At the recent SBCAL Midwest Regional Associational Leaders Conference, Mark Elliott, DOM of the Heartland Church Network, Omaha, NE, led a workshop on helping churches in transition between pastors. It was excellent.
As Associational Leaders, we are often inundated with resumes of candidates for pastor, associate pastor, as well as for ministry positions of music, youth, children, etc. If you are like me, I receive many more resumes than I have positions open in my churches.
What do you do with all these resumes? How do you respond with love, care, and concern to the person sending the resume, and yet not give them false hope? Do you “screen” your resumes before sending the names on to Search Committees to try to protect your churches, or not?
It is my experience and observation of associational leadership transitions that it is usually best if the Associational Leader announces his retirement plans well in advance (3-6 months or more).
Here are some reasons I believe this is helpful for the association and for the Kingdom:
As you know, there are different ways to handle pulpit supply. Some DOMs post the list of preachers who have told them that they are available to preach on the association website and/or send that list to pastors and churches who ask for pulpit supply.
While that takes minimal effort, I believe it is not protecting and caring for our pastors and churches as we seek to “shepherd” those God has entrusted to our care, as much as it depends on us. I am reminded of Paul’s statement in 2 Cor. 11:28, “Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me; my concern for all the churches.” (CSB)
“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Proverbs 4:23 (CSB)
In my Quiet Time this month I am reading and praying through Proverbs. Each year I take one month with 31 days and read a chapter in Proverbs each day that month. I have waited until the last month this year because while going through other books of the Bible earlier this year, they always seemed to carry over from one month to the next.
Today being the fourth, I read Proverbs chapter 4. The verse that stood out to me was v. 23. I am reading from the new Christian Standard Study Bible, and I highly recommend it.
In the study notes, it says to guard something is to make sure that it does not get away and that it is safe from attack. I was reminded that I need to guard what I allow my eyes to watch, see, and read, and what my ears listen to each day. By doing so, I will not let my heart stray from God’s Word, and I will protect myself from the fiery darts of the evil one.
I recently received an email from an Associational Leader asking my opinion about him serving as Interim Pastor of one of his churches. His association allows him to do so for up to three months.
In our relationships with SBC and State Convention entities, Associational Leaders hear a lot about partnerships – how associations are partners in ministry with them. We are partners, and we want to be good partners, but sometimes it seems like a one-way street.
Jason Lowe’s recent survey of associations confirmed what many of us have thought – a number of pastors, staff, and lay leaders of churches do not consider their association to be relevant. This should be a great concern to associational leaders.
Are you a DOM who is a Leader, or a Leader who is a DOM? Some of us are wired by God as leaders who are now serving the Lord as an Associational Leader. Others of us have been called to serve an association and are having to lead other leaders (pastors, church leaders), though we do not consider ourselves gifted leaders.
A DOM is a leader by virtue of the position. What kind of leader are you? Do your pastors consider you a leader? Do you consider yourself a leader? If so, what kind of leader are you? I believe an effective Associational Leader could be described as follows.
Pastors are very busy. My experience has been that your typical Pastor wants to give the association minimal time, but experience maximum impact for the time he gives.
Here are some suggestions to maximize impact with minimal time commitment:
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.