By General Baptist Ministries
This post was originally published in the Fall issue of the GB Messenger. Don’t receive the Messenger? You can always catch the latest digital issue on the Messenger website, www.gbMessenger.org
In an effort to provide denominational services and connections as close to the field as possible, Executive Director Clint Cook has appointed a team of Field Representatives to provide personal connections to General Baptist pastors. The Barnabas Project intends to establish personal connections to General Baptist pastors through regular, planned contact. General Baptist Ministries has maintained a history of service to the pastors of its churches that can be traced back to the days when such ministry was funded and organized by the Christian Education and Publications Board. In the reorganization of 1996 a Pastoral Ministries Department was included.
These Field Representatives have agreed to make personal contact with the pastors in their care by a phone call or by in-person conversation two to three times annually. They will address the specific areas of concern identified by the executive director while also being sensitive to the needs and concerns of the pastors in their assigned group.
As much as possible the current listing of General Baptist pastors has been divided into regional listings with some specialized groupings. Some of the regions are small enough geographically that the field representative will be able to attend Presbytery and Ordaining Council meetings to establish direct, personal connections. In other regions contact will be primarily by phone.
For more information or to provide updated contact information please contact Congregational Ministries at 573-785-7746 or email@example.com.
Charles Richardson, Piggott, AR—In many ways this assignment has forced me to be intentional in an area where I should have been anyway. As a pastor I need other pastors around me who face the same challenges while sharing wisdom, strategies and concern. Creating many new relationships and strengthening some old ones has proven to be very rewarding. I believe the Kingdom is benefited when men of God come together for the worthwhile cause of mutual encouragement, inspiration, and improvement. Connecting with all these pastors and building these relationships will no doubt pay dividends well into the future for all involved. I believe great opportunities and potential lies within the networks that are forming as a result of the Barnabas project!
Pete White, Vincennes, IN—As this project took shape and calls began to be made, I was amazed at the response. Pastors desiring to be heard! For many, it seemed like a very long time since anyone had inquired of them how things were going or what the denomination could do for them. Responses varied from ‘things are going well’ to ‘we’re really struggling out here and could really use some prayers’.
One pastor was disappointed in the inquiry, saying it had come a little too late. He had resigned his church a little over a year and half ago. The Barnabas Project helps reconnect the local pastor to the denominational offices and the services they provide, not only to the local church but also to the pastor. More than ever, this connection is needed! No church, no pastor stands alone! We are in this together. We are doing together what we cannot do alone. (I think I’ve heard that somewhere, right?)
I look forward to continuing to connect with the pastors in my region, if for no other reason, just to let them know someone is in their corner, praying for them, encouraging them, and standing in the gap for them! We have a great work ahead of us, as General Baptists, in the days ahead and we need to be connected!
Donald Key, Westmoreland, TN—As to being a part of the Barnabas Project, I have found it to be a personal blessing to get to talk to the men of God who serve our churches. Most of the guys on my list are bi-vocational. They are trying to work a secular job, raise a family and see to the spiritual needs of their respective congregations. Most of the phone calls they get are not positive. It is usually about someone who has died, is sick, in the hospital or upset and leaving the church. Rarely do they get phone calls that are encouraging.
I get to be the one who calls and says, “Thank You. How can I pray for you? How can I help you?” Most of the answers are the same, there’s not enough time, not enough volunteers, leadership training that needs to be done or just being able to balance all the responsibilities that go along with bi-vocational ministry. However, just to hear an encouraging word and a sympathetic voice means a lot to these men. Over and over they tell me, “I needed this today.” or “Thanks for the encouragement.” How wonderful to be able to tell a person who is giving his life to family, community, job and church that they are doing a good job and are appreciated.
Seriously, my life has been impacted by getting to be an encourager. Each time I pray with a pastor, my life is strengthened, my circle of friends becomes larger (Prayer of Jabez) and I am encouraged myself.
Jeff Little, Mishawaka, IN—I am thankful to be part of this ministry. I am a pastor and I have a heart for other pastors.
Beyond this, I am inspired by the faithful people who have served many years in ministry, some under adverse and challenging settings. In spite of these challenges, the pastors keep on serving! They serve in out-of-the-way places that won’t make headlines in the daily papers.
I’m also struck by the fact that each of these ministers have expressed a passion to see more people come to know Christ.
