Sacred Space Reimagined: You Sold Your Property for $15 Million, Why Do a Capital Campaign?

Five years after they began to dream and plan, SouthPark Church, located in South Charlotte, NC, finally launched the Love SouthPark Initiative in 2018. This initiative was based around creating a mixed-use development to reach as many people for Jesus as possible in SouthPark and beyond. In the old setup, only around 700 people were on the property each week, with fewer than 300 of those attending a Sunday worship service. In the new model, the church anticipates reaching over 12,000 new people on the property each week.

This plan seemed unlike anything ever seen before. SouthPark Church was creating a model of ministry that would utilize their current resource of land in a whole new way.

SouthPark could have sold the valuable land and built a huge new church somewhere else. But that would have required them to leave the very community God continues to call them to. In order to be stewards of what God had given them, they needed to intentionally build in a way that would allow them to remain on the property. And this would not be an easy task.

After five long years of planning and delays, the dream of creating a mixed-use development on their property began coming to fruition. This dream would require them to do things they had never done before, and the cost was high.

At first, many in the church wondered why they would still need to have a capital campaign. They just sold a majority of their property for a total of $15 million dollars. “Can’t we build something with that?”

Yes, but with five years of inflation since the project started including new tariffs on steel, the city of Charlotte saw an 8% increase across the board in construction costs alone between 2018 and 2019. Other uncontrollable factors came into play and the church needed to build taller buildings than initially planned and create a capital reserve fund as well.

Therefore, even with the selling of their property at a value of $2.5 million per acre, and receiving approximately $6 million worth of site work, parking and rezoning costs covered by their development partner, Childress Klein Properties, there was still a need to cover the costs of the one of a kind project.

Combined, the project totaled around $23.5 million.

The difference between the sale of the property and the total project costs was $1.65 million.  $1.65 million for a church of 250 active families to raise.

$1.65 million dollars. 250 families. You do the math.

So how did they approach the campaign?

“We are relaunching our church and moving forward in this building project because we love our community of SouthPark. People in our neighborhood need Jesus and will continue to miss out on life to the full without Him. The stakes are high! The primary goal of the capital campaign was 100% participation from every family that calls SouthPark Church their home,” said Senior Pastor Kyle Thompson.

The approach of the campaign was much more than raising the money. Even if a stranger walked in and gave a $1.65 million check, the church would still have a campaign. Sure, they might have figured out a way to get the building without a campaign but a campaign allows the families in the church to spiritually and financially invest in the project.  Everyone desires to be a part of something bigger than they are individually and financial investment instills ownership.

Here’s how they did it:

First, they prioritized their communication to be clear, concise and consistent. They had several town-hall style events which were open to everyone.  The events included a presentation from Lead Pastor Kyle Thompson and an extensive Q&A session.

Secondly, the leadership and staff were encouraged to make their commitments first.  This is inspired by 1 Chronicles 29, when King David and the leaders gave freely and wholeheartedly to the building of the temple before anyone else was asked to give. SouthPark announced the leadership totals prior to Commitment Sunday. Several members shared that hearing what their leaders shared and were sacrificing for the vision of Love SouthPark inspired them to give in a similar fashion.

Lastly, the church celebrated. Not only did they celebrate and honor the past, but they celebrated the current vision God was calling them to fulfill. This was especially seen on their Commitment Sunday, where over 150 families came forward to pray and turn in their cards together.

Having a capital campaign at SouthPark Church wasn’t just about the people in the church seeing a need and then providing a monetary solution. It was about reminding everyone that we give because all of what we have belongs to God; that we give because of the life-giving power of the Gospel and coming together to see that power move in their community.

We experience joy like no other when we join God in the advance of the Kingdom that changes lives forever.

Commitment Sunday was a special day. Celebration Sunday was even more powerful and was a day the church would never forget. On Celebration Sunday SouthPark Church announced they had received commitments totaling over $1.9 million for the following two years to be given over and above regular tithes and offerings!  Pretty amazing stuff!

Having a capital campaign allowed each of the families at SouthPark Church to have a conversation, to pray about their commitment, make a decision about how they wanted to give sacrificially, and experience an irreplaceable joy.

It started out as a way to pay for a God-sized project. It ended as evidence of a God-sized movement.

By: Alan Wildes, Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis