July 23, 2013


“When renovating a kitchen, don`t forget who will use it!”

In my last blog, I talked about how the discernment phase of a capital campaign seeks to answer the question of what God is calling a parish to do. We use this phase to create a solid foundation for any capital campaign. We believe the Holy Spirit often speaks through the collective body of parishioners and it's important to create a process where all are invited to speak and will be heard.

But, why you may ask, is this important? Can`t the rector just provide a vision for all to join in?
There was once a parish that was seeking to do a kitchen renovation. They had opted to engage in the discernment phase before engaging the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) to assist them with their campaign. During that time the rector and senior warden spent hours looking at new lay outs for the kitchen, bidding out improvements with subcontractors, and asking potential major donors if they would be willing to give.

What they neglected to do was engage the entire parish in a listening process and, specifically, to ask the Episcopal Church Women (who were the ones who primarily used the kitchen) what they thought of the idea.

This was a crucial mistake. 

The Episcopal Church Women were major opinion makers in their parish. Without their support for the proposed plans, the leadership found it very difficult to raise funds. In fact, once the congregation hired ECF, we ended up scrapping the plan and starting the process all over in order to include everyone. 

During the discernment phase, everyone may not have the same ideas. In fact, some folks may throw some crazy ideas into the mix (doughnut and coffee Eucharist?!). Yet, everyone needs to be invited into the process and to be heard.