June 23, 1999
DOMs focus on leadership skills
___By Russell N. Dilday
___Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine
___ATLANTA--Starting new churches in the 21st century will require pastors and church planters who have a vision for reproduction, Rick Warren told directors of associational missions during their annual meeting.
___"You have to have a vision to plant churches that plant new churches.
___That has to be built into the DNA of your churches," said Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Mission Viejo, Calif.--a church that has started 30 new congregations in 20 years.
___Warren was one of several speakers addressing the future of ministry during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Conference of Directors of Associational Missions June 13-14 in Atlanta. About 160 members attended the conference, built on the theme of "Leading Your Association into a New Century."
___Successfully starting new churches also requires "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."
___Further requirements include "culturally relevant worship styles," a "simple and rapid assimilation process" for new members and the use of new technology to attract seekers, he said.
___"They also need to be self-governing," Warren noted. "They need the freedom to grow. The mother churches don't know best what the daughter church needs, the daughter church does."
___He also advocated that new churches not begin in a "building-dependent" state. "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 grow your church anyway."
___Finally, Warren said, new churches need what he termed "the faith factor."
___"You need leadership that is not afraid to be used by God," he explained. "When I look for a church planter, I look for someone not afraid to fail."
___He closed his message with words of encouragement for ministers who feel like they labor in obscurity.
___"One of the important things I've learned is that there's a difference between significance and prominence," he said. "We live in a celebrity-driven world. 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."
___Association President Ed Gilman, director of missions for Sun Coast Baptist Association in Florida, also addressed the future with a message on "Associational Leadership for the Next Millennium."
___Comparing 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 its' 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. They include:
___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."
___Embody pure ethics and morals. "Ministers today, in the eyes of John Q. Public, have lost a lot of credibility," he claimed. "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."
___Always give your best. "You are a manager, minister and missions strategist," Gilman said. "One thing we have in common is that we can give our absolute best with what God has given us."
___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."
___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."
___Respond to challenges with courage, he said, adding, "Being a risk-taker is part of being a leader."
___Spend quality time with your family.
___During the group's Monday business session, members adopted a 1999-2000 budget of $20,700, a decrease of approximately $3,900 over 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 Don Beall of Puget Sound Baptist Association in Washington, first vice president; Gary Hearon of Dallas (Texas) Baptist Association, second vice president; Ernest Sadler of Jackson Baptist Association in Mississippi as secretary; T.O. Spicer of Spring River Baptist Association in Missouri, editor of the conference's newsletter; and James Fortinberry of Greater Orlando (Florida) Baptist Association, host director for the group's 2000 annual meeting.
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