Recently, I was at a conference in which I heard multiple references stating, “Every church needs a Stewardship Pastor.” This got me thinking about how every church could actually accomplish such a goal. In terms of return on investment, this is one ministry that a proper emphasis actually should easily pay for itself and then some. But, how does a church even get started when money can be so tight and models are so few? Well, here is a typical path churches take, along with some suggested steps to help you get there.
For starters, most churches do not have a dedicated stewardship ministry. A finance department is not a stewardship ministry, nor is a training class on personal money management, and a three year capital campaign certainly is not a stewardship ministry. There are actually very few churches that have a dedicated stewardship ministry which means everyone is simply making it up as they go along. However, staffing a stewardship ministry has developed a certain pattern that many churches are following. Here are the steps from volunteer to full time paid staff.
- Volunteer Teacher – A stewardship department often begins with one person who is passionate about personal finances. They can have a finance, accounting, or banking background, but that is not required. However, they have usually been highly impacted by one of the leading stewardship organizations like Ron Blue Institute, Crown Financial Ministries, or Ramsey Solutions. They are dedicated to their content, approach, and are eager to lead a training class. So it begins with one leader and one class. (A multi-staff church may actually approach a staff member to catalyze momentum in this area if needed.)
- Volunteer Team Leader – This class leader does so repeatedly for several semesters. They begin to have a following in the church doing private financial counseling at the recommendation of the staff and their classes are consistently attended. They have organized a team of their most dedicated students and have begun to expand their offerings. Then, the tension begins to grow because more time is needed, and a variety of class opportunities for future training topics arise. The pastor recognizes the positive impact. He has also heard about other churches having a stewardship ministry. It is obvious that the opportunity is outgrowing a volunteer’s time commitment and so a next step is approved.
- Part-Time Ministry Leader – Now the church has a part time ministry leader, which is nice, but only so much growth is possible with this situation. So, everyone knows the goal is to build the ministry to a full-time position. With the new found extra time of a part time staffer the ministry begins to take some shape. There are new financial small groups addressing multiple topics like, finances for the newly weds, along with an organized financial counseling ministry. Teachers are being developed. A yearly weekend conference is now offered and the church is making more and more use of this developing department.
- Full-Time Department Leader – It is time to bring the ministry to full maturity. There is a dream to expand the stewardship focus to encompass generosity. The generosity ministry can include items like funding the major initiatives of a vision or handling more complex issues like estate planning. The benevolence and age-graded ministries also become more connected. Specialized curriculum is deployed for groups like engaged couples and graduating high schoolers. There may even be a job transition ministry in the future. Money touches every life along with every department so integration across all ministries toward the full maturity of a generous culture is now within sight.
So, here are some practical next steps for your church to develop a thriving stewardship ministry within 3 years.
- Year One: Stewardship Pastors are most often grown from within the church. Begin with a passionate volunteer. Start small, with just one personal money management class that is offered every semester. Tell stories and create opportunity for church-wide testimonies to begin to show the difference this ministry can make in a life.
- Year Two: Insure that the pastor is growing in his commitment to a stewardship ministry. Often times, a pastor will be glad someone else is handling the money conversation and seeks to maintain a distance. The more supportive and visionary the senior pastor, the better! Come alongside of the teacher to begin to develop a ministry team and year long calendar for year two. Expand the class offerings and begin to mark success. Help everyone see the positive impact upon a life and church as a whole. Seek a strong integration with the small groups ministry and even a yearly teaching series from the stage.
- Year Three: Hire a part time coordinator with the intent of developing the ministry to full maturity. Discern the different areas where stewardship principles need to be lived out across the church. Here are a few distinctions and groups needing to come alongside this growing department. The church staff should come into agreement regarding what the Bible says related to God’s view of money. This should form a teaching focus for all ministries. Church leadership groups like Finance Team, Deacons, Trustees, etc. need to be 100% on board and supportive with all developments. Finally, the church should become accustomed to a theme of generosity as a commonly enjoyed conversation. Digital giving should be growing toward 50% of receipts and beyond. Yearly sermon series and special offerings dedicated to the vision should be expected. A growing surplus of revenue is enjoyed.
So I agree, every church should have a passionate stewardship champion inspired by a goal to generously resource the vision of the church forward. However, for this ministry to go well, it must be prioritized by a senior pastor and integrated with all ministry leaders. If you are in the market for generosity training and stewardship resources, check us out at www.lifeway.com/generosity. We are training a new wave a stewardship leaders across the country.