The Association of Baptist Churches in NSW and ACT has moved into an exciting new phase of its history through the adoption of a new constitution and a commitment to living out it’s core values.
An integral part of this transition is the appointment of a Director of Ministries. Rev Ken Clendinning was overwhelmingly appointed to this position at the Annual Assembly in March. We at Together thought that this was an opportune time to sit with our new Director of Ministries.
Benita Clark interviewed Ken Clendinning, as he begins in his exciting new role, to give us insight into his passion for ministry, his vision for moving forward and how he came to be where he is now.
Ken, tell Together about your family and ministry involvement.
Judy and I have been married for 40 years and have been blessed with four wonderful children (three daughters and one son) whom are all married. We have four grandchildren and another on the way. Judy was on the pastoral team at Carlingford Baptist for 10 years before moving into private counselling practice, primarily with ministry couples. One of our daughters serves on the mission field while the other children are all in ministry roles within their local churches.
Judy and I are currently members of Northside Baptist, Crows Nest. I have also been the chaplain at the Canterbury Rugby League Football Club since 1993.
How did you become a Christian?
I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian family but it wasn’t until the age 13 that I came to a personal faith in Jesus. Initially my faith was a response of fear to a very judgmental God as a result of a fire and brimstone sermon. However, over time I came to understand more fully the character of God and that I could relate to Him intimately as a loving and gracious Father.
What is your ministry passion?
I love the local church! I believe that the church is God’s primary instrument of bringing the Gospel to the world and building community. Even though the church can be a flawed community, it has always been a joy to be part of a local church community and to serve it as their pastor.
I love sharing the good news of Jesus with those who are yet to personally know Him, especially with Australian men. This is why I have always been involved in nurturing relationships with people outside of the church, particularly in sports chaplaincy, when we moved to Sydney.
Ken, when you aren’t serving in ministry, where might you be found? What are some of your hobbies?
I have always been involved in sport at various levels from playing and coaching through to management. I also enjoy gardening and like to grow my own vegetables and herbs. Spending time with family has always been important to me and these days being with our grandchildren adds a new fun dimension.
This issue of Together is focused around faith sharing, mission and evangelism. What encouraging stories have you received around these as you serve the denomination?
It gives me no greater joy than to see people become followers of Jesus and to see their lives transformed by the Spirit of God. In my role it has been an enormous privilege to meet people whose lives have been turned around and to see churches who are really making a difference in reaching their communities for Christ. I don’t think we tell these stories enough. For me, mission activity and evangelism go beyond what we do at a oneon- one level to include what we can do together – locally and globally.
How can you encourage others in their faith sharing, mission and evangelism work?
Having developed a relationship with many people, I have found that most people don’t mind chatting about matters of faith, especially where there is a safe place to explore genuine questions. For me, mission is both word and deed. While most of us may not be gifted evangelists, we can all testify to our neighbours the reality of knowing Jesus. Over the years as I have become ‘a neighbour’ to miners, footballers, etc., I have regularly found that there are plenty of opportunities to speak of Jesus.
What are some Bible verses that you are encouraged by?
My favourite passage of scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
My grandfather, who was always very supportive of me often, quoted these verses to me. They remind me of the limitations of my own insight and wisdom and that these ultimately must be sought from God.
How did you start working for the Baptist Association (formerly the Baptist Union)?
After 17 years in pastoral ministry, primarily in Broken Hill and Orange, I accepted a call to join the faculty of Morling College as ‘Lecturer in Pastoral and Practical Studies’. I remained in this role for fourteen and a half years after which I began considering a return to pastoral ministry. I was approached regarding a new denominational role as team leader of Ministry Support and Development (MSD). I accepted this role and have now served the churches in this capacity for nearly seven years. As you know most recently I have been appointed Director of Ministries, a role that I am extremely excited to take on!
Let’s take a step back for a minute – can you tell us what MSD is and what they aim to do?
MSD is Ministry Support and Development. MSD is committed to establishing and facilitating the development of healthy, sustainable, missional ministries within and through the Baptist Churches of NSW and ACT. The MSD Ministry Team undertakes the role of resourcing, serving, supporting and partnering the churches and pastors of the denomination in this endeavour.
Now, congratulations on your appointment to the role of Director of Ministries. Can you tell us about the vision for the denomination and how that is moving forward? Thanks. I see the Baptist Association existing so that we may participate in advancing the Gospel of the Kingdom in word, sign and deed by mutual partnership and support of local initiatives. We choose to be interdependent as we express a unified, collective vision revealed in unique contextualised ways. As a result of the Directions 2012 consultations we recommitted to having a collective vision in which we would become more missional as a movement. The denomination has now undergone significant organisational change to support this direction. The development of the Core Five values is a significant part of moving forward and is a foundation on which this vision will be developed.
Over the next 6 months I will be working with the Assembly Council to more clearly articulate the vision and consider a strategic way forward. This vision is about our corporate expression as an Association and we will be encouraging churches to consider how this may be expressed in their particular contexts.
How will the new role change to your day-to-day activities?
In my previous role my focus was a combination of developing the overall direction of MSD accompanied with hands on ministering with pastors and churches. In this new role there will be greater focus on the bigger picture and direction of the denomination with less hands on activities. This is partly why I have accepted this position for only three years rather than the normal five as I wish to return to more hands on ministry. Further, over the next three years I want to invest in leadership development in preparation for greater generational change.
What is the key message and direction you would like to communicate to Churches?
I would love to see a Baptist movement in NSW and ACT where there is evidence of a real movement of God’s Spirit among us way beyond our dreams and what we thought possible. That there are vibrant, healthy Christ-centred churches throughout NSW and ACT who are passionate about the gospel and mission shaped in all their activities locally and globally. It would be a delight to see us all collaborating together with a strong collective identity that honours, champions and supports each other and values our diverse approaches to ministry. It would be encouraging to see us partnering together as churches and affiliated groups (agencies) to impact our society with the gospel.
The Baptist Ministry Centre at Epping exists to serve our churches, missions and pastors to support both the ministry and mission of our local churches and our collective vision.
What do you see as the strengths of our denomination and what challenges do we face?
The autonomy of the local church can be both a strength and a challenge. While it is important for each local community to seek God’s intent for themselves in their local context, we need to expand our collaboration and support for each other in our broader endeavours. Unfortunately some churches have translated autonomy to mean independence and have become isolated from other churches. We live in a missional context and need to ensure that we work together for the Kingdom of God.
Finally, how can people get involved in driving this new vision for the denomination?
Prayer is where people can begin. This can be followed up at numerous levels including encouraging your own church to consider what the ‘Core Five’ values might look like in your local context. These values need to significantly impact our relationships and ministry activities. It starts with us. I would encourage churches to also connect more strongly with neighbouring churches. Additionally, being actively part of shared occasions such as Revive will connect people and churches with the wider vision. Beyond these suggestions, there are plenty of opportunities to partner with wider ministries throughout our movement. The Baptist Ministry Centre can offer suggestions for those wanting to be engaged more broadly.
It is encouraging and exciting to see the vision and the direction the denomination is heading. Be in prayer for what God is doing in the denomination and pray for your involvement in the vision.