Do you remember—or even know about—the folk song written by Pete Seeger in 1955 entitled “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” I did not know it from Seeger. I knew if from the recording made famous by folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary.
That tune is already swirling around my head as I consider the possibility that I will be elected Director of Missions for the Columbia Metro Baptist Association a week from today. Only the words associated with it are “Where Have All My Sundays Gone?”
A core commitment of a leader who comes alongside a family of congregations in a Baptist association is to worship with, enjoy the fellowship of, and encourage the ministry of pastors and congregations by being present in their weekend worship services. It is also essential to learn and understand the worship and fellowship characteristics of all congregations in the family.
If elected, and thus I acquire the privilege to serve these churches-in-association with one another, I will start the role two days later. Thus, I am already having to think about a plan for visiting with congregations on Sundays and at other times. Three Sundays my first month are already tentatively planned.
This will be the first of many issues where I must do what I have been advising the staff of Baptist associations and other local denominational organizations/judicatories to do for the past 40 years. Or, I must declare I gave them bad advice.
This side of the practice of serving as the director of missions for a local Baptist association, here is my plan for the four Sundays in the month based on the advice I have given others:
First Sunday: I plan to still be a faithful church-person with my congregation of membership. I have co-taught a Sunday School class in this church for almost 10 years. I plan to teach that class the first Sunday of every month—if possible—because that is also the Sunday our class goes to lunch together. These class members are friends with one another and followers of Jesus—which is why the name of the class is “Friends and Followers.” I need them as part of my foundational spiritual and relational support base.
A Second and Third Sunday: Two additional Sundays per month I plan to worship and fellowship with a sense of intentionality in congregations where my presence can be a positive force for the four Goods—Good Faith, Good Community, Good Works, and Good News. I want by my attendance to make a difference in the life and ministry of congregations.
The Fourth Sunday: I call this Sunday the “Holy Spirit” Sunday. While congregational visits the second and third Sunday of the month may be planned well in advance, this Sunday is not. This Sunday involves my listening to the Holy Spirit to determine what congregation needs my loving, supportive, even prophetic presence due to some great opportunity or challenge facing them or their pastor. A decision on these congregations is made only days in advance.
The “Holy Spirit” Sunday is left open on purpose to have a Sunday available within a few days or weeks to go to a congregation where the Holy Spirit will lead me. I believe in writing on my calendar the words “Holy Spirit” on that day to indicate it is already booked, but I do not know yet where I will be.
This is my plan and I am sticking with it. At least until I discover ways to enhance it, or I find out it does not work and I need to back up, punt, reconceptualize, and go back and apologize to thousands of local and regional denominational staff persons to whom I have advocated this approach.