Superintendent’s Report

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2022 EFCA Central Superintendent’s Report

“For all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord, endures forever.” I Peter 1:24-25

I’ve mentioned on many occasions as I have traveled throughout our EFCA Central and now have been in over 100 of our 135 churches, that there is a vast difference in churches that are making a difference for Christ and those that are struggling. From traveling these many thousands of miles, I’ve come up with a way to describe the difference I’m seeing in our churches. Some are life-giving while others seem to be more self-focused.

In this past year we once again made a commitment to serve our EFCA Central churches in becoming life-giving churches for the glory of Christ. Our commitment continues to be fourfold:

  1. Life-giving churches understand gospel clarity.  These life-giving churches know that it is indeed the Word of the Lord that will survive all our efforts.  Therefore, we are determined to continue to preach, teach, and disciple with the clarity of the Scriptures.
  2. Life-giving churches are bold with the gospel.  These life-giving churches are “not ashamed of the gospel” because they understand that it “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16
  3. Life-giving churches have compassion for the vulnerable.  We are called in Colossians 3:12 to “put on compassion.”  In v. 14 is says “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”  Without compassion and love we are just making noise.
  4. Life-giving churches are led by humble leaders.  In Philippians 2 we are commanded to adopt “the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.”  The passage is a great reminder to the Christian leader that it is not about us.  Without humility we will face God’s discipline and opposition.

This Life-Giving Church focus has been and will continue to encompass most of my time in these various ways:

  1. Meeting with church leaders: In the past year, many elder/leadership teams have sought advice and help in the areas of disciple making, resolving conflict, vision for the future, or pastoral placement.  These meetings have brought me the most joy as I meet our godly lay leaders throughout the district and pray.
  2. Encouraging pastors: Our pastors are some of the most educated, gifted, and humble leaders I have ever met in ministry.  We serve the local church by helping our pastors to connect, grow, and be challenged to carry out their ministry of the gospel in a life-giving way in the local church.  When we ask our pastors to gather, we want to have a very important reason for them to be present.  Our goal is to help them grow as men of God, not just sit in meetings.
  3. Planting of Life-Giving Churches: Our team of Mark Farran and Todd Brooks are gifted men with a passion to see the local church plant new life-giving churches.  We will not implement the “parachute a church planter into a community” method.  Our goal is to have groups of area churches come together to reach the lost around them with new life-giving churches.  We are better doing this together instead of in isolation.  Our desire is to have many new gospel initiatives over the next several years.  If you live in EFCA Central, we want to make it impossible to miss hearing the gospel.
  4. Placement of new pastors: This important aspect of ministry to the local church takes much of my time and travel.  Finding the next pastor is important to local church leaders and to us.  Leadership is important in every context, especially in the local church.  Our goal is to help churches locate men of God who have gospel clarity, gospel boldness, compassion for the vulnerable, and are humble.
  5. Adoption initiative: We have an epidemic of forgotten children in our communities.  Several EFCA Central churches have begun new initiatives to assist people in their church and community through efforts to help couples adopt or train to be foster parents.  Please ask me how you can begin this vital ministry as an act of obedience in your local church.

Some Important Acknowledgments:

Larry Austin, after 15 years on the staff of EFCA Central, is moving to a stage where he will function ¼ time as a regional health coach in central Iowa.  During these past 3 years, as I was learning the ropes of this role, Larry has been a tremendous source of knowledge and insights for me.  He has invested well in our churches and pastors.  Please let him know how much you appreciate all that God has done through his life and ministry.

Brian Jones has served for the past 6 years as the chair of the District Board of Directors.  He is a man of deep faith, practical insights, and great encouragement to me as I lead in this role.  He has led us well.  Although he must take a year off from his role, he leaves the chairman role with great respect from so many who know him and have been blessed to serve alongside him during these past 6 years.

Dick Nichols has served on the Board of Directors for several years and his second term has come to an end, requiring a year off from serving.  I have deeply appreciated his heart for Christ and people.  He comes to our meetings with a deep walk with Christ, the skill of an entrepreneur/farmer, as well as with a commitment to advance only the glory of Christ.  It’s been a true joy serving Jesus with Dick.

Paul Bauman has served on our EFCA Central team for the past two years.  He has been a source of refreshment to many, including myself in the past two years.  As he returns to the local church in the role of lead pastor, we want to say how much we appreciate his investment in churches and pastors through this role.

Damian Peasley has served most recently as the representative from RSCD (Reach Students Central District) on our Board of Directors until taking a position as lead pastor at Madrid EFC.  He is a lover of Jesus and a clear communicator of the gospel.  It has been a tremendous blessing to serve alongside this man and see his heart for Christ and the people he serves.

As we serve out Lord together another year, let’s recommit ourselves to being leaders who focus on gospel clarity, gospel boldness, compassion for the vulnerable, and humility.  After all, as I Peter 1 reminds us it is the Word of the Lord that will remain forever.

It is a joy serving Jesus with you,

Michael Shields
District Superintendent

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