JEFFERSON CITY—The positive way to look at the changes in Missouri Baptist life now is to say that networking on the grassroots level will grow.
Rodney Hammer is one of the members of the Organizational Study Group that finished its work April 12. The director of missions for the Blue River/Kansas City Baptist Association is hopeful about the future.
“I believe we have all the resources we need in Missouri to do even more and exceedingly beyond what we’ve been currently doing in the Lord, and the ability to pass on more for national and global missions,” Hammer said.
He said the younger leaders he knows are yearning for this paradigm shift.
“We have so professionalized the ministry that the great movements of multiplication of disciples in churches around the world are driven by lay people,” he said. “They are not driven by professional pastors. The question is not in my mind how do we get more guys to be able to make enough money to be full-time, but how can we do Ephesians 4? So I would simply suggest some re-visitation biblically of our purpose.”
Deploying an army of experts from the Baptist Building does not square with the focus group data in the final OSG report in that the people said “we don’t view you as the experts,” said Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Associate Executive Director Jerry Field. “We want to be able to network with people who are actually doing it. If you can help to connect us with them, then you would really be valuable to us. That was huge in my estimation.”
Out of that idea came decentralization, with generalists, not specialists.
“If they have a specialty, it’s in networking,” Field said.
The goal would be to expand the number of resource people all over and try to make the interaction even more personal. This approach is evident in Illustrations A & B in the report.
“In both illustrations, we believe the MBC can accomplish all that is presented in this paper with approximately half of its current staff along with greater use of contract workers, volunteers and greater collaboration with the associations of our convention,” Hammer said, reading a key statement for public consumption April 11.
“The idea here is to recognize and celebrate the primacy of the local church in fulfilling God’s mission, and our job is to undergird and support that and to give people the help that they need.”
ALLEN PALMERI/associate editor