"One thing we hear consistently is that in addition to starting new churches, Southern Baptists need to do a better job taking care of existing churches," NAMB president Kevin Ezell said.
"Leadership development for pastors is one of the ways we can do that. My hope is to see the Timothy Barnabas conference become an equipping and growing place for pastors but also a place where they can come and relax and be appreciated. That's what we want to do," Ezell said.
Through the partnership, NAMB will provide office space for Timothy Barnabas at its Alpharetta, Ga., offices along with need-based scholarships for church leaders and a more regionalized approach to Timothy Barnabas conferences through Southern Baptist state partners.
Started in 1994 through the leadership of Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., Timothy Barnabas has provided leadership development through instruction, encouragement and networking at annual events such as pastors' retreats and men's conferences. The partnership is aimed at providing reproducible and contextualized experiences that would help meet needs region by region.
Hunt sees the NAMB partnership as a natural outgrowth of what Timothy Barnabas is all about.
"I am ecstatic about the partnership Timothy Barnabas has formed with the North American Mission Board," Hunt said. "NAMB has supported this ministry for many years, but we now are becoming close ministry partners utilizing the strengths of both our organizations.
"We will be more effective as will NAMB, and the primary beneficiary will be pastors and church leaders. With NAMB's help, we will be able to reach more areas across the country that need leadership development greatly," Hunt said.
First Baptist Woodstock's executive pastor, Jim Law, and NAMB vice president of evangelization Larry Wynn will provide direct leadership as the organizations develop ministry strategies in the coming months.
Wynn said Timothy Barnabas fits the model for leadership development NAMB is moving toward in its overarching Send North America strategy.
"For a pastor to continue to minister effectively, he has to continue to grow and to learn," Wynn said. "Rather than reinvent the wheel, we wanted to research best practices, and Timothy Barnabas is one of the few ministries doing this kind of concentrated work."
Law said Timothy Barnabas would add to its cache of speakers several leaders and practitioners working with NAMB and would look soon at expanding conference venues into regions such as the Northeast and Canada. The ministry also is interested in drawing younger leaders.
"We older guys would like to help younger pastors avoid a lot of mistakes we've made coming along," Law said. "I've been in ministry 38 years and I've made a lot of mistakes, and we're trying to teach pastors and church leaders what we've learned through the school of hard knocks."
Ezell said the partnership is an important step for NAMB and one marking the beginning of much more to come.
"This is something we can get started with right away. I believe this will build momentum for both our ministries and provide a foundation for building up men and families who will help lead Great Commission efforts in North America," Ezell said.
Adam Miller writes for the North American Mission Board.
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