WEST—An explosion last April 17 at a fertilizer plant forever changed West. Within a few hours after the disaster, Richard Mangum arrived on the scene to talk with pastors and help assess needs.
As Texas Baptists’ church strategist for Central Texas, Mangum connects with pastors and helps them in times of need. By being present quickly after a disaster, strategists like Mangum can be the serving hands of Texas Baptists and help communicate needs to a broader audience.
church strategists for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. “We connect churches to Texas Baptists. With backgrounds in church growth, ministry and development, our church strategists are invaluable connectors to local pastors and associations. We try to help churches that are plateaued or declining and churches that are dealing with problems. Our strategists have been trained in some processes they can use to help these churches.”“If there is a need, we are the front guys,” said Larry Vowell, director of
Nine church strategists live and work across Texas—Charles Davenport in Northwest Texas, Fred Ater in the San Antonio area, Bruce Peterson in Houston, Robert Cuellar in Southwest Texas, Dickie Dunn in Dallas, Mangum in Central Texas and Vowell in Fort Worth. Two new strategists recently joined the team—Noe Trevino serving the Rio Grande Valley and Tim Watson in East Texas.
“Our job is all about relationships,” Cuellar said. “It is about sharing resources, facilitating, intervening, walking alongside pastors and lay leaders. I count it a blessing to be a part of this ministry.”
David Hardage, executive director of the BGCT Executive Board, has asked the strategists to build relationships with pastors and churches and help communicate what Texas Baptists are doing in ministry to those in their areas.
When a church loses a pastor, strategists help connect the church with resources. If a pastor is going through a difficult time and needs to share challenges and concerns, a local strategist is available to help. If a church needs training or help in facing the future, strategists are available to walk with the congregation through that time.
“I have talked with pastors who just needed someone to listen to their struggles,” Mangum said. “If you are looking for a safe place, I can be a safe place in the midst of crisis.”
One of the biggest needs strategists have tried to address is helping pastors find friends. Twenty-five mentors were trained last year to lead groups of pastors in conversation. Additionally, 30 small groups, known as Pastor Clusters, have been created across the state. Pastors meet for lunch once a month to talk and develop relationships with peers.
Beyond responding to personal and church crises, each strategist also is certified in disaster relief assessment through Texas Baptist Men.
Strategists also help connect churches with Texas Baptist ministries and resources, ranging from missions and evangelism, to counseling services, to education and discipleship tools.