Matt is from Gateway Fellowship Church, which started in 2008 in San Antonio. Gateway has done a lot of amazing things in reaching out to their community and church planting. The church started small in a living room and moved around to various temporary locations until they found their current location through a partnership with Hobby Lobby.
The church grew very quickly and now has over 2700 people attending on a weekly basis. It was a bit overwhelming to see the congregation grow that quickly. Matt shares some of the measures Gateway is taking to manage the growth and the challenges that come with it.
- Take care of your staff. // Gateway Fellowship has busy weekends, with a Saturday night service and three Sunday services, as well as a Spanish service. So the staff had become really busy in dedicating their weekends to the church. Staff is a vital part of the church, and it’s important to let them know that they are valued. Many churches let their staff have one weekend off each year, but Gateway decided to give each of their staff members 6 Sundays off each year. Pastors also earn a Sabbatical after five years of service. Other unique ways the church serves their staff is through giving out date night cards to their full-time, married staff members when they reach a certain goal. They also have Play and Pray days in which the staff members go out to help in the community or do something fun together out of the office.
- Build small groups. // Growing a church to such a large number in a short time can be overwhelming. How do you take care of all the new people well? Matt says one of the ways Gateway handles that is through their small group ministry. From the very beginning, Gateway was built around the idea of small groups. They now have 50% participation in these small groups and have applied this vision to all age groups, including children, students and adults. It allows the participants to build relationships with their group leaders and the leaders then take over pastoral care situations such as hospital visitations and one-on-ones. Each small group has their meeting, but then the leaders also meet with the members of their group individually to check on their spiritual lives and personal lives. Provide training for your small group leaders to prepare them for these situations and to encourage their ministry.
- “Hunt” to build small groups. // San Antonio has a big focus on hunting, so the small group leaders act as hunters in their ministries too. Gateway Fellowship uses posters with information about the small group and a bio of the leader to allow people to “shop” around for a group that interests them. The leaders also “hunt” people in the halls and between services, telling them about their group and encouraging them to visit. Another tactic the church uses once a quarter is to have people who aren’t involved in a group to wear a different colored name tag so that the leaders know who to target.
You can learn more about Gateway Fellowship Church at their website www.mygateway.tv.
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Helpful Tech Tools // Evernote
Ministries Following // Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, Texas; Elevation Church; Hillsong
Influential Book // Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale
Inspiring Leader // Brian Houston
What does he do for fun // Golf, Read, Hang with family, Find obscure coffee shops with his wife
Contact // www.mygateway.tv