Kids not only make priceless contributions to church
capital campaigns-they also take away invaluable lessons about love
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "capital campaign"?
Most people envision lofty financial goals, urgent appeals, and
teams of adults working on long-term projects. But for a growing
number of churches, capital campaigns are no longer adult-only
Kids are joining church capital campaigns in creative, meaningful,
and fun ways. And while kids pitch in, they're learning about
stewardship along with their families-and seeing tangible benefits
for their children's programs.
Children's Ministry Magazine spoke with a variety of
churches around the country to discover innovative ways they're
getting kids involved in capital campaigns. The campaigns vary in
purpose, scope, and strategy, but everyone agrees that no matter
the size of the project, kids are eager-and important-contributors
when it comes to growing the body of Christ.
Where the Money Goes
"Many capital campaigns regularly include a children's ministry
component, even if the fund-raising isn't solely related to
children's ministry," says Kelly Kannwischer, communications
director with the fund-raising company Viscern. While many churches
undertake capital campaigns to add new children's education
buildings, she says, a growing trend is to raise money for mission
projects that help other children. Capital campaigns fall into one
of two basic types of projects-on-campus and outreach.
• On-Campus Projects-Church capital campaigns that focus on
children's ministry can raise money for everything from new
buildings and equipment to special, high-cost projects.
At Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, last spring's campaign
raised money for a kids camp and for a satellite campus. A recent
capital campaign at Zoe Christian Fellowship in Whittier,
California, earmarked money for a brand-new playground for kids and
a new parking lot.
• Outreach Projects-When Bayside Covenant Church in Granite Bay,
California, conducted a capital campaign, half of the money went
toward missions. The church built an AIDS clinic in Nigeria and a
homeless shelter in their county for women with children.
At Christ's Church of the Valley in Peoria, Arizona, finance
director Bob Wild says the church wanted "to cast a bigger vision"
than just constructing new children's and youth ministry buildings.
So the church tithed from the money raised, allocating funds toward
church planting and missions.
No matter how the money is earmarked, children's ministers agree
that the goal of capital campaigns is to ultimately build up a
"Campaigns should always take your ministry to the next level,"
says Sharlene Crutchfield, former children's ministry director at
Zoe Christian Fellowship.
All Kids On Board
Capital campaigns are a perfect opportunity for everyone in your
congregation to learn about stewardship, study God's Word, and
become prayer partners for your church and its ministries. Don't
leave the kids out.
"Any time we do a capital campaign, we always involve the
children," says Annette Spangler, Bayside's interim children's
pastor. "It's a great chance to educate children that not everyone
has what they have and to have compassion for the less
Steve Hutchins, children's pastor at Central Christian Church in
Mesa, Arizona, says the challenge during each campaign is to "make
this something the kids can understand and connect with."
Foundations for a successful, meaningful campaign with children
include classroom and family learning, as well as a solid grounding
in prayer. Use the following concepts to build kids' interest and
commitment to the project.
• Teaching Time-Many churches design campaign-themed Sunday school
curriculum that coincides with an adult sermon series. That way,
kids and their parents can learn stewardship principles at the same
Mitch Corn, elementary pastor at Fellowship Church, did a
four-week children's sermon series called Above and Beyond to teach
kids about sacrificial giving. He focused on our many God-given
blessings and discussed tithing in kid-friendly terms.
Some companies that churches hire to help with their capital
campaigns produce specialized children's curriculum. RSI, a
division of Viscern (www.viscern.com), produces a three-week series
of Bible lessons called Cruise on the Steward Ship. It's filled
with age-appropriate activities, stories, Scriptures, and prayers
that help kids learn about caring for God's resources. Most
churches modify these lessons to meet the particular needs of their
children's ministries, Kannwischer says.
• At-Home Discussions-It's crucial to partner with parents when
teaching kids about sacrificial giving, says Corn. Parents, after
all, are the ones who give children allowance and help set the tone
for their financial education and habits.
Families can discuss what they'll give as a whole for the
campaign, suggests Hutchins. "When campaigns are family-centered,"
he says, "it magnifies the potential for learning, giving, and
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California,
sponsored family nights during its campaign so children and parents
could learn about stewardship together.
During a campaign at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California,
families received special placemats that served as stewardship
discussion starters during meals.
At one church that RSI assisted, 30 families each wrote a devotion
with a Scripture, a message, a prayer, and an explanation of the
campaign. Then a volunteer compiled the devotions into a booklet
families could use at mealtimes, Kannwischer says.
• Prayer Emphasis-When Shadow Mountain raised money for new
children's buildings, the entire campaign was bathed in prayer.
Katie Williams, designer of children's outreach, says classes put
"prayer stakes" in the ground during groundbreaking. They also went
on prayer walks around the buildings during construction.