Role Summary: Mission Strategist, Minister to Ministers, Model Leader
AMSs wear many hats, but I like to summarize the role into Mission Strategist, Minister to Ministers, and Model Leader of the association. As the descriptor indicates, an AMS should be an effective mission strategist. He should know and exegete his mission field, seeking to make the needs known so that pastors and churches do not overlook or ignore unreached people groups in the mission field in which they live. These could be multifamily housing units, various ethnicities, or neighborhoods or communities without a Gospel witness. Everybody’s job is nobody’s job. Encourage churches to adopt neighborhoods, schools, fire stations, and police stations to love and to live out being the hands and feet of Jesus.
The associational leader should be a prayer partner with his pastors, a Barnabas to them. A wise, caring AMS will develop a list of every pastor and church, then pray for one or more pastors and churches each day. When he contacts pastors and churches, then he can honestly say, “I pray for you regularly.” Saying so means a lot, even to pastors of the larger churches.
An effective AMS is also a model leader. Like Paul, the AMS seeks to be a role model for other pastors and ministry leaders to follow. He is a hard-working, respected man of God who exemplifies the fruit of the Spirit, not the works of the flesh. People know him for his love for Jesus, pastors, churches, and the lost. He operates out of his spiritual giftedness, not out of fear of man, or out of his own insecurities, hurts, or heartaches. He seeks to lead his churches to be Gospel-driven, not culture-driven.
To be an effective associational leader means one is a leader of leaders. If you are not a leader of leaders, please do not apply for this ministry position when openings occur. Too many pastors (and others) have looked at the role of associational leader as a place to ease back on their workload until they retire, or use the position as a vehicle to coast toward retirement, which is even worse. Those attitudes are slothful, sinful, and harmful to Christ and the work of the kingdom. “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.” [i] We are not to coast in any ministry area, but especially not in this one.
Being a model leader also means the AMS is the key ministry leader of the association—the Executive Director, the lead guy, the CEO, where the buck stops. The AMS is responsible for seeing himself in that role and growing into it, if necessary. Yes, he is to be a servant leader, but a leader nonetheless. People look to the associational leader for vision clarity, direction, and wisdom for things such as who to put on ministry teams, what kinds of ministry teams the association should have, what type of organizational structure is best suited for our local mission work, who should speak at Pastor’s Conferences, and so forth.
To the pastors and churches, the AMS is the “face” of the association. Often the decision of how much to participate or contribute to associational missions rests on the relationship between the AMS, the pastor, and key church leaders. In real estate the mantra is: “Location. Location. Location.” In associational life the mantra should be: “Relationships. Relationships. Relationships.”
Could it be that pastors will stay longer in their church if their local association is strong? I believe so. The health of an association contributes to the health of pastors and their churches. Most of us in ministry have heard the somewhat depressing statistics about pastor burnout and fallout rates. Let’s work together to change those statistics.
To the praise of His glory,
Quotable Quote: God uses three primary change agents to produce godliness in his children: people, circumstances, and spiritual disciplines. We participate passively in the first two, but actively in the third. Robby Gallaty, Growing Up, page 45