Introducing B.A.C.E. – Serving the next generation of Christian education leaders

Today’s blog post is an interview with my friend John McClendon. John is a Christian education leader, baceand the Executive Director of BACE, the Baptist Association of Christian Educators. This organization may be one you should consider joining.

John, introduce yourself to my audience. Tell us where you serve, and a little bit about your backstory in church ministry.

I have served on church staff for 39 years in various roles – Student minister, Worship leader, and for the past 26 years with a focus on the work of the Minister of Education. 13 of those 26 years were at LifeWay where I focused on the training of church leaders and leaders within LifeWay.

John McClendon, Exec. Director of BACE

My first ministry position was while attending Samford University. I am grateful that a small church in Decatur, AL was willing to take a chance on a 18 year old college student and patiently invest in me. And I must emphasize that word “patiently”!

In 2000 I left a very fruitful ministry at First Baptist Tillman’s Corner, Mobile, AL to come to LifeWay to help equip church leaders around the country. This experience transformed my life because I knew God had called me to not only help the local church in which I served, but to help equip leaders in churches around our country.

It was that passion that actually led me away from LifeWay in 2012. I left to begin a ministry that would help connect churches to leaders that could train their leaders. Over time this ministry led to an invitation to become the Executive Director of the Baptist Association of Christian Educators (BACE).

God had another plan as well. Upon leaving LifeWay, Northside Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, TN approached me about also serving as their Discipleship Pastor. So, I get the best of two worlds. I get to help leaders around the county connect while serving in the local church.

What is the goal of BACE? What are you trying to accomplish?

The vision of BACE is to support the work of leaders who equip the church to make disciples. BACE strives to provide opportunities for members to encourage, network, discover, and learn from one another as they join together to build and grow up the body of Christ, His church.

You can learn more at

Who can attend the BACE annual meeting?

The conference is open to any church leader although the target are those who are responsible for scope of work that might be described as Education Ministry. Conference attendance also includes membership in the organization which includes several benefits including direct access to other members, access to all conference content following the conference, and opportunities to help younger leaders grow and develop.

Where is this year’s BACE meeting being held? What’s the theme?

The meeting is being held at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, March 30-31. There are also pre-event activities on March 29.

The theme this year is INDISPENSABLE: BECOMING AND MVP IN DISCIPLEMAKING. The focus is on developing skills that will help leaders raise the value of discipleship in their churches by helping them sharpen their skills, develop their strategies, and learning how to better work with the pastor and church in guiding the process of disciplemaking.

What’s the cost to attend the BACE meeting?

The cost is $139. This includes the conference, materials, Thursday lunch and dinner, and Friday morning breakfast. Lodging is available on campus at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Where can I go for more information about this year’s meeting?

What are the benefits if I decide to join BACE and become a participating member?

The main benefit is the discount on the conference which is included in the price of registration. Membership helps us underwrite the conference cost. Here are additional benefits your receive:
• Regular email updates on news from the field of discipleship and church education.
• Annual conference discounts including your spouse or pastor attending with you for free.
• Opportunities to connect with, learn from, and support other leaders through the BACE membership database.
• Your own personal profile in the BACE membership database.
• Access to BACE conference resources following the annual conference.
• Helps offset the cost for students to become involved in BACE at a deeply discounted price.
• Helps underwrite the Graduate Award and Distinguished Leader Award in Christian Education.
• Helps sustain the administrative costs for operating the BACE organization.
• PLUS, you have direct access to over 500 members who support the work of leading the church to make disciples, many of whom will become lifelong friends!

What is the cost to become a member of BACE?

If you don’t attend the conference BACE membership is $55 annually.

What else would you like us to know about BACE?

Change has certainly affected the Christian education landscape over the past several years. Even the term, Christian education, has taken on different meanings and is expressed in different ways. Staff members responsible for this area of work might be called by different titles – Minister of Education; Discipleship Pastor; Small Groups Pastor; Adult Pastor; Young Adult Pastor; etc. – but we still all focus on a common goal: building and growing up the body of Christ, His church!

Today, BACE stands poised to support the next generation of Christian educators, no matter how that ministry is expressed or described.

Conference Bundle Registration Link:

Membership Only Registration Link:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s