About Us

Introduction to Metokos Ministries

Presbyterian Church in America Teaching Elder (Minister) Don K. Clements is the founder and director of a para-church ministry known as Metokos Ministries.

What follows is the story of how the ministry began and a brief description of what we provide for churches – especially as encouragement for smaller churches – which is our primary target demographic, but certainly not the exclusive one.

From time to time, I will be adding updates to the site with more details and anecdotes from the past.

In the providence of God, since my very first year at Covenant Seminary in 1970,I have been given opportunities to be involved with smaller churches throughout the U. S. in a variety of ways.  Several times I was a core group developer for a new church.  I have served as Interim Pastor for more than a dozen churches of various sizes.  And I served as a revitalization pastor for several smaller churches.

In St. Louis I served as Student Pastor for the Bethel RPCES Church in the suburb of Afton for a year.   The second year I preached at dozens of smaller churches, mostly in the southern Illinois region where there were many RPCES and RPCNA churches.  The next summer I served as Interim Pastor for the Perry PCUS church in Perry, GA and – during my final year – commuted each weekend from St. Louis to Atlanta to develop a startup RPCES church.  Strategically, this turned out to be impossible, for that was 1973-74 and the PCA had just formed, which resulted in that work never getting organized.

My first pastorate after seminary was in Savannah, GA as the Eastern Heights Presbyterian Church – one of two congregations that had left the PCUS for independency in the 1960’s (those two were part of the famous U. S. Supreme Court decision that held that each state must deal with church property ownership issues, and in Georgia Eastern Heights and a sister congregation, Hull Memorial, kept ownership of their property).  The two churches joined the newly formed National Presbytery Church in July of 1974, and I was ordained to the Gospel Ministry at that time by Central Georgia Presbytery.

Eastern Heights was in need of revitalization and either a change in ministry focus (they were in an area becoming more and more urban in nature) or a change of location.

Through my early adult life, I had clearly demonstrated skills and abilities at planning and developing programs and had a bit of an entrepreneurial and visionary spirit.  Seeing that the folks were not in the least bit interested in changing ministry focus, I set out to plan for a change of location.

There was another congregation nearby – this one still in the RPCES that had split from Eastern Heights 25 years earlier over eschatology and abstinence issues – and they were without a pastor and also looking for a change.  Both congregations owned buildings that were in good shape and would easily sell to churches who wanted to minister in that part of town.  It was clear that the sale of both properties would produce sufficient funds to buy 7 to 10 acres of land in the western suburbs near the new mall and make a significant down payment on a building that could handle a congregation of 300 (there were about 150 people total between the two churches).

With the passing of the years, the vision turned out to have been the right one, but I turned out to be the wrong person to present it.  I had a military background and, in seminary, had learned that Elders provide rule in local churches, so I naturally worked with the Sessions of both churches to formulate the details of the plan.  The plans were presented to the two congregations, and when the votes were taken, requiring 2/3 majorities in each congregation, the smaller RPCES congregation overwhelmingly approved it, but at Eastern Heights it failed by 2 votes.

It should go without saying that I was crushed personally, and it quickly became clear that my style of leadership was not going to fit very well with the congregation in the future, so I looked at a couple of other pastoral opportunities, but at the end of the day decided to return to the Navy – where I had served as an enlisted man for 12 years prior to seminary – and was commissioned as the very first PCA military chaplain to go on active duty.

As time passed, the lesson I needed to learn from my failure in Savannah turned out to become a central core value of Metokos Ministries.  And that is – in smaller churches, even if they are not congregational in church government – any major changes have to come up through the grass roots and not be sent down from those in leadership.  As you will see in other portions of this website, this core value is at the root of our two primary ministry programs – developing Revitalization/Vision Plans for churches, as well as designing Pastoral Searches.

During my time in the Navy as a Chaplain, I was blessed with a number of opportunities to be involved with local churches.  In San Diego, I served as Interim Pastor for two different OPC congregations for six months each as they found new pastors.  One was Bayview OPC in Chula Vista; the other was the Point Loma OPC.

A few years later, while stationed in Norfolk, I served as part-time Associate Pastor for a young, growing church in Virginia Beach where I preached Sunday nights and developed an adult discipleship program for new members and leaders.

My final experience while in the Navy was in Newport, RI – a state without any Reformed work – where I served over two years as the Pastor of the Maple Avenue Baptist Church, a congregation of the Conservative Baptist Association.  My preaching was well received as long as I stayed away from talking about modes of Baptism!

Through all of these situations I was forced – because my primary vocational call was as a full time Navy chaplain – to provide advice and counsel and mostly just encourage the local leadership to do the work of ministry in the church.

