Editor’s Note: From its inception, the women in the PCA have loved on and supported the denomination in practical ways. One way has been through the annual women’s ministry love gift. This year, the women’s ministry of the PCA is praying for and partnering with the different agencies and committees of the denomination regionally. Throughout the year, we will highlight the committees and agencies to learn more about what they do and how we can pray for them. I recently interviewed Gary Campbell with PCA Retirement and Benefits (RBI).
Christina: Can you tell us what RBI does for the PCA? How did it come into existence?
Gary: Thanks, Christina, for the opportunity to talk about the ministry of PCA Retirement & Benefits (RBI). Put simply, RBI provides employee benefits and support services for PCA church servants. Our mission is to prepare, protect, and nurture PCA servants through investment, insurance, relief, and related services, so they can focus on ministry. RBI was founded at the very beginning of the denomination in 1973. It was known as the Annuity Fund for Ministers and was part of the Administrative Committee. In 1973 the organization was a very small operation, but as it grew there was a need to establish it as a separate denominational agency overseen by a dedicated governing board. This was accomplished in 1982 when our name was changed to Insurance Annuities and Relief (IAR). Today, RBI serves over 7,000 participants with combined assets of $650 million in the PCA Retirement Plan. Group Insurance volume is almost $685 million covering 4,281 ministry partners. And RBI Ministerial Relief has paid $637,726 in awards to 64 beneficiaries in the past four quarters.
Christina: What are the main services pastors seek your assistance with?
Gary: That’s a good question. I believe the leading source of incoming and outgoing calls is related to questions church workers have regarding saving and planning for retirement. These interactions are a result of a retirement readiness survey we conducted in late 2010 with the assistance of Price Waterhouse Coopers. The survey confirmed our worst fears. We found that PCA church leaders were significantly behind in their preparation for retirement and, by implication, the future for widows of PCA teaching elders was dire. We realized that reversing this trend would require effort and prayer by RBI to unify the denomination around a solution to this problem. Since 2010, RBI has transformed the organization to embody a relational/missional culture of service to church workers. We employ a team of teaching elders who are also Certified Financial Planners to proactively meet with church workers throughout the PCA. We also publish a yearly compensation guide called the PCA Call Package Guidelines to assist churches as they seek to understand how to pay pastors fairly and deal with complex issues such as pastoral housing allowance, social security, and other unique facets of pastoral compensation. This has been a monumental effort and I believe the needle is moving, but we have much more work yet to do.
Christina: Are there any groups that are particularly under-served?…
Editor’s Note: From its inception, the women in the PCA have loved on and supported the denomination in practical ways. One way has been through the annual women’s ministry love gift. This year, the women’s ministry of the PCA is praying for and partnering with the different agencies and committees of the denomination regionally. Throughout the year, we have been highlighting the committees and agencies to learn more about what they do and how we can pray for them. I recently interviewed Paul Hahn, coordinator of Mission to North America (MNA).
Christina: Can you explain the origins of MNA and its role in the PCA?
Paul: Mission to North America (MNA) was established at the very beginning of our life together as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), as a permanent committee of the PCA to coordinate the extension of the church in North America. From the very beginning, church planting (at that time usually referred to as organizing churches) has been core to MNA’s task of pursuing the flourishing of the gospel throughout the United States and Canada. And from early on, other ministries of word and deed which would serve to advance the gospel were given birth inside the MNA family: disaster response, chaplain ministries, networks promoting justice and mercy, and gospel outreach to college campuses (RUF was originally part of MNA).
Initially, most new churches were formed in the PCA through transfers or splits from existing denominations who were drifting from their theological moorings. In the next phase, MNA staff directly recruited and launched most of the new churches. Since 2000, MNA has focused on providing services, resources, and hands-on leadership and training, so that churches and presbyteries can take full ownership of launching new churches. MNA has also been on the cutting edge of enabling the PCA to become a more diverse church in a gospel sense — with our various minority movements, as well as the New City Church Planting Network and our Justice and Mercy initiatives. In this most recent period, many more MNA Missional Partnership ministries have been added to serve established churches in their word and deed outreach to their communities: Metanoia Prison Ministries, Engaging Disabilities, ESL, Immigrant and Refugee, and Ministry to State, among others.
Christina: What is your role at MNA? How have you seen it change during your tenure?
