Oklahoma Wesleyan University is serious in its commitment to equipping leaders in the church, and one major arm of that ministry is the annual Dunn Institute.
The Dunn Institute, established at OKWU in 2011 and named after the late Reverend John Dunn, was designed to aid church leaders in maximizing their ministry’s effectiveness, specifically doing this by providing practical, theologically based training in the financial aspects of church leadership. The scope of the training includes budgeting, church finances, business plans, and capital improvement strategies.
“To back away from these conversations is to back away from one of the most central aspects of leadership in a church. As much as we don’t like to talk about it or think about it, it’s central to vision, to what God wants us to do, and where we’re trying to go as a church.”
This year’s conference took place March 10-11 on OKWU’s campus. Pastor David Kinnan, the lead pastor of Fountain Springs Church, served as the keynote speaker for the event, which also included seminars from Dr. Larry Moore, Chief Operating Officer of the Wesleyan Investment Foundation, and from Dr. Randy Thompson, former Vice President of Development for Oklahoma Wesleyan.
Kinnan’s experience in the realm of church finances can’t be overstated. When he took over as lead pastor of Fountain Springs, it was nearing a decision to close its doors forever. Through his leadership and the Lord’s grace, it is now a thriving church with multiple locations. And for his part, Kinnan is glad that the Dunn Institute’s rare format exists.
“This is not regular. Most trainings and gatherings are inspirational, or move on to programming,” he said. “Rarely do they get to that other area of that internal question, ‘How do we steward people’s financial sacrifices?’ I would consider this very rare. I just love what OKWU is doing, in valuing the conversations that others aren’t, but that are necessary.”
The impact of the conference was easy to see, both for the university serving as host and for the church leaders in attendance. Phil Wiseman serves as the lead pastor of Table Church, in Des Moines, Iowa, and was struck by the pivotal importance of this area of ministry.
“The biggest thing for me has been to recognize the crucial leadership challenge that finances entail,” he said. “To back away from these conversations is to back away from one of the most central aspects of leadership in a church. As much as we don’t like to talk about it or think about it, it’s central to vision, to what God wants us to do, and where we’re trying to go as a church.”
For Shaun Breiland, who recently became lead pastor of CrossPoint Church in North Dakota, the conference presented a key chance to add to his tool belt.
“I got really interested in it because of where we’re at right now as a church, with me being a new lead pastor. We’re really looking at how we’re going to accomplish what we feel like we’re called to accomplish,” he said. “We believe God’s got a pretty big vision ahead of us as a church, so getting those tools to be able to make that happen… I’m glad I came.”
“I just love what OKWU is doing, in valuing the conversations that others aren’t, but that are necessary.”