Quotes by Stephen Anderson
The Scriptures say God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud. Some of the best building committee members are people of quiet strength and humble spirit. While you may have people on the building committee that are large contributors, on staff, or a person of prominence, they should not be there because of those reasons, but because of their other qualifications.
You are not going to please all the people when you build, so don’t get upset when everyone is not happy. Do what you know is the right thing to do and resist giving in to an overly vocal minority.
Expanding facilities to do Kingdom work can put your church on the front lines of spiritual battles. From before the church enters into a building program, through dedication Sunday, the prayer team must be constantly seeking the guidance, protection, and grace of God. Pray for the building, pray for the leaders and committee members, pray for unity, and pray for those who labor for the church in building the new facility. Set up a prayer schedule to insure that several people are praying each day for the building program.
Almost every building proposal put forth in the church will have its naysayers. However, if the majority of solid, sold-out, fruit producing saints in your church are prayerfully behind the building program, go for it. Let those in opposition decide on whether to join you, get out of the way, or find a new church to hinder.
Change can be difficult! There is a natural resistance to change, but sometimes we (the church) struggle a little too much with change, making it harder than it needs to be. After all, things have changed a lot in the last 2,000 years and they will continue to do so until the return of Christ. Some of the most effective words that hinder a church from moving forward are “we’ve never done it that way before.”
We all know there is a fine line between faith and foolishness. Prudence would dictate that in most circumstances the church should build what it knows it could afford and not build solely on potentially misplaced faith. I realize this statement may not sit well with some readers, but too often we all (not just churches in building programs) plan first and pray later; we ask God to bless our mess, which is pure presumption on our part. If the church is building God’s vision in His timing, then moving in faith is not misplaced. If the church is moving forward with any other vision or timing, then there is no valid basis for faith.
Ultimately it is not fancy words or pretty materials that will make your campaign a success, it is the movement of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives exhorting them to step out to make the appropriate faith response. By teaching of biblical stewardship principles and bathing the campaign in personal and corporate prayer, our desire can be brought into alignment with God’s desire
Sometimes when people leave the church it can be a good thing. Said another way, there are some people who advance the cause of peace and unity by their absence!
The process of design should be one of molding the building around the needs of the ministries instead of trying to make the ministries fit into a floor plan that “looks good.”
Effectiveness is doing the right thing. Efficiency is just doing the right thing. Excellence is doing the right thing at the right time, and doing it well.
Vision and mission provide both the starting point and direction for your efforts and are the dual lenses through which myriad future decisions must be evaluated.
It should not come as a surprise that the design of the new church facility must be driven by the following factors:
1. Vision – What is God’s vision for your church? What is the church going to be when it “grows up”?
2. Mission – What is the church trying to accomplish for the community and congregation?
3. Financial Ability – What can the church afford to build and how will it be paid for?
4.Needs – What does the church need to build in order to become the vision and accomplish the mission?
Vision can sometimes be a terrible burden. God may give a vision without the context of the time it will take to become the vision. Sometimes church leaders feel that because they have a vision, it must happen quickly. I am reminded of Joseph and the vision he had from God. I wonder how often Joseph sat in that jail cell expecting to be delivered at any moment, when it was going to be over 13 years until he was free and God’s vision began to manifest itself. What a long time and much preparation between vision and the working out of the vision! Wisdom would dictate that we prepare to do what we can when we can, and then wait on the Lord and His timing to bring the vision to fruition.
It is one thing to get a loan, it is quite another to pay it off. With few exceptions, shame on the church that takes 20 years to retire a 20-year loan! Most churches should have a workable plan to retire their debt in 7 years or less. Interest is money the church gives to the world to foster the world’s economy. That money should stay in the Kingdom to finance Kingdom work.
To be effective, vision must be:
1. Clearly and repeatedly communicated in several different ways.
2. Be understood by the congregation – they need to understand it the way the leaders do.
3. Embraced by the congregation – it has to become their vision.
4. Able to provoke a response from the members of the church.
A recent study of churches that showed 80 percent experienced growth after completing the building program.
