Dear <<First Name>> <<Last Name>>,  "Table and Towel" is a publication of the Eula Mae and John Baugh Center for Baptist Leadership of Mercer University.
3001 Mercer University Drive, AACC Bldg. Suite 435, Atlanta, GA 30341

Daniel Vestal, Director                             Libby Allen, Administrative Coordinator 
                                                                 Lauren Hooie, Student Assistant 


by Daniel Vestal


Earlier in my pastoral ministry, after a Sunday morning worship, a woman in the church came to me and said, ”You’re bound to go places.”  Perhaps it was a compliment or perhaps it was a wish. Either way, in reflecting on the past, I cannot help but think of the places where it has been important for me to go. The following are suggestions for Baptist leaders, both lay and clergy.
Go to the CLOSET. This is the secret place for prayer and private communion with God. This is the place where we pay close attention to the Spirit and the Word. For Jesus it was a mountainside where he spent the night in prayer, or a desert where he fasted 40 days. We each need places for solitude and silence. The closet is not just for fruitfulness. It is for survival. We need place and time to be still before the Lord, to wait patiently, to struggle with the demons, to listen, to learn, to love and be loved. 
Go to the SANCTUARY. The pivot point in Psalm 73 is verse 17, “I went to the sanctuary.” The transformation that followed is a result of the Psalmist being in common and community worship. Sanctuary is the congregational gathering where people of faith come for praise and petition. For us it is the place for Word and Sacrament. It is also the place for shared communion and deep friendships. We bear one another’s burdens and celebrate one another’s joys.  
Go to SCHOOL. Continued learning is essential for continued ministry.   School is the place of life-long rigorous study and disciplined thought. It includes a classroom for instruction and a library for reading. School requires struggle with Scripture, with tradition, with culture. School is a place for deconstruction and reconstruction, for curiosity and exploration. Unfortunately, many leaders spend their energies on less demanding engagements than intellectual ones. They atrophy or become trivial or irrelevant, or worse still, they waste the incredible gift God has given them, their minds.
Go to the BANK. Jesus said, “Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves…If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” The bank is where one deposits money, saves money, disburses money, and occasionally borrows money. How one does all this is a window into character and priorities. Ministers should be exemplars of wise financial stewardship, impeccable integrity and generous giving. We must resist greed and gluttony in favor of contentment and self-control.
Go to the GYM. Care for the body requires frequent physical exercise as well as a nutritious diet. We need places where we nurture health, practice self-discipline and integrate physical and spiritual wholeness. Leaders who neglect their health pay a terrible price. Their lives are shortened, and their families suffer. God created us as physical/mental/spiritual beings and has ordained the rhythms of day and night, weekly Sabbath and seasons of nurture.  Good stewardship requires paying attention to those rhythms. “There is a time for everything, and a season for ever activity under heaven.”
Go to the STREETS. Find places and people where the traffic patterns of life intersect with human suffering. There you will find Christ. Go to the suburban cul-de-sacs, the urban boulevards and the rural lanes. Go into the “highways and hedges.” Don’t wait for people to come to you. Go to them. Go to a neighbor next door, a homeless shelter, a hospital bed, a prison cell, a rehab center. Go especially to the marginalized, the poor, the lost and lonely. Get outside the walls of the church building and the confines of church program. Become involved and immersed in the neighborhood, the community, the cultures around you.
Go to the WORLD, all parts of it. Go to as many places in the world as possible and get out of your comfort zone. Go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. Wherever you go listen to the lives and voices of those different from you. Listen to their stories, their hopes, their pain, their dreams. Learn from them. Then bear witness to the love and grace of God that you have experienced in Jesus Christ. Make it your desire to be a global Christian, a cross-cultural Christian, and make it your prayer that God would deliver you from being provincial, petty and partisan.
There are other places one should frequently go in a life of leadership. Go to museums, art galleries and concert halls to enjoy and experience beauty and the creative genius God has given to human beings. Go to the places that God has designed for our wonder and pleasure:  oceans, mountains, deserts, caves, rivers and forests. Go to sleep at night and let the hours of darkness refresh and renew your mind, body and soul. Go to family reunions, birthday parties and anniversaries, as well as funerals and memorial services. All these celebrate the bonds of love that tie us together. They remind us that we are not alone as isolated individuals, but that we live in community. And finally, when the time comes to die, as it will for all of us, go to God with gratitude and hope.  
Life is a journey to many destinations. It really is about going places. The joy is both in the journey and the destinations.


FOR CONGREGATIONAL LEADERS- "The Calling of Congregational Leadership: Being, Knowing, Doing Ministry" by Larry McSwain.
Order from for $22.39. This sourcebook offer an integrated exploration into the nature of congregational leadership grounded in solid theology and scripture. It summarizes the best of organizational theories and leadership model along with practical applications helpful for both clergy and lay leaders.

FOR BAPTIST DEACONS- "Exemplars:Deacons as Servant and Spiritual Leader," Edited by Elizabeth Allen and Daniel Vestal.
Order from  for $15.00. This workbook is designed to encourage robust conversation within diaconates as well between deacons, clergy, and other laity. It will foster personal and congregational renewal as it confronts three questions: Who do Deacons need to be? What do Deacons need to know? What do Deacons need to do? 

FOR SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS AND BIBLE STUDY LEADERS- "Lessons for Living: From 60 Years of Faithful Bible Teaching" by Eula Mae Baugh and edited by Bo Prosser.
Order from $18.00. This sourcebook is both commentary and application of biblical texts and themes. It is a wonderful resource written by a lay woman who fulfilled her calling to teach other laity. The outline template offers lessons on Bible texts that are full of wisdom and wit. 

FOR CHRISTIAN LEADERS IN CHURCH AND SOCIETY- "Being the Presence of Christ: A Vision for Transformation" by Daniel Vestal.
Order from for $13.99. This book offers a compelling and unifying vision of the Christian life. As human beings, we can be a continuing embodiment and incarnation of Jesus Christ, individually, and in community. Commitment to that continuing embodiment results in personal, social, and global transformation.


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