Understanding the Role of M.E.- Ministers of Education Gather for Four Day Summit

May 31, 2003 02:25 PM EDT

BELTSVILLE, Md.— 30 ministers of education across the country gathered for a leadership effectiveness summit, May 15-18. Entitled, “Meet M.E. in D.C.,” the conference focused on building a lucid understanding of the roles of Ministers of Education in the mission field.

"This helped reaffirm what we are called to do as ministers of education, which is equip [lay] leaders to do the ministry," said Ron Surber, an associate M.E. at the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.

Many times, ministers of education lose focus of their primary ministry as they become loaded with miscellaneous administrative duties and tasks.

"A lot of times if it doesn't fit youth, music or pastoral duties, then [ministers of education] are expected to do it, which takes them away from doing what we were called to do," he said.

Throughout the four-day summit, the ministers probed and toned their skills, setting clear standards to achieve ministry goals. The group received hands-on training in how they can influence their environment through their roles, and focused on establishing team-building principles to assist them.

"Ministers of education are often the gatekeepers of learning in the church," said Bill Taylor, director of Network Partnerships at LifeWay Christian Resource, sponsor of the summit.

"They can open up a world of ministry possibilities to a church's membership by selecting and developing learning opportunities that deepen people's understanding of the Bible and equip them for ministry. We want to do all we can to help them strengthen their churches," he continued.

Suber used the skills he gained through the summit to help train Forrest Heights Baptist Church in Oxen Hill, Md. in how to better utilize its resources to minister to its community. He took a tour of the facility, met some of the Sunday School teachers and leaders in the church and gave suggestions on how they can improve their ministry.

"These churches need encouragement," Suber said. "When you come in from the outside, you see things that others might not. And you're able to ask, 'What about this?' And they say, 'I didn't think about that.'"

Rick West, a minister of education at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Dothan, Ala., said he was able to "get a broader view" of what is going on in other churches.

"It was important that I be stretched," he said. "I'm a missionary at heart, and we should be a missionary wherever we are."

"To have a minister of education come in and give us a tangible game plan was very useful," said Phillip Hurst, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Hyattsville, Md. "It's helpful to have someone from the outside make recommendations."

Last year, ministers of education have met regionally to develop strategies to increase their effectiveness in ministry; next year, ministers of education from across the United States will go into 100 cities to conduct similar learning and leading conferences in an emphasis called "Meet M.E. (Ministers of Education) Across America."

By Pauline J.