By Mike Ebert
ALPHARETTA, Ga. — The SBC Executive Committee (SBEC) and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) are starting a young leader initiative to better engage pastors between the ages of 25-to-45. The goal will be to provide a sense of brotherhood for those already participating in SBC 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,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell. “I know there are thousands of young pastors who have a great contribution to make to our Southern Baptist family. 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, president of the SBCEC. “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 SBEC 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 SBEC and NAMB will form a very diverse group of advisors 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 this joint effort. He is transitioning from his role as pastor of Fairview Church in Lebanon, Tenn.
The entities plan to launch the initiative mid-way through the year (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 Woodstock, Ga., expressed his happiness about 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.””
Published February 27, 2017