July 11th, 2011 at 5:25 pm
LUBBOCK—Church leaders need to take spiritual inventory of both their lives and leadership styles in order to grow and be most effective, speakers emphasized during plenary sessions of the annual meeting for the African American Fellowship held July 5-7 at the Lubbock Civic Center.
Michael Evans, who was elected president of the fellowship and serves as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, led a workshop examining church leadership against a backdrop of changing times and cultural transition.
“There’s a challenge to traditional leadership models,” Evans noted. “The question becomes: Can you do it like you used to do? Or can you do it like your father did?”
Evans answered no.
Statistics transpiring over the turn of the century showed marked changes and great diversity in the socio-economic and demographic composition of the African-American population, he pointed out. These factors contribute to unexplored church and community needs, which in turn affect—and demand—greater leadership responsibilities.
“What are the needs where you are? They will be different,” he said.
Evans encouraged ministers to engage the culture and close generational gaps. For example, some may utilize social media and sponsor a neighborhood block party to draw members of the younger generation into the church. Others may discover a need to sponsor foreign language classes in order to reach an ethnically diverse neighborhood.
The most important thing is to be obedient to whatever vision God bequeaths, even if it means having to “re-tradition tradition,” Evans said.
He offered the example of a fellow minister who started preaching on a secular hip-hop radio station.
“Where do you go when you’re fishing?” he asked. “You go where the fish are.”
But churches should first determine a set of biblically based “non-negotiables” before embarking on a new mission or ministry, he added.
“Make clear your mission, vision and values,” he said.
Pastors and lay leaders must be sensitive to members’ viewpoints and needs in order to unite them with a common vision. Likewise, leaders should steer clear of becoming detached and should make every effort to be personally involved in members’ lives, he added.
Evans also noted a sizeable benefit that comes from partnering with other churches. Increased exposure leads to greater support and collaboration—and a greater impact as the body of Christ. The goal, he emphasized, is to bring the most people into the kingdom of God as possible.
In another session taught by Gary Patterson, pastor of Berean Bible Baptist Fellowship in San Antonio and regional church starter for Texas Baptists, Patterson explained that a leader’s perspective makes all the difference.
He stressed the importance for a leader to pursue excellence in everything—in who they are and how they live day to day, moment by moment.
“Leadership is not just about doing; it’s about being,” Patterson said. “What do my people experience from my leadership—from me? Does it impact them?”
Effective leadership does not rise out of a position, he explained, but it comes by influence.
“Am I aware of my influence when I speak?” he asked. “Or whatever I do?”
Leadership, he concluded, is about living a legacy as opposed to leaving one.
Other workshops during the conference covered topics ranging from creativity in worship to getting out of church debt. Sessions offered leaders a time for spiritual training, fellowship and encouragement.
By Grace Gaddy, Texas Baptists Communications Intern