Letters from Happy Church Leaders
Below are two letters, one from a layperson and the other from a Thrilled Pastor.
An Impressed Capital Campaign Worker – Chris Nicholson
Late last year I was in a position likely similar to yours. I was part of a committee tasked to determine if, for the first time in Mt. Hope Baptist Church’s 108-year history, we wanted to hire an outside consultant to help us run the capital campaign for our new building. And, assuming that the answer was affirmative, we were to recommend a specific consultant.
Like almost all consultants and firms we interviewed, Dr. Rod Rogers had an impressive stack of recommendations from pastors, organization heads and CEO’s who had previously contracted his services. I remember thinking at the time, “All of these letters are great, but the people I’d really like to hear from are the “worker bees,” the folks responsible for the day-to-day details of these capital campaigns, and the ones who worked with the consultant directly. I promised myself at that time that if we did in fact hire an outside consultant who impressed me, I’d write one of these “worker bee” letters myself.
As you can likely infer at this point, we did hire Dr. Rod Rogers. And, to quote a reference of his that I called during the vetting process, “I wasn’t impressed by Rod’s work….I was blown away.”
What first caught my attention during our interview with Rod Rogers was not his answers, but his questions. While we interviewed a number of strong candidates, if our experience was any indication, the capital development field has a much higher population of talkers than listeners. I would describe our interviews with him more as “conversations,” rather than the question/answer, question/answer format that these meetings often take.
In fact, I asked Rod directly at one point, “When you are speaking in front of a congregation or a group of potential donors, how would you describe your tone?” His answer was essentially,
“Conversational, just as we are talking right now.” Three weeks later, when he spoke in front of our congregation for the first time, his conversational tone, not to mention his dry wit, went over beautifully.
Despite the image that many people have of Baptist churches, ours is quite the opposite, and any shouting, or manic calls for an immediate commitment, would have spurred a stampede for the exits. In fact, during the business meeting when we voted the funding to hire Rod, one of the members said straight-out that he wanted assurance that there would be no home visits or high-pressure tactics. Coincidentally or not, after hearing Rod’s first talk, the same member who had expressed this concern was one of the first to invite Rod into his home to discuss the campaign further.
Rod used a phrase called “relational giving,” to describe his philosophy. In short, it means that while some people would indeed give out of obligation or social pressure, the long-term givers with the most generous gifts are usually those who feel most personally invested in the program. By the time we kicked off the campaign, more than 75 percent of the adult membership had volunteered for at least one committee, a higher participation rate than we have ever experienced for anything.
One concern we did have was that fundraising for the building fund might “cannibalize” the weekly collection, which funds our operating expenses. Rod shared that, in his experience, the regular donations actually increase during a well-coordinated capital campaign because so many more people feel invested in the organization. Six months later, that is exactly what we have experienced.
Inevitably with a search process like this one, several strong candidates emerge, and then it becomes a matter of personality and the most comfortable fit. While I wouldn’t presume to tell another church or organization who or what would be the best fit for them, I can say unequivocally that I was confident in Rod Rogers’ abilities when I signed the recommendation to hire him, and that confidence only grew exponentially as we worked together.
I wish you the best of luck with whatever decision you make for the next step in your fundraising program and invite you to contact me if you have any specific questions regarding our experience with Dr. Rod Rogers.
Christopher P. Nicholson
24 Cinnamon Court
Sterling, VA 20164
Contact Christopher to learn what it's like to work with Dr. Rod Rogers in a church capital campaign.
A Thrilled Pastor – Steve Swartz
From one Grace Advance pastor to another, greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Head of the Church (and our little churches ?). I am cc’ing Dr. Rod Rogers, the consultant we are using for our current capital campaign. I apologize in advance…this email is going to be in two parts: the short version and the long version.
SHORT VERSION: You should contact Rod and use him NOW. He is a former preaching pastor, like-minded concerning the gospel and has experience you and I won’t get in five lifetimes.
LONG VERSION: I spoke to Rod almost two years ago for some exploratory talks. He walked me through the “system” he uses for a capital campaign. I put “system” in quotes because it is basically a real-time modern-day fleshing out of clear principles found in Exodus 25, 35, 36, and 2 Corinthians 8-9. I was born a skeptic but as I listened and then looked at his website, I became convinced that his driving motive was to help us change the hearts of our people which then results in giving increasing.
Fast forward several months. I presented the vision of taking our building savings program to a new level to our elders and they agreed that in order to proceed forward we needed to (a) get buy-in from our entire eldership/deaconship and (b) choose a person or small team to devote their LIVES to this for 3-4 years. We got the buy-in, chose a small team of two co-directors, and they proceeded to start looking for a consultant at our direction. Lo and behold, without me telling them about Rod, Rod was the guy they came back recommending–and for the same reasons: an emphasis on HEART CHANGE not just raising money.
