Rob Apps has kindly agreed to an email interview for our InFocus readers.
But first, I want to direct you to the updated website for Apps Ministries. It’s got a new look and should be a helpful resource, particularly for pastors and ministry leaders.
JH: How long have you been helping churches with legal issues?
RA: For about the last 16 years, ever since I began law school really. I was a member at Condell Park Bible Church in Sydney for many years. The church had a school under its ministry and that generated a lot of distinct yet related issues that I was able to advise on.
From memory, all the changes in child protection law started in NSW in the mid 1990’s so it was interesting riding that wave and trying to get on top of all the new obligations that were imposed on churches and schools. I was able to help a lot of churches and schools on that topic and a host of other issues.
JH: What is the most common problem pastors ask for your help on?
RA: Usually basic risk management issues like insurance questions, accidents and child safety issues. There has been some ministry to churches that have gone through splits and other conflicts to do with property issues. I have helped quite a few churches introduce risk management policies beginning with training and education for the whole church, meeting with leaders and helping them with policy implementation.
There have also been some families and churches that have had issues with child welfare agencies and it has been challenging trying to assist them.
JH: What is the most common thing that pastors don’t ask for help on, but maybe should?
RA: I think getting help early on legal and ministry issues, such as ethical or counselling conflicts that can arise. Prevention is always better than the cure.
My advice to pastors is to have at least one other man in the ministry with whom you can speak freely and confidentially. Every one needs a sounding board to make sure we approach the ministry with balance and the right attitude.
JH: Did you see yourself in this type of ministry fifteen years ago?
RA: Not at all.
I thought my legal career would be a brief ‘diversion’ before I ‘really’ started to minister. But I found that the Lord used my training and background in ways I never imagined: as He does with every believer.
I am more comfortable with this ‘dual’ ministry so to speak because I believe it fits with my ministry gifts. My wife was also comfortable with me moving in this direction. Further, the other elders at Trinity Baptist Church have also sensed that call and direction. They had the grace and good sense to see how God was leading.
Even when training for the ministry some years ago I felt God had some kind of itinerant ministry for me. The ministry has now been clearly defined with the launch of the website last August. In a real sense the website just articulated and promoted what I was already doing.
Ironically, when we moved from Sydney to Cairns in 2006 I thought that many of these opportunities would dry up however the reverse was true. In the few months before the website was launched quite a few invitations came in to preach and teach and that’s what made me think it was worthwhile having a presence on the web.
Since then invitations have come in literally from Sydney to Perth to educate churches and also to minister the Word of God in camps and conferences. So God has opened doors and I have sought to walk through them.
JH: With the recent birth of your son, are you planning to keep travelling/speaking?
RA: Yes and let me explain.
The overwhelming majority of my time in the forseeable future would be spent in Cairns anyway, serving at Trinity. I am more burdened about what God is and will do at Trinity than what He will do through Apps Ministries. Most of my time is spent as a pastor dealing with all the ordinary concerns of a church. I try and bring those practical insights into the education and training arm of the ministry.
In terms of the preaching aspect of the ministry, that is my heartbeat and passion and there is a great need across our country for clear and passionate preaching that encourages God’s people and calls sinners to faith in Christ.
As our family grows I would love to include them in my travels so we can serve together. My wife Katie is an accomplished musician and she provides special music of the highest quality in churches when we travel together. I would like to see that side of the ministry developed to include our children in the future.