This past weekend the Fellowship’s Council on Endorsement of Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors met at the Fellowship’s new offices in Atlanta. The first item on the agenda was a visit with Daniel Vestal. It seems that the Fellowship is coming to the awarenes that we as the endorsed have had all along – that CBF Endorsed Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors have a lot to contribute to our Fellowship. The council was asked to add to its work this year, the reflection on how our endorsed Pastoral Care givers can give back to the work of the Fellowship.
There are several ways in which this conversation is very exciting to me. First, it acknowledges that Endorsement ought to be a relationship. For too long the Fellowship has treated Ensorsement as an “administrative task” of the Fellowship and conferred endorsement with very limited followup – beyond placing the endorsed on the Fellowship’s prayer list and offering some regular continuing education. From the Fellowship’s end, they need to providing a network of support and care for our endorsed, many of whom work in isolated ministry locations.
The second reason this conversation is exciting to me is that it acknowledges the relational aspect of the endorsement process that represents an ideal arrangement. The Fellowship currently has less than 200 “Field Personnel” (Those serving in mission and ministry positions with CBF support). However, they have approximately 600 Endorsed ministers working in specialized ministry settings in businesses, hospitals, hospices, military posts, and pastoral counseling offices around the world. The nice thing about the endorsed is that they are paid by their employer and do not cost the Fellowship in salary and benefits.
But what should our endorsed be asked to do for the Fellowship? At a minimum, these endorsed should be ambassodors for the cause of Christ under the umbrella of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in the places where they work. These men and women could help provide care for CBF staff and field personnel and their families. The Endorsed could be speakers for CBF in churches in their area or a the local and national CBF meetings. We could be leading trainings in pastoral care for other ministers and laypeople. This list could go on and I invite you to make comments here with suggestions or ideas you have about how to integrate our endorsed into the work of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Dozens of men and women each year are making the decision to have the CBF be there endorsing body because they believe in the work of the CBF. Shouldn’t their affiliation with CBF be a relational interaction of mutual care and support? I think that is how it should be. What are your thoughts?