SPRINGFIELD–Missouri Baptist women are likely to be trendsetters for the rest of the state.
For the past year, the women’s ministry and Missouri Woman’s Missionary Union (MWMU) components have been guided by three consultants who work from their homes to serve churches and members throughout the state.
“It’s still new, but we think it’s working,” said Laura Wells, MWMU executive director.
Wells, along with Teri Broeker, consultant for MWMU preschool, children and teen programs, and Wanda Shellenbarger, women’s ministry consultant, began serving after the death of Vivian McCaughan, who led the ministries for several years.
When the consultant idea was introduced, MWMU members willingly gave it a try and Associate Executive Director Jerry Field thanked them for that at the M-Counter annual meeting April 15-16 in Springfield.
“You have helped us pioneer some of what may be the future of Missouri with more contract workers across the state,” Field said.
Success in women’s ministry has led the convention to consider cutting permanent staff and working with contractors as a more cost effective way to deliver programming.
“A number of markers indicate a healthy situation,” Field said.
Several Missouri churches added MWMU programs in the past year, attendance at the annual conference increased, participation in children’s camps grew and giving has been strong, Field noted.
While the convention is still perfecting the consultant model, the women leaders said they have observed several benefits. Broeker said members of small churches seem more comfortable approaching someone in their area who also serves in a small church. They also have the flexibility to cater to each church.
“We’re available to consult with a church and we’re able to work with their needs and the resources they have,” she said.
Wells, whose husband pastors a church of about 100 people, said as contractors who work from home, they remain actively involved in their local church ministry and events such as mission trips.
While the consultant model will be determined by the new executive director, Field noted that budget constraints will likely cause the state to make many changes.
SUSAN MIRES/contributing writer