By Chris Willard with Warren Bird
You’ve realized that having a generosity and stewardship ministry is a major need at your church, but where do you start?
When you view the landscape, and see all the great programs to help people master this vital area of discipleship, how do you start tackling this ministry giant?
My friend and colleague Chris Goulard, Pastor of Financial Ministries at Saddleback Church, offers some great principles for getting started:
Mobilize the Right Person to Lead
Most churches don’t have resources to hire a staff member dedicated solely to stewardship. Chris says don’t feel the pressure to start there, or to designate a current staff member as “the stewardship point person.”
An effective starting point is finding someone in the church who is passionate about generosity and then to enlist them as a volunteer leader to launch a couple of elements that fit your congregation.
“A teaching pastor or lead pastor doesn’t have time to lead specific ministries like this,” Chris says. “So cast a vision for it, empower somebody to do it and get out of the way and let them do it.”
Start Small, But Offer Multiple Options
When you see large church programs in this area, you might be tempted to try everything they do. No need to start that big, Chris says. “Take a couple things and start there,” he says.
It is important to create some variety in what you offer, so the program doesn’t go stale and so that it meets multiple needs. Perhaps start with someone who can do one-on-one financial coaching, and offer a class such as Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University.”
“You need more than one thing,” says Chris, who is also director of the Christian Stewardship Network. “No matter how great a program is, if you do it over and over again, you will lose momentum and interest over time.”
Some Content Ideas
We mentioned Financial Peace University as a great place to start. The teaching is on video, led by syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey. Pre-packaged resources will help your volunteer start the class.
Budgeting workshops are helpful for people who are struggling financially. Estate planning, retirement planning and investing are popular topics for people who are strong financially. Another great idea is a class that teaches parents how to teach their kids about money. “A lot of times the parents come to realize, ‘Maybe I need a little help with some of this, too,’ ” Chris says.
Multisite Campuses: Let Local Leaders Advise
When launching a stewardship ministry at a multisite church, Chris says one size definitely does not fit all. “We are trying to customize as much as possible and meet the needs of each campus pastor,” says Chris, who has four international campuses among Saddleback’s 13 sites.
Similar to Chris’ point earlier, a volunteer leader is vital to stewardship ministry with multisites, so they have keen insight into campus-specific needs.
Chris’ team tries to determine from the key multisite leaders: What are the needs at your campus around generosity/stewardship? What can you do with small groups? What kind of classes can we offer?
“The leaders feel like they are invested in what’s happening on their campus,” Chris says.
A multisite leader obviously won’t be able to handle everything the primary campus is doing, but they can pick and choose what they can implement from the main campus menu based on their resources.
Let Holistic Leadership Support Financial Stewardship
Chris reminds us that biblical stewardship is about more than money. Managing health, time and energy are all stewardship issues. At Saddleback, teaching pastors maintain the focus that almost any topic can have a generosity component.
“When you teach in a broad context about holistic stewardship, it actually makes it easier to talk about financial stewardship,” Chris says. “One of the best ways to keep talking about money from being awkward or seeming self-serving is to talk about stewardship in the context of other things.”
For example, if you are doing a marriage series, one point could be about money problems being a main cause for divorce and how to address those issues.
“You can tie stewardship into almost any other topic because it ties to so many areas of the church,” Chris says. “Leverage those opportunities when you’re talking about other things to come behind and do some more teaching on stewardship.”
Andy Williams contributed to the writing of this post.