Birmingham Metro Baptist Association has reevaluated the way it ministers to ministers.
Chris Crain, executive director of BMBA, said his team has looked strategically at all their efforts over the past four years, including the traditional Monday morning ministers conference.
“Our ministers meetings have basically been unchanged for 45 years,” he related. “We wanted to meet the needs of today’s ministers, so we conducted a survey and had a great response,” including some interesting answers.
“They told us Thursday was better than Monday since most ministers have major responsibilities the first four days of the week and often have staff meetings and other obligations on Mondays,” Crain explained. “And we heard from staffers other than pastors who asked about training and fellowship. So we’ve tried to respond affirmatively to these requests.”
Marisa Taylor, BMBA church resource specialist, said she and the staff were involved in Crain’s vision casting and helped work out details for the new format. She believes it will bring about greater participation among church staff.
“We’ve found previously that we had increased interest when we ‘mixed things up’ a bit rather than doing the ‘normal,’” Taylor explained. “So we’re moving forward with three different types of programs.”
She noted the first category will include pastors and worship leaders.
The first effort was Sept. 22 and was led by pastor Jacob Simmons of Hope Community Church [formerly McElwain Baptist] and his worship leader, Jeff Hindman.
The second category features practical ministry skills development. Pathways counselor Ross Hickman talked about pastoral counseling Sept. 29, and Robert Smith of Beeson Divinity School will lead “Biblical Exegesis and Hermeneutics” on Dec. 1.
The third category will be fellowship lunches.
Taylor noted those will require reservations, but anyone in ministry is invited to attend all the gatherings.
The new schedule includes almost every Thursday, with some exceptions, Taylor added.
Another goal will be to integrate Crain’s Undivided podcast to help expand learning opportunities.
“We’re talking with Mark Clifton of [the North American Mission Board] about a one-day conference in the spring, so this is the kind of flexibility we envision,” she explained. “Of course, we’ll fine-tune our plans as we go forward, but the response from our ministers has been great.”
Taylor noted Crain records a podcast, “Undivided,” interviewing some of the guests the association has and will host in the new schedule, available on the BMBA website. Crain said the idea is to enlarge the influence of the guests and provide practical ideas for ministry
The minister’s conferences will be livestreamed, Taylor noted, with the exception of the fellowship lunch. Links to the livestream on YouTube and Facebook will be included in email reminders and on the BMBA website.
Planning to host the gatherings along with BMBA church and community relations consultant John King, Crain said, “Though most of the meetings will be here at our new facility, we’ll host some regional gatherings to facilitate pastors and others from different parts of our association.”
Ministers are invited to subscribe to the BMBA email list by calling 205-599-3245 or registering online at bmbaonline.org.