August 19, 2020
By Aaron Weaver
DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship opens applications today for a new initiative to encourage and enhance the thriving of pastors in CBF congregations.
This four-year initiative, which is funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., aims to address challenges that pastors face in their congregational settings through formal and informal mentoring. Mentors will facilitate cohorts of pastors as together they share and develop best practices while building and sustaining collegial relationships essential to ministerial wellbeing. Each cohort will address the uniqueness of their callings as well as their personal wellbeing.
CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley expressed excitement for the Thriving in Ministry initiative as it seeks to provide community to help strengthen and ensure the flourishing of pastors and their congregations.
“Faithfulness in pastoral ministry requires real community with other ministers who share similar opportunities and challenges and also access to mentor pastors who, because of wisdom and experience, can help us ask essential questions and offer faithful leadership in the midst of a rapidly changing world,” Baxley said. “We have long known that isolation is the most significant obstacle to excellence in congregational leadership. So, with gratitude to the Lilly Endowment for their catalytic support, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is pleased to open our first set of cohorts in our Thriving in Ministry initiative. We are eager to see how communities of pastors will bless, encourage and strengthen one another toward not only their thriving but also the thriving of congregations.”
Four online cohort groups, comprised of eight participants and two mentors, will begin this fall and continue for one year. This first group will include cohorts of women pastors, rural pastors, pastors in transition, and pastors in the second half of their ministry. Up to 40 groups will be selected over the course of the initiative with the second group of cohorts scheduled to begin in the spring of 2021.
Ruth Perkins Lee, CBF’s director of church engagement, said that over the course of this grant CBF has the “opportunity to impact individuals directly while creating a culture of mentoring across the Fellowship.”
“Being trained as a mentor and being mentored expands the circles of experience as to how mentoring can be used in formal ways,” Perkins Lee said. “In addition, resourcing, introducing and creating space for relationships are a few of the ways CBF will seek to provide opportunities for informal mentoring to begin. Both avenues are vital to the wellbeing of the minister and will have lasting impacts on churches and CBF.”
Tracy Hartman, who serves as administrator of the Thriving in Ministry initiative, echoed Baxley and Perkins Lee.
“Congregational ministry has always been challenging, but it is even more so in these days of COVID-19 and social unrest. CBF is delighted to walk alongside our pastors through this initiative, supporting and equipping them for ministry in the 21st century.”
CBF pastors are invited to learn more and apply online at http://www.cbf.net/thrivinginministry.
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.