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MBA alumnus applies leadership skills in church operation

Dec. 1, 2003

Organizational concepts, operational infrastructure, internal leadership, market identification and growth planning are essential for any business enterprise. Baylor MBA alumnus Jay Bauman knows that they're also requisite components of church operation. He is drawing upon the leadership skills he acquired at Baylor to fulfill his role as executive pastor of CrossPointe Church Orlando in Florida. By all appearances, he has effectively applied the skills he learned; since he helped head pastor Chan Kilgore "plant" the church in the fall of 2001, its congregation has grown to 225 active members.

"Church planting," a term used to describe establishment of a new church, is promoted by numerous evangelical networks dedicated to spreading the Gospel. One such organization, the Acts 29 Network, assisted CrossPointe Church Orlando through its formative period. Kilgore, an ordained pastor who has been in ministry for 14 years, is committed to planting culturally relevant churches that point people to Jesus Christ. That was his vision for CrossPointe Church Orlando when he first met Jay Bauman in 1999. Kilgore invited Bauman to join him in church planting. Although the concept interested Bauman, he was reluctant to abandon his information technology career to enter a "start-up" ministry. His reticence faded following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

At that time, Bauman was working as a consultant in the information technology field, which he entered upon his graduation from the Baylor MBA program in August 1996. In short order, Bauman began developing an impressive resume of work in the customer relations management and enterprise research planning fields, spending nearly four years with Ross Perot's EDS (Electronic Data Systems Corp.) before moving to Firepond Inc. Bauman was overseas on assignment in Amsterdam on that Sept. 11. Upon his return to his home in Florida the following week, he recognized that the shock waves of that event would exert profound repercussions within the information technology field.

"I took a reassessment of my life and as God tugged at my heart I knew that I needed to take some new steps," said Bauman. That's when he met Kilgore and agreed to help him achieve his vision of planting a church. With Kilgore as the primary visionary and communicator, Bauman stepped into an administrative role. He helped develop the church's business plan and coordinated filing of its incorporation paperwork. He continues to oversee the church's business operations and administers numerous activities, including the college, youth and intern programs, small-group development, leadership development and logistics for church services, including musical direction.

The church already has surmounted difficult odds. "Statistics show that 80 percent of church plants fail within the first two years, and of those that succeed, only about 15 percent get beyond the 200-member barrier. At our rate, we'll have 400 members in our congregation next year," Bauman said. "God has blessed us to be able to do this, and we have a unique synergy to minister our community and grow the church." Bauman is employed full time by the church, which is now financially independent.

CrossPointe Church Orlando has succeeded so admirably that Bauman has been called in as a consultant to assist other local church organizers locally and as distant as Brazil. Pastors Kilgore and Bauman have begun discussions with Campus Crusade about development of a church planting curriculum. "God is starting to open up opportunities for me to share even my limited experience in ministry," Bauman exulted. "Behind the scenes are the leadership and communication skills that I learned at Baylor. I wouldn't have gotten my previous jobs and these opportunities without my MBA degree."

While he considered himself a "strong Christian" throughout high school in his native Wisconsin and his years as an undergraduate at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., he never envisioned a career in ministry. However, Christian principles guided many aspects of his life. "I was attracted to Baylor for graduate school because it is a respected academic institution, yet instills Christian values," he explained. "I wanted to work with faculty in a business program that was friendly to the idea of faith."

CrossPointe Church Orlando was conceived to appeal to people who "are far from God and have been disenfranchised from church," in Bauman's words. "It would be easy to say we'd welcome whoever God sends our way. We do. But any church that doesn't have an idea who it's appealing to probably will attract exactly that: nobody," Bauman declared.

"To us, the cross is the essence of what Christianity is about and who Jesus is. Everything we do relates to that vision and our mission of pointing people to Christ," explained Bauman who, like Kilgore, is in his early 30s. Each Sunday morning, Bauman directs a staff of dedicated volunteers who elaborately transform a YMCA gymnasium into a house of worship for a 10:30 a.m. service that attracts a crowd of predominantly young adults. When the service begins, Bauman--a guitarist and drummer--takes his place among the musicians who perform modern rock inspirational music.

In addition to his numerous duties at CrossPointe Church, Bauman periodically preaches on Sundays. Although he did not attend divinity school, he is contemplating taking classes at Reform Theological Seminary in Orlando to strengthen his skills in interpreting and communicating the word of the Gospel.

"In our disenfranchised world, people are longing for authentic community," Bauman said. "If Jesus Christ is the hope of the world, we must provide an environment for people to know Him more."


Phone: (407) 207-7060

E-mail: Jay Bauman


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