Pastors Steven Cabral and Ken Walsh
“Being a pastor of a nondenominational church can feel like being on an island. You can sometimes feel all alone in ministry,” said Steve Cabral, Executive Pastor of Conquerors for Christ Church in Dartmouth, MA. So, for years, he and Lead Pastor Ken Walsh have been partners in the gospel, growing together as church leaders and part of Overseed’s pastor cohort in Taunton, MA led by Jim Harrell. “We don’t have the built-in support structure like large denominations. We needed and wanted professional development to gain skills and grow as leaders,” said Ken. “It’s been very helpful to regularly be with other pastors and hear about common experiences and struggles. We want that accountability.”
Ken first came to the church in the mid-1990s as a college student attending a nearby university. After graduation, he taught school locally. Over the years as his faith grew, Ken served in church leadership roles including Elder. Over three decades, the church also grew and experienced challenging seasons including a time when the founding pastor, Steve’s father, was ill. The church needed leadership, so Ken took a leave of absence from teaching school and started full time ministry. Having grown up in the church, Steve’s leadership responsibilities increased over time as his faith and skills grew.
A church needs leaders if it wants to expand its capacity to make disciples. Although leaders are not more important than anyone else, they are critical for a church’s health and growth so they must be intentionally developed with real-life practice. That is why Overseed pastor cohorts commit an entire year to walking through a leader discipleship plan. It is an all-encompassing process that includes teaching, programs, and life on life coaching that moves people forward in their walk with God, their character, and their ability to lead. Pastors are challenged each month to engage in discipling and developing one or two people in their own church. Jim Harrell said, “We do not want pastors to wait until they think they have it all figured-out to start.”
This past year, their Overseed cohort focused on leadership development which Ken described as “very impactful” for their ministry. He and Steve are intentionally developing a core team of twenty-two people in their church by applying what they learned in the cohort. The pastor group’s monthly accountability of sharing “how it’s going” encouraged them to be more strategic. Ken said “having a leadership pipeline is now part of their church culture.”
Recently, their church leaders mobilized to engage the Dartmouth community through service. They wanted to build on the church’s faithful foundation of caring for local people and sharing Christ’s love. They prayed about establishing relationships with town leaders and shifting their ministry to serve outwardly. They specifically prayed for members of the town’s Board of Selectmen by name.
Next, Ken reached out to inquire about hidden needs in the town and how the church might help. The response was overwhelming and humbling. In this middle-class coastal area, there is a growing homeless community with mental health and addiction concerns. The church offered an army of volunteers who helped the town conduct a homelessness census and then followed-up with tangible ways to care for people in need.
Faithfully praying, asking, and responding has allowed this church to have an influential voice in the community and develop new connections with local people. God has blessed this effort and produced growth through real-life faithful leadership practiced in community.
“Steve and Ken have done a very good job of managing major transitions in the church,” raved Jim Harrell. “They’ve grown as leaders and are focused on empowering other people to use their giftedness to strengthen the church and bless the community.”
The Overseed cohort remains a priority for Steve, Ken, and their fellow pastors in the group. Steve described these pastors as “like minded leaders who want to do their best for the kingdom.” Ken added that “we are grateful for Jim. He is so dedicated to this ministry! He is an inviting presence who is sensitive to people’s needs and voices."
Overseed develops faithful leaders who develop faithful leaders.