Department: Connections Team

Explain your ministry:

The Connections Team builds relationships with pastors and church leaders, connecting them to the resources, programs and ministries available through the Texas Baptists.

What are the different aspects of Connections?

Pastor/Church Connection, directed by Joe Loughlin

    1. Building relationships with pastors in order to connect them with the resources, programs and ministries available to help them do their job.
    2. Facilitating connections between Pastor Search Committees and potential ministry candidates who are open to new opportunities in ministry.

Bi-Vocational Pastoral Ministry, directed by Ira Antoine

    1. Building relationships with bi-vocational pastors in order to connect them with the resources, programs and ministries available to help them do their job.
    2. Developing a new paradigm for bi-vocational pastoral ministry for the future, including both traditional and strategic/intentional bi-vocational pastoral models.

Interim Church Services, directed by Karl Fickling

    1. Building relationships with churches currently without a pastor, providing training, guidance and resources for their pastor search committee.
    2. Training Interim Pastors to provide a network of high-caliber, trained professionals to serve churches currently without a pastor.
    3. Offering consultations for resolving conflict in churches currently without a pastor.

Texas Baptist Counseling Services, directed by Katie Swafford, LPC-S

    1. Providing initial counseling services for ministers and their families who serve Texas Baptist churches as well as staff members and their families who work at Texas Baptists.
    2. Developing a network of licensed professional counselors across Texas to whom ministers and their families who serve Texas Baptist churches can be referred after an initial counseling session.

Associational Ministries, directed by Lorenzo Pena

Building relationships with eighty-five Directors of Areas/Associations across Texas in order to partner with them in serving Texas Baptist churches.

Camp Ministry, directed by Susan Ater

Building relationships with twenty-eight Texas Baptist encampments in order to partner with them in serving Texas Baptists churches.

Area Representatives, Team Leader Larry Vowell

These nine representatives seek to build relationships with Texas Baptist churches and their leaders, representing the whole of the Texas Baptists.

      • Area 1 (Panhandle)—Charles Davenport
      • Area 2 (West Texas)—Robert Cuellar
      • Area 3 (Rio Grande Valley)—Noe Trevino
      • Area 4 (San Antonio/Corpus Christi)—Fred Ater
      • Area 5 (Greater Houston)—Ernest Dagohoy
      • Area 6 (Central Texas)—Richard Mangum
      • Area 7 (East Texas)—Tim Watson
      • Area 8—(Dallas/North Texas)—Dickie Dunn
      • Area 9—(Ft. Worth/Wichita Falls)—Larry Vowell

What is a short history of Connections? Why did y'all feel this is such an important ministry?

The Connections Team started in August 2012 with only the Pastor/Church Connection and Interim Church Services. The Team has been as it is now since August 2014.

What is the most unique thing about your ministry?

We promote all that is Texas Baptists—every program, resource and ministry available to churches. For example, we do not have our own "Connections Team" shirts, because we represent the whole of the Texas Baptists team.

Why is it important to have Field Representatives across the state working with our churches regionally?

With 5400+ churches across Texas, these Area Representatives give pastors someone with skin on them to talk to, pray with and hear about resources.

What events are coming up that pastors should place on their calendars?

What is Minister Connection and how can it help pastors or churches? Are there any big changes come to Minister Connection?

Minister Connection is a simple on-line bulletin board where churches looking for ministers and ministry candidates who are open to new opportunities for ministry can swap information. Minister Connection 2.0 is in its final stages of design and will be rolled out for testing and implementation in the coming months.

What would you say motivates this department to do what they do? What goals do y'all most want to accomplish?

Every day, we get to work with some of the greatest people in the Kingdom of God – pastors and other ministry leaders. It is a great joy and privilege to come alongside and serve them.

If you could tell anyone who feels led to be a pastor, what would it be?

You never have to feel like you're out there all on your own. We are here to serve you and to help you and your church fulfill its mission. You are the whole reason we exist. You are not alone.

What can we expect to see from Connections during 2015?

It is our goal to connect personally (via personal visit, phone call or note) with every pastor and his church at least once in 2015.

Related articles: Texas Baptists Welcome Dr. Steven Dominy as Area 8 Representative / Loftis named Director of Texas Baptists Connections Team / Texas Baptists welcome two new Connections Team staff members