A Capital Campaign of Prayer

Over many years of work, I have sat and discussed capital campaigns with multitudes of pastors and other congregational leaders. These conversations carry a similar outline. We usually talk about the need for organization and the best organizational strategy to implement. We talk about the timeframe it will take to prepare, launch, manage, and complete such an endeavor. I get inquiries of time commitment and how many church congregants will need to be involved to help it all come together.

Recently, prayer has been an emerging topic in these conversations. I have never ignored the topic of prayer in these conversations and neither have church leaders. Prayer is a discipline for all seasons of life, and particularly of church community life. We all know that. But, I am hearing more and more church leaders, from more denominations than just one, share how they are yearning for prayer to be at the heart of a significant financial campaign. Prayer, not only as what is to be done before and during the project, but a new surge of congregational prayerfulness in spite of the project. They are expressing a desire for an increase in congregational prayer, and for a financial giving increase to be a secondary priority.

What they are hoping for is simple enough, but not too simple to organize or make happen. In fact, it is something only the Holy Trinity can get done in people. Some would call it an act of revival. Another chosen descriptive might be a movement; possibly some would say these things rarely happen and should not be expected. But those who are yearning, those who are sharing this hope with me, are looking out into their congregations and believing this kind of thing can be, and needs to be.

This hoped-for happening is prayer, and a whole lot of it. Add the new building or a short list of capital projects and you discover the two core desired outcomes for congregational capital projects:

  1. A call to prayer
  2. A call to live generously and fund the capital initiatives

A capital campaign of prayer. Can church communities capture this illumination for more prayer and blend it with the phases of a capital campaign? Can all of this—this enormous list of campaign to-do’s and congregational invites and messaging all get done as more time is being given to strategically asking the congregation to pray?

Yes, but only if it is the initiative of God. And only if leaders respond to God’s initiative and intentionally make it a priority.

For the leadership drawn to the idea of a capital project and a prayer initiative, here are some steps of intentionality to begin the path:

  1. Church leaders, pastors and elders, will need to lead the way and practice what it is hoped others will practice. This group will need to gather and collectively create a group prayer plan. When will you collectively pray? For how long? What will you use as a guide for your prayer?
  2. During the campaign, urge your congregation to pray. Do it not once, but repeatedly.   How can you use the platform of the campaign, and the asks, to teach them to pray? How can you remind them that prayer is for all seasons of life and needs to be a core priority of our discipleship?
  3. Those who write extensively on prayer and lead prayer retreats, often encourage praying people to practice “watching”. The encouragement is to keep a journal and track what you are “asking” God for in prayer, the cares you are referencing, and the words and messages you hear in your prayerful silence. After months of journaling, the praying will look back (watch) for the ways God may have answered certain prayers. I would encourage church leaders to practice “watching” and encourage congregants to do so as well.

A capital campaign of prayer. So let it be!

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