I’ve noticed that most of these servants aren’t asking for help from the denomination like I had anticipated they would. What they seem to desire is that someone give value to them as people and connect with them person-to-person. On more than one occasion the pastor expressed gratitude that the denomination is reaching out to them. It seems this type of effort in being personal and personally interested in local leaders touches them where they live.
It is interesting to learn some of the more personal ministry stories like the brother who attends county fairs to share the gospel from a booth. Another pastor told of going to Africa and being privileged to sharing the gospel with hundreds in an evangelistic crusade. A lot goes on in the lives of these pastors as they seek to share Christ with their world.
Overall, I’ve been enriched by these connections. After our conversations, sometimes I am saddened by the sadness in their lives as they minister in challenging places. Always our conversations leave me feeling gratitude that I get to serve alongside these folks.
David Evans, Tecumseh, MO—I have been blessed in the Barnabas Project by the selection of this team. The group itself reveals well thought out members offering their regions special and unique perspectives from the pastor’s special talent and needs. I receive blessings from other pastors when I pray for them to be blessed. It is a blessing to see the motives and godly mission they display by wanting their churches to grow in numbers, in spirit, and in God’s word.
The road map of ministry includes calling, preparation, active service and finally the time of rest when tested and tried servants share their journey. The Barnabas project also has a road map of service. There are signs on the pastor’s map that he/she may need extra support. The road sign on the map of each minister’s journey may be grief and loss, disappointments, emotional problems, family struggles or even self-destructive behavior. It may even be pastoral burnout (giving out of self, without refilling, or lack of family support). Each minister can be vulnerable and all ministers seem to have a case of compassion-fatigue at some point.
My heroes have always been ‘preachers’, pastors and men of God standing on principle. It has been my desire to have a journey filled with successful ministry that mentors others, not perfect but humble, obedient and supportive, filled with unconditional love. I continue to have the desire to learn from these godly men working in the vineyard of life. The Map is laid out. Life’s journey is before us not behind us and the obstacles can be turned into blessings.
Cheyne Newberry, Heber Springs, AR—The Barnabas Project is great new ministry for our movement. It seems like too many pastors feel they are doing ministry alone, and this simply isn’t true. We have many churches in our movement, and that means we have many pastors also. The greatest thing about this is that we are tasked with the same mission no matter where our churches are located. We are all called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to make disciples! The Barnabas Project encourages our pastors in this mission.
Over the past few months I have heard of some wonderful things going in Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel! It is so encouraging to hear news of people being saved and baptized, or to hear about small churches that are growing! The Barnabas Project helps spread good news from our pastors and encourages them to keep fighting the good fight. We are not at this alone; there are hundreds of other pastors out there facing the same struggles, and problems that each of us faces every day and week. My goal as a member of the Barnabas Project is to encourage, pray, inform and help equip the pastors of our movement! God is still moving in our churches, our communities, and in our denomination, so let’s press on and run the race!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” —Romans 15:13
Ken Slater, Newburgh, IN—What an honor to be asked to serve on the Barnabas team! Part of the assignment is to be an encourager to other pastors and as a pastor I know the ups and downs of a pastor’s life. Yet, as I have talked with many of these men of God, I am the one being encouraged. They serve in cities, towns and rural communities but mostly in small to medium size churches. They share a common love for God and for their people. Even when life is hard, and so many are working a second or third job, they just want to see people grow in their faith and people come to know Christ.
What a privilege to visit with pastors who have preached for their entire adult lives yet they are still looking forward to helping others through their ministry even when most would be thinking about retiring.
John Brumfiel, Dixon, KY—Two things stand out to me now that The Barnabas Project is up and running. The first is that General Baptist churches have some of the best pastors in the entire world. Having had many opportunities to talk with many pastors from different church backgrounds – small churches of less than 20 to large churches running several hundred – I have been impressed with the heart of each pastor to make an impact for the Kingdom of God. As a whole, I have found our pastors to be genuinely and passionately concerned for the future of the church, of the General Baptist movement, and the lost in their midst.
Many are doing well and it is encouraging to hear of their personal walks with the Lord. There are some who are hurting and struggling with personal issues, church issues, family issues, marital issues, and financial issues. It is a privilege to offer a listening ear and a word of prayer.
The second thing that strikes me about The Barnabas Project is the depth of compassion, grace and care that is found in the team that makes up the regional representatives. This group of men cares greatly for the Kingdom of God and His servants. They are going above and beyond what has been asked of them, often doing things for pastors that were never even conceived in the Barnabas Project plans. It is an honor to stand along my fellow pastors as we serve the Lord together since “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17).