An Interview with Horizons’ Founder, Clif Christopher

by | August 3, 2018

Since its inception, Clif Christopher has been on the frontline in responding to Horizons’ clients about church capital campaigns. Providing timely and insightful counsel to pastors and lay leaders is at the heart of Horizons’ mission to guide churches on their journey to achieve their mission. In anticipation of the release of Clif’s latest book, God vs. Money, I invited Clif to share his insights on some commonly-asked questions.

 

Common Mistakes

Kristine: What are some common mistakes churches make when considering the size of their church capital campaign projects?

 Clif: Often churches fail to maximize their giving potential. For example, a pastor recently told me about the growth and enthusiasm expressed in his church regarding a $1,000,000 building project. The church’s budget was $750,000. Given the excitement surrounding the project, it seemed to me the church could likely raise more. I suggested the church look at other needs and consider adding them to the project and have our team assess the congregation’s overall support. Assuming the support is there, this church has the ability to conduct a more ambitious campaign and raise more money for the kingdom.

 

Timing of a Capital Campaign

Kristine: When is the best time to conduct a church capital campaign?

 Clif: The short answer is the best time to conduct a church capital campaign is when the vision is clear and the congregation is rallied behind the vision. However, some churches are too eager to break ground and end up eliminating a lot of the giving momentum. If you break ground before the campaign, you take away people’s ability to participate in helping your dream become reality. Breaking ground before the campaign will result in getting  a building sooner, but you will have far less resources to pay for it. Also, it will be three years before you can conduct another campaign—and that will likely be for debt. Be patient and wait to break ground when you are ready to celebrate the conclusion of a successful capital campaign.

 

Estate Gifts

Kristine: Should capital projects be paid for using estate gifts?

 Clif: Generally, this is not a good idea. Using legacy gifts for capital projects removes the responsibility of the church to help people mature in Christ through more generous giving. Estate gifts should be used to strengthen an endowment fund that enlarges the ministry and mission the church is called to do. It should never replace what present members are capable of and called to do. Have a campaign for the project you feel God is calling you to do, and then use the proceeds from the estate gift to move the church beyond that building and into life changing ministry.

 

Staff Positions and Missions Work

Kristine: Should churches consider adding staff positions or missions work to their campaign funding needs?

 Clif: The problem is you are hoping to leverage enthusiasm for a building project to get money for staffing and missions. These expenses should be funded through the annual budget rather than included in a church capital campaign. Lumping capital needs in with operating expenditures is most often a bad idea. People may resent having a portion of their donations designated to expenses other than capital, and they may choose to withhold their giving. Also, funding a staff position through a three-year capital campaign creates a significant problem after the giving period is over. How will this staff position be funded in year four? If you need to fund a staff position or support a mission endeavor, include these expenses in your annual budget and invite people to support it.

 

Leadership Support

Kristine: How important is it for the pastor and church leadership to express their support of the church capital campaign?

 Clif: Well how important is leadership in any arena? It is critical! If the boss showed up late for work and only showed interest in coffee breaks, would the employees exceed his passion? If a coach was not that committed to practice and winning, would the players give their all? Church members are very in tune with what leaders are serious about. They listen to hear what their pastor feels is at the core of Christian life. Specifically, they listen to hear whether church leaders just want money to pay bills or if they truly believe that generosity is vital to discipleship and living a fulfilled life. It is very important every pastor share their plans for giving every year and why they are making that choice. Members concerned about being a disciple will follow.

 

High Capacity Donors

Kristine: In God vs. Money, you suggest that pastors should build relationships with their high capacity donors. Why is this important?

 Clif: As church leaders, we must stop seeing and relating to persons blessed with wealth as different from others blessed with unique talent and abilities that can be used for Kingdom work. If we knew a person with exceptional musical talent, we would be derelict if we did not spend time with them exploring how that talent might be used. Same goes for educational ability or leadership ability. One key job of a pastor is to help persons use the gifts God has given them for God’s work. This is no less true for those few who have been blessed with wealth. They need and deserve our time to assist them in fulfilling God’s calling on their life. This simply does not happen by speaking in generalities from a pulpit. It happens through relationship and personal attention.

I clearly remember the multi-millionaire who shared how grateful he was for the extensive conversations a college president had with him that helped him determine how to use his vast amounts of money following the sale of his business. When I asked this active church member if any pastor had ever sat down with him and had a stewardship conversation, he said, “No, Clif, you know that preachers do not like to talk about money!”

 

Clif’s books include Not Your Parents’ Offering PlateRich Church Poor Church, and several others. His new book, God vs. Money, is now available on Kindle and will soon be released in hardcopy by Abingdon Press.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Everything you need to inspire generosity.

RECENT Posts

How to Make the Offering About Love (An Offering Talk for Sunday)

Instead of simply calling the ushers forward, help your congregation understand deeper meaning and connection inherent in the offering time of worship. Use what I call an Offering Talk to connect the offering to the giver’s relationship to God.

