I see our pastors & church leaders as they participate in associational events several times in the course of a year. To them my role as Director of Missions has slowly taken on some degree of clarity in the past five years. However, to most church members (who only see me 1-2x a year) that role can be ill defined. Here is a top ten list (selective, not exhaustive) of how I relate to our MSBA churches in five groupings:
1) Colleague & 2) Confidant/Confessor---Some people call me a “pastor to the pastors.” Younger folks shy away from hierarchical leadership structures and tend toward more “flat plane” view of leadership, so, since I have no authority and only ceded influence, I refer to myself as a “minister among ministers” to imply I am a colleague, a fellow partner in ministry. The closest thing to a priestly/pastoral function for me is when a church leader confesses or vents---it is healthier for them and the congregation if done to a trusted colleague; the poison/passion is absorbed. I could sell my 70+ vol. of personal journals on the open market for $$, but then I’d have to enter the federal witness protection program!
3) Companion & 4) Communicator---I enjoy our leaders, especially when I can get them out of their office and routine to fish, hike, or eat a Subway sandwich, anything to help ease the daily burden of leadership (2 Cor. 11.28) and let them know they are not alone. I am often a Barnabas (Son of Encouragement) to their Paul. Most of our pastors are bi-vocational, meaning they don’t have time to sift through the mound of info coming from denominational and other sources, so I do a lot of the sifting to communicate pertinent sources, ideas, resources with them. Likewise if something is going off course, someone can communicate truth with them independently. Another area of communicated truth is training offered through workshops, retreats, Basics for Ministry.
5) Collector & 6) Connector---Our office is sometimes a collection point (we purchase 1-2 DVD series/year and loan them to the churches). Often we are middlemen; I find needs & resources and piece them together. I discover a church is doing something that could benefit another. We create synergy by helping churches accomplish more together than they can individually. Ex.: random materials donated to Bridge BC included five sets of golf clubs (?!?). Tom calls, says what I will I do with golf clubs in Matoaka? I know Dewayne Belcher, Mt. Hermon BC pastor, teaches golf within the Bluefield public schools and he can get the clubs to deserving children as starter sets, so we make the transfer.
7) Consultant & 8) Catalyst---Degrees in music, rel. ed., & leadership, and 43+ years of ministry experience can help in areas of worship, teaching training, structure, conflict mediation, pastoral succession--the list goes on. Our churches are autonomous, so I do not intervene in a situation w/o an invitation. I can be a valuable outside, objective perspective during an impasse. As a catalyst I think, read, & research so I can be a corporate scout for what is coming over the horizon. The gospel remains the gospel but how we proclaim it in changing times and changing ways demands changed churches. This is where church revitalization, renewal, recalibration, redirection come into play. This is probably my most important function and the one that naturally meets the most resistance.
9) Consensus builder & 10) Covenant forger---to get several churches on board this or that initiative takes multiple rounds of talking, suggesting, praying, meeting; building consensus is a painfully slow but satisfying process. A covenant relationship of deep and abiding affection for each other (Jn. 13.34-35) is our goal where we serve each other and sacrifice for the sake of our Christ and His Kingdom