Three associational directors of missions are fading from their leadership roles across Louisiana. Resumes are now being accepted for their replacements.
STATEWIDE – Three associational directors of missions are fading from their leadership roles across Louisiana. Resumes are now being accepted for their replacements.
Herb Dickerson, director of missions for the North Rapides, Big Creek and Central Louisiana Baptist Associations, all based out of Pineville, retired Dec. 31. He was DOM for 12 years.
Joe McKeever, director of missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans, plans to retire in April 2009. He was DOM for five years.
Eddie DeHondt, director of missions for the Northwest Louisiana Baptist Association based in Shreveport, plans to retire in June 2009. He was DOM for 10 years.
“Dickerson, McKeever and DeHondt have all given tremendous leadership in their respective associations,” said Beau Colle, LBC liaison to directors of missions. “It is evident that each man was just what was needed to provide guidance and encouragement to the churches, pastors, staff and lay leaders.”
Associations provide the structure that allows more ministry, training and fellowship to be accomplished than probably would take place without it.
One church, for example, might not be able to sustain a food-and-clothing ministry for long.
If people from several churches in the same area worked together, however, it would be easier on everyone and more people would benefit from the ministry.
By the same token, training could be delivered more efficiently to people from many churches at one time, if they gathered for associational training. Also, people in one church could be strengthened spiritually by spending time with a larger group than just their local church. New friendships could be formed. Ideas for new ministries could be traded. Excitement for God’s work could be fanned by being among those on fire for the Lord.
The director of missions coordinates all this associational ministry, training and fellowship, and in addition pastors the pastors. It’s a significant ministry responsibility, Colle said. Search teams are already in place, and people are praying for the man God is calling to serve as associational missionary in Big Creek/Central Louisiana/North Rapides Baptist associations, and in Greater New Orleans, and Northwest Louisiana Baptist associations.
The Louisiana Baptist Message asked the same questions of each of the outgoing DOMs.
What was the best part of your job?
Dickerson: Coming alongside pastors and helping them in various ways. No pastor or staff person without a friend, no church without a vision, no people group in our area without a witness, and no God-called worker without access to good training. I used these four markers, philosophical divisions, to organize my work. The work with the pastors was the most fulfilling, sharing heartbreaking or great, wonderful times with the pastors and bonding with them.
McKeever: The relationship with the pastors. I’ve always just loved pastors, even when I was a child, and when I became a pastor I always reached out to the other pastors, to welcome new pastors and help a pastor if he was in trouble, and finally the Lord made me DOM and that was nice, when you get paid to do what you love best.
DeHondt: Everything. Everything is the best part of the job, even the sad things. It’s being able to look those things in the eye with God’s help and say, ‘We’re going to make it.’ I’ve truly from my heart I feel blessed to have been a part of this. … I don’t do these things because I like them; I do them because God’s gifted me to. You’re not called to stay on the mountain; you have to be willing to be in the pit. I’d have quit a long time ago if I didn’t. I have determined that I like it all.
What was the high point of your tenure?
Dickerson: We moved locations three times and finally were able to acquire an adequate facility and resources for the work. That was in 2003.
McKeever: The post-Katrina work. Getting the pastors together and connecting them with help from throughout the country, from the Southern Baptist Convention, from others, from state conventions, and other churches. Comforting them. Basically being a pastor to pastors. After Katrina the pastors would say to me the ‘Esther line’ – You’ve come to the kingdom for such a time as this.
DeHondt: When I realized the churches were beginning to internalize the basic basis of associational work, which I’d been communicating subtly for years, which is to do together what we cannot effectively do by ourselves. We didn’t make a big issue over it; we just slowly began to communicate that in most things we did, and when I began to hear ministers, staff and laypeople repeat that in t heir own words, I realized that they would continue tob e a part of an association because they realized that we could do more together effectively that we could do ourselves. And that’s what Ecclesiastes 4:9 tells us.
What was the lowest point/worst day of your tenure?
