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Directors of missions focus on millennial leadership skills

ATLANTA (BP)–The national conference for associational directors of missions and staff members focused on leadership skills and elected a slate of 1999-2000 officers during the group’s 38th annual meeting, June 13-14 at the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel.
Approximately 160 members of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Directors of Missions attended the meeting, with the theme, “Leading Your Association Into a New Century.”
Among featured speakers was SBCADOM President Ed Gilman, director of missions for Sun Coast Baptist Association in Florida, who compared the “predictable” themes and story lines from the “Star Trek” television series to the millennium.
Gilman told the group that “life is not always predictable or simple. My question for us is, ‘Are you ready to boldly go where no one has gone before?’ You’d better be ready, because it’s only six months away. Will you be more likely to say, ‘Warp speed ahead’ or ‘Beam me up, Jesus?’”
Using the word LEADERS as an acronym, he gave seven “core leadership principles that we cannot do without” to take Christian leaders into the next century:
1) Love God and love others. “Jesus told us the most important thing in life is to love God and love our neighbor,” Gilman said, asking, “What does it mean for a director of missions when we talk about love? It is called servant leadership. When the association no longer serves, it loses its reason for existence.”
2) Embody pure ethics and morals. “Ministers today, in the eyes of John Q. Public, have lost a lot of credibility,” Gilman observed. “What value system do directors of missions live by today? As DOMs, we’re called to a higher value system given to us in Scripture. We should be setting the example for the ethical and moral lifestyle … and lead that life before others.”
3) Always give your best. “You are a manager, minister and missions strategist,” Gilman pointed out. “One thing we have in common is that we can give our absolute best with what God has given us.”
4) Develop and empower your team. “You have to believe in teamship because [associational leadership] is too big for one person,” he said. “The key to developing and empowering the team is prayer.”
5) Envision God’s preferred future. “It’s our role to help determine God’s vision for our associations,” Gilman emphasized. “We need to get God’s vision and carry that out.”
6) Respond to challenges with courage, he said, adding, “Being a risk-taker is part of being a leader.”
7) Spend quality time with your family.
Continuing with the millennial theme, Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Mission Viejo, Calif., spoke on “What It’s Going to Take to Plant New Churches in the 21st Century.”
Warren, whose congregation has planted 30 new churches in 20 years, told associational leaders that church planters need “a vision for reproduction. You have to have a vision to plant churches that plant new churches — that has to be built into the DNA of your churches.”
It also will take “focused prayer, knowing your target audience and a purpose-driven strategy,” Warren said. “Churches are living organisms, and all living organisms grow. If you’re not growing, something’s wrong. Remove the barriers to growth. Once you remove the barriers, churches begin to grow. The purpose-driven strategy is not about making a big church, but a healthy church.”
Also necessary to plant growing churches in the 21st century, Warren said, are “culturally relevant worship styles,” a “simple and rapid assimilation process” for new members and the use of new technology to attract seekers.
“They also need to be self-governing,” he noted. “They need the freedom to grow. The mother churches don’t know best what the daughter church needs; the daughter church does.”
Warren also emphasized that new churches do not begin “building-dependent. Our church was running 10,000 before we built the first building. When you don’t put money into buildings, you have more money for staff and programs, which are what grows your church anyway.”
Warren also highlighted what he termed “the faith factor. You need leadership that is not afraid to be used by God. When I look for a church planter, I look for someone not afraid to fail.”
He closed with words of encouragement and warning for listeners. “Everybody’s having a tough time, but one of the important things I’ve learned is that there’s a difference between significance and prominence.
“We live in a celebrity-driven world,” he commented. “One of the biggest problems in this celebrity-driven world is that people who are serving in relative obscurity think, ‘My ministry doesn’t matter.’
“But you are dead wrong,” he concluded. “Your ministry does matter. What does matter is that you live for an audience of one.”
The group also heard from several national Southern Baptist leaders, including Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, who urged the directors of missions to participate in efforts to evangelize the world, telling them God is calling Christians to that effort “for such a time as this.”
Pointing to Matthew 26:36, he warned the associational leaders that, like the apostles who slept through Jesus’ time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemene, Southern Baptists are “in danger of sleeping through the harvest.”
“How could they sleep at such a time as this?” Rankin asked, offering three answers: “They did not understand the significance of that night; they didn’t realize God was doing something new;” and “they didn’t realize this was the moment.”
“God has called us into the kingdom for such a time as this,” Rankin concluded. “Let us stir out of our lethargy to awaken and realize that there is a lost world, that God is doing something; … we must be faithful and obedient” to his call to serve.
During the group’s Monday business session, members adopted a 1999-2000 budget of $20,700, a decrease of approximately $3,900 from the 1998-99 budget.
In other business, they elected Edward Copeland, director of missions for the Metro Columbus (Ohio) Baptist Association, as president. Also elected as 1999-2000 officers were C. Don Beall of Puget Sound Baptist Association in Washington, first vice president; Gary Hearon of Dallas (Texas) Baptist Association, second vice president; and Ernest Sadler of Jackson Baptist Association in Mississippi as secretary.
Other officers elected included T. O. Spicer of Spring River Baptist Association in Missouri as editor of the conference’s newsletter, DOM Viewpoint, and James Fortinberry of Greater Orlando (Florida) Baptist Association as host director for the group’s 2000 annual meeting.

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  • Russell N. Dilday