Over the years, I became aware of what seemed to be an emerging pattern in the relationship between income and attendance. It appeared that for a significant percentage of churches, one could take the average attendance and by adding three zeros, come up with a very close approximation of the annual income.
When God created man He gave him his mind, emotions and spirit. To maximize success, the campaign must successfully address each of these three facets of man in fairly equal proportion. Therefore, the three pillars of a successful capital campaign are intellectual information, emotional excitement and spiritual development.
Solomon was wise enough to know wisdom alone was no substitute for experience, so he sought a skilled man to help direct his building program, and God provided Huram (2 Chron. 2:6-7).
Pastors and leaders must not fall into the trap of becoming unduly involved in the building process. The primary role of church leadership should be spiritual development, not construction. Don’t get sucked into the black hole of day-to-day building oversight at the cost of the spiritual health of the church.
While church building projects cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, mistakes don’t just have serious financial consequences. Mistakes in a building program can be very costly, not just in terms of money, but also in the functionality of the finished facility, loss of confidence in leadership, and increased conflict or disunity in the body of Christ.
A capital campaign is less about money than it is about understanding a need exists, equipping the saints with the knowledge of how God provides for needs to be met, and then calling people to make the appropriate faith response. If the members understand and embrace these precepts, the money will take care of itself.
From concept to completion, your church will not undertake a more demanding and complicated task in terms of money, risk, and effort than it will in a building program. The proof of this can be found in the number of pastors who leave churches during or shortly after a building program.
Something always goes wrong in a building program, it’s simply too complicated for it not to happen. It will probably cost more and take longer than you think it should. Anticipate it – plan for it – deal with it.
One could successfully argue that most of the problems experienced by churches in building programs have their roots in poor planning and preparation. Poor preparation fosters a lack of unity and confidence, can ruin pastors, increase building costs, and in general, make an already difficult task much harder. Poor preparation will result in more confusion, wasted time, increased stress and effort, and at worst, cause a church split. A key part of proper planning is to first correctly understand your needs, abilities and limitations.
Building programs that seem to go around in circles and end up nowhere will inevitably be found to suffer from one or more of these four conditions:
1. Lack of real need.
2. Lack of good process.
3. Lack of effective leadership.
4. Lack of faith.
The first and last are between you and God. A good consultant can help with the other two.
In your building planning process, the three foundational elements are:
1. Knowing it is the vision and timing of God to build.
2. Understanding what you need to build, and why.
3. Knowing what you can afford to build and how to pay for it.
The cheapest price is not always the lowest cost. Say it out loud. Repeat every day, as needed, to prevent painful results.
Important concept. The gap between knowing and not knowing what to do is much smaller than the gulf between knowing what to do and knowing how to do it.
Pastors should not be any more involved in the building program than they feel they must be. God called pastors to teach and preach, not be builders. The pastor needs to look after the spiritual side of building the house, not the bricks and sticks.
The fundamental pre-construction process can be summarized in the following points:
1. Understanding how the vision for the church dictates a need to build.
2. Understanding whether it is the Lord’s timing for the church to build.
3. Understanding what the church can afford to build and how the church will pay for it.
4. Understanding what the church needs to build and why it is the right thing to build to meet the needs of the ministry.
5. Developing a building plan that is defined by the church’s needs and bound by the budget of the ministry.
6. Starting a capital campaign.
7. Securing a financing commitment.
Buildings are tools for ministry. Tools aren’t always pretty, but they do need to be effective. Too often churches build edifices that are as much or more a monument to the architect, pastor, or building committee than a tool for ministry. God does not care how pretty your church building is, He is interested in what you do with it. I am not advocating ugly – just a balance in priorities and goals.
It is best to get a lot of people from within the congregation involved in the planning and building process in order to help build consensus and unity. People who are not involved in the process are much more likely to be unduly critical than those who had a part in the process. Said another way, people tend to throw water on other people’s ideas, but not their own. People in the church need to have ownership of the solution, and the best way to make this happen is to make them part of the process.
You can have your church built cheap, fast, and good – you get to pick any two. Construction has three primary variables: cost, time and quality. You can control any two of these factors, but the third will be dictated by the other two. You can have it fast and good, but it won’t be cheap. If you want it cheap and fast, it won’t be good.