A few years ago, a friend of mine received a tragic cancer diagnosis. As this mother of three labored through her arduous chemo schedule, I talked with her burdened and exhausted husband, who was a colleague of mine at the time. He lamented that loved ones didn’t know what to say to him about their current life circumstance. Of course, he totally understood, but I could tell the whole situation was taking a toll on him. He was working full time, had three kids in school, was taking care of his wife who was unable to pitch in as normal, on top of interacting with so many friends and family who, like all of us, just wanted his wife to be healed.
“Sometimes,” he said, “people tell me that they’re thinking about my wife and our family.” He followed, “Knowing that someone is thinking about us doesn’t really help too much. We desperately need prayer.”
Thinking vs. Praying
I think we all agree there is a huge difference between thinking about something in our minds and bringing someone’s name before the King who sits on the throne. My friend wanted people to offer up prayer to the One who has the power to save. He knew the significance and power of that conversation.
I know what we often mean when we say that we’re thinking about someone or a situation. But prayer is so much bigger and demonstratively more powerful than our human thoughts! I mean prayer isn’t a conversation that simply happens in my head. It’s not a positive thinking, self-help session in my brain. Most Christians wouldn’t use the word thinking in place of praying. But, does our prayer life indicate that we really know the difference between thinking deeply about something and approaching the Lord in prayer?
Missionaries often are asked: “How can I pray for you?” and most likely, we will answer: “Pray for our financial support, our witness, and our families.” These are good things to pray for, but there are some things we are ashamed of admitting and that don’t make the prayer request list.
A missionary is not someone special, more gifted, or more holy than anyone else. In fact, many of us missionaries joke that God needed to take us to the mission field to teach us the hard lessons we could not to learn because of our own stubbornness and zealousness. Among missionary leaders, there is a saying that leading missionaries is like “herding cats” because of our independent streak. Missionaries can exude strength and courage, but as the years progress, I have noticed certain patterns of struggle that are unique to missionaries (and I’d venture to say much of this applies to those who are in full-time ministry, pastors, or church-planters). We need you pray for us in the following areas.
Editor’s Note: From its inception, the women in the PCA have loved on and supported the denomination in practical ways. One way has been through the annual women’s ministry love gift. This year, the women’s ministry of the PCA is praying for and partnering with the different agencies and committees of the denomination regionally. Throughout the year, we will highlight the committees and agencies to learn more about what they do and how we can pray for them. I recently interviewed Rod Mays, coordinator of Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), about their work with college students on university campuses.
Christina: What is your role at RUF and can you tell us a bit about how RUF started?
Rod: Currently I am the Interim National Coordinator. I served as the National Coordinator from 1999 until 2014 and returned to RUF in 2017. As I retire again, at the end of the year as the National Coordinator, I plan to stay on in some other capacity.
RUF was started in Mississippi in 1973 along with the PCA. RUF grew in the state of Mississippi and became a part of MNA in 1982 where numerous campuses were started in other southern states. In 2001 RUF became its own Permanent Committee in the PCA. At this time, we started to build our senior staff as our expansion started to grow quickly outside of the south. Our growth continues out west, the mid-west and north-east.
Christina: What is its mission?
Rod: “To reach students for Christ and to equip them to serve the church and the world” (“the gathering and perfecting of the saints”)…
It’s that time of year again. Yellow buses practice their circuitous routes, stores brim with school supplies, and teachers adorn their rooms with inviting bulletin boards and welcoming smiles. Back to school is officially upon us.
I ended the summer reading through the Psalms and Proverbs. As I drank in the wisdom of these two books, certain passages in particular have encouraged and directed my hopes for my children as they head back to school. These verses have shaped my prayers and given words to the longings of my heart. As my children spend less time in my presence, I am thankful that I can bring all my concerns and cares before the Lord in prayer.
Lord, I pray that my children would understand their need for Jesus and rejoice in the good news of the Gospel. Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death (Psalms 68:19-20).
Lord, I pray that my children will love learning; that their hearts would seek to understand the world you have created. The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly (Proverbs 15:14).
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great English pastor of the 18th century, is commonly honored as the “Prince of Preachers”. But, Mr. Spurgeon was among the first to give credit where credit is due: he considered the faithful, praying members of his church to be “the powerhouse of this church.” The “engine room” of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle, as he called it, was the basement where people gathered on their knees asking the Lord for His blessing. According to Spurgeon, the prayer meeting was the spiritual thermometer of the church as “souls stormed the celestial city with the might of their intercession.”
Priority of Corporate Prayer
If we were able to take a measurement, what do you think would be the average spiritual temperature of churches today—a healthy body temperature of 98.6 or a feverishly high reading exceeding 100 degrees? If prayer meetings are the accurate spiritual gauge, Spurgeon might say that many churches (certainly not all!) are languishing on life support in ICU.
