Change not only inevitable, but necessaryMount Tabor’s newly introduced Marketplace Commissions a shift to doing the work of the church as opposed to just doing church work
Many churches in recent years have recognized the importance of leaders and members stepping outside of the church to spread the message and do God’s work, and now Mount Tabor Church has changed the way it conducts its spiritual business with the introduction of a ministry model they’ve dubbed Marketplace Ministry.
Church senior pastor Bishop Neil Ellis said the time had come for
Mount Tabor to be more deeply engaged in trans-generational transformation by doing the work of the church as opposed to just doing church work.
For Mount Tabor Church’s leaders and members this means shifting away from the preoccupation with internalized clubs, auxiliaries and titles within churches, to a more externalized interaction to impact more than just church life.
“We needed to move away from the traditional church work, which mostly catered to meeting the needs of the congregation and step boldly into doing the work of the church which caters to meeting the demands of our culture by placing greater focus on life and ministry as it exists outside of the four walls of the church,” said Ellis.
The formation of Marketplace Ministry at Mount Tabor resulted in a shift from the traditional church auxiliaries, and the establishment of 12 Commissions — arts and entertainment, business, education, evangelism, family, government, health, media, men, religion, women, and youth and children.
Mount Tabor’s leadership said each Commission representing an area of influence, would allow Mount Tabor members to more personally engage in how they interact with their individual areas, and take ownership for changing the environments they exist in on a daily basis.
Commissions are comprised of stakeholders from within Mount Tabor ministry. Ellis said their leadership represents the changing face of the church. Each Commission will have a three-year tenure and will introduce, during that period, seven relevant yet spiritually infused initiatives to support their objectives.
Dr. Kenneth Romer, who has pastoral oversight for the Marketplace Ministry and heads the Commissions Secretariat said the move does not compromise the message or the mandate of the church, but rather shifts the mindset of the church to take transformation outside of the proverbial four walls in a relevant fashion.
“This Marketplace Ministry model is not a new creation, but rather a recreated perspective to expand the relevance, influence and witness of the church through viable methodologies,” said Romer.
Since its initial launch on March 1, church officials said some of the Commissions have focused in on issues such as intellectual property rights for entertainers and artists, women empowerment, the launch of a literacy campaign for teen mothers alongside an infant stimulation program, a business summit designed to bridge the gap between workforce and employers, the mentoring of teen fathers and moves towards the establishment of a national kidney donor registry.
Each of the church’s Commissions will have an annual platform designed to implement aspects of its transformative agenda, and will be subject to ongoing review and reporting to ensure it maintains its cultural relevance.
“The Church has a responsibility to transform this earth,” said Ellis, who has served as pastor of Mount Tabor Church for more than three decades. “Inherent to this transformation is the moving away from the traditional internalized focus of churches to a more significant externalized interaction with the prominent spheres of influence which impact all of life — not just church life.”
Ellis said Mount Tabor Church members were excited and encouraged about the agenda and the direction the church is headed in. The shift, he said, remains a part of the original mission of the church.
“We were founded to live out our mission as a non-traditional body of believers, using a holistic approach in leading the people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was our mission to establish them as disciples into the kingdom of God through evangelizing, preaching and practical teaching of God’s word. And we made a commitment to continue this great work, changing our nation from generation to generation. I am proud that over the past three decades we have remained true to our mission, although we have had cause to revisit our methodology from time to time.”
Ellis said universally the church is going through a change, and that he and the church’s leadership team realized the existing ministry model could not facilitate the changes impacting the church.
“Over the years it was the Lord, who through us, built a dynamic, spiritually-focused and socially-responsive ministry where members were highly engaged in doing what I now reference as church work.
“We established robust auxiliaries that were centered around demographics such as age and gender. They represented church work. Many of us agree that they served their purpose well and were relevant for its time and season, but we began to sense over the past few years that things were changing and things were changing fast. More specifically over the past three years the leadership rank of our church were becoming more actively engaged in observing, researching, and discussing local and global trends relative to both the role and the relevance of how local ministries conducted its spiritual business.
