Meet The Staff: Catching Up With Rev. Blair Zant

9/28/2018

Rev. Blair Zant serves the Center for Congregational Excellence team as Associate Director. We caught up with her to hear what’s inspiring her and where you might see her next.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Blair: Night Owl. With a kiddo who must catch the bus at 7:10 a.m. So we shall see how long I can sustain this lifestyle.

Q: What is at the top of your bucket list?
Blair:
Voice a Disney character.

Q: If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be and why?
Blair:
Actually, my dream dinner party would include Emma Watson, Danai Gurira, Tina Fey, Amy Pohler, Mindy Kaling, and Brene Brown around a single table. With Maggie Smith seated at the head.

Q: Did you always want to be a preacher?
Blair: Nope. A veterinarian, then an Olympian, then a Broadway performer, then a counselor. Preacher/Pastor was not my first desire, but it is a call that captures nearly every desire I’ve been pursuing my whole life. Proclamation, creativity, compassion, care, incredibly hard work, transformed lives... And with church movements like Fresh Expressions pushing us to create faith community in more creative and non-traditional spaces, I love how the idea of “what preachers look like” is diversifying.

Q: What has life been like with both you and your husband in the ministry?
Blair:
An adventure, for sure. It’s great that we can share so much of life with one another. No, we do not preach each other’s sermons. It’s not easy. Communication becomes essential, especially when it comes to schedules. As any household with two working parents would tell you. We are grateful that every church we’ve served so far has seen our partnership as an asset. They’ve valued our different calls and gifts and supported us in prioritizing our marriage and our kids. I’ll admit, as much as I love watching him lead the church, my favorite thing is watching him hold the admiration of our daughters.

Q: Did you both want to go into the ministry? Or did one influence the other?
Blair:
When met in seminary, neither one of us ever imagined being a pastor’s spouse. But we fell in like working side by side in local ministry and fell in love imagining a life side by side in local ministry. Our marriage is built on a commitment to bringing people into a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. And rewatching episodes of The Office.

Q: What was it like working as Chaplain at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta?
Blair:
Hard. And sacred. CHOA is hands down one of the best possible places to work as far as the ethos of care and the dedication at every level to the work being done. I worked primarily in the Neonatal ICU. People don’t really know about NICU until they have reason to. We would often call it “the most essential community you never want to join.” My lasting impressions: Life is fragile and miraculous. NICU nurses are Angels on Earth. And rocking NICU babies is life-giving to both of you.

Q: Tell me a little bit about what you’re doing as Associate Director for the Center of Congregational Excellence?
Blair:
Our team’s role is to come alongside pastors and congregations and offer encouragement, perspective, resources, and support. The staff on this team have each led churches of all sizes in various seasons. We get it. We know how awesome and how tough it is. So we want to help. The way I’ve explained my M.O. to people is this: I want to be the person that I needed to come alongside me as I was trying to lead a church. Resources are awesome. But before that, I wanted someone to help me see things I wasn’t seeing. (Or confirm things I saw, but no one else around me seemed to.) And before that (and after that), I wanted encouragement. Someone to see what God was doing around me and through me and tell me to keep going. Anything I do - MLAB, Mystery Guest Ministry, Conversations Training, Chick Planters Live!, guest preaching, Worship and Welcome consults, Healthy Church Assessments - I want it all to help pastors and congregations feel encouraged and able to do what they do with excellence.

Q: You use the hashtag “#OneWith” on many of your posts on social media. Where did that come from?
Blair:
Our communion liturgy: “O Lord make us One with Christ, One with Each Other, and One in Ministry to all the world.” This is my prayer for our Church. And it drives my work. My vision is to see true collaboration between congregants, between congregations, and between congregations and their communities. I feel like this is how true Oneness in Christ would manifest.

Q: Now that you’re not serving one local church, what are Sundays like for you?
Blair:
I always looked forward to Sundays, whether I was preaching or not. I love gathering for worship and getting swept up in whatever the Spirit is up to. Twice a month I’m at Haygood with Will, worshipping with my children, attending Sunday school, and volunteering as a Greeter. On those other Sundays, I’m delighting in what God is doing all over our Conference. Wow, we have some talented preachers! And musicians! And visual worship designers! And liturgists, modern and traditional! And worshipers, of all ages! I consider it a privilege to travel around and be exposed to so many different expressions of our church. My work focuses on finding ways to show each of you to each other.

Q: Do you have any tips or inspiration you’ve picked up in the past few months?
Blair:
Enter every conversation assuming you are going to learn something you didn’t already know.

Q: What’s next on your calendar?
Blair: On October 11-12, I get to help gather women from across the country who are creating new faith communities or will be called to do so soon. A lot of them have connected online, but Chick Planters Live! will bring them together in real life. Great keynote speakers doing this well, breakouts designed to be both practical and challenging, and even a podcast event to build the network. Can you tell I’m excited?


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