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Young pastors encouraged at first Timothy + Barnabas Institute gathering

APLHARETTA, Ga. – More than 130 pastors left the first gathering of the Timothy + Barnabas Institute (TBI) at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) encouraged and looking forward to the next two years of coaching and mentorship that will be a part of the program.


Johnny Hunt, senior vice president of evangelism and leadership at the North American Mission Board (NAMB), shares a message with participants at the first meeting of the Timothy + Barnabas Institute (TBI). The TBI is specially designed for pastors to give them the opportunity to meet and be mentored by seasoned pastors. NAMB photo

For two days, participants heard from keynote speakers and met in smaller cohorts made up of a coach and a group of their peers to discuss their backgrounds and challenges they currently face.


"I walked away from the TBI sessions this week incredibly encouraged and refreshed," said Jamus Edwards, pastor of Pleasant Valley Community Church in Owensboro, Ky. "Few things are more valuable for a young pastor than being poured into by a more seasoned, mature pastor."


Pastors and ministry leaders such as Danny Akin, Jimmy Scroggins, Bryant Wright, Vance Pitman, James Merritt, Ken Whitten and Johnny Hunt delivered keynote addresses.


"The sermons at the TBI were especially encouraging to me and my ministry," said Chip Dean, pastor of the Harbour View campus of Liberty Live Church in Suffolk, Va. "Vance Pitman preached a powerful message on the necessity of corporate prayer and preaching not only in the church but also during the Sunday morning worship gathering."


Jonathan Akin, NAMB's director of young leader engagement, helped develop the TBI after hearing a number of pastors describe the need to learn from and be mentored by older pastors.


"Pastoring can be isolating, and while seminary prepares you for much of what a young pastor will encounter in his ministry, there is a difference between learning in a classroom and experiencing challenges for the first time," Akin said.


(Left to right) Jonathan Akin, executive director for young leader engagement, Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Bryant Wright, retired pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., sit down for a panel discussion during the Timothy + Barnabas Institute (TBI). The TBI is specially designed for pastors to give them the opportunity to meet and be mentored by seasoned pastors. NAMB photo

"The Timothy + Barnabas Institute is unlike any other conference or event," Akin continued, "because there is no green room, and the participants have access to the leaders the entire time. They eat together, learn together and worship together."


Over the next two years and between the three remaining main sessions of the TBI, pastors will continue interacting with their coach and the peers from their cohort. There will be monthly scheduled conference calls as well as opportunities to check in one on one.


"The opportunity to connect with other pastors in similar seasons of life and ministry provides a sense of brotherhood that is invaluable," Edwards said. "Moving forward, I'm eager to continue to connect with these pastors and my ministry coach on a regular basis and anticipate these relationships only growing deeper in the years to come."


James Merritt, pastor of Cross Point Church in Duluth, Ga., delivers a message about the importance of walking with the Lord to the participants in the Timothy + Barnabas Institute (TBI). The TBI is specially designed for pastors to give them the opportunity to meet and be mentored by seasoned pastors. NAMB photo

Several of the pastors who attended shared about their experience at TBI on social media.

"Got to Timothy + Barnabas Institute today @NAMB_SBC and got assigned @StephenRummage [pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Okla.,] as my coach!" tweeted Spence McConnell, pastor of Zaneis Baptist Church in Wilson, Okla. "What an amazing opportunity to learn from one of the best in the ministry!"


Rusty McMullen, pastor of First Baptist Church McAlester, Okla., tweeted after the message from Vance Pitman, pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas, "Thank you @VancePitman for your powerful and honest exhortation of God's Word tonight!"


The TBI builds on the ministry of Timothy + Barnabas Retreats, a ministry that Johnny Hunt gave to NAMB ahead of joining the staff as senior vice president of evangelism and leadership. Hunt, who began the ministry while pastoring First Baptist Church Woodstock, Ga., donated the ministry to NAMB so it could grow and flourish beyond his own ministry.


"I'm grateful to see Timothy + Barnabas expand to serve the next generation of pastors," Hunt said. "So much good happened during our first session of the Timothy + Barnabas Institute, and I'm praying that the dozens of pastors who came will make a Kingdom impact in their communities for years to come."


Written by Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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