I was in Rockford, Michigan the other day and bumped into an old friend I hadn’t seen in some time. As we caught up, he mentioned that his family recently joined Bridgeway Community Church just a few miles away. He talked about the new church, its location on the Rogue River and how it had doubled in size since it opened a few years ago. My friend was clearly excited about his new faith community!
We talked for a few more moments and then went our separate ways.
As I walked away, I smiled. What I didn’t mention to my friend was that several years ago, I was hired to help Bridgeway manage the campaign that helped fund their move from temporary facilities to an old abandoned industrial building along the river. At the time, Lead Pastor, Ron Aulbach was leading a small but growing congregation. He and a few leaders in the church had settled on the idea of renovating the old industrial facility to plant new life into an aging building.
I’m sure many thought he was crazy. After all, the paper plant had been abandoned for years and the property was overgrown and tired. When we began working together, I heard as much during the feasibility study interviews…but there was also some surprising support for the concept. To make a long story short, a campaign was initiated, leadership was recruited, and funds were raised. There were bumps along the way, as there always are, but today, Bridgeway sits in a beautiful building along the river. The development of the old property has also helped spur additional development in the region. In effect, Ron’s vision has come true. Not only did he get a permanent home for his congregation, but he has helped encourage new life along the river.
I want to be clear that I was a very small part of this success story. Ron’s leadership, his church volunteers, and years of patience led to this achievement. But, as I walked away from my conversation, I was happy to know that I was a small part of the puzzle that has now led to a growing faith community in Rockford. How many baptisms, marriages, and friendships will flourish in this new spot? It’s impossible to know…but much good will come from this church.
I share this because I know that many fundraising professionals and volunteer leaders can get easily discouraged when they don’t see immediate or tangible successes. My message to you: press on. Be like Pastor Ron. Have a vision. Nurture your volunteers. Commit to best practices around fundraising and watch your seed corn grow to a full harvest. Wherever you are, whatever your mission, move forward with faith.