‘Associational mission strategist’ suggested as new title for DOMs

‘Associational mission strategist’ suggested as new title for DOMs

It’s possible your association’s director of missions (DOM) might be going by a different title soon, if he isn’t already.

A group of nearly 250 DOMs from across the nation who make up the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) voted unanimously back in June to approve a recommended change from the title DOM to “associational mission strategist” (AMS).

Leading up to the June meeting, a study team surveyed church leaders, DOMs, laypeople and others to get a feel for how associational work was viewed. The result was a consensus that the new title better fit the contemporary role of a DOM.

Rick Wheeler, study team leader and lead missional strategist for Jacksonville Baptist Association in Florida, said the report was offered “not as a mandate to follow, but as a resource that was shaped by describing how associations are effectively assisting churches to better accomplish the Great Commission.”

In addition to associational mission strategist, they also offered “mission strategist” and “lead mission strategist” as possible variations.

The singular word “mission” in the title “conveys the singular focus we have of serving churches to engage with one Great Commission,” the report stated.

Neal Hughes, DOM for Montgomery Baptist Association, was one of the 250 who voted in favor of the new title.

He says he knows some DOMs who have chosen to adopt the AMS title or a variation of it right away. Others, he said, might take longer or choose not to make the switch.

For Hughes it’s going to be a subtle transition, he said. He may start phasing it in through a joint title — something like director of missions/associational mission strategist — and give people time to absorb the change.

That’s what Rick Barnhart, director of the office of associational missions and church planting for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said he is doing in his correspondence as well. He’s using a combo title for a few months, then shifting solely to AMS.

But even though that is how he will shift his language from the state level, Barnhart affirmed that it’s each individual association’s decision as to whether they want to adopt a title change.

“Associations are not only autonomous but they are self-funded,” he said. “The associations’ executive committees or leadership have full responsibility to walk alongside their associational missionary to assist them in accomplishing the objectives of that particular association.”

That includes developing missions strategies and deciding on the titles of their leadership, Barnhart said.

‘Passion for leading’

Mel Johnson, DOM for Autauga Baptist Association, said his association has decided to switch to one of the variations — lead mission strategist.

“I appreciate the term ‘lead mission strategist’ since it better reflects my passion for leading rather than directing,” he said.

Johnson said he serves to equip churches and coordinate missions and the new title fits “hand in glove” with that.

“While ministries of the association are not dependent upon a title, I do feel it better reflects and communicates the unique role that I play in support of our local churches,” he said.

Thomas Wright, executive DOM for Mobile Baptist Association, said that for a while now, he’s been going by “associational missionary” among his churches but “executive director of missions” out in the community. The first communicates missions partnership, and the second communicates function and responsibility, he said.

He says he feels the new title fits both. And he appreciates the emphasis on Great Commission strategy.

“Each affiliation of local churches will benefit from including cooperative plans to more effectively reduce the population of hell and impact the community through meeting needs,” Wright said.

To read the full report from the SBCAL visit www.sbcassociations.org/report.