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Providing pastors, staffs support is goal of LifeWay component

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Providing resources to support the work of pastors and other church staff leaders is the goal and the organizing principle for Southern Baptists’ component assigned to that task, according to its new director.

Henry Webb, who assumed leadership of the pastor-staff leadership department at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in May 1999, reflected recently on the direction he and his staff have set for the future.

“We know that every church has a pastoral position, and we need to clearly remind ourselves pastors are a priority audience we must serve,” Webb said. “Pastors have been charged by God to have the key role in leading the church to participate in his Kingdom work. We have a unique role to help pastors in that task. We serve the churches through helping the pastor.”

Along with that priority audience are the churches that have other staff, paid or volunteer, he continued.

“Those staff positions are unique in their own calling and responsibility. We want to help these church leaders fulfill God’s call on their lives. This relationship also includes deacons, who work closely with the pastor and other church staff leaders.”

During the early months of Webb’s leadership, the pastor-staff leadership department reorganized to reflect its goals to include a pastor section led by Mark Marshall, a church staff section led by Barry Campbell and a LeaderCare section led by Neil Knierim.

The pastor section includes consultants for pastors and deacons, as well as editorial personnel to produce resources to meet their needs.

“This allows for greater focus on these key leaders,” Webb said. “The skills and competencies required for effective pastors are unique to that critical leadership role. The pastor section will give concentrated effort to assisting and standing alongside those serving in pastoral ministry.”

The church staff section includes consultants, ministry leaders and editorial personnel related to ministers of education, ministers of youth, ministers to children and preschoolers, ministry assistants/secretaries, recreation and church media ministry staffs.

LeaderCare, a ministry to ministers and their families, is designed to provide personal development resources as well as crisis prevention, intervention and restoration resources. Among the services it offers is a 911-type hotline, 1-888-789-1911, for ministers and their families.

Joining the LeaderCare staff under Webb’s leadership have been a hotline counselor, a retreat counselor and a ministers’ advocate consultant. A ministers’ wives consultant will be added to the staff soon. Other LeaderCare staff includes a consultant in compassion fatigue, personal growth and random violence; a consultant in conflict management and mediation; and a wellness consultant.

This year LeaderCare assumed responsibility for Wounded Heroes, now known as Wounded Ministers, a ministry to hurting ministers and their families.

Webb said LifeWay’s focus on spiritual transformation parallels the focus of churches, “causing us to ask the tough questions about what we are doing. Does it reach people for Christ? Does it help people be spiritually transformed?

“This is an exciting time to be together on a journey,” he observed.

Prior to coming to LifeWay in 1977, Webb was pastor of Kalihi Baptist Church in Honolulu, Hawaii, for nine years. He was the editor of “The Deacon” magazine from 1977 to 1980 and deacon ministry consultant in the former church administration department from 1980-84. He served as planning coordinator in the discipleship training department from 1984-1992. Prior to becoming director of the pastor-staff leadership department, he was director of the discipleship and family leadership department at LifeWay.

He attended the University of Oklahoma, Norman; West Texas State University, Canyon; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; and holds the M.Div and D. Min. degrees from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, Calif.

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  • Charles Willis