Brooklyn UMC has experienced a miracle! Three years ago when our leadership began talking about the need for a capital campaign to address some deferred maintenance issues and a nagging mortgage that had a choke-hold on our ministry budget, we thought $300,00 would be the most that we could hope to raise.
But then we heard about Horizons Stewardship. Today Brooklyn Church has pledges of more than twice that amount-$658,000! Not only will our deferred maintenance be taken care of, but our mortgage dollars will soon become ministry dollars. Today this 158-year old congregation that for twenty years had been in decline is seeing once more that God has opened up the future for them. that is God's miracle!
The renewing power our church has experienced through this capital campaign goes way beyond money though. Brooklyn Church is experiencing renewed vitality, a stronger sense of committed stewardship, and a deeper sense of spiritual connection. Our most recent Natural Church Development survey taken a few months after Celebration Sunday confirmed those outcomes as it revealed significant increases in every one of NCD's eight "church health" characteristics. Horizons Stewardship delivers!
John, I want to thank you again for your work guiding us through our capital campaign. Our entire leadership team really appreciated your expert coaching, your availability and your on-site presence as we moved through each step of the campaign process. Speaking on behalf of the leadership team, we felt your strong support every step of the way. You and Horizons have helped us all grow in our leadership capabilities.
God has worked a miracle in Brooklyn Church through this capital campaign. What an awesome thing to witness! Thank you, Horizons. Thank you, John.
Rev. Marilyn H. Evans
Brooklyn United Methodist Church
Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
Messiah United Methodist Church (has)... had the opportunity to work with John Laster since June 2009. I want to offer my evaluation of John's work with us.
First John led us through a vision discernment process that helped this congregation clarify our mission and align staffing and ministry areas to this mission. Through small group and large group presentations, John helped this congregation understand the changing realities in our community, our culture, and this congregation. His assessment and recommendations helped us establish a plan that has transformed ministry and engaged our congregation in the work of growing disciples. He also came alongside us during the economic downturn as we faced significant budgetary decisions and provided encouragement. Today, we are healthy financially, with a broader emphasis on stewardship.
Having completed the vision discernment process, we sought John's assistance in a feasibility study and a capital campaign. The feasibility study provided the confidence we needed to initiate a capital campaign for debt reduction. To our surprise, the campaign total even exceeded what the feasibility study suggested. I credit the success of the campaign to the way John was able to work alongside our lay leadership. Just as significant as the dollar amount is the new spirit that has taken hold of the congregation.
I found John to be honest and direct. I have valued the way we could discuss issues as they arose and strategize the best responses. He is a gifted listener with the ability to offer the most constructive message with tact. He established a rapport with our leadership in such a way that our staff or lay leadership will say, "What would John say about this?" People have come to trust his insight and wisdom. His first step has been to point us toward prayer and to seek God's direction in all things. As a result of the work John has done with us, we are a far better church, positioned for greater ministry.
Having conducted two prior capital campaigns before enlisting the services of Horizons Stewardship, I have had the opportunity to compare varying approaches to stewardship and capital campaigns. The ministry strategist makes all the difference in being able to execute an effective campaign. I wholly recommend John Laster to other churches.
Messiah United Methodist Church
As a pastor working on a vision and building campaign for the first time in his career I had a lot of apprehension and uncertainty about the process, and about making the campaign successful. Most importantly, I wanted to communicate to the church the vision God had given us and how the campaign would address that vision. Enter John Laster of Horizons Stewardship. John brought a great sense of stability to the process for myself and for the whole campaign steering team. It was obvious he had done this before, yet he helped us discover how to best do it for ourselves – no cookie cutter program forced upon us! Horizons helped us develop our process using their framework. The result was a commitment of pledges exceeding our expectations. We were greatly blessed by Horizons work, and the good news for us is that they continue to work with us even beyond the initial commitment. I thank God for Horizons and John Laster.
Pastor Mike Lindstrom
Asbury United Methodist Church
I first met John when I was selected to act as co-chair for our building stewardship campaign. At the time I had been a member of St. Andrews for less than a year, was honored to be asked to serve in this capacity, and worried how the “new, old guy” would lead an effort to raise funds in a congregation predominantly composed of young families with small children. John’s approach to this conundrum was very simple and effective; he explained the role and then asked me to “pray about it.” Within a week I contacted John and accepted the calling. This first encounter was indicative of John’s very effective methodology I observed many times throughout the campaign whereby everything is well organized, evaluated, and planned…then turned over to God to act as the catalyst for execution.
