By Matt Rollins
Minister of Community Engagement
Community Engagement. That’s the new buzz word for me these days. This was what I suggested to Jim Dant, FBC Greenville’s pastor, as a potential official descriptor of my new role at the church. And not to worry, I’d figure out what it meant along the way.
The phrase is strong enough to signal some pretty serious ministerial weight but also vague enough to allow plenty of room for exploration and discernment.
Some of this ministry area will not be new to the work of First Baptist. I will pick up responsibility for a good bit of the Missions Ministry that Laura Stout faithfully oversaw for her eighteen years on staff, minus a little here, plus a little there.
One big difference is that I won’t oversee children’s missions on Wednesday nights. So—according to the law of conservation of workload—I’ll need to fill that gap with more missions programming initiatives and some new ways First Baptist can live out her calling of mercy, justice and loving kindness.
Let’s call this gap X. Looking at it in those terms, Community Engagement (CE) is everything that Laura did as Missions Coordinator (M) minus her Wednesday night work with Children on Mission (CoM) plus the new stuff I want to help the church get into (X) – or in equation form: CE = M – CoM + X.
What is the X going to be? In the coming weeks and months, I will be working hard to clearly discern and articulate some exciting new areas of mission and justice work where First Baptist Greenville can engage in the community. I will welcome input, feedback and suggestions from church members and staff, the Holy Spirit, our sister churches, justice-centered organizations across the country, the person of Jesus presented in the Gospels, local non-profits in the area, and, of course, the areas outside our church walls where God is clearly at work.
I do not yet know what new adventures lie ahead for the church in this area, but I do know that I am excited to be on this journey.
As you are considering new ways to get involved, consider the ministry of community engagement, whatever that ends up being. Come help me solve for X!
Matt has been on staff at First Baptist Greenville since September 2003. Most recently he was Minister of Spiritual Formation and Outreach.
He and his wife, Rolyn, have three children, Jack, Celie Ann, and Lucy.
Matt was an engineer before he changed careers.