“ There were widely held, and in many instances, scientifically supported views that our traditional model with a preoccupation with internalized clubs, auxiliaries and titles catered to the congregants within our four walls. The danger with that was that studies, and our own observations were confirming that there was a global shifting away from persons coming into the four walls of the church. For example, over the past decade we saw the evolution of a new generation of church attendees who are utilizing technology to connect with God and with each other, without consistently coming into the confines of the traditional church walls. The staggering reality is that many people who are leaving the church are not leaving God.”
Ellis said it was the consensus of their leadership ranks that Mount Tabor Church must be more intentional about reversing the trend.
“We had to revisit how we did things in the past, and become more cognizant that a church that is bent on protecting the past over creating the future turns this generation of church-goers away from the church. We didn’t have all the answers, but we recognized that we had to do something. Change was not only inevitable, but it was necessary … because when you are through changing, you are through.”
The senior pastor said they realized that their existing ministry structure could not facilitate the change they wanted to see. Hence the need to move away from the traditional church work which mostly catered to meeting the needs of their congregation and do the work of the church which caters to placing a greater focus on life and ministry, as it exists outside the four walls of the church.
It was against this backdrop that Ellis went on sabbatical in November 2017 with two thoughts on his mind — that things were changing and transforming, and the church must be at the forefront in leading in the trans-generational transformation. He said he returned with even stronger convictions that ministry in the local church had indeed changed dramatically over the last 30 years.
“Our current culture has transformed so much that if we don’t change accordingly, we’ll lose credibility and relevance as spiritual leaders.”
Ellis said he is of the persuasion that the key to transforming society is the church living out the witness of Christ in visible ways through viable methodologies. And that while the mission, mandate and message remains the same the methods must change.
“I was reminded that Mount Tabor’s mission has established us as a body of non-traditional believers. Traditions, though important, could become a major impediment to transformation and progress. I believe that the time has come for us to clean our leadership lens and introspectively take another look at the role of the church. There has to be a radical transformation in the way the church does spiritual business,” he said.
“This Marketplace Ministry model is not a new creation, but rather a recreation of how we conduct our spiritual business through viable methodologies. Mount Tabor is both excited and encouraged about this forward thinking agenda and the direction we are taking. We believe that this represents a trans-generational and transformative paradigm shift,” said Ellis.
Arts and Entertainment: Seeks to create a strong working relationship between all genres of arts, craft, talent and entertainment and the church. The goal is to foster opportunities for advancement and progress in the industry and introduce a budding industry to a young nation.
Business: Mandated to act as a bridge between the business community and the church, and provide assistance and solutions where possible among all industry stakeholders.
Education: Aims to help people discover their purpose and value in God and to develop a Christ-centered worldview.
Evangelism: Will take a holistic approach to integrate faith and work through its mentoring initiatives for both teen mothers and teen fathers.
Family: Exists to ensure that the church reiterates, and where necessary, re-establish the Bahamian family to the model intended by God. A critical component to this mandate is assisting fathers to assume a more robust and proactive leadership role in the lives of their children, with a special focus on being more engaged in their pursuit of their education.
Government: Established for a two-fold purpose — review local legislation, policies, issues of national concern and by extension, global trends; and formulate a spiritual response and position on issues.
Health: Exists to improve long-term health within society through increased educational and preventative strategies. The most critical goal of this Commission is to aggressively move towards the establishment of a kidney donor registry in The Bahamas.
Media: Exists to support the work of all of the established Commissions through innovative and responsive communications platforms.
Men: Entrusted with the mammoth task of strategically interacting with, encouraging and challenging men in the areas of their responsibilities.
Religion: Serves as the training authority for the Commissions and the church, and was established to engage, educate, equip and empower internal stakeholders as they transition into doing the work of the church and not just church work.
Women: Dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of women in The Bahamas. Seeks to be a champion for women and was established to meet the spiritual, physical, psychological, and sociological needs of women.
Youth and Children: Has a two-tier structure. Their collective goal however is to reach the youth and children through innovative platforms and keep them focused on their faith and future. The youth arm, will focus on eliminating the incidences of youth texting and driving, while the children’s arm will focus on introducing a positive affirmation campaign among children.