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AIM recently appointed Marshall McKenzie as assistant director for pastoral care. His primary responsibility will be training and mentoring AIM’s referral chaplains, who develop interests in different regions, and digital evangelism specialists, who engage with social media contacts. McKenzie will also ensure that contacts coming through AIM are offered an opportunity for pastoral care. This move underscores AIM’s focus on providing contacts to the local church and serving as a bridge between digital and traditional media and the local church.
Brent Hardinge, AIM director, expressed why this new role is critical to their mission. “For years, AIM has had a chaplaincy department to answer spiritual questions and guide interested callers to a church near them. But as I looked at AIM’s needs, I [realized] it was imperative for our spiritual care to be active and missional. We don’t just want to care for individuals where they are; we need to be purposeful about leading them to Jesus. The role of pastoral care is integral in leading the discipleship journey at AIM.”
He continued, “The purpose [of pastoral care] is to develop interests from any form of media and bridge them to a local church community. For some, that may happen right away, but for others, it may take time. Our pastoral care team will journey with the individuals until they are ready to engage locally.”
McKenzie brings rich experience to his role at AIM, including pastoring for 10 years in the Michigan Conference, where he also developed the conference’s publishing department; serving as publishing director in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) division; serving as publishing director for the Montana Conference; leading the publishing department at Amazing Facts; and finally, serving as church growth director at the Kentucky-Tennessee (KYTN) Conference.
While at KYTN, McKenzie took on a church so he could pilot what he was sharing with pastors. Building upon his experience there and elsewhere, he harnessed media to help the church grow and trained others in media ministry. “I was helping the church revitalize, and they were learning how media plays a part in their revitalization.”
He expressed his joy at helping students — whether preparing for ministry or other fields — “have a ministry heart” and be better equipped to serve their local churches. “We have the opportunity here at AIM to really invest in young people,” he said, smiling.
Hardinge is thrilled that McKenzie agreed to come on board after feeling God’s nudging. “Marshall has a passion to see thriving local churches and empower members to reach their communities. His background is uniquely suited for training our students and working with local churches to ensure a smooth hand-off and continuity of care of the interest,” he said.
AIM’s Growing Digital Impact
The digital evangelism specialists who fall under McKenzie’s purview are part of AIM’s efforts to expand its digital impact over the past few months. Under Hardinge’s leadership, AIM has undertaken a project with local churches in the Central California Conference and the General Conference’s (GC) Communication team, whereby these churches post social media ads created by the GC offering to pray with people on their social media pages.
AIM’s digital evangelism specialists have been busy chatting with these online contacts. So far, six churches are participating, but 20 more will join in phase two of the project.
“From my experience of where AIM is headed, it’s needed,” said McKenzie. He concluded, “I’m thoroughly excited each day about the stuff we’re working on and how we want to help the local churches be successful in connecting with their community. I’m excited we’re finally in that space between the community and church where we need to be.”