidence that I’ve even come close to the sorts of prep that my friend has entered into.  This dude sweats brain blood over a standardized mcat test and will have to go crossfit hard and harder each step of his process.
Do I sweat over anything?
Should I throw myself into some sort of Cubist-Dostoevsky-Jimmy Page-Julia Childs-Krackers course?
Should artists have to prep harder to become worthy to be named artists?
Or should we just kind of get a pass?  Should we just trial and error our way to artistic genius?  Hope really hard as we create that our creations are excellent?
Maybe we should start a program that has some measurables…
Maybe we need a ArtistCAT to determine if we should even be admitted to galleries and bookstores and kitchens and stages…
What do you think about this?
Should I just punch my buddy in the face the next time he acts like his “art” has been earned while mine has not?
Should I just punch him for the hell of it?
Comment away my fellow artists – that is if you have the energy.  I know starvation can make you pretty weak…

Betterness? Don’t be Bitter, baby!

It’s not easy giving credit to someone else who does something better than you do – It’s actually quite difficult to just go ahead and say, “Yes, that guy or girl or guy identifying as a girl or girl identifying as a black elephant has created something I only wish I could create.”  And then to just leave it there – without qualifications or subtle digs to make yourself feel better about getting the silver or bronze medal.

Admitting it is key to one’s own freedom.

There are people who write better than me.

There are people who paint better than me.

There are people who design better than me.

There are dogs who cook better than me.

There are cats who play guitar better than me.

There are actors who will always act better than me.

There are rappers who rap better than me (“Say it, Kanye.  Every day!”)

On down the line.

Once you can just say it out loud and without making excuses for yourself, you can then get back to just doing your art as a humble supporter rather than as a mad competitor.

Saying that someone did something better than you is now equal to admitting that you suck at what you do.  It’s simply recognizing the quality of someone else who is doing their best to add value to a sick and polluted planet.

Admitting someone else’s “better-ness”  also does not mean that you have to quit trying – Just because someone else has struck artistic gold or found the direct line to an ancient/present/future zeitgeist, does not mean that you need to move on to something else.

I cannot live up to Rothko or E.A. Poe, but does that mean there aren’t color and syllabic combinations still available to me that might catch someone’s eyes or ears.

You don’t have to capture the Pulitzer or land something in the Louvre – You might just capture one mind and inspire it to do and be better.

Can you live with that?

I can.

I have to.

Too many blank pages and too much blank canvas out there –

Too much need for attempted beauty.

I give credit to Ben Donley for his honest blogs and to my favorite unknown author, Loud A. Smith, for waking me up to this reality.  We artists must stick together and encourage one another to keep at creation in all of its forms.

I’ll even end this blog with a shout out to Kimye for “creating” one heck of a cute kid – Go North!

Till next time…

northwest