By Tim Lubinus, BCI Executive Director/Treasurer
No doubt about it, local associations of Baptist Convention of Iowa churches have been transformed over the last few years. The days of a full-time director of missions, annual associational meetings, reviewing by-laws and approving minutes of the last meeting, and association bank accounts have almost disappeared.
In their place informal fellowship groups for pastors have sprung up to offer encouragement and practical support to pastors. In Iowa these groups meet frequently for accountability, fellowship, to share a helpful book, resource, or podcast, and to pray together. These associations are led by a facilitator to schedule meetings, guide discussions, and follow-up on pastors who couldn’t attend the latest meeting. Some associations also host various multi-church worship services and shared ministry such as children’s camps.
To provide the structure to support pastors, nearly two years ago the Baptist Convention of Iowa contracted with Ed Gregory in the eastern half of Iowa and John Shaull in the western half. Ed and John have decades of pastoral experience in Iowa and are able to be a helpful sounding board for associational facilitators and pastors. Their role is to connect with associational facilitators, encourage pastors, and to be available to churches in pastoral transition.
Ed and John along with Chris McRae, our specialist in small group ministry and discipleship, attend many of these associational meetings and also regularly visit pastors and churches. As BCI staff, we want to do everything we can to support and encourage and pray for the pastors who minister among us. Because of their interaction with pastors, Ed, John, and Chris can rarely be found in the BCI office.
With the transformation of associations, we have less duplication of ministry functions than in the past. While some of these functions used to be handled at the association level, now the BCI state convention office has the staff to provide training and support for church planters, fund evangelism projects, regularly interact with pastors, plan events, and provide financial assistance for pastors and churches in need.
Annually in May, the Executive Board reviews the BCI structure to support churches and encourage pastors. We are seeking input for this year’s May 14 meeting. How do you think things are going with church and pastoral support? What are your specific suggestions for improving our structure to support pastors and churches? Do you think that adding one or two more pastor/church support staff would be helpful?
Please contact someone on the Executive Board, our president Ken Livingston, or me at TLubinus@BCIowa.org. We appreciate your input and suggestions.
Let me know if you have comments, or questions.