A conversation with executive minister nominee Lance Davis.
CHICAGO, IL (March 27, 2018) – The ECC’s Board of Ordered Ministry has nominated Lance Davis to stand for election as executive minister of Develop Leaders and Ordered Ministry at the Annual Meeting in June. Davis, 56, is currently the senior pastor of New Zion Covenant Church in Dolton, Illinois. He spoke to the Covenant Newswire about this opportunity.
What drew you to this position?
It has been my desire since coming into the ECC to assist the Covenant in any way that I can. I’ve been active in a number of ways. Throughout, I’ve observed with real appreciation the leadership of those who have served in this role including Dave Kersten, Mark Novak, and Dick Lucco. I have come to know and truly respect the complexity of the role, and after much prayer and discernment I realized that my pastoral and business experience could be used in a substantive and meaningful way to serve the church in this position. I have always been about developing leaders. It stands as a central passion for me, especially identifying and calling young people into service.
Tell us about your family.
I’m married to my high school sweetheart, Kara Davis, who is a medical doctor at MetroSouth Hospital. She is an author of four books and loves to knit, cook, and read. We have four amazing children: Grace just received her MA in marketing and is now working for a marketing firm in Atlanta; Andrew is in his fourth year at the University of Michigan studying physics and engineering; Lance is studying computer engineering and finance at North Carolina A&T; and Natalie has just received an academic scholarship to attend North Carolina A&T for pre-med.
You are a big champion of the Covenant. What do you appreciate about this fellowship of churches?
What I love most about the Covenant family is the people. I appreciate both clergy and lay who have helped in further shaping me as a leader but also accepted me as a brother and friend. I love the fact that we are traditional but not rigid, congregational yet not independent, and biblical but not doctrinaire. I talk about the Covenant wherever I go, and I generally speak on our pietistic roots and heritage and how that’s being played out in contemporary society.
As a local pastor and community leader, you’ve already done a lot to engage the ECC in ministries of justice and reconciliation. How will you apply that passion to the work you’ll be doing as executive minister of Develop Leaders?
The work that I’ve been engaged with as a local pastor and community leader is informed by Micah 6:8. I believe all who profess a call to ministry should bear evidence of compassion for the marginalized and disenfranchised, as this was the essence of the ministry of Christ. This is an integral part of who I am, irrespective of my position, whether that be in the local church or as an executive minister at Covenant Offices.*
Navigating sensitive cultural issues is part of helping to develop leaders for these complex days. For example, human sexuality is one. What thoughts do you have?
Yes, there are many issues. Human sexuality is one but not to the exclusion of others such as racial righteousness. As for human sexuality, I am in alignment with the Covenant’s position of celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in heterosexual marriage. I also appreciate that we want to continue to equip and learn from one another about what good ministry looks like. And so, I am encouraged by efforts such as the Embrace initiative of Make and Deepen Disciples. In respect to the Imago Dei, we are to love people no matter what. I believe God wants us to learn how to love each other better, even in disagreement. The foundation for approaching these matters is agape love.
Encouraging women in leadership is major value in our denomination. What is your hope in this area?
I am a strong advocate for women in leadership. Indeed, Kara is looking at seminary and may be pursuing a pastoral leadership path in the future. The Covenant is seeing some progress, but we need to be persistent in continuing to encourage every part of the Covenant to identify, call, and support women in leadership. I’d love to see more women as lead pastors of our congregations sooner rather than later. I strongly support efforts such as Project Deborah for churches to identify women in their midst and help them discern their calling is just one example. In fact, my mother is a “Deborah” leader in our church. She recently graduated from North Park Seminary with a master’s in Christian education.
What would you like to say to the community of Covenant pastors?
I want every pastor in every setting to know that I come to this position longing for your flourishing in ministry. Let’s renew our commitment to Christ, the Covenant, and to the people of God to carry out the duties penned in our ordination vows. I would say to our lay members that you are the backbone of what happens in our congregations and we want to serve you as you serve Christ. Together, let us prepare to meet the needs of a hurting and disillusioned world. It’s time to celebrate the beautiful diversity of the mosaic of God’s kingdom and be known for prayerfully, lovingly, and deliberately serving the world God loves, even in all of its messiness.
*Read more about Davis’s unique involvement in community ministry in this 2017 article from the Covenant Companion.