Let me tell you some of the benefits that we have seen as a result of working with Rod, then some advice, and then the value we have seen.
1. Personal contact anytime we need
2. A BEEFY campaign resource website with tons of information
3. Preaching ideas and helps
4. Access to fabulous graphic design and printing
5. Lots of philosophical and Scriptural underpinnings that give confidence to us and our people that we are headed in a logical and biblical direction.
6. Reasonable expectations of what we can expect if we work the program.
7. BIGGEST ONE: a WEEKLY calendar of events that should be happening, who is responsible, and Rod keeping on top of this alongside us.
You will get out of this what you put into it. We made a decision to be ALL-IN on every single part of the program and amazingly, Rod’s prediction of what we could expect statistically speaking was spot-on. This is like jumping out of an airplane–you can’t decide to use part of the parachute. Either do it or don’t. Our team decided we were going to absolutely give it 110%. Rod offers a lot of scriptural resources, such as a book he wrote and a series of helpful devotionals. Some pastors are going to need that level of content help because they are not necessarily trained at the level they would like to be. For you and I, we are used to weekly exegesis of Scripture so I would encourage you to use those resources at least as idea helps. I found them helpful in giving creative ideas for crafting a direction for the sermon series I just finished.
Also, you’ve got to get a DETAIL-CRAZY person as the driver behind this. And you should stay in regular contact with Rod yourself. Most pastors either micromanage the process and ruin everything or they are so hands-off that they are not emotionally invested. Find an in-between place that works for you. I consider Rod a friend now and will continue that friendship long after our capital campaign is over.
Also, take the time to REALLY learn the system and get your DETAIL-CRAZY person to absolutely OWN IT. Having two phone calls with Rod will not do the work for you. You DO have do roll up your sleeves and learning the system helps.
Also, you can do the whole thing remotely via electronic communication, etc. But I highly recommend paying a little extra to have Rod do an on-site visit. It will encourage your whole team and you as well.
Here is the answer to the question, “Well, why don’t we just do it on our own?” Because the fact is that you won’t. We tried it on our own and raised $200,000 in four years. With Rod’s system, we just raised almost that amount on the FIRST SUNDAY of our campaign recently. Why? Because you spend months in preparation.
VALUE WE HAVE SEEN:
Bang for our buck. I talked to consultants in the $100,000 range. Honestly, that is still worth it given the outcome, but Rod’s fee is extremely reasonable and the return on investment will be astounding. His fee is many times LESS than what I saw to be the industry standard. In our case, our initial one-time offering to kick off this campaign was over TEN TIMES the fee we had paid Rod. And that’s NOT counting the 3-year commitments which will make his fee look like a gratuity.
Spiritual Progress: This campaign has challenged our people to be all-in for Christ NOT just in giving, but in their marriages, family, workplaces, and evangelistic opportunities. In fact, we have baptized 16 new believers during this campaign.
Sin Exposure: We have also seen a couple of families really expose that they think more of their opinion than they do of truly listening to a logical argument from Scripture. This has produced some good conversations and even repentance in multiple areas of life.
A general excitement and joy: Everyone, young and old, has had a renewed vigor about Christ and His church. Our children’s ministry and youth ministry decided to do a coin drive CONTEST during my giving preaching series and have raised several thousand dollars in change (plus the odd 20-dollar-bill thrown in by parents who want their side to win ;-)).
A sense of urgency to expose our community to the gospel. The seeker-friendly ecclesiology we both cringe at tries to attract the unbeliever into some sort of false fellowship with the church without conversion to Christ. But one thing we can learn from them is that a community that doesn’t know you exist is not going to be impacted with the true biblical gospel. We have seen a heightened awareness of the need to preach Christ by having our community know we are here and come to church to hear the gospel.
Increased General Fund giving. Another one of Rod’s predictions that came true is that we’ve seen an uptick in general fund giving as well. Because as people evaluate their entire lives and finances to contribute to the building fund, they naturally evaluate everything at once. One of our elders just said last night, “Our church has stepped up its game in regular giving.”
And yes–a PHENOMENAL result in our financial results. Our initial commitment was $157,378—much more than we had projected. There was a lot of weeping and joyful laughter amongst the elders when we learned this. On Commitment Sunday we received 3-year commitments of $939,040. These combined for a grand total of $1,096,418—over a million dollars. This is more than 2 times our annual giving of $525,829.
And no, Rod did not ask me to write all this and he will probably be embarrassed that I did. Sorry, Rod.
May the Lord bless your efforts as you proceed forward. Let me know if I can serve you in any way.
Contact Pastor Steve to learn how to get the same spiritual and financial results with Dr. Rod Rogers in a church capital campaign.