Randal G. Dick, Executive Consultant, Design Group International™, Kohler, Wisconsin

Summary: A hands-on experience of the board game, The Steward Leader’s Game™, is one of the leading-edge approaches for training high-level leaders in stewardship.

The 2010 Christian Leadership Alliance National Conference held in San Diego, California, April 19-21, 2010, offered to the almost 2,000 ministry leaders in attendance more than one hundred premier educational intensive training courses and workshops spanning a comprehensive range in the fields of leadership and stewardship.

One of the leading-edge approaches for training high-level leaders in stewardship yet also applicable to local-church stewardship education is the creative and original strategy of implementing a hands-on experience of the board game, The Steward Leader’s Game™. Attending the daylong intensive course with actual involvement in The Steward Leaders Game™, the Dynamic Steward editor appreciated its value and endorses it as a beneficial and worthy educational tool for both leader and local-church stewardship education.

It was a privilege to interview the workshop facilitator Randal G. Dick, Executive Consultant, Design Group International™ for the Dynamic Steward.

DS: What is The Steward Leaders Game™?

RD: The Steward Leaders Game™ is an instrument that gives leaders and congregations a concentrated education in stewardship principles in a short period of time and in an enjoyable manner. It was designed by experts in learning methodology, together with groups of pastors and other Christian leaders who helped develop scenarios and assure strong stewardship integrity. We call it a game because people obtain the education using a game board, scenario cards, there are some basic rules of play, game objectives and it is possible to win or to lose.

DS: If the purpose of the game is educational, why put it in the form of a game?

RD: The game format actually allows the players to simulate an entire year’s stewardship activity. Players discuss situations to process and make decisions all in a few hours. But there are other powerful benefits of having a game format: First, people are learning by doing, utilizing both the affective and the experiential mode. This game changes peoples’ thinking in a way that stays with them, if used correctly, for years. Secondly, the game allows people of different ages, levels of education or economy; different temperaments and cultures to process learning deep-level stewardship learning. Thirdly, it provides a way for people to talk about issues where there is great divergence of opinion and potential for conflict. Simulation allows people to process critical factors objectively and in advance, thus avoiding conflict.

DS: In what ways could our church use The Steward Leaders Game™ to benefit the church and the members of the church?

RD: The first beneficial use would be to use the game to train pastors and other administrative leaders to view stewardship in three-dimensional terms. Stewardship in many churches is one dimensional—it is about the expenses and whether we are raising income to meet them or possibly enough to have a surplus. But in fact, stewardship is a three-fold relationship between finances, ministry and the heart of the people. By the time the game is over, that thinking is planted and reinforced. The second value is to use the game with congregations and help them understand the threefold relationship of stewardship. Every dollar, peso, pound or rupee given represents a heart that is turned toward God and the church. When there is a drop in giving, it is usually the result of a loss of the heart of that person or family. The money and the heart are intertwined. The ministry effectiveness is also intertwined. Effective ministry builds hearts, which tends to attract resources. Healthy finances allows more effective ministry . . . and so on . . . .

I happen to have a note I received the other day from a pastor in Canada. His congregation played the game about two months ago. He said:

“We invited some young adults (young families—parents in their 20’s) to participate in the game with us. This is often a generation that has different values to those of the boomer generation, so their perspective on church participation and stewardship was of keen interest to others and myself. What I noted after the exercise of the game was their comment that they felt that they needed to rethink their impact on being involved in church on so many levels, stewardship yes, but on active participation too. They realized that it was not just the leadership that had an impacting role in the congregation, but all the membership could impact the overall well being of the church in its mission of preaching the Gospel. Playing the game helped them realize that even being passive had an impact on the congregation and its mission and therefore being actively involved would be a strong move toward the positive.”

DS: We are a global church. Do you feel that the game can be effective in non-Western cultures?

RD: Definitely yes! The reason I am so emphatic is that I have spent nearly twenty years in ministry leadership across over 70 nations on all 5 continents. The triune principle of stewardship is a Godly value, universal in nature. Design Group International™ works with the client to tailor an optimal game experience. In your case we would work with Seventh-Day-Adventist Conference leadership to create denominationally relevant scenarios, which are put onto scenario cards and used in the play of the game. Say that a particular SDA region outside North America wanted to use the game. We would once again take the SDA oriented scenarios cards and work with the regional leadership to get the best regional contextualization possible. The only barrier to some heavily subsidized areas might be the cost.

DS: Yes, how affordable is the game?

RD: Business leaders learn to consider cost not merely based on the price tag, but on the ROI—Return on Investment. The Steward Leaders Game™ seems to have an excellent ROI. There was one church leader who wanted to buy it for use in his administrative area but wasn’t sure that the game was worth its price. I helped him gain perspective by analyzing his probable ROI. If he had only 30 churches, and if only one donor in each congregation was impacted by the game to either increase their contributions by 25% per year he would have had the three-year license paid in the first year with some money left over per year. We believe that the game delivers excellent return on investment primarily spiritually, but also financially.

DS: Thank you Randal. If readers want to contact you for further information, or to see about the possibility of a demonstration, how can they contact you?

RD: I’m happy to answer any questions. My email is [email protected] and my telephone number is 1-877-771-3330 ext. 9.

DS: I gained much, both personally and professionally, from this stewardship tool and I want to express to you appreciation for your time and sharing. I wish God’s richest blessing for your ministry and leadership at Design Group International™. Thank you again, for the good work that you are doing in support of stewardship education for both high-level as well as the grass-roots local church leadership.