In 2015, Ken Clendinning announced his intention to conclude as Director of Ministries for the NSW/ACT Baptist Association at the end of his current term. The search began for a new Director of Ministries, and after a discernment process spanning several months, Rev Dr Steve Bartlett was appointed as the Director of Ministries elect at the 148th Annual Assembly in April.
As Steve starts out in this new role, Together sat down with him to hear more about him and his position in the Baptist Association.
Steve, Together readers wish you congratulations on your new role. For the benefit of the readers, what is your new role and how will it shape your focus to benefit the Association?
“I commenced in the Director of Ministries (DOM) role on 4th July, following the outstanding transitional work was done by our inaugural Director, Ken Clendinning.
The role of Director of Ministries is that of a servant leader, responsible for articulating and leading the implementation of the vision of our NSW & ACT Baptist Association, as well as being its public spokesperson. The DOM is the leader of the staff team of the Association and oversees the support the Association provides to the 340 Baptist churches who are part of our movement. This support is astonishingly broad including overseeing accreditation of pastors, assisting churches with their regulatory compliance, fostering church planting, advocacy with government and public agencies, providing training for Special Religious Education, maintaining ministry standards, assisting churches in revitalisation, youth ministry, families/children’s ministry, cross-cultural ministries and global mission, providing Christian camping through Kiah Ridge, and managing key events of our state movement such as Assemblies and Revive.”
It sounds like you will be overseeing many people and many aspects of the Association. How did you come to this role?
“I have been serving with the Association in the role of Associate Director – Church Planting since 2011 and have been involved in denominational ministry of one form or another on a volunteer basis for the last 20 years. I am highly committed to our movement and excited by how God is at work through it. So when the opportunity came to engage discussions about the role, there was a sense of peace about pressing into it. My wife Louise and I are very settled in the conviction that God has set this new season before us.”
How do you see this role developing over the next few years?
“As an Association we will continue to pursue our vision to be a movement championing disciple-making communities of faith, raising leaders (especially the next generation of leaders), actively going after the God-inspired Gen1K vision of 1000 healthy churches, and being equipped as an effective voice for God’s justice and compassion. We do this in a societal context of increasing complexity and to some degree increasing hostility to the values and message of the gospel. Yet there is also continued openness to the spiritual, which provides opportunities to connect people with Jesus. I expect my role will continue to develop as I lead in response to and in anticipation of factors such as these, and others, in the years ahead.”
Before being appointed as Director of Ministries, what have you done to prepare you for the work ahead?
“Prior to my years on staff at the Association in the church planting role, I led the team at Bayside Community Church for 14 years. Bayside was birthed with three families meeting in my lounge room. Before this, I served as Associate Pastor at Northwest Community Baptist. Other roles have included being on the faculty of Morling College for five years as Director of the School of Church Planting. Before training for pastoral ministry, I worked in the financial services sector, primarily for an investment bank.”
The support of family is very important. Tell us about your family.
“Louise and I have been married 23 years this year. Together we have been blessed with 3 children – Josh (14), Jordan (11), and Kiara (8). We don’t really have a lounge room – we have a music room, with a dozen instruments from drum kit to a grand piano, electric guitar to double bass. Music of all sorts is made at our place and we try not to annoy the neighbours too much.”
Tell us about how you became a Christian. Who are some people who helped you on your Christian journey?
“God has blessed me with a background in a Christian family (immediate and extended), and I grew up integrally involved in Merrylands Baptist Church. Both of these things have had a profound impact on my spiritual journey. At six years of age I committed my life to Christ, and I was baptised at 13. For as long as I can remember this commitment has been real to me, but its implications for my life and ministry is something I have continued to be challenged by since senior high school. I’ve sensed strongly a call to vocational ministry since my teenage years.
My parents are both role models in the faith. The staff team who I served with at Bayside Community Church provided a profound experience of team and being on mission together. Other colleagues in ministry who are long-term friends and mentors have also impacted me. Louise and my children are an ongoing blessing from God and a huge encouragement in my journey. They also help me keep me grounded!
John Stott, David Bosch, Kenneth Bailey, Stuart Murray, Philip Yancey and CS Lewis are among the Christian writers who have shaped me. In the area of leadership Henry Blackaby, Bobby Clinton, Bill Hybels and Will Mancini have been influential.”
Other than people who have impacted your life, what are some bible verses and characters that inspire you in your work commitments and family life?
“I love spending time in the gospels. I want to live like Jesus did. The Apostle Paul is one of my heroes, and I am inspired by his relentless commitment to bringing the good news of Jesus to people in ways they can understand and respond to. So 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 are significant verses for me. The book of Ephesians provides huge encouragement to me in understanding my identity in Christ and lifting me to live aligned with the reality of who I am in Him.
I value the example of those characters (some not so well known) in the Bible who showed courageous leadership, often in the face of challenging circumstances. (For example, I have been reflecting recently on the faithfulness of Obadiah in 1 Kings 18). And I love Paul’s prayer for the Colossians in Col 1:9-12 – I pray it for myself and others regularly.”
What are some ways that you maintain your faith in everyday life?
“I tend to be a morning person and enjoy starting the day early with some time with the Lord, either in the quietness of our house or while lap-swimming at the local pool. I value being mentored and mentoring others in ministry. I also try to set aside regular times to ‘retreat’, opening up space to take a more extended time to hear from God.
Our family is on this journey of faith together, and we share opportunities to worship, witness and serve together. We also try to converse naturally as a family about how faith fits into all aspects of life – both the wonderful bits and the hard bits.
One area which I am enjoying growing in at the moment is practising the presence of God’s Spirit in my life, seeking to live worshipfully and surrendered amidst all the varied demands of each day. Moving into this new role reminds me of my need to continue to grow in this!”
What are some of the challenges that you find in your work?
“Like many of us, balancing priorities in life can seem a juggling act at times. There have always been many more worthwhile things than I have had time to do. I don’t think that’s going to change in this new role! Wisdom is needed for regularly deciding between what is good and what is best.”
Finally Steve, how can readers be praying for you in your new role?
“Anyone who seeks to see God’s Kingdom move forward will experience pushback from the enemy. It will be no different for me in this role. I’d enormously value prayer for gifting, wisdom and strength to live faithful to God’s calling on my life, and for ongoing protection for myself and my family as together we embark on this new season in ministry.”
We look forward to hearing more about what Steve will do in his role. You can keep up to date with what is happening in the Association on their website http://nswactbaptists.org.au/