An Offering Talk can help your congregation understand the deep meaning and connection inherent in the offertory. It is an ideal stewardship teaching moment.

 

Here’s a sample Offering Talk to use Sunday.

Every night a father tucked his daughter into bed and they would repeat their familiar routine. The little girl would say, “I love you” and her dad would say, “I love you first.” One night, however, the little girl interjected a change. After hearing her father say, “I love you first,” she proclaimed, “I love you always!” And that became their new routine. The little girl has grown and is now a young wife and mother, but daughter and father continue to share these words. The exchange continues to affirm their love and connection. One will say, “I love you first” and then wait to hear the response, “I love you always.”

I love you first, and I love you always.

As wonderful a gift as the love between a parent and child, how much greater and more perfect is the love between God the Creator and those claimed as God’s children? This is the image of the God we have come to worship today. A God whose love reaches back into all our yesterdays and stretches into all our tomorrows. A God who always loves and forgives, who is always there to guide us when we are lost, to strengthen us when we are tired, and who overwhelms our hearts with love and grace. We come today to both acknowledge and praise the One who loves us first and who will love us always.

The motivation for giving is love.

Years ago a widow gave her last two coins as an offering to God. Many still wonder what motivated such a sacrificial gift. Surely she did not expect to have her name engraved on a wall or have the street in front of the Temple named in her honor. She clearly did not anticipate her gift would be lifted up as an example for others to follow centuries later. So what motivated her gift? Maybe she was motivated by a heart-felt desire to declare her life had been blessed by a God who had always met her needs. Blessed by a God who loved her first and always. The widow’s sacrificial offering was the very best way she knew to express that she loved God first. She would love God always.

Too often the offering is viewed as a time to pay the bills.

Today, many see the offering as a way for the church to collect money to pay bills and fund ministries. Yet at its very core, the offering is so much more. The offering is the time we are invited to proclaim, through faith, that we love God first. We love Him more than our jobs, our assets, our possessions, our hobbies, and even our families.

The offering is the time we proclaim our trust in God, above all else, as we move into an unknown future.

It is in giving we stay connected to what is really important in life and not allow materialism to define who we are; and it is in giving that we gain a deeper understanding of the depth of sacrificial love God has for us. It is in giving that we grow in our own personal journey as a follower of Jesus. It is in giving we say to God and to the world those simple, yet life-defining words: “I love you first, and I will love you always.”

 

An Offering Talk connects the act of giving to a higher purpose.

The offering is not a time to pay bills as mentioned above. The act of giving is at the core of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Consider using this talk in your next worship service, or write your own. In either case, help your congregation see the higher purpose of giving in worship.

 

 To learn more about Dustin Cooper, please click here.

 

 

Giving365 is a free subscription from Horizons Stewardship including blogs, ebooks, webinars and more! Subscribers receive bi-monthly blogs including information on best practices, the latest trends in giving, and helpful tools to use immediately to grow giving. In addition, Horizons’ team of Ministry Strategists will share their insights and expertise through a series of webinars. To access more of Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.
Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

The blog was updated from the original published 2/20/2018.

 

 

“Giving” Has to Be One of Your Church’s Key Words

“Giving” as one of the Key Words in Core Strategy

Len Wilson, Horizons’ Communications Strategist, discusses the importance of including “giving” in the key words that define your core strategy. This next video in Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series will help your church grow in giving and move to the next level of generosity.

When “giving” is included in your core strategies, it conveys the importance of generosity as a part of the discipleship journey and what it means to be a devoted Christ follower.

 

 

If you missed other installments of the Giving Intelligence Series, then click the titles below. Also, sign up for Giving365 in order to access these and other helpful videos as well as more free stewardship resources including insightful eBooks!

Three Reasons Americans Choose to Give

The Power of Thanks: Four Practical Ministry Funding Impact Strategies

Who Should Have Access to the Giving Records

Three Pockets of Giving

Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign

 

To access more of Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.
Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign?

How do you know if you are ready to launch a capital campaign?  

 

Kristine Miller, CFRE, Horizons’ Senior Partner, discusses the five important steps you should take prior to launching a capital campaign to ensure successful results.

 

In this latest video from Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series, Kristine discusses five actions to take prior to launching a campaign for any project such as building, restoration, debt, missions, endowment, or any other capital needs. Has your church leadership wondered whether or not you’re ready to go? If so, this brief video will provide the insights and answers you are looking for.

 

If you missed other installments of the Giving Intelligence Series, click the titles below. Also, sign up for Giving365 in order to access these and other helpful videos as well as more free stewardship resources including insightful eBooks!

Three Reasons Americans Choose to Give

The Power of Thanks: Four Practical Ministry Funding Impact Strategies

Who Should Have Access to the Giving Records

Three Pockets of Giving

 

To access more of Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.
Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

OUR NETWORK

Follow Us

PO Box 627
Cabot, Arkansas 72023

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This