Dickerson: Church conflict, referee-ing church fights. You get situations w here you literally have people who are doing great harm to the cause of Christ in churches, and a lot of times people don’t know how to deal with them so they call the DOM. I’ve had to moderate business meetings with police officers in the hallways. I’ve had groups sic their lawyers on me, on two or three occasions! Someone has to do the dirty work, and they always call the DOM. The joy of the Lord in serving His people is its own reward.
McKeever: Shedding tears over the devastation of Katrina. We’ve lost pastors who’ve lost their congregations and moved away. That was sad. When I agreed to [become the DOM] I agreed to give it three years. In the first 18 months, I had cancer under the tongue and radiation – three months of radiation, every weekday for 30 minutes a day …, and then three and a half years of Katrina and rebuilding.
DeHondt: I’ve had lots of bad days. That’s a part of my DNA I had to deal with long before I came to this job. A long time ago I had to settle the issue that I quit evaluating and trying to have good days. … In Romans 12, Paul says we are to rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with those who weep, so in order to do both of those I must be willing to experience what we call ‘good days’ and ‘bad days.’
What skills are most needed in your association(s)?
Dickerson: It’s a multi-skill job. The guy needs to have a real good solid set of theological skills. If he can’t do theological diagnosis, he’s in trouble. At the same time you need to be a really good people person because very few people come to the association; the association goes to them. You’ve got to be able to sell the association and be the proactive factor in building good relationships. A third skill would have to be making many bricks from not much straw. The DOM has to create resources, and find resources not easy to find. You have to be good at spotting and recruiting talent that doesn’t cost much.
McKeever: He needs to be a missionary, to have a missions heart, be a missiologist, so he sees a need and knows how to organize people to meet that need. Needs executive ability. Needs pastoral skills. You always need the DOM to have the ability to bring a good sermon. He’s going to have the opportunity to speak in churches and denominational platforms. If he can’t do this, it’s going to limit his effectiveness.
DeHondt: There are many skills needed like administrative, counseling, teaching, etc., but probably one of the most important is the ability to building relationships and to help believers in different churches to see the value of working together. The term ‘association’ is relational. You can’t have an association with one person or one church or one pastor. You can hire administration, counselors and teachers, but if you’re unable to build relations and help others to build relations, you won’t have an association.
Dickerson: I plan to keep from starving to death while my retirement account is recovering. I’ve been paying into retirement for 42 years and saw it lose 40 percent in two months. I’ll do the part-time thing. Two things already: I’m going to be a part-time minister of teaching for a church, and a part-time prison chaplain for the Louisiana State Department of Corrections. And I’m going to set myself a goal this first year or two of submitting at least six articles for publication.
McKeever: I’m perfectly content with what God has next for me. My wife says ‘clean out the garage’ and ‘clean out the attic.’ I’m going to have to do something, because my GuideStone account has taken a huge hit. But I’m going to do nothing for six months but work on three books I have in the works – on fellowship, leadership and prayer – and take every speaking opportunity I can that comes my way, and see what the Lord does. I hope to leave the GuideStone money there for two years and see if it will rebuild.
DeHondt: I plan to serve in local churches and perhaps do some consulting when requested with churches and pastors. … I might coordinate tours if requested.
Dickerson: I love you. This is the best job I’ve ever had. I thank God for you.
McKeever: Freddie [Arnold] and I have been a team through this whole time. We feel we’ve had their [churches’] support. We have managed to save some money so we feel the next team will have something to work with. The ball game is changing; it changed at my suggestion so we can move to a greater level of effectiveness as we move from crisis time to long-range planning. This was at our initiative from the beginning. The churches – and the people in the churches – need to be more involved than ever before or the changes that we’re all envisioning aren’t going to happen.
DeHondt: That the spirit of cooperation in the Northwest Association is alive and well, and I owe it all to the pastors and staffs and lay leaders who have been willing to work together. And I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of that experience. Thank you.
Resumes for the DOM positions may be sent to the DOM Search Committee at
2201 Melrose St
Pineville LA 71360
2222 Lakeshore Dr
New Orleans LA 70122
5875 W 70th St
Shreveport LA 71129