In 1985 I retired from the Navy (with combined enlisted and officer service I had completed over 22 years of active duty), and after a long search, I accepted a call to become the pastor of a very small, struggling former RPCES congregation, now in the PCA through Joining and Receiving, in Blacksburg, Virginia.   The result of nearly 7 years as the Pastor of Grace Covenant Presbyterian resulted in a stable meeting location (sharing space with a Baptist congregation), an attendance regularly over 100 including the beginnings of a college ministry, and the raising of $400,000 in a building fund.

Let me explain at this point that all of this came not through any sort of careful ”Vision Planning” but rather as a result of a very laissez-faire leadership style that the Session and I shared, allowing the congregation to be free to start new ministries (which were, of course, appropriate for a PCA church) and the Session would provide oversight.

My next and final full time pastoral call was at the Valley Presbyterian Church in Narrows, VA, a town in a rural county just west of Blacksburg (population about 17,000) and a town of just 2,000 people.  The church started in the early 80’s as a split from the local PCUS congregation to form a new PCA church.  Through generous donations, they had a 7,000 square foot building fully paid for and located in a convenient residential area occupying 3/4 of a square block.  They also owned a nice home in town as a manse.

However, the church had gone through 4 pastors in 10 years and was struggling.  They had an average attendance just below 50 and were badly in need of revitalization and stability.  I was 56 years old at the time I took the call and committed to stay until I was 65 (”as long as  we were having fun”, which was my way of saying, as long as you’ll let me stay).

I stayed those 9 years and early on determined that we needed to do a revitalization project.  There were only a handful of children in the congregation; most were those who had young families when the church started 11 years earlier and their children were either grown and gone or still in high school.

My first venture was to call the PCA Christian Ed Committee (which I knew well since I served many years as a member of that Permanent Committee) and had one of their staff come to town to conduct a seminar with the Session.  We then completed a survey of the congregation, followed their boilerplate recommendations, and developed a Vision Plan for the church.  After announcing the program to the congregation, we were greeted – over the next few months before we noticed – with one, big yawn.  Needless to say, nothing happened.

I called my friend at the CE office and we discussed it.  He mentioned that he had just read a book about revitalization and Vision Planning that sounded pretty good.  I ordered a copy of Aubrey Malphurs book called Developing a Vision for Ministry in the 21st Century (which he actually wrote at the end of the 20th Century).

This book presented an excellent model for developing a Vision Plan in a smaller church but was based on congregational government.  After some email conversation with Dr. Malphurs, I revised the plan to fit a Presbyterian system, modified his survey methods considerably, and set out to try it at Valley Presbyterian.  You can find the details in the Introduction to Vision Planning material elsewhere on the website to see how successful it turned out to be.

Because of that success at Valley Church, plus the unplanned success at Blacksburg, a number of churches in my presbytery began contacting me for advice – including one that was about to search for a new pastor after several short stays by previous men.

This working with other churches, coupled with the fact that I was approaching my 65th birthday with my intention to leave the pastorate and do something else, resulted in the formation of Metokos Ministries, with our goal/slogan of providing ”Encouragement for Smaller Churches.”

I had to do this part time at first, of course, so I looked for a place to ”attach” the ministry for oversight.  Naturally I started with the C.E. committee of the PCA, but they were having serious budget problems and saw no way to fit it in, other than making it one of their ”approved ministries.”

Next I tried the PCA’s Mission to North America committee, who had the portfolio that included church revitalization.  At that time they had only one in-house revitalization ministry with a specialized prayer ministry and an endorsement of the Embers to A Flame ministry that Harry Reeder had developed at Christ Covenant church in Matthews (Charlotte), NC.  And they too had no room in the budget and could do nothing more than endorse the ministry.

I next turned to Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship and applied to become an Affiliate Evangelist.  By this time in the life of PEF, most of their affiliates had specialized ministries for doing evangelism in different ways, formats, and cultures.  When I was asked by a Board Member at the meeting they were voting on my acceptance what the design of Metokos Ministries had to do with evangelism, it was very easy to explain.  Simply put, if a church was bogged down just trying to survive, they would have no energy left to do any ministry, let along evangelism.  The board understood the need and approved me and the ministry design.

In 2003, I retired from the pastorate and my current full-time call from Blue Ridge Presbytery of the PCA is as an Affiliate Evangelist with PEF.  They serve as my board of directors, handle all financial matters, and encourage me (and others in similar situations) to do the specialized ministry and also be available for conference preaching whenever possible.  (There is a segment on the website about that portion of our ministry.)

Since 1999 Metokos Ministries has worked with over 100 churches in a variety of formats, with the three most frequently sought after being Pastoral Search Committee training and coaching, training and coaching for revitalization through Vision Planning Groups, and preaching (primarily through conferences or interim pastor relationships.)

If any of this sounds like it could meet a need in your particular church situation, please check out our section of video clips or the written material on the website.

(An abbreviated version of this material can be found in our Video Clip section.)