Say Yes(!) To The Next Generation

Steve Williams Northpointe Church

Capital campaigns are nothing new to Steve Williams, Senior Pastor at NorthPointe Community Church in Fresno, Calif.

Even so, engaging professional expertise has been a great asset in helping this church meet — and exceed — its ambitious $5-million goal to fund a new children’s facility.

The children’s welcome center at NorthPointe Community Church

In 1980, Steve Williams joined his childhood friend, Rick Warren, on staff at Saddleback Church, serving as associate pastor. He was one of the church’s first full-time staff members.

In 1988, Williams founded NorthPointe Community Church.

For more than two decades, NorthPointe experienced consistent growth requiring four capital campaigns which were led internally by the church staff. The campaigns helped fund the purchase of land , developing the property, and the construction of two worship centers.

“During that time, I had become convinced we would be better off executing the campaigns ourselves,” Williams says.

Then, along comes a big, big vision …

The most recent vision, however — a state-of-the-art children’s facility — represented something significantly bigger than anything their church had pursued before.

“Our church had grown to more than 2,000 each weekend, and our kids had been in pretty substandard buildings all these years,” Williams recalls. “We needed to rectify that.”

With a price tag of $5 million, the new project would cost nearly three times the largest amount the church had previously raised on its own ($1.7 million). “And our other campaigns had always fallen short of whatever goal we needed to raise,” Williams adds. “We didn’t reach our goal in pledges.”

Church leadership decided not to take chances this time; they needed help. Williams found the right partner in Paul Gage, president and founder of The Gage Group.

Vision meets execution

The children’s facility at NorthPointe

Williams became familiar of Gage from other leading pastors and he was also familiar with Paul’s father, Freddie Gage, a well-known evangelist. “When it came to doing this [campaign], we just felt it would be wise to have a professional with his experience

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and track record,” Williams says.

Paul’s expertise — coupled with Williams’ own steadfast leadership — laid a solid foundation for the pursuit of a very ambitious giving goal. They dubbed the campaign “Say Yes To The Next Generation.”

One key component to the “Say Yes” campaign’s success was Williams’ own steadfastness. Having founded NorthPointe in 1988, church members knew he was in it for the long haul.

Above and beyond expectations

To date, NorthPointe has exceeded its $5-million campaign goal by nearly $1 million — and there are still months to go before it wraps up.

All this is an amazing outcome on its own; it’s even more astounding considering the campaign faced an unprecedented challenge along the way. One year into the three-year campaign, the children’s pastor, Eddie Crain, suffered a heart attack and passed away.

On staff for 13 years, Crain had built an incredible, purpose-driven children’s ministry from the ground up.

Yet, instead of derailing a promising campaign, Williams says this tragedy reinforced NorthPointe’s commitment to making the children’s facility a reality. “I think people said, ‘I’m going to stick with this because my church needs me right now more than ever,’” he explains.

This is a testament to the power of the campaign’s vision and compelling message. Williams says. “We were very clear in the beginning with our message that no one would be put under specific pressure. That’s just the way we operate”.

Another critical piece, Williams says, is Gage’s “faith combined with realism.”

“Paul is absolutely Christ-centered and biblical in his approach,” he explains. “He can think big — and help you think big — but he doesn’t hype stuff. He’s a realist.”
And in NorthPointe’s case, that reality exceeded expectations. Williams enthusiastically is spreading the word.

“For what it’s worth, I send everybody who comes to me wanting to do a campaign to Paul Gage,” he says. “I just really appreciate his willingness to serve the Church the way he does. Absolutely.”

Paul Gage headshotPaul Gage is President and Founder of The Gage Group in Colleyville, TX.  He has personally provided consulting for 500+ successful capital campaigns, assisting pastors and church members to raise in excess of $1 billion.


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