By Lonnie Wilkey
FRANKLIN — The Tennessee Baptist Mission Board is initiating the 317 Ministry Training Institute to provide a centralized repository of ministry training resources to assist pastors and other church leaders achieve their goals of being fully equipped for effective service.
“For the last 10 years, I’ve listened to hundreds of pastors and ministry leaders as they have shared a desire to have access to effective and trusted ministry training for today’s needs,” observed Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB.
“My hope is that the TBMB and our ministry partners will be on the cutting edge of online equipping and person to person mentoring,” Davis said.
“After 34 years as a pastor, I know the importance of being thoroughly prepared,” he continued. “Our 317 Ministry Training Institute is all about being a champion for the pastor and others called of God as they continue to be ready to serve the church.”
Roger “Sing” Oldham, pastor engagement specialist for the TBMB, will coordinate the new ministry.
“It’s been said that a call to preach is a call to prepare,” he observed. “We’re developing the 317 Ministry Training Institute (317 MTI) to help Tennessee Baptist pastors and other church leaders do just that. We believe every pastor should be — and wants to be — as fully equipped as possible as they serve their churches.
Oldham said the “underlying premise for creating 317 MTI is based on II Timothy 3:16-17. Verse 16 instructs us that all Scripture is God-breathed. The following verse, 3:17, reminds us that reliance on God’s good word is the means through which we become ‘thoroughly equipped for every good work.’
“While the 317 Institute’s focus is on practical applications of doing ministry, every course offering will be grounded in faithful biblical exposition and sound biblical truth,” he said.
“To that end, 317 MTI will provide a wide array of TBMB training courses for pastors, church staff, and lay leaders. We will also draw together existing resources into a resource center designed to help individuals move to the ‘next level’ in ministry effectiveness, whatever that next level is for each one.” Oldham said.
In addition, TBMB leadership is praying the Lord will “call out the called,” including men who have spent their adult life in other vocations but who sense God’s call to pastoral ministry later in life, Oldham said.
“Many of these are not at a place to go back to college or to seminary, but want to be equipped to lead their churches well,” Oldham said.
“For those with no Bible college or seminary training, we will offer enrichment courses on biblical leadership in a church setting, living the Christian life, and embracing sound doctrine. We will also provide supplemental training for those who have advanced degrees but need refresher courses on a wide variety of biblical and practical topics,” he said.
Oldham added that part of “our overall objective is to encourage peer-to-peer mentoring and learning. 317 MTI will solicit pastors to produce podcasts that speak into the lives of fellow pastors. We will also encourage reading and learning from classic and timely books through a ‘leaders are readers’ initiative.”
Oldham noted that 317 MTI collects, collates and curates effective Christian ministry training programs, seminars and conferences and creates uniquely designed courses to address timeless and timely ministry needs.
The TBMB specialist outlined the ministry objectives of 317 MTI:
• Spiritual formation: Assist Tennessee Baptists and church leaders in their pursuit of an authentically Christian manner of life manifested by trust in God, obedience to Christ’s commands, submission to the Holy Spirit, love of God and neighbor and mutual accountability with fellow believers.
• Biblical exposition: Assist Tennessee Baptist pastors and church leaders in their ability to interpret, understand, apply and communicate the Scriptures properly and effectively in their personal lives and their local church ministries.
• Ministry preparation: Assist Tennessee Baptist pastors and church leaders in enhancing their spiritual disposition for effective leadership and their administrative skills to model, lead, equip and oversee fellow believers for the work of the ministry.
• Theological application: Assist Tennessee Baptist pastors and church leaders in their efforts to apply the doctrines of Christianity and a biblical worldview to life and ministry both within and outside the congregational setting.
• Critical thinking and community engagement: Assist Tennessee Baptist pastors and church leaders in their ability to think critically, witness persuasively and communicate clearly beyond the four walls of the church.
While those who enter the program can achieve certificates of recognition by the TBMB at the annual Summit, 317 MTI courses do not provide educational credentials or signify satisfactory completion of any requirements or prerequisites for education at a postsecondary educational institution, Oldham stressed.
“For those desiring academic credentials, 317 MTI provides links to programs and courses offered by existing providers that share the TBC’s and the TBMB’s theological and missiological values,” he added.
Oldham said they are currently working on the web design of 317 MTI. “We hope to have some initial content posted early in 2021,” Oldham said.
For more information on 317 MTI, contact Oldham at firstname.lastname@example.org. B&R