Wayland helping area churches grow, minister

The way Micheal Summers sees it, Wayland Baptist University and churches have a win-win relationship.

Churches both large and small provide much support for the university, both monetarily and through giving to the state Baptist convention. They also are often great recruiters for the school, sending graduating youth to be Wayland students.

But according to Summers, who serves as Wayland's Director of Church Services, churches also benefit from the university's presence because of the resources it offers.

"Being faithful to the churches who have created Wayland, we recognize our partnership with them in ministry and our responsibility to assist them in touching lives for Christ," Summers said.

Numerous churches employ Wayland students and graduates as staff members, from pastors to music and youth ministers. Many others use students - and sometimes faculty and staff - in volunteer ministry positions such as worship teams, Sunday school teaching or other roles. While this may be the most noticeable benefit of the university for churches, Summers said there are plenty of other resources available.

Churches of all denominations could benefit from several workshops available through the Church Services Office. One popular offering is the Church Tune-Up Weekend, which Summers conducts regularly. This particular event - scheduled to be held during a Saturday and Sunday - offers a chance for church leaders and members to examine their church to heal, to dream and to develop plans for the future. Summers said he created the Tune-Up, using a variety of resources and "ancient pastors' secrets," to help guide churches to identify areas for improvement and lead churches toward healthy and active ministries. For churches who are pastorless, Summers highly recommends considering the Intentional Interim Ministry and would gladly share how a church can go through this process with a certified Intentional Interim pastor.

Summers also offers a Basic Church seminar, a one- to three-hour event explaining the basic nature and functions of the church and leading members to understand their role in the body. The one-hour Basic Baptist seminar walks participants through the distinctives of the Baptist confession and differences between other denominations and various world religions. Another workshop, titled JOY in Ministry, deals with ministry and working in ministry settings. Originally designed for church secretaries, the workshop is beneficial to all church staff and focuses on ministry actions and attitudes in interpersonal relationships and people skills.

With an overall goal of helping churches heal and remain healthy, Summers said he speaks regularly to churches, associational groups and others on topics ranging from personality types and church forecasting to conflict resolution and future church trends.

Knowing that many of the region's churches have small staffs and limited budgets, Summers said, "We try to make these resources available at as little expense as possible to the local church." In many cases, only travel and lodging costs are incurred, and many churches take up a love offering to help offset expenses.

Summers points out that the Division of Religion and Philosophy faculty members are also valuable resources, with many available to help pastors with practical steps for sermon preparation, Biblical studies and research and special speaking engagements on doctrine, world religions and cults, marriage enrichment and educational leader training and resource assessment. The church music faculty are additional resources for those in music ministry.

In addition, the church services office helps coordinate training sessions in cooperation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas for Intentional Interim Ministry, which Summers is available to do presentations on for churches who might need the service. Wayland also hosts one of the BGCT's annual Church MusiConferences and coordinates with the convention to place students in ministry and missions opportunities. The school also is home to a Church Secretaries Workshop each July, as well as the Pastors' & Laymen's Conference each February.

Wayland's Baptist Student Ministries office also offers valuable resources for churches, such as teams to lead Disciple Now weekends or Fifth Quarter fellowships or special puppet, drama and clown ministries available for all types of events. The university also boasts a quality music program with choirs and vocal and instrumental ensembles available for performances or special presentations.

Each of these groups currently makes hundreds of appearances annually in service to churches and civic organizations and considers that a ministry extension of the school.

An important facet of Wayland's services to churches is that it is open to any body of believers.

"Wayland has a kingdom perspective," Summers said. "This is not only for Baptist churches but is available to any church, and it is not limited to Texas."