The stewardship ministry at Gateway Church, in Dallas, TX, serves more than 3,500 people each year with over 170 stewardship classes. Gunnar Johnson leads the charge and is often asked, “What does it take to develop and maintain a successful stewardship ministry?”
Gunnar believes it’s an easy ministry to run as long as you start with a little bit of guidance on the front end. In hopes of helping other churches create thriving stewardship ministries, Gunnar shares five steps for success:
1. Determine Vision
The vision of the stewardship ministry must tie into the church’s other ministries from the get-go. That means the senior pastor and other key leaders should be involved in the discussion. In Gunnar’s experience, his pastor had a vision for the people of Gateway Church—that they would be good stewards and radical givers. Around the same time, God spoke to Gunnar about building a comprehensive stewardship ministry. Their joint vision was birthed out of 1 Timothy 6:17–19.
These verses lay out exactly what good stewardship looks like and summed up Gateway’s vision for their congregation: People would be generous, have margin, and put their faith and hope in God. They would not be materialistic. Instead, they would build up their lives in contentment and serve the kingdom.
“I think each church has its own unique vision,” Gunnar said. “There’s not a single mission statement for every church. The leaders of the church have to get together and decide: How are we going to teach on money? They have to determine it from the head. It’s not about starting a class because we should or because giving is down.”
2. Create a Mission
Gunnar says mission and vision are easily confused. When creating a mission, ask yourselves: “Why are we here? What are we doing? What is our purpose?”
Gateway sees their mission as the Great Commission.
“We are going to launch these people out to do what God wants them to do. Our mission isn’t just to teach them biblical principles, it’s to get them active in their faith,” said Gunnar. “At the end of all of our lives, each one of us has a date with Christ. I want every person in our church to hear, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ because they have been faithful with their time, talent, treasure.”
3. Set Objectives
Once you’ve established your vision and mission, it’s time to set your objectives. Objectives need to be meaningful, measurable and manageable.
Gateway has five straightforward stewardship objectives:
4. Build a Strategy
This is when you decide how, when and where you will meet your objectives. Now is the time to talk about available curriculum programs and how they might fit in to your church.
Gateway categorizes people as struggling, stable, solid or surplus and ministers to each of those groups in different ways. For the struggling, it’s a compassionate yet accountable process of benevolence. For the stable and solid, they offer all kinds of classes with practical application. Those with surplus are treated differently, but not better, because they have wealth. They experience a time-intensive, slow-going process that helps them become good managers of their wealth.
You might also consider the various ages of your congregation to see if programs for children and teens would also benefit your overall strategy.
5. Lay Out a Plan
Long before Gateway offers an FPU course, Gunnar knows how many memberships he needs to buy, has the room secured, a team to run it, and registration set up. He does this for each area of their strategy. It’s a calendar-heavy step, with a lot of work required based on their overarching visions and goals. But it’s so worth it!
By taking the time to walk through these five steps, working with other church ministries, and maintaining support from your senior pastor and other key leaders, you’ll invite a spirit of unity. And where there is unity, there is blessing!