Today was my first opportunity to meet Rodney Hammer personally. As you might or might not know, he was recently selected to serve as Director of Missions for the Blue River-Kansas City Baptist Association which is the local association to which our church relates. Rodney resigned as a regional leader with the IMB, at least in part I think it’s safe to say, over disagreements with the Board of Trustees' new policies regarding baptism and the practice of a private prayer language. He didn’t allude to those differences today, as the forum was a meeting with 7 pastors and the associate director of missions at a local church to talk about his vision for the association and some strategic planning processes he has initiated to help evaluate where the association currently is and where it needs to be heading.
He said a number of things that resonated well with me. Things like he’s not so concerned about increasing attendance at the annual associational meeting or maintaining a bureaucracy, or even holding meetings just to meet. His passion is to assist churches to be on mission and fulfilling the words of Jesus in Acts 1:8. It’s that kind of a compelling vision I believe that can help overcome apathy on the one hand and partisan politics on the other when it comes to associational relationships.
Given our size, our church is one of the top 3 financial supporters of the association out of some 130 churches in the Kansas City, MO area. (There are two additional associations in the KC metroplex area—the Clay Platte Association which includes the churches of northern KC, and the Kansas City, KS association which includes those on the other side of the state line). Our associational involvement in recent years has included among other things participation in a “Free Garage Sale” that consisted in giving away stuff donated by church members to needy families, and providing meals each month for women and children in an inner city homeless shelter. I haven’t had that much direct contact in my role as associate pastor with other area pastors, but I trust that Rodney’s presence will facilitate that more.
One of the things he mentioned today that piqued my interest was a couple of leadership and visioning training conferences coming up early next year in January and March. I hope to be able to attend these and prayerfully our entire ministerial staff will be able to participate as well. The overview Rodney shared sounded like some really solid biblical principles coupled with strategic planning. Here's a link to the association's website and the information about the conferences.