by Jennifer Svetlik, Salford congregation
Randy Heacock particularly enjoys helping congregations think through their communications processes. “Many congregations tend to do a lot of informal communication, which can privilege the inner, familiar circles and unintentionally leave a lot of people out,” he reflects. “It is lifegiving to help congregations better understand what they’re trying to accomplish and to communicate more effectively.”
Randy serves as a leadership minister for Bally, Rocky Ridge, Towamencin and Wellspring congregations. In this role, he seeks to accompany and encourage not only the congregation’s pastors, but the congregation as a whole. He occasionally speaks in these congregations and meets bimonthly with their pastors and annually with church leadership.
“I enjoy watching congregations own their decisions, lean into them, and try to be faithful to what God is calling them to do,” Randy says. Recently he has been an observer and cheerleader to Tim Moyer at Bally as the church seeks to move to from a membership-driven to a “centered set” approach to church life.
As a leadership minister he also seeks to be available to the congregation during times of transition, such as with Towamencin, where he serves on a search committee looking for a new lead pastor. Accompanying congregations through transition includes being available during times of crisis or loss.
“In December 2018, [Pastor] Mike Meneses passed away, and that was an intense time of walking alongside Mike as well as the Wellspring congregation,” Randy reflects.
Randy became a leadership minister in January 2017. He had served as lead pastor of Doylestown congregation since 2001 and was drawn to the leadership minister position as an opportunity to share what he has learned with other pastors, as well as to bring back to Doylestown what he learns from other congregations.
Previously, Randy served in ministry with the United Methodist Church (UMC). “The faith I was raised with was more intellectual and theological, and I found myself attracted to the more relational approach of the Mennonite Church, as well as the call to love our enemies and those different from us.”
His time with the UMC still influences the way that he sees leadership. “As pastors we do have authority and we shouldn’t be afraid to exercise it. At times the servant leadership model in the Mennonite church has made us shy away from the responsibility we have to exercise that authority for the good of the community.”
In 2000, Randy had a “gap year” between pastorates, something that he recommends for every pastor. Through a year working in a chime factory, Randy developed a deep appreciation of entrepreneurs and small business owners who treat their employees respectfully and carry the stress of providing jobs and creating a successful business.
The experience prompted him to identify ways to lift up the gifts of small business owners. “We have not known well in the church how to engage entrepreneurs and their creativity. We are risk-averse and afraid of failure in the church, and that tends to choke out entrepreneurs. Businesses move on from failure much better than churches,” he reflects.
More broadly, working outside of ministry has helped remind Randy of what daily life looks like for most churchgoers, and how to better serve them. “As pastors we focus too much on what happens in church. Church is a small piece of what people do. We should instead focus on how to help people connect their experience in church with how they engage in the world.”
Randy also emphasizes the importance of pastors having a life outside of work. “I think it’s vital for pastors to have circles outside of their church to be themselves and have fun. It’s not healthy to be too identified to your work,” Randy encourages.
For Randy, this looks like playing trivia weekly at a local establishment with a group of friends, hiking, being outdoors, and fixing things. Notably, he finds regularly waxing his car enjoyable and relaxing.