It’s easy to think of a capital campaign in negative terms. It may seem like yet another request for money, a herculean effort to tax our already busy calendars, or — because it isn’t a regular part of our giving — simply an add-on expense. But these perspectives miss the mark when we consider a capital campaign as another expression of Christian stewardship.
As King David exclaimed, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Sam 24:24). Scripture is replete with the call to offer God that which is dear to us. The unblemished lamb is to be offered, not the limping lamb in the back of the herd. The first fruits are offered to God, not the leftovers after our needs are satisfied. To make a sacrificial offering, in other words, is to reach into our need and take the risk of giving to a God who has given everything to us.
A capital campaign is about stewarding our resources day-to-day, week-to-week, year-to-year, and yes … decade-to-decade. Because our ancestors in the faith were stewards of their resources, we are the beneficiaries. How can we see our participation in a capital campaign in any way other than as stewards of our resources today for the spiritual and material benefit of those tomorrow? “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pt 4:10).
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2002 letter, “Stewardship, A Disciple’s Response,” stewardship “is an expression of discipleship, with the power to change how we understand and live out our lives.” The pastoral letter says that “a Christian Steward is one who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cherishes and tends them in a responsible and accountable manner, shares them in justice and love with others and returns them with increase to the Lord.”
The bishops emphasize that stewardship is begun in conversion, a commitment that “is expressed not in a single action, nor even in a number of actions over a period of time, but in an entire way of life.” Stewardship is not about one project, one volunteer opportunity, or one collection, but all these and more. The traditional understanding of stewardship as a gift of time, talent, and treasure (the three T’s) is helpful but can also be confusing. If we share our time, are we not also sharing our talent and vice versa? And what about our treasure? Do we still need to share our treasure if we’re sharing time and talent? Surely those are worth some amount of treasure?
Maybe a fresh way to think about stewardship, and our role in a capital campaign, is to move from nouns to verbs: giving, praying and serving (or GPS for short). We all know what a GPS is these days, it’s something that helps us “find our way.” Stewardship GPS, then, shifts the focus from what we’re giving to how we’re giving; from that which is sacrificed to our identity as stewards living out a converted way of life. Stewardship GPS guides us to a deeper experience of faith by living a deeper life of giving, praying and serving. Not one or two of them, but all three together. Note too that “praying” is in the center of the three actions because it’s at the center of all we do, including in a capital campaign.
A capital campaign is another opportunity for the Christian steward to give, pray and serve, as a joyful and positive expression of discipleship. From this perspective, a community of stewards conducting a campaign is sure to reach its financial goal, but even more, a community of GPS stewardship will help find its way to a deep experience of faith. The capital campaign, then, may be work but it won’t be a burden. Rather, it becomes yet another joyful expression of a converted way of life.
If you have questions about stewardship or your organization is considering a planning study or capital campaign, we’d love the chance to work with you. Contact the Steier Group today. Our team of enthusiastic, talented and energetic campaign managers is ready to help your organization take the next step.VIEW ALL STEIER TIPS POSTS