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By Grace Through Faith for Service: A Capital Campaign Success Story

September 4, 2018 | Posted by Demian Farnworth

The last 40 years have been good to Resurrection Lutheran Church, Cary, N.C. What started as a mission plant wedged into rented space has grown into a bustling congregation of 1,500 baptized members. And the place is busy seven days a week. 

On Sundays there are four services in three different styles. Throughout the school year, children stream through the doors to fill the church’s preschool, elementary and middle school classrooms. The church is also helping plant three other churches and on any given night you’ll find various groups–like the Cub Scouts or blind ministry–meeting in the family center.

Resurrection, however, refuses to rest on past success. On the eve of their 40th anniversary, the church is preparing for the next four decades with their capital campaign, The Next 40. From day one, Lutheran Church Extension Fund has shared Resurrection’s vision, assisting through their unique campaign process, Immeasurably More.

Giving Sacrificially

For Rev. Mark Drengler, senior pastor of Resurrection, running a capital campaign had been on his mind for a few years. “I wanted us to get ready for telling the next generation the saving works of the Lord.” However, there were some concerns.

Capital campaigns are normally designed to raise money for a building. The Next 40 had a different reason for raising money. Actually, it had four pillars that became the focus of the giving theme:

  • Reduce debt for future ministry ($700,000)
  • Plan for facility improvements ($160,000)
  • Add 10% of gifts for missions ($170,000)
  • Grow the education endowment fund ($600,000)

Drengler said he wasn’t sure “the congregation would embrace raising money to reduce debt and build an educational endowment.” He was shocked by the results. Just four weeks after their Commitment Sunday, Resurrection met their goal of $1.7 million committed-and then some.

Members of Resurrection Lutheran Church’s capital campaign team.


“The campaign made me proud to be a member of the Resurrection family as so many members stepped up to give sacrificially of their time, talent and treasure,” said Deb Oesterling, church member and director of prayer for The Next 40 campaign.

A mission of service and outreach

Linda Crandall, campaign communications director, said, “The experience was very rewarding and I worked with a lot of different people.” Crandall is a 25-year marketing professional. About the results, she said, “I’ve never seen anything this dramatic, this quickly.”

The culture of the church has a lot to do with what seemed like a miracle campaign. It isn’t surprising considering the church’s mission statement summary: “By Grace Through Faith For Service.”

“the campaign,” explained Rev. Dr. Preston Wagner, retired LCMS pastor and part-time Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) Ministry Support consultant, “was about reminding the church of its rich missional history, growth and resource,” which includes the school and Family Life Center. “The focus is on reaching the next generation.”

For longtime member and campaign co-director Nick Cassimatis, the campaign was personal. “My daughter was baptized and confirmed at [Resurrection]. My wife and I had our 10-year anniversary here. We will have our 25th anniversary here as well.”

Hinder future growth and health

Given that this was a non-traditional campaign, there were a lot of concerns. The team felt LCEF’s Ministry Support structure for handling capital campaigns–Immeasurably More–addressed the concerns.

Cassimatis said, “The way the whole campaign was built from ‘Imagine’ through ‘Inform’ phases and peaking with the ‘Inspire’ phase made a lot of sense to the congregation. The challenge will be to continue that in the Impact phase, and I believe we can with the way the campaign is organized.”

Did Resurrection have to do this campaign? Campaign co-director, James Robin Harrell said, “Through debt-reduction, the church will be able to financially support additional future missions. … Through the school endowment, many families who may not have been able to attend a Christian-based experience will be able to do so.”

One looming worry was the church’s aging industrial-sized HVAC units. According to Crandall, it costs about $25,000 to replace just one of the larger AC units, and there are 18 in various sizes. The biggest concern was that not to prepare for the future, as Drengler said, “would hinder the future growth and health.”

“The first church I remember attending [had] a capital campaign and built a nice building, then subsequently [failed] (after about 40 years) and [was] sold due to resting on the success of the building and not continuing to focus on God’s plan and think about The Next 40,” said Harrell.

The reminder–that the focus should always be on God and God’s future work–provided special meaning of ‘Next 40’ for me,” Harrell said.

Even as Resurrection celebrates the past, their focus is clearly on building a sustainable ministry so that future generations will know the love and life that is found in our Savior, Jesus Christ.  


Demian Farnworth
Senior Content Writer for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.