The “McQuick” Capital Campaign
By: Dr. Robert S. Hallett
Patience is a lost art in today's culture. We demand faster Internet speeds, faster food, faster cooking, shorter sermons, and faster means of travel so we can get someplace quickly where we can slow down and relax. If we see a shortcut that we can take in time, we take it, even when it costs us disproportionately more than the extra time it would to take to do the same thing. We try to crunch timelines for production schedules and squeeze every wasted second out of both our business and personal lives.
This is exemplified by Tom Hanks' character in the film "Cast Away." In his job, he screamed "tick tock, tick tock" at company employees to motivate them to produce more work in less time. Then he spent countless hours, days, weeks, and months stranded on a deserted island where he learned to live with himself without the busyness of life distracting him.
Our culture values time very highly. Many have become workaholics and have succumbed to being judgmental towards those with a more casual approach to life. They value the Christian work ethic to an extreme, while being intolerant towards those whom they consider to be lazy. Someone has rightly said that we are more human doings than human beings – we focus so much on what we do that we forget what we are to be. In essence, we do not have the patience nor the motivation for the time it takes to develop character.
Time is one of the big gods in modern culture. It is even bigger than money, in many instances, because we will spend money to buy time – we have paid a lot of money to have our houses, driveways, schools, offices, and factories filled with time-saving devices, equipment, and tools just so we can save time. This is not all wrong, and I am not advocating that we eliminate all these conveniences from our world. It is tough, but very important, to keep our view of time in perspective and a proper balance when we value it that much.
There needs to be a balance in our lives in all things, especially when it comes to time. Some things just take a certain amount of time to produce the desired results. To rush these things would sacrifice the quality of the product itself, or would make the finished product unacceptable.
Americans have been described as a nation of impatient and selfish people, including Christians. When it comes to capital campaigns, there is a tendency to shorten them, not realizing that the process is a major part of the victory. I call them "McQuick" campaigns because most people do not see the value nor the importance of addressing the issues that makes us impatient and selfish. To them, it is easier to rush to the finish line without realizing that character is both developed and revealed as we run the race. Because of the spiritual sensitivity surrounding them, the funding of the church's facilities is an ideal time to help people address those issues.
A properly run capital campaign takes time to achieve its objectives. It is tempting to think that it is all about asking people to give. Obviously, giving is a big part of any capital campaign, but it is not the only part. Simply asking people to give will produce some donations, but they are usually fewer and much smaller than what is needed for the church to fund its building projects. To raise those funds will take sufficient time to change people's spending and giving habits.
A properly run capital campaign will focus on the church's mission and vision, and how the proposed facilities will help to fulfill them. It will involve many people working on various projects to help develop a sense of ownership for both the church and those facilities. It will require cooperation among and between the teams in working on those projects, thus developing unity and a spirit of interdependence. It is not enough that the projects are done for the church by an outside professional, but it is very important to have the involvement of the people in the doing of those things, even if an outside professional is engaged. The accomplishing of these projects needs to be accompanied by the emphasis on stewardship and sacrificial giving.
These projects take time. The time requirements, however, are more for the benefit of the individuals within the church to work on and resolve their own issues with giving and stewardship than they are for the completion of the projects themselves. When it comes to facing honestly the habits, beliefs, poor theology, and a lifetime of excuses that many people have when it comes to stewardship and giving, it usually takes more than a little time for people to come face to face with themselves and to work through the process to an honorable solution. Most people have built up barriers when it comes to stewardship, and it takes time to chip away at those barriers until they can step over to the other side in a spirit of victory.
Combining both the projects and the encouragement to address those barriers in people's lives reveals the importance of the capital campaign. If people were already where they needed to be in their attitudes towards stewardship and giving, then a capital campaign would not be necessary. Church people, however, have a very poor track record of giving, so the primary reason for a capital campaign is not to ask people to give, but to lead them through the process of resolving their stewardship and attitude issues so they are in a position to give both generously and sacrificially with a joyful heart.
The reason is simple – giving starts in the heart before it ever goes to the checkbook. Our decisions to give are based more on our motivation to give than on our ability to give. That is why some people with very limited means often give more than those with abundant means. To address giving with a focus on the checkbook (a person's ability to give) without considering the attitudes of the heart is to ignore where the real decisions to give are generated. The properly run capital campaign will help people to put their values in proper perspective, thus helping them to consider their giving from a spiritual and scriptural viewpoint.
When we say that "time is of the essence," we usually mean that we need to find some way to shorten the time to do something. But for the properly run capital campaign, "time is of the essence" means that we need to allow the proper time for people to resolve their attitude and stewardship issues so they can give to their full potential with a heart that overflows with joy.
We should not try to shortchange the process by cheating people out of the time they need to take that journey to victorious giving! The "McQuick" capital campaign yields very poor results both in the amount of funds raised, as well as in its life-changing value to the individual Christian.
Dr. Robert S. Hallett is founder and president of TLC Ministries, Inc., a church consulting firm located in New Castle, Indiana that conducts capital campaigns for churches throughout North America, www.tlcministries.com.