This was the largest capital campaign in our church's history, so my wife and I were asked to meet face-to-face with key leaders. As Karen and I drove to Caribou Coffee to meet a twentysomething couple in our church, I thought, This meeting may not be easy. Mark and Debbie care so passionately about social justice, they moved into the lowest-income apartment complex in our area, and they have the bedbug bites to prove their commitment. Now we'd be asking them to give, when much of their gift would build a new sanctuary for our suburban congregation.
We warmed up by asking what Mark and Debbie thought about Sunday's sermon, when our senior pastor kicked off the public phase of the campaign with a passionate message about God's call to Abram to "Go."
Mark was direct: "C'mon, just because God told Abram to go to a new land, doesn't mean God is telling our church to go to a new building."
Hmmm. Raising money from Millennials is not going to be easy, I realized.
Modifying the traditional campaign
Church capital campaigns follow a pattern: private phase, public phase, advance- commitment night, commitment Sunday, and so on. While this traditional pattern has been tested over decades, it's important to remember it was not designed by Millennials (people born roughly between 1980 and 2000). In fact, many campaigns essentially write off Millennials and assume the heavy giving will be done by Builders or Baby Boomers. Not surprising, since Millennials have been criticized, as Drew Dyck wrote in Leadership Journal, as "Restless, entitled, bloated self-esteem, desultory work patterns, twitter-sized attention spans—pick your pejorative."