Book Review – Loving Your Community: Proven Practices for Community-Based Outreach Ministry, by Dr. Stephen Viars
Too often when churches are presented with a need outside their walls, they operate on the principle of “say no unless you have to say yes.” Pastor Steve Viars of Faith Church, Lafayette, IN, shows you how to develop a dynamic, giving relationship with your community, one in which your natural response to needs is “Yes! How can we help?”
Mark Elliott has written a wonderful, practical resource for AMSs to use to train and coach Pastor Search Committees. He has over 40 years of ministry experience, including serving as a DOM/AMS since 1993. He has just concluded 21 years of exemplary service leading the Heartland Church Network, Omaha, NE.
This book is a major editing and expansion of the process Mark has used for two decades assisting churches in transition. It includes the practical application of the principles he found in scripture and examples from several churches whose search teams have used the more robust process these principles helped him to define.
“I am gentle and lowly in heart.” Matthew 11:29 (ESV)
We know Jesus wants us to come to him and allow him to give us rest (Mt. 11:28), but do we readily do so? Do we feel like he really wants us to come to him?
Book Review - Gospel-Driven Ministry: An Introduction to the Calling and Work of a Pastor, Jared Wilson
Happy New Year!
I hope you had a refreshing break during the holidays.
As I mentioned last month, I plan to share reviews of books from time to time that have been meaningful to me that I believe may be helpful to you. Today, I want to introduce you to Jared Wilson’s new book, Gospel-Driven Ministry: An Introduction to the Calling and Work of a Pastor.
I believe hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on God’s Word is most important for Associational Mission Strategists – as it is for all Christ-followers. But as leaders of leaders, I agree with the old adage: leaders are readers. Leaders should be consistently, humbly, seeking to learn and improve their leadership. My mantra is: Anything can be improved except the Bible. If we are not stretching ourselves with input from wise leaders, we are not being good stewards of the roles where God has placed us.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46: 1, 10 (NKJV)
Godly, effective associational leaders are spiritual leaders, walking with the Lord in His Word and in prayer daily. They are feeding themselves, dependent on and trusting in the Lord, His Word, and His Spirit more than they lean on their own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6).
Associational Mission Strategists (AMSs) are often asked to assist churches when one of their pastors leaves their church. They may be asked to fill the pulpit for one or more Sundays, train the Pastor Search Committee, and/or recommend Pulpit Supply, Interim Pastor Candidates, or Transitional Interim Pastor Candidates. They may even be asked to serve as the Interim Pastor, although some associations do not allow that option.
I am aware that some are of the persuasion that hosting conferences and workshops are passe. I am not saying every AMS needs to do these conferences. I will say that you need to know how God has gifted you and operate out of your spiritual gifts as much as possible. My gifts are administration, exhortation, and shepherding. Therefore, organizing Pastors Conferences, and other conferences and workshops comes relatively easy for me, whereas for others, it would be very difficult. However, if you are not gifted in this area, and yet you see the need to offer what we are talking about, pray and ask the Lord to raise up someone gifted in administration who can help you host a training conference with excellence.
Thank you to those of you who were able to attend our 2021 SBCAL Nashville Annual Conference. We had total attendance of 440, which is the largest attendance in probably 14+ years. Over 50 participated in our Prospective and New AMS Pre-Conference.
Thank you, also, for the privilege of serving as your President & CEO. I consider it a joy, an honor, and a great stewardship responsibility to serve you in this role since July 1, 2015, in addition to serving my own association in metro Atlanta.
The SBCAL is the oldest and largest associational network in the SBC, founded in 1960. We had planned to celebrate our 60th anniversary last year in Orlando. Even though we were unable to do so, we included an historical chart in the Program that we will put on our website. It is the best data we have been able to find, but If you know of any corrections, please email them to me.
In Dallas in 2018, the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL), the oldest and largest associational network in the SBC, adopted a major report issued by a blue-ribbon Study Team. That Report is one of the appendices in the new book, “The Baptist Association,” that I edited for SBCAL. The 17 Proficiencies of an Effective Associational Leader were introduced, and a new descriptor based on those proficiencies was also introduced and unanimously adopted by associational leaders from across the USA: Associational Mission Strategist, or AMS for short.
I’m Ray Gentry, the husband of Debra & father of April & Allison. I serve over 80 congregations on the southside of Atlanta as Associational Mission Strategist of the Southside Baptist Network. I am also the President/CEO of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL). I’ve served Southern Baptist churches & associations in various roles for over 35 years.