The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee and North American Mission Board (NAMB) are launching a young leader initiative to better engage pastors between the ages of 25-45.
The network’s goal will be to provide a sense of brotherhood for those already participating in Southern Baptist life and find ways to engage those who are disconnected or minimally involved.
“A look at the research and a look around the room at most SBC meetings tells you we must do a better job at engaging and including young leaders,” Kevin Ezell, NAMB’s president, said.
“I know there are thousands of young pastors who have a great contribution to make to our Southern Baptist family,” Ezell said. “We want to serve them better and let them know they are loved, valued and needed.”
Frank S. Page, president of the Executive Committee, added his hope that the initiative will lead to increased young pastor participation.
“The Executive Committee is delighted to partner with the North American Mission Board in this process of engaging younger pastors and churches,” Page said. “Our driving imperative is to do whatever it takes to see every man, woman, boy and girl have the opportunity to hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe this partnership helps make that possible by encouraging those who need to be at the table.”
The Executive Committee has hosted or sponsored several events and efforts under Page’s leadership to connect with young leaders, including the Southern Baptist Young Leader Network and formation of talkCP, a blog geared toward younger Baptists with the goal of fostering greater understanding of and participation in the Cooperative Program.
Ezell said the Executive Committee and NAMB will form a very diverse group of advisers that represent an ethnic and theological mix.
“We simply want to connect the disconnected pastors and provide opportunities for younger pastors to see the value of being a part of this family we call the SBC,” Ezell said.
Jonathan Akin will join NAMB’s staff to lead the joint effort. He is transitioning from his role as pastor of Fairview Church in Lebanon, Tenn.
The entities plan to launch the initiative midway through 2017.
“This summer will serve as a launch date for a new day in how the SBC mobilizes our next generation of pastors,” Page said.
Johnny Hunt, past president of the SBC and senior pastor of Woodstock First Baptist Church in Georgia affirmed the new effort.
“I’m very excited that Jonathan Akin has joined the staff of NAMB to help us reach a generation we are losing or, at best, challenged to reach 25-45-year-olds,” said Hunt, who has long been known within the SBC for his heart for mentoring young pastors. “This is a great move by Kevin Ezell and Frank Page.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mike Ebert serves as executive director of public relations for the North American Mission Board.)