Fellowship Perspective: David Tassell

These articles are meant to strengthen the capacity of all faith-based organizations to live out their faith-based mission. If you are already a Sacred Sector participant, log into the Participant Portal to access the toolbox resources. If your organization is interested in becoming a Sacred Sector participant, click here.

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Almost three years ago, my wife and I had the joy of joining Table Covenant Church, a church plant in Fairfax, Virginia. We immediately connected with the welcoming congregation and church vision: a commitment to the community and to cultivating a deep learning environment. Several months later, the church gave me the opportunity to join the staff as the Pastoral Intern for the remaining two years of my seminary program. These two years afforded me the opportunity to cultivate pastoral leadership in addition to my academic learning, and they drove my learning forward, fueling questions that ultimately connected me with the Sacred Sector Fellowship.

During my time as a student at Calvin Theological Seminary, I decided to concentrate in political theology. Studying the intersection of theology and politics gave me an even greater desire to see the Church engage in the community and actively commit to the flourishing of society.

As both my studies and internship were coming to a close, I was hired as an assistant pastor at my church, which was transitioning from a church plant to a member church in the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination. Around the same time, I learned about the Sacred Sector Fellowship – and felt that participating in this learning community would help strengthen our church in a time of transition. The curriculum uses a framework called the “three P’s”  – Organizational Practices, Public Policy and Public Positioning – to think about key issues such as religious staffing and family supportive policies. This framework was incredibly applicable to a local church context, and the practical nature of the Fellowship meant that I was learning skills to help my church develop strong organizational structure that would further our faith-based mission.

Once I was accepted as a Sacred Sector Fellow, I gained access to a number of resources that I continue to utilize and apply to my ministry work. In particular, I was able to use the Sacred Sector toolboxes and Standards for Excellence® to create resources which will guide our congregation’s Transitional Leadership Team as we create our church constitution, bylaws and other critical organizational structure throughout 2019. The Sacred Sector tools integrated well with our denominational resources, and I am now looking forward to actively using the resources I created with our team in the coming months. I have no doubt that the knowledge I gained during the Sacred Sector Fellowship will undoubtedly assist us in crafting organizational scaffolding which has the Kingdom of God as its end.

Due to our congregation’s current season of growth, I was able to utilize resources oriented around the foundation of an organization, especially the Religious Staffing Toolbox and Standards for Excellence® Sample Bylaws. I also learned from other Fellows and organizational leaders who were working through similar challenges. Now, thanks to Sacred Sector, I have continued to access resources which will help us in the future as we cultivate strategy for engaging local policy, crafting faith-based family supportive staffing policies and forming stronger relationships with our community. Today I feel more confident and equipped to lead my church and future faith-based organizations. I feel enabled to better build and faithfully carry out a faith-based mission.

David Tassell is an Assistant Pastor at Table Covenant Church in Fairfax, VA. He is also an adjunct professor of Religious Studies at George Mason University. David participated as a Sacred Sector Fellow in Summer 2019.