Dave Walker is the boss of AFES in Townsville. Or the “executive pastor”. Really he’s just the senior staff worker. He has been in North Queensland for nine years. He has, on occasion, blogged here. He is so skilled that he has actually made two submissions to this program.
Dave is, of course, an “expert” in regional ministry and this input is so timely one might assume I asked him to write it.
Here are his tips.
- Keep heaven, hell, the bible and the gospel clearly in focus. Soon, no one’s going to care where they lived here.
- Be content for your gifts to be used less than they could be, or for your reputation to be smaller than it might be — for the sake of loving people. (And if that feels too hard, then think of your wife’s pattern of life raising children. Or Jesus. Either’s fine.)
- If God enables you, have children and grandchildren – spiritually. Most regional places suffer because there are no evangelical grandparents, ministers who have stuck around in the area for a generation or two. They don’t stick around because it’s hard, and often it’s right they move on. I’m guessing, though, (I’m only 9 years in!) that persuading other people to stay and minister with or near you is a key to going long term. (But if it is time to go to the big smoke, then do it!)
- Grow up. It’s lovely having some older, senior leader around to tell you that what you’re doing is great, or where you should go next, or that you’re ‘really needed’ where you are. But it’s a luxury, and God may put you somewhere where you don’t have that kind of leadership around. (And if I can facetiously slip in a corollary: Don’t stay in Sydney just because Phillip says you’re needed there!)
- Live in a nice house, where possible. This is pure pragmatism, and fraught with danger. But it helps.