Recently I enjoyed the meaningful experience of welcoming a youth group to the GARBC Ministry Resource Center. Several weeks earlier the youth leader of a fellowshipping church in Wisconsin contacted me, asking if his group could visit. Rather than traveling to a remote location to lead a Vacation Bible School, canvass for a church, or fix up a facility, he and the other leaders determined to expand the students’ awareness of the scope of service careers in three ministry organizations.
To keep costs at a minimum, the group arranged to bunk in a church. Before leaving home, they packed coolers with prepackaged food to reduce the amount of food preparation during the trip. Three ministry organizations were on their itinerary—Awana International, Pacific Garden Mission, and the GARBC Ministry Resource Center.
As they arrived, I welcomed the group at the front door. I asked each student his or her name, grade level, and future career aspirations. Also, I inquired if any of them had considered vocational ministry, to which one student raised a hesitant hand. Then I introduced the tour by saying that they were going to see a staff of approximately 70 skilled individuals, each of whom saw him- or herself as serving the Lord in vocational ministry. I explained that a few of the staff had been pastors or pastors’ wives but most had not, and that our staff is deeply committed to serving in their churches as deacons, Sunday School teachers, choir members, nursery workers, and ushers. GARBC staff members may not have the career title of pastor or missionary, but they play a vital role by providing support services to enable effective ministry to take place in churches.
As the students moved from office to office, I explained the roles of the staff. Marketing and sales personnel make sure churches know about the services and resources available to them. Human Resource personnel tend to the myriad details in caring for employee schedules, insurance, pensions, and records, and in creating a healthy, positive, and professional environment in which to work. A production director negotiates vendor contracts to obtain the best prices for the hundreds of printing projects that must be facilitated. Editors work with church educational curriculum, Bibles studies, books, and magazines to produce a constant stream of products to help people grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The students saw the skilled work of graphic artists, who design the artistic components of church educational resources to enhance interest and comprehension as the Word of God is taught on the full range of age levels. Our staff photographer uses his creativity to capture visually the stories of people, churches, and issues impacting our fellowship.
We walked through the production area and saw the process of preparing, packaging, stocking, packing, and shipping hundreds of different resources to churches. We toured the customer service area, where orders are received; the business area, where the financial books are managed; and the IT department, where the sophisticated computer system is managed.
I explained each ministry represented in the GARBC—Regular Baptist Press, Gospel Literature Services, the International Partnership, the Chaplaincy Commission, Baptist Builders Club, and the GARBC administrative team—telling the students how each assists pastors and churches in effective ministry. Along the way, staff members enthusiastically explained how their particular work fits into the whole organizational scheme and told of the training needed to function in their role.
As the tour was concluding, the students and several staff members ate lunch together, continuing to visit about ministry service. I looked at my watch and realized that three hours had quickly passed. The students and their leaders expressed appreciation and gave positive feedback. Their concept of ministry had forever changed. No longer was there only one hesitant response to the inquiry about future vocational ministry; several students realized that with their interests and skills, they could fit into places of ministry.
David Bosket, my colleague who leads our technology department, recently presented a devotional in chapel to underscore the various professional skills it takes for our organization to function. View his presentation at baptistbulletin.org/?p=11237.
I invite youth groups, Sunday School classes, and senior citizens to visit the GARBC Ministry Resource Center. Give us a chance to raise your awareness of ministry. You just might discover your role in serving the Lord!
John Greening is national representative for the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.