I have a significant business background and have created and led many high performance teams in my career. Based on this, you can image how I felt when I received; ‘another consultants binder on how to get the job done.’ Quickly I realized this was different and something special. I watched John masterfully guide our group to an understanding of the process, train us along the way, and at the appropriate time, step aside, allowing each member of the Steering Team to accomplish the goal in their own unique way. While he empowered each team member to lead their project segment, he was always available to provide coaching, counseling, and collaboration, assuring we were never alone. What a refreshing approach, a coach rather than a supervisor. His approach is personal, faith based, and effective.
In summary, I highly recommend John Laster. He provided my congregation with the tools, training, and consultation that resulted in our campaign exceeding a goal to raise $450,000…not bad for a young church with young families in a tough economy.
Stewardship Campaign Co-Chairman
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
Mt. Airy, Maryland
As Administrative Board Chairman of Centenary United Methodist, I am writing to express our appreciation and pleasure with John Laster and his handling of our recent capital campaign.
John showed patience, flexibility, and unfailing good humor throughout the process. What began as a campaign with a November deadline morphed into February, culminating in a warm, pleasant, well-attended Reunion Dinner. John was there, of course, impressing everyone with his knowledge and his genuine personality.
In addition, John brought key qualities that greatly contributed to the incredible success of the campaign.His ability to patiently listen to our discussions as we talked our way through to solutions, then to make insightful, intelligent comments, helped us plot a successful course through to a conclusion beyond what any of us dared to dream.
The light of God definitely shines through the words and actions of this caring, considerate man. He has represented your company well. Thank you for sending him to us.
Chairman, Administrative Board
Centenary United Methodist Church
Bonne Terre, Missouri
Dear Friends in Christ,
From the moment we interviewed consultants to conduct our capital campaign, everything about John Laster and the Horizons Stewardship process of fundraising intrigued us. Our last capital campaign was conducted over 20 years ago, and left a very negative impact on a segment of our congregation. We needed someone we could trust to conduct this campaign. John gained our respect quickly with his gentle confidence and timely wisdom. In his competent work, he never lost our confidence. We are absolutely certain that we will invite John to conduct our next campaign.
We chose to work with John because he seemed to be a person grounded in faith, and our impressions were correct. John encouraged a habit of prayerful discernment as he walked with me to invite people into leadership positions within the campaign. The tasks of the campaign were divided over a number of leaders, creating a broad base of people intimately involved in the exciting work of carrying the vision and raising funds to support that vision. The process that John led us through was well laid out. Each leader received a comprehensive guidebook that enabled them to track their own work and the overall project’s progress. With the leaders of our campaign, John struck a beautiful balance between being available to them individually for guidance and direction, and allowing the leader’s creativity and expertise to shine through their work. Perhaps the most telling aspect of our success in working with John and the Horizons Stewardship process was the fact that every one of the leaders felt the experience was positive enough that they would serve in such a role again.
John was honest with us in every aspect of the project, even when he knew it was not what we wanted to hear. Every time John challenged our work, it made our end product better. The campaign was a huge success, not only as we blew past our stretch goal to raise $506,000, but also in building congregational confidence in its own ability to carry out the mission that God had given us. A major concern before beginning the campaign was finding enough people willing to lead and participate. The Horizons process helped us succeed in calling people forth according to their gifts and skills, training them to accomplish the task at hand, and preparing them for the job by aiding them in understanding the overall vision for the campaign and the church.
While any campaign is a tremendous amount of work for the pastor of a church, the process of involving the congregation to the degree that Horizons’ does, as well as the way in which people are given what they need to carry out that work, made my tasks much more manageable. I was able to focus on casting a vision and carrying that vision forward. John offered his personal coaching skills through this process and every time he was in town worked consistently with me on other challenges facing the church. John made himself readily available for me whenever questions or difficulties arose, even those peripherally related to the campaign. With John physically present to us about every 2 weeks, and readily available by phone and email, there was never a time I felt like I was alone in this process. John supported me in the capital campaign, challenged me to think more concretely about the mission and vision, and gave me timely words of wisdom and grace as the need arose. By the end of the campaign, John became one of those voices of wisdom that will continue to echo in my head as decisions need to be made.
I highly recommend Horizons Stewardship as a company and John Laster, their consultant, in particular. From the feasibility study, to calling forth leaders, to securing upfront gifts from major donors, to celebrating the results of the campaign, the process worked perfectly. John conducted all his work from a place of faith, grounded in prayer, with a deep passion to see Homestead Church succeed in its mission for the sake of the Kingdom. Homestead Church could not have been more blessed by God than to work with John Laster and Horizons Stewardship.
In the peace of Christ,
Rev. Becky Jo Thilges, Lead Pastor
Homestead United Methodist Church