by Jason Loewen
FLINT, MI – After 21 years of faithfully serving the SBC churches in our area as the Director of Missions, Pastor Jim Marcus announced that his time in this role of leadership was coming to an end. The changing landscape of church because of the changing culture and the way that the COVID pandemic accelerated the change that was already taking place only affirmed his decision to land the plane. He wanted to finish well and pass the baton to the association’s new leadership.
The challenge was laid before us. There were about 10 men from various churches in the association to seek the face of the Lord and identify what was next for us. We spent the next six months being brutally honest about what was, what worked, what didn’t work, things that had an eternal impact and the impact of territorialism on the church. A clear vision to set aside the old ways and to be the church, to cooperatively pursue a Kingdom agenda emerged from these six months. Through this process we grew in our love for one another and desire to see our county transformed by the hope of the gospel.
In January a transition team was formed to explore a new leadership structure, develop a system that would invite accountability, find spiritually motivated leaders, and help the association effectively make this transition. The Lord in His kindness connected us to some key leaders from Be The Church, a new organization that was being formed on the west side of the state. Be the Church is passionately pursuing the revitalization of the Church by developing leaders and establishing a pipeline for new leaders. It was as if the Lord knew what was going on, and He connected us at just the right time to accelerate His Kingdom agenda.
In the middle of the summer we made the transition in leadership and structure. Where previously there had been fewer than ten participants show up for a board meeting, now there are more than sixty from the exact same number of churches. For the previous three years the average number of pastors who were involved consistently was 10, now there are 15. Previously at a training event that was offered to the churches there were only 25 that showed up, now there are more than a hundred. Expectations are higher, accountability is anticipated, there are assignments given each month, and we launched in the summer.
The Lord is in the business of transforming lives, and I believe that as pastors and leaders we are the ones most in need of that transformation. It is time for pastors to stop being chaplains, and begin actually leading the bride of Christ. We have an enemy and it’s not the church down the street. Transitioning our association to Be The Church didn’t require overhauling our constitution or bylaws, it didn’t require more meetings, it didn’t require more money. Actually, this transition has freed up time, it is putting 60% more money back into evangelistically focused ministry, we cut the HR expenses by 54%, and we have already seen more cooperation among pastors and energy in our churches. And the Lord is just getting started.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Loewen is a pastor of Union Flint Church. He has taken the new role as Assistant Director of Missions for our association to transform Flint and the surrounding areas.