Church congregation growth may run on God's timing, not the economy's. The ability to deal with that growth, though, is more dependent on earthly funds, and the dollars in a church budget may be fewer when members are losing jobs and savings.

So what happens to church growth campaigns when the economy is going downhill?

Bill Walter is president of Church Growth Services, an organization that helps churches plan capital campaigns for building and growth projects. Walter has been in the business for over 30 years and offers a historical perspective on what seems to be the current recession and how it could affect churches.

How is the current economy affecting church capital campaigns?

Churches are becoming more cautious in terms of taking on major capital projects. The very name capital campaign suggests people typically are challenged to make extraordinary gifts to the campaign from capital-type assets. And with capital assets such as stocks, bonds, and real estate having gone down considerably, there's somewhat less likelihood that folks are able to commit at the level that perhaps they could have in more prosperous times.

Many times there are only a relatively small number of folks in the church who can make a gift out of assets, but there are many people in the church who can make gifts out of income.

This is where the individual or the family will pray about this and discuss it and say, "Over the next three years out of our wages and our earnings, we'll commit x dollars per week or per month." Those types of gifts are less at risk and still available, whereas the gifts of assets have been somewhat decimated by the recent market turmoil.

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