No matter how capable the agents in the field are, you always need Mission Control. To find out more about our very own Living Church of God “Mission Control,” we spoke to Mr. Rod McNair, Assistant Director of the Church Administration Department (CAD) at our Headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Power of Example
We first asked Mr. McNair what originally moved him, as a second-generation Christian, to commit personally to God’s way of life in his youth. “I think one of the most important factors in my committing to what my parents believed was their example in really living what they believed and living what they taught,” he replied. “I felt like I didn’t see hypocrisy. I felt like they were the same people at home as they were at church with other people, and as they were while out and about in other situations. I think that really impressed upon me that they saw their religion as a way of life, and that helped me to come to the point where I saw it as a way of life as well. I think it would be hard, if you saw your parents acting differently in one situation than they acted in another situation—your conclusion, as a kid, would be, ‘You know, my parents don’t really believe this. And if they don’t, why should I?’”
The Importance of Central Coordination
Describing the department’s chief purpose, Mr. McNair also recalled when he began working in Church Administration. “I was a pastor out in Northern California, and Dr. Meredith asked me to come to Headquarters to work as an assistant in CAD and become involved in the Festival Office. So that’s how I became involved, and I think CAD’s most important function is working through the ministry and providing support and coordination. In supporting and coordinating ministers, CAD works through them to help take care of brethren all over the world. Our mission is really to aid the ministry, who are the ‘boots on the ground,’ so to speak. We give them the support they need to coordinate their efforts.”
Though CAD is located in Charlotte, its work profoundly affects every corner of God’s Church. “There are a number of reasons why you need a central headquarters,” Mr. McNair said. “You need to coordinate efforts, coordinate the mission, coordinate the work of the many. We can’t do the pastoring. That’s not our job. But we can give support and coordination to the men who are doing the pastoring. The field ministry and the central CAD need each other.”
The Meaning of Contribution
Although a department primarily devoted to “feeding the flock,” CAD also plays a key role in the Church’s continuing mission to preach the Gospel of God’s Kingdom. “Tomorrow’s World Presentations provide a glimpse into how CAD supports the preaching of the Gospel,” said Mr. McNair. “When people respond to the preaching of the Gospel, get in contact with a minister, and want to actually walk through the door and come to church, you find that Tomorrow’s World Presentations are a huge element in that response. When visitors meet people, when they talk to the local minister, when they have their ‘first contact,’ when they start to get to know others, then they realize, ‘Wow, there really are people who believe this and do it!’ Because I think a lot of people don’t really think that you can obey God in this world.”
That social aspect of preaching the Gospel is essential, and CAD makes sure the Church is well able to handle it. “CAD’s support to the local congregations and the local ministry really becomes a support to the preaching of the Gospel, because, as people walk in the door, if our congregations aren’t strong and ready for new people, and if our ministry isn’t coordinated and supported in a way that empowers them to work with new people, our efforts to serve those who respond to the preaching of the Gospel are going to fall flat,” Mr. McNair explained. “That’s a major way CAD contributes to the Work. I think that’s why TWPs have been so exciting for us—they make living God’s way of life so tangible for people. Each one is a live event in a local area, put on by the local congregation, hosted by the local pastor. It’s a real thrill to be a part of the process of planning and preparing those TWPs, because they enable CAD, the field ministry, and local congregations to have a very direct hand in preaching the Gospel.”
Church Administration has certainly been busy in the TWP department! During 2019, the Church held 89 TWPs in the U.S. and 68 internationally. While the TWP program was temporarily suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, God has heard our prayers and begun to open that door again, allowing us to revive TWPs in 2021!
Mr. McNair noted that in a world increasingly obsessed with frivolity, having that hand in preaching the Gospel blesses God’s people with a deep sense of meaning. “Whether TWPs, the Festival Office in planning Feast sites, or operations of the Headquarters processes that we get involved with, I think what is the most exciting is to be a part of the mechanism that is helping to influence people all over the world in a positive way. A lot of people want to do something meaningful in this world. Especially over time, as they get older, that becomes more and more of a focus. And all of us in the Work are a part of something meaningful. I think that’s the biggest thrill—when we can see our part in it, our small contribution to this mechanism that is changing people’s lives.”
The Benefits of Updated Technology
But, as we all know, some aspects of meaningful work don’t always seem so meaningful while you’re working on them. “We are part of the support system for the ministry and the congregations, and by necessity that involves administrative paperwork; it involves administrative processes,” Mr. McNair said. “I think one of our biggest challenges is that it’s easy to get bogged down in that paperwork, those administrative processes that are necessary. They clearly are just a tool to do the job, to do the Work, to be a part of that support and coordination, but it can be a frustration when the administrative part seems to be taking more effort than the ‘human’ element, pulling you away from being able to see the big picture of what we’re doing. That’s the challenge. And I know Dr. Meredith talked about that, and quoted Mr. Armstrong years ago. He would say to the men around, Fellows, we must never let administration of the Work get in the way of our personal relationship with God and the spiritual elements of why we’re here.”
Today’s modern technology has made some of those administrative processes less tedious to manage—both for the Church’s employees and for its members across the globe. “We’ve benefited from the work of those in the Information Technology and Internet Department,” Mr. McNair said gratefully. “There are changes that they have made and implemented to make the system more efficient. Our system isn’t perfect, to be sure, but it’s come a long way. And there still are ways that they are currently working on it, though the COVID-19 crisis sidetracked a number of our projects. But it’s been neat to see the improvement—the Feast registration process, for example, now works more smoothly. As each year has gone by, we’ve kept trying to make it as painless as possible. It’s not perfect yet, but it seems to be improving. The goal is always to make it a little more seamless, a little less confusing, and a little more informational for brethren, so the improvement in that area has been good to see.”
And further improvements are on the horizon for CAD. “One project we are working on, which I think will be a big help in improving our ongoing communication with the ministry and even in training new ministers, is converting the Pastoral Manual into something that is online instead of a paper book,” Mr. McNair said. “One of the neat things about that change is that the online manual will be a much more efficient way to categorize policies and procedures—we’ll be able to index them, and ministers will be able to look them up and search for them. That’s one area where we have not been as efficient in the past—in collecting and collating policies, procedures, and communication in a way that is easy to organize. So, as we can do this online, we want to digitize both the Pastoral Manual and the Ministerial Bulletin, which is a newsletter that we put out periodically for the ministry with updates, news, continuing education, and policies. Organizing them online, so that all of those things can be found, grouped, and collated—that’s really going to be exciting. I think that can become a much more efficient and effective tool for the ministry to use.”
The Living Church News is grateful for Mr. McNair’s willingness to spend some time with us. Certainly, we can all pray that our Father continues to bless the Church Administration Department’s efforts to provide guidance, teaching, and training to the ministry and brethren all over the world!