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3Q14: Ministry Today in a Culture of Risks
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by Ivan L. Williams, Sr.
 
“I’ll be meeting with Dan Martella to learn a little bit about risk management which I really don’t know too much about, “ says Shantel Smith, a young pastor from Pacific Union College Church. “From what I understand Pastor Dan Martella has had a rough year with flooding at his church. I don’t know how bad it is.” Over the weekend she discovers that pastoral risk management goes far beyond insurance as it becomes a very real subject for her.
 
A Visit to Healdsburg is the featured church documentary in the latest  CALLED digital magazine for pastors.  
 
Ministry as usual is no longer acceptable or proficient especially in terms of risks and the prevention or management of them.  Ministry in the 21st century is drastically different than ministry in the 20th century. As one who began full-time ministry in the late 80’s, I clearly see drastic differences prior to the year 2000 and after.  For example, the local church office of safety didn’t even exist before the turn of the century, but today safety in general is a necessary focus for any pastor and congregation.

In this quarter’s edition of CALLED, we are addressing the huge reality of ministering in a culture of risks.   This edition includes articles covering the subjects of safety, abuse, fraud, rentals, security, media, and the essential work of pastors as shepherds.

No longer is the casual approach or careless attitude of “God will take care of it,” without a common sense method or a do-diligence plan acceptable. Not only are millions of dollars paid out of church funds for defense or settlement of blatant unattended risks, but precious focus is taken off the real mission of the church in the process. This complacent attitude just might be the death of one’s church and ministry.  However, a thriving and successful church functions in ministry with a real and relevant awareness of the risks and strives to prevent or mitigate them, so ministry won’t be side tracked down a litigious road.

f I could summarize this quarter's magazine in one word it would be "awareness." To be aware is critically important in the business of the church. King Solomon said long ago, "it is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. Proverbs 19:2. The pastor and church board's awareness of risks should lead them to function in key roles to ensure the church maintains an adequate approach to risk management in carrying out its ministry and programs.  “An effective risk management plan is a holistic one—one that addresses risk in all aspects of the church's activities. The risk management plan should also be proactive rather than reactive, identifying risks before they become liabilities and taking appropriate steps to alleviate them.”

This identification of risks should also look at all the possible risks in those areas, asking yourself: “What's the worst thing that could happen?” In the children's area, you might ask if a non custodial parent could kidnap a child or if the nursery wing could catch fire. Assess the probability of each risk and what you can do to reduce or eliminate it.

Finally, ministry will function much more seamlessly when pastors and churches recognize the culture of risks call for a new approach of diligence, pro-activeness, awareness, and reliance.

CALLED digital magazine for pastors is available at no charge to download courtesy of NAD Ministerial. To access the magazine users should go to the app store within their tabloid and do a search for ‘NADMinisterial.’ Current platforms supported include Android, iPad, iPHone 6, and Kindle.  There is also a pdf version for those who don't have access to an electronic tabloid.