It’s time for the church, and for Christians everywhere, to take stock of its priority for prayer and honestly ask ourselves some hard questions. Could it be we live powerless lives, and attend powerless churches, because we’ve given up the vibrant prayer gathering in favor of a church-wide supper, committee meeting, or an extra Bible lecture? There’s nothing wrong with those good activities, but the trade is a rip-off. What could be gained if we once again stoked the fires of the prayer engine room in churches and homes across America? In one word: change.The change that’s so desperately needed in our world simply will not happen by casting a vote, rearranging our financial portfolios, or shouting on social media. Only God’s divine power can bring deep-rooted change. Change happens as God performs His work through the powerhouse of corporate prayer…
Editor’s Note: From its inception, the women in the PCA have loved on and supported the denomination in practical ways. One way has been through the annual women’s ministry love gift. This year, the women’s ministry of the PCA is praying for and partnering with the different agencies and committees of the denomination regionally. Throughout the year, we will highlight the committees and agencies to learn more about what they do and how we can pray for them.I recently interviewed Lloyd Kim, coordinator of Mission to the World (MTW), about their work.
Christina: Can you tell us a bit of the history of MTW and its relationship with the PCA?
Lloyd: Sure—and I will give you the brief version. After the PCA formed in 1973, Mission to the World was immediately organized as the missions sending agency of the PCA, tasked with carrying out the Great Commission. We started out with 11 missionaries in four countries and then began to grow rapidly. In 1982, World Presbyterian Missions (from the Reformed Presbyterian Church—Evangelical Synod) joined with MTW, adding even more missionaries. God has continued to bless MTW and we now have 630 long-term missionaries, 88 two-year missionaries, and over 700 national partners serving in 95 countries. This growth has occurred under the direction of some very capable and godly leaders: John Kyle, Paul McKaughan, and Paul Kooistra. When we look back on our history, we are deeply grateful to God for the solid foundation and heritage He has given us.
Christina: What is your role for MTW?
Lloyd: As coordinator of MTW, one of my main tasks is to promote MTW’s mission, vision, and values within our denomination as well as in the larger missions community. What does that mean? It means that I serve as a key public face for MTW, representing our mission and its values to our constituents and potential partners. So—lots of travel, speaking, developing relationships; and there’s a commitment to fundraising for MTW as part of all that. Overseeing MTW’s financial stability and growth is part of my job—making sure that we’re good stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us and that we remain financially healthy.
But we also want MTW to be spiritually healthy, so another aspect of my job involves tending to the spiritual vitality of the organization. We want to build a grace-based culture that encourages integrity, transparency, and mutual support. We also want a workforce that better reflects the diversity of the kingdom. These values have resulted in projects like our diversity initiative and efforts to expand opportunities for women in our organization.
Finally, I provide leadership for our senior staff as we work together to focus our ministry efforts on our vision: fulfilling the Great Commission by establishing, growing, and maturing churches around the world. One of the challenges we face is that missions looks a lot different than it did even 10 years ago. The landscape is changing and we’re constantly looking for new channels and new methods for recruiting and sending missionaries. We’ve also just come through some pretty major infrastructure changes to support the growth that we’re praying about and planning for in our future missions force.
Editor’s Note: From its inception, the women in the PCA have loved on and supported the denomination in practical ways. One way has been through the annual women’s ministry love gift. This year, the women’s ministry of the PCA is praying for and partnering with the different agencies and committees of the denomination regionally. Throughout the year, we will highlight the committees and agencies to learn more about what they do and how we can pray for them.I recently interviewed Dr. Roy Taylor, stated clerk of the PCA’s Administrative Committee about their work for the PCA.Christina: Can you tell us the history of the Administrative Committee? Why it was formed?Dr. Taylor: The AC was formed by the First General Assembly in 1973 to provide the legal and organizational structure for the PCA to exist and function as a denomination.Christina: Many in the PCA are likely aware that the Administrative Committee is responsible for General Assembly, but there is more that you do for the PCA. Can you tell us what the Committee does?Dr. Taylor: The AC is to the PCA what Intel computer chips are to computers. The AC enables the General Assembly, the other Committees and Agencies to function, serves like the State Department to relate to other denominations, and advances the purity, peace, unity, and progress of the PCA. The AC also acts as the Board of Directors of the PCA Corporation and provides the skeleton for the PCA to exist and minister.