General CBF

CBF Fellows: A breath of fresh air for first-call ministers

The 2018-2020 Cohort of CBF Fellows met in Atlanta on August 20-23 for the first of six in-person sessions. These sixteen ministers who are in their first years of congregational ministry (generally five years or less) are the fourth gathering of CBF Fellows since its inception in 2012. Michael Mills, Pastor of Agape Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, Texas, offered these words to his congregation after his time with learning alongside his 2018-2020 Fellows Cohort.

This past week, I went to Atlanta, Georgia, for my first session of the CBF Fellows cohort and it was a very…good…week. While it has nothing particularly to do with this morning’s sermon, I wanted to take a moment to share a couple of lessons that I learned.

I learned that I’m not alone. It was encouraging to get to know 15 other young ministers, each with their own stories and their own passions, but all called to serve God’s Church. We laughed, we cried, we learned, we laughed some more, and we spent time together with God. This community that has formed has already been a significant gift to me and that will only grow over the next two years of this cohort.

I also learned that we are not alone. I learned that there are churches all across the country, each unique…But we all have our challenges. It’s easy to only hear of all success stories through social media.

But the reality is that churches everywhere are struggling. We’re all having to rethink and reinvent ourselves for this day and age and that is really hard and scary and painful work. But there are churches that are committed to figuring it out and becoming the churches that God is calling them to be. In this work, we are not alone.

And I learned that God is up to something. I learned that God is doing something collectively in our midst, within CBF and within other faith groups. God is calling us to greater expressions of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly. I saw that common calling being expressed through these ministers and their churches and through CBF. And that’s exciting to me.

So, thank you for allowing me to be there and to not be here. I am better for it and I’m confident that we will be better for it.

Kristen Koger, Pastor for Children and Families at First Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia, shares this reflection:

I didn’t know that I needed this opportunity or these people in my life until I got a chance to sit around tables and share life together. It was such a breath of fresh air from the first moment we gathered. I am looking forward to the ways we all continue to grow and transform together over the next two years.

The CBF Fellows program assists young Baptist clergy who are in their “first-call” in making a healthy transition from seminary to congregational ministry so that they thrive. The priorities of CBF Fellows include:

  • Flourishing – CBF believes congregations thrive when their ministers thrive.
  • Collaborating – CBF believes peer-learning is a marker of successful ministry. Collaboration promotes pastoral excellence and congregational health
  • Coaching – CBF believes executive coaching is a vital component to assist young ministers in navigating their own anxiety and stress related to congregational ministry.
  • Wellbeing – CBF believes strong, healthy congregations are the cornerstone of the Fellowship. This includes ministers who are spiritually, physically, and emotionally working toward their own wellbeing.

2018-2020 CBF Fellows Cohort

For more information about the CBF Fellows Program, contact the Director of CBF Fellows, Josh Speight (CBF’s Manager of Leadership Development) at

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