What Guides a TMF Area Representative’s Work?Email This Share This Tweet This
When TMF Area Representatives are asked to assist churches, whether it is with generosity, purpose, or something in between, what guides your work? An Interview with Rev. Richard Edwards, TMF Senior Area Representative for the Northwest Texas Conference
Interviewer: When TMF Area Representatives are asked to assist churches, whether it is with generosity, purpose, or something in between, what guides your work?
Richard: TMF Area Representatives have a set of seven stances that truly guide our work with churches. These stances help us understand what the church is asking. If they want to raise additional funds, for instance, is that a technical question about stewardship or is there a deeper issue at play? Once an Area Representative has developed a sense of the church’s need, we can better connect the church to the best resources available. Many churches are hopeful that we will arrive with a set prescription, but we really want to help the church express their concern and determine the best ways to meet their specific need. In the end, our job is all about asking the right questions.
Interviewer: One of your stances is – “We don’t arrive with the answers. We help you find them.” How does this stance influence your work? How do you think this stance helps churches?
Richard: It is so easy to jump to an example –this is what x church did. However, what churches need is deeper reflection. What is the real question beneath the question and what resources does the church already have at their fingertips to address the question? Too often I see churches that do not realize they already have what they need to address a problem or opportunity. They simply need help to see those resources. One thing that Area Representatives never do is offer “cookie cutter” or “one-size fits all” solutions. We are well aware that churches, along with their mission fields, are unique and deserve tailored attention.
Interviewer: Another stance is – “We ask open-ended questions. We help the church do the work only it can do.” What does this mean? How do churches respond to these types of questions?
Richard: The key there is to help a church know the resources they bring to the table. Churches have to solve their own problems and embrace their ministry opportunities. By asking open-ended questions, you encourage exploration. As churches explore possibilities, they think about solutions that will truly work for them. Of course, a critical part of our work is to develop relationships. The stronger your relationship is with a church, the more likely they are to trust you through the discernment process.
Interviewer: Since TMF Area Representatives see themselves as long term partners that walk alongside a church and you invest in building trusting relationships, what does this allow TMF Area Representatives to do? How do these guiding principles make a difference for local churches?
Richard: It is easier to visit with people asking those deep, difficult, and intentional questions when you have a strong relationship. The more you invest in building a relationship with a church, the better you are able to walk with a church as they address problems and opportunities. Those relationships move you into a space where you can help a church realize they may have unrealistic goals and even shape fruitful conversations around their true purpose and mission.
Interviewer: Why would you recommend churches reach out to their local Area Representatives?
Richard: We help churches explore concerns, opportunities, and needs without the worry of any type of evaluation from their conference. Our relationships connect churches to TMF, which has a wealth of resources to help them amplify their potential. For those two reasons alone, I highly recommend working with an Area Representative. However, we offer so much more. Area Representatives focus on church strengths, empowering them to address opportunities and concerns in a way that utilizes their unique resources. We have rich conversations around God-ordained purpose, generosity, and creative ways to reach the community, and we are ministry partners who walk alongside churches in the times they need an extra set of eyes and ears.
Interviewer: If you could give us 5 examples of concrete ways ARs are helpful, what would they be?
Richard: Here are my top five examples.
- We help churches discern their purpose. If you are rethinking your ministry purpose, you should talk with your local TMF Area Representative about pursuing a Holy Conversation or Holy Excavation, so you can understand what these options could do to assist your church.
- We walk with churches as they develop plans to reach their desired outcomes.
- We guide churches as they strive to develop cultures of generosity and use the resources they already have. If you are interested in learning about developing a culture of generositywithin your congregation, your local Area Representative would love to speak with you more.
- We offer resources to help churches plan for the future, for instance the Putting Your House in Order workshop helps church members think about how they can leave money to their loved ones and the ministries that are meaningful to them.
- We facilitate conversations that help churches consider the best ways they can reach and partner with their communities.
If you are in the Northwest Texas Conference and any of those concert examples seem like they would be beneficial to your church, please feel free to contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to work with your congregation. If you are in another conference, please reach out to one of my colleagues. I know they will be equally excited to hear from you - https://www.tmf-fdn.org/representatives/meet-your-area-representative/.