Two years ago last July, I was invited to come and be the Interim Executive Director-Treasurer for the Baptist Convention of Iowa. The Administrative Committee indicated that the Convention leadership had come to the conclusion that change was needed, and asked me to help guide the Convention through a change process. Some indicated that the change was necessitated by decisions made by the North American Mission Board (NAMB). Although, others concurred the changes at NAMB affected how we worked at the Convention they felt that change had been needed for a long time. One pastor told me, “We have put you in an untenable situation. We are asking you to do in 20 months what we have not been willing to do in 20 years”.
I went about my work from a perspective which I shared on many occasions, but am not sure was fully captured by those who heard me because it goes against current leadership paradigms being advocated. I have come to question the conventional wisdom which says that vision is given to the leader (Executive Director, Pastor, etc.) and his job is to rally the “troops” (leaders, congregation, etc.) in support of that vision. I believe that vision is given to the people (convention leadership, congregations, etc.) and the job of the leader is to draw that vision out, clarify it, and then champion it.
This is what I have been doing these past two years. As I worked with the congregations and leaders of the Baptist Convention of Iowa (BCI) I discovered a wonderful vision for what God is doing in Iowa resident in these leaders and congregations. I discovered dedicated people who love Iowa and have been called by God to do His work in this State. My job was to draw that vision out.
A Strategy Team cobbled together these thoughts and focused the vision for the BCI on church planting, discipleship/leadership development, and missions. They felt that this would be developed most effectively through drawing the churches together into clusters (associations) and depending on “stack pole” (catalytic) churches. Since then I have tried to clarify and champion this vision.
There are over 60 church planting conversations going on. Lay launched initiatives are becoming the prevalent model for church planting in Iowa. It is exciting to hear the stories about what God is doing. How He is drawing people to plant churches in Iowa and equipping Iowans to reach Iowa for the gospel
Numerous churches are actively discipling their leaders to disciple others who disciple. The pastors of these churches have taken ownership of the Iowa vision to reach their communities by “equipping the saints for ministry”. Training workshops are being held this year and next. God is at work in exciting ways across Iowa. Tremendous stories about what God is doing are beginning to surface and more will be shared in weeks and months to come.
Associations are assuming control of their own leadership. Churches are reorganizing associations to better meet their needs. Exciting stories about what God is doing are beginning to come out as churches network together to better accomplish what God has called them to do.
The Search Committee is actively looking for the next Executive Director-Treasurer of the Baptist Convention of Iowa. It will be important for the congregations (pastors and people) of the convention, the Executive Board, and the Search Committee to help him understand Iowa’s vision, so that he can continue to clarify and champion it.
I am convinced that all that we have done has been “prelude” for the BCI’s greatest days which are ahead. I am excited about what God is doing and has done during these two plus years I have had the privilege of serving you. I am even more excited about what I see Him doing in the months and years to come.