Editor’s Note: This article is part one of a two-part series describing a single interview the Baptist New Mexican conducted with the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s new executive director, Steve Ballew, Jan. 21, 2021. The second article from the interview will address issues and discussions current to BCNM churches and missionaries. It will run in the Feb. 13 issue of the BNM.
ALBUQUERQUE (BNM) - Speaking about the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s state office operations and missionary staff, Steve Ballew said, “We’re here for you. We only exist because you resource us to exist. And, you resource us to exist to serve churches. Our entire reason to exist is that we might help churches within the state convention.” Ballew made the comments during an interview with the Baptist New Mexican, Jan. 21. The interview covered his first impressions as executive director, his initial plans and his thoughts on issues already facing the convention.
Ballew entered his new role as the BCNM’s new executive director on Jan. 4. The BNM interviewed him at the end of his third week on the job. Before selecting Ballew for the role of executive director, the convention’s State Mission Board had arranged a transition period that would overlap his first month with former executive director Joseph Bunce’s last month. That overlap ends at the end of January.
The transition period has allowed a transfer of knowledge from one executive director to the next, according to Ballew. He described the transition period as beneficial. Instead of investigating himself why things happen a certain way, he can walk down the hall and discover it quickly. He said access to Dr. Bunce has helped him understand the circumstances and rationale behind certain procedures, policies and activities. Ballew said that such access has helped him make decisions. During the transition, Ballew carried the executive director’s authority and role. Bunce worked in an office nearby to be available to Ballew in a consultative capacity. While Ballew began his duties, Bunce continued some activities temporarily, like leading weekly staff prayer meetings. Ballew noted that things may change, but access to Bunce’s knowledge helps him evaluate possibilities.
In moving from a church pastorate to the executive role, Ballew identified some differences that he has noticed, so far. He contrasted moving to the BCNM with moving to another church. Moving to a new church comes with some changes, he said, but also with some familiar activities like preparing to preach and teach each week. However, becoming executive director has meant a move into a position without any of those familiar activities. Instead, he said that the BCNM role focuses much more on business activities and related decisions. He works, he said, to ensure that the business is properly done “without overwhelming the purpose, which is to serve New Mexico Baptists and resource them to do what they need to do to accomplish the work of the kingdom.” He said, “I feel like I make a million decisions a day.” But, he also does other things.
In his new role, Ballew has set three first-year goals for himself. Initially, he wants to connect with pastors all across the state. He has already begun that work in a variety of ways. Second, he wants to work with missionary staff leadership to evaluate the BCNM’s activities in relationship to its goals. He wants to see if any adjustments need to be made to goals or activities. Third, he wants to strengthen partnerships between the BCNM and churches, associations, national entities and other state conventions.
Ballew admitted that he is also learning. He likened the BCNM to a clock’s inner workings. “You really have no idea of the number of cogs and the way those cogs fit together until you step into the middle of the clockworks,” he said. “This is really a lot more complicated than imaginable. … It takes this much to make it happen.” He said it will take a lot of humility to learn what he needs to know, despite having served on the State Mission Board. “It is going to take a great deal of humility, on my part, to learn what I need to learn so I can be the leader New Mexico Baptists need me to become,” he said.