Questions and Answers
Before we talk about the association itself, let me provide some background information. I am sixty-four years old. The Lord has made it clear to me that during this season of my life, I need to reduce ministerial responsibilities, not add to them. Thus, my recent goals have been to simplify my life and devote myself to seeking God, writing, and loving my wife, children and grandchildren. Therefore, I truly needed to know if developing a ministries association was God's will and not just a good idea of my own. With that in mind, I had four requirements set before me to help weigh if such an initiative was the will of God or not.
• It would need to be something the Lord was plainly leading. It couldn't be something that I would try and see if it worked; it really had to be the Spirit's direction for my life. (I don’t have time or energy to launch something I would have to sustain on my own).
• It would be something that wouldn’t compromise my other, focused priorities of seeking God, family, and writing.
• It would be self-sustaining, bigger than me, in that ministries would step in and take care of the administrative, support side of the association.
• It wouldn’t stress me financially where I was having to pressure people for offerings, etc. Basically, if it is the Lord’s will, it would be the Lord’s bill.
Regardless of one's age, it is imperative that we are truly following the Lord lest our labors be in vain. These tests helped me rest and wait for the Lord to go ahead of me. Waiting on the Lord also helped me to not feel lovingly pressured from grads from In Christ’s Image Training to further develop our relationship structure. Although the idea of expanding our previous (but limited) ministry association was a familiar and friendly thought, still I needed to wait on the Lord.
Then, in July 2010, my wife and I moved to the Minneapolis area, which is home to three of our five children. We bought a smaller house west of the city and were just settling in when, in early August, I attended a pastors’ lunch northeast of the Twin Cities. As the meeting was winding down, the host asked me to greet those attending, which I did. Afterward, a pastor I knew from Cleveland came up. He had moved to Minneapolis and was now involved in an association of ministries called International Ministerial Fellowship (IMF). As we visited I asked him where the association was located. He answered that they were actually in the final few weeks of moving to a new facility west of the city. I asked again where it was located, but being new as I was, he assured me I wouldn’t know the area. For some reason, I asked again. This time he said they were moving to the west side of the metro area, in a little town no one ever heard of. I said, "Hey, I live on the west side." So, I asked him again for its location. This time (finally) he was more specific.
"It’s near Lake Minnetonka, just beyond Lafayette Bay."
"Lafayette Bay?" I answered, "I can see Lafayette Bay from my house!"
This was amazing. I'm praying about an association but don't want to bog down into an administrative swamp that traps me outside my gifting, so the Lord moves my wife and me to almost within earshot of a ministries association. To put this in perspective, the greater Twin Cities area consists of 146 towns and villages and 6,340 square miles. We could have moved almost anywhere in that metropolis. Yet, if it weren’t for the trees and a small hill, we could actually see each other’s property.
A side note: when we were searching for a home, my basic approach was that it didn't really matter where we found ourselves; we would just do the will of God from that house. But one of our ICIT students from the Minneapolis area who knew we were looking to move, sent us this verse from Acts 17:26, that God had ". . . determined the times set for [men] and the exact places where they should live." In other words, we weren’t to be looking for just any old place, but the "exact place where [we] should live" (NIV).
Still, I was not going to make any plans or jump to any conclusions, but with their offices being just around the corner, the least I could do is meet these guys, have coffee, and see what the Lord was doing. After a short visit with my friend Roger and the founding minister, Frank Masserano, it turns out that everything I would need to successfully develop an association – pastoral support, ordination, credentialing, a retirement plan, prayer, counseling, conflict resolution, accountability, etc., etc. – all these, and much more, could be provided separately by IMF.
This also meant that if the Lord did, in fact, unite us and they took care of the association infrastructure, I could remain free to continue with my other priorities. This is not the kind of coincidence that goes unnoticed, not by me anyway.
IMF's vision statement is to "serve those who serve others." So this arrangement, which seems to me to have clearly been provided by the Lord, allows everyone to fulfill what they are called to do. I think the Lord has "determined the times" He has set for us and the "exact place where [we] should live."
Of course, you will need to seek God to see how He is leading you, but let's look at this association, International Ministerial Fellowship, a little closer and consider how they might be a provision from the Lord for you too.
INTERNATIONAL MINISTERIAL FELLOWSHIP
This is a good, seasoned ministry. Of course, they are not perfect, but of course, neither are we. And yes, our relationship with them is new and untested. But I think we can trust the Lord's leading, stay "unoffendable," and even if we hit a couple rocky places along the way, still find that, at the end of the day, we fulfilled the will of God.
One thing in particular that encouraged me was that, on my first day visiting their new offices, one of the pastoral staff introduced himself, smiled, and then showed me his ICIT materials, which indeed helped me feel at home.
Yet, even on its own, IMF offers many benefits. Below are some links to their site. IMF is going to honor the training provided through ICIT and will incorporate our vision into their support of your ministerial accreditation. This means that, while you should familiarize yourself with their ministry, you will need to contact us first and let us send you to them with our blessing and recommendation. It is important for their records and overall communication that we supply IMF with your test results and any other basic information that we have (personal contacts, ICIT onsite attendance, etc.). This, of course, adds to the integrity of both ministries.
We also have a short, qualifying form to help us know you better. Our short survey is independent of theirs, but we need it to be aware of your progress and also to recognize you as an ICIT student for "invitation only" conferences or leadership seminars, mailings or prayer advances, etc. From among you, we will look for individuals with the anointing to lead or with various gifts of the Holy Spirit so you can be utilized in helping to develop other ministries according to the grace given you by God.
IMF will have its own forms for you to fill out. They aren’t long, but they will help them understand what level of training you have under your belt, as well as your gifts and calling. Because they will be the ordaining organization that handles your legal minister's certification, they need to know more about your background. They also want to make sure that your biblical foundation is built upon Christ (regardless of denominational background).
· Comprehensive info about IMF
· About IMF Membership
· Membership Application
Benefits of Belonging to ACMA
Finally, let me express my trust that, in presenting IMF to you, you will be well served by the ministries with this organization.
Questions and Answers