Debt Campaigns for Churches
Over the last three years we have done several campaigns for congregations who wanted to retire debt. All of these churches had gotten into debt through building programs in the past. One church had been in debt for five years, another for 20 years. None of these churches were financially irresponsible. Here is what we have learned about debt campaigns.
Vision is crucial
What would you do if you were out of debt? This is the question you must answer first. If you have no vision for how you will spend the money freed up through a campaign, do not begin the process. Obviously many will be motivated by the simple idea of being debt free, but the majority of your church will be motivated by a vision that goes beyond dollars and cents.
People want to be out of debt
Due to the popularity of programs like Dave Ramsey, we are seeing a decided shift in attitudes toward debt. Previous generations were okay with borrowing to the hilt and paying it back with inflated dollars. Not so with younger generations. A significant percentage of your congregation thinks it is wrong for the church to even be in debt to start with.
Tell the truth
Without fail every church was somewhat reticent to come clean about where they stood financially. Leaders were fearful about what the members would think. “We are in how much debt?” is the question they dreaded. Church leaders have to give all the facts. And then they have to repeat them again. Trust me on this one. The members do not remember that you told them five years ago about the cost overrun due to the fire marshal’s demands.
Success is sweet
In a few short months, one church we worked with will become debt free for the first time in 20 years. In the process they have restored ministries that had been eliminated and fully funded ministries they had seen significant cuts. Thousands of dollars each month now go to ministry and mission instead of to a bank. The burden of debt has been eliminated and the church is ecstatic.
We believe we will continue to see this trend continue to grow in the future—churches conducting campaigns solely to retire debt. Contact us if you are interested in a debt campaign.