St. Germain Evangelical Free Church – St. Germain, Wisconsin

Campaign Chair Gary Hewitt talks with CIF about his church's experience working with CIF during its campaign and loan processes.

Tell us a little bit about St. Germain Evangelical Free Church.

We’re located in far north central Wisconsin; [we’ve] been very much of a growing church since 2010 when we had a new pastor, Josh Reece, come in and associate pastor, Dan Shields.

Growth within the church has been tremendous, and a couple of years ago we decided it was time to consider our facilities because we were quickly outgrowing them. One thing led us to Steve Johnson (CIF consultant), and we were happy with the success of the program that Steve led.

Talk about what specifically led you to CIF.

We had discussions within the elder board, talking about the need for a capital campaign:  We needed a new facility, but how are we going to do this? Do we have the wherewithal ourselves to really lead a successful campaign, or do we need to consider a consultant?

The more we talked about it, the more we felt like we were going to need some guidance from somebody who has been there and done that. I can’t remember who within the elder board got in contact with CIF, but we had reached out to Steve and we are very glad that we did that.

Did you build a new facility?

No, we built on to it. We kept our existing church and worship center, which we converted into classrooms and offices. We built on a large, new narthex and worship center and went from a capacity of about 220 to about 400.

Talk about how you worked with Steve and CIF to develop that campaign and how that worked when you implemented it.

I think the big thing is we had very general big-picture thoughts about what a capital campaign would look like. I personally had a little experience with one campaign from a prior church not in Wisconsin, but we concluded as a church and as an elder board that we needed a lot of assistance.

Where Steve was very instrumental for us is he came in and quickly cast a vision that we could clearly see, and he was just good at articulating exactly what that process was going to look like. He laid out a successful framework for the program and as he did, we thought this is the right guy and the right program, and we clearly needed guidance and leadership.

What was unique about the approach CIF and Steve took?

The one thing that was similar from the church I was a part of was the “advance commitment” program that Steve laid out. Identifying who might potentially be some of the key people within the church, either long-time members or those who we had a sense could give financially, and a game plan to reach out and to really make that the focus of the program. That really exceeded our expectations; we were beyond surprised at how successful that was and the momentum that created for our church. 

Going into that, there were a lot of people in the church saying, “How does a church with 120 members take on an expansion of this size?” Initially, we were thinking it would be about $1.2 million, but you know how those things go once you start putting pen to paper or looking at things, thinking, just dreaming what this church can look like or what should this church look like.

$1.2 million quickly became $2 million, so there were a lot of people in the church that rightfully thought, “My goodness, how do you build a $2 million addition for a church with 120 members?”

When we launched that advance commitment part of the campaign, we raised about 2/3s of the goal. People were just amazed. God can do big things, and He did big things but the program that Steve laid out, the success that advance commitment campaign was just huge.

Where are you at now?

We just had an incredibly successful campaign that just exceeded everyone’s expectations dramatically. We didn’t fully fund it through our effort with the campaign, and we knew we would need to do a little bit of borrowing too. It hasn’t been very much, but Steve was instrumental in getting us hooked up with the right people to get a loan set up with CIF.

We are just thrilled with our new home, thrilled with what God has provided.

Describe your experience working with CIF.

Oh boy! It was phenomenal. It exceeded expectations in every way; it provided us with not only a vision but with business framework that we needed.