By Randy C. Davis
TBMB President & Executive Director
One of the greatest and constant needs of the church since its birth at Pentecost is God-called, Spirit-filled, well-equipped leaders. One of the greatest joys in ministry is when those leaders unite in spirit, mind and effort to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Fortunately, we have a rich history of that in Tennessee. Since the first gathering of Tennessee Baptists to form a church network called the Tennessee Baptist Convention, pastor training has been a priority. The second order of business conducted by the TBC at its first meeting was the affiliation with, and support of, what is today Union University.
The affiliation with what is now Carson-Newman University soon followed. From the outset, a primary emphasis of each of these institutions has been to equip preachers through Christian education in order to strengthen local church ministry. In fact, CNU was originally known as Mossy Creek Missionary Baptist Seminary. Tennessee Baptists have always had a desire to prepare the called for their calling. We still do.
That is why I am excited to announce that Dr. Roger “Sing” Oldham has joined the TBMB team as director of pastor engagement and will lead a new group focused on the spiritual, mental, physical, and financial health of ministers, as well as equipping them for ministry. He’s a great leader who knows how to grow great leaders.
Sing’s journey makes him the right man for this unique position. He comes to us after 12 distinguished years of service as vice president of the SBC’s Executive Committee.
But prior to that, he was deeply involved in Tennessee Baptist life for 21 years as senior pastor at First Baptist Church, Martin, and 12 other years serving the local church from student ministry to other pastoral positions. Along the way he taught at Union, Mid-America Seminary, Mid-Continent Baptist Bible College, and UT-Martin. All this experience combined gives him a unique perspective and deep competence to understand the challenges and needs of pastors and ministers.
For a few years now, we here at the TBMB and our board of directors have had a vision to offer educational opportunities to Tennessee Baptist ministers and others. Sing is just the person to bring that vision to life.
His first order of business is developing the 317 Ministry Training Institute, based on 2 Timothy 3:17 and the idea that we want to “thoroughly equip [our ministers] for every good work.” This institute will be delivered via virtual platforms and offering a pragmatic approach to ministry training. Its content will meet the training needs of the pastor and ministry leader where they are at the moment. Leaders can earn certificates or connect through MTI for more formal degree programs.
Sing will also be developing an idea we call, “School of the Prophets.” The intent is to bring together pastors and ministry leaders for an overnight retreat at beautiful Carson Springs or Linden Valley Conference Centers to interact with, and “sit at the feet” of, seasoned leaders who represent the best from a variety of ministry disciplines. We see this as a key time of renewal, equipping, fellowship and mutual support.
We have placed a high priority on the mental and emotional health of ministry leaders and MTI will provide tools, resources and opportunities to assist pastors and ministry leaders as they deal with the demands of ministry.
My friend Bob Sorrell once said everything rises on good leadership and falls on poor leadership.
I envision a day when Tennessee Baptists have one of the most robust ministry internship programs in the country, filling the local-church ministry pipeline with sharp, Spirit-filled leaders for children’s ministry, student ministry, worship leadership, pastoral ministry and then many other needs of a local church. I believe the addition of Sing Oldham to the TBMB leadership team will help get us there.
Sing and Debbie, thank you for joining the Tennessee Baptist team!
And Tennessee Baptists, I believe we have some great days ahead. It is a joy to be with you on this journey.