The Gospel Impact and Stewardship Tool ("GIST") was created to address congregational stewardship deficits from a spiritual and physical perspective, with a shared-stewardship imperative for all leaders and members of a congregation. The GISTMinistry Mapping tool provides a much-needed visual picture of how individual ministries are interconnected. The GISTMinistry Mapping process will help promote new learning and improve strategic decision-making so that a congregation may better partner in the mission of God to make disciples and to seek and save the lost. Through a "dual bottom line" (Gospel impact and financial data) the GISTMinistry Mapping tool can help align core ministry efforts for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Step One: Identify Core Ministries to Map

Every congregation has a strategic ministry model that can be visually mapped. Each has a set of core activities it executes, and strategies for obtaining the necessary funds. Often, such activities and funding strategies are not well articulated. The first step in making the ministry model explicit is identifying the church's core ministries and mapping their relative impact, as perceived by congregational members and leaders, on promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A visual picture of each ministry in relationship to one another on a single map will help leaders, and the congregation, see each ministry together as a whole. Ministry mapping will allow leaders and members to make better stewardship decisions according to viewing ministry through congregational stewardship criteria, such as alignment with core mission, excellence in execution, leverage, and community building.


Step Two: Select Gospel Impact Criteria to Assess

Four Samples of Gospel Impact Criteria


Alignment with Core Mission 

Over time, ministries may drift in core mission alignment. Hence, at any given time, some ministries are more aligned than others in Gospel impact. Most (or all) current ministries have some level of impact on individual participants, but there is room for discussion about whether these ministries are ever increasing (Eph. 4:12–13) in alignment with the congregation’s core mission to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In ministry, the pastor, principal, and lay-leaders may all be quite gifted, but may work out of alignment with one another. Through alignment, a team becomes focused, “individuals’ energies harmonize,” and “there is less wasted energy.”[1] These result from a “commonality of purpose, a shared vision, and understanding of how to complement one another’s efforts.”[2] In a congregation, and Church body, the many members have complementary roles as part of the one body of Christ and a commonality of purpose toward the shared Missio Dei.[3]

Excellence in Execution

Often ministry programs will give more explicit attention to planning than to execution. The criterion of excellence is a way of getting at execution. Is this ministry program something that the church-school offers in an outstanding, superior way? Do we execute this ministry program competently, or do we execute it amazingly well? The following are sources of information related to the criterion of excellence: Program evaluation data; Feedback from customers, patrons, and clients; and Direct observation; Staff performance evaluations; and Staff turnover and exit interviews. Excellence in execution is a desirable trait in ministry, as King Solomon advises, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).


Ministry programs, of course, do not exist in isolation. One element of impact is leverage, the degree to which a ministry program increases the impact of other ministry programs. A ministry may score high on the criterion of leverage because it creates opportunity for evangelism, member and visitor assimilation, youth engagement, volunteer participation, worship attendance or increased offerings.

Senge argues for “leverage” as a strategic use of resources. He asserts, “The bottom line of systems thinking is leverage – seeing where actions and changes in structures can lead to significant, enduring improvements.”[4] The leverage occurs when ‘significant’ and ‘enduring improvements’ are achieved. Senge further maintains, “the best results come not from large-scale efforts but from small well-focused actions.”[5] Too much effort is given to those matters which are of little significance in the grand scheme of things and consequently “we create our own market limits.”[6] The organization’s inclination is to focus on “low-leverage changes…on symptoms where the stress is greatest.”[7] “As a systems thinker,” Senge advises, “you would first identify that key problem symptom, and then the symptomatic and fundamental responses to it.”[8]

Community Building: Teaming

 One measure of impact may be related to building the capacity and strength of the community – care ministries, spiritual growth, and mission field – rather than to building the organization itself. Does the ministry program help build the community around the church? The following sources may provide information related to the criterion of community building: Interviews with community and ministry leaders; reviews of member support; and recent survey.

Kathryn S. Roloff, Anita W. Woolley, and Amy C. Edmondson recognize a key problem organizational theorists are trying to address is how best to design the organization “to manage time, attention, and flow of information among individuals and organizational units.”[9] Organizations are continuously challenged to be more productive, more innovative, and quicker at lower costs. The authors observe, “To accommodate the demands for higher productivity and faster learning, organizations have increasingly turned to using smaller and more flexible work units, such as teams, to accomplish their most important tasks.”[10]  


[1] Senge, The Fifth Discipline, 234. 

[2] Senge, The Fifth Discipline, 234. 

[3] 1 Cor. 12:12.

[4] Senge, The Fifth Discipline, 114.

[5] Senge, The Fifth Discipline, 114.

[6] Senge, The Fifth Discipline, 115.

[7] Senge, The Fifth Discipline, 115.

[8] Senge, The Fifth Discipline, 120.

[9] Kathryn S. Roloff, Anita W. Woolley, and Amy C. Edmondson, "The Contribution of Teams to Organizational Learning," in Handbook of Organizational Learning & Knowledge Management, edited by Mark Easterby-Smith and Marjorie A. Lyles, 249 –71. (Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, 2011), 249.

[10] Roloff et al., "Contribution," 250.

Step Three: Assess Each Ministry's Relative Gospel Impact

Step Four: Gather Financial Data

Step Five: Map Relative Gospel Impact and Financial Data (the "Dual Bottom Line")

Step Six: Evaluate Decision Table and Discuss Choices

GISTMinstry Mapping: The Decision Table (Gospel Imperatives)