By Meredith Rose, Contributing writer
The Texas Baptists Missions Team is dedicated to helping churches reach their communities, their cities, the nation and, ultimately, the world for Christ. Understanding that this is no easy task, they encourage churches to pursue intentional discipleship, where Christ’s followers are multiplied and the church is collectively empowered to spread the Gospel further.
Fishing for Disciples
Last summer, Texas Baptists Missions Specialist David Miranda organized a gathering of several Texas Baptists church leaders from the Dallas area. His goal was to understand how the Missions Team could better equip young ministers to spread the Gospel.
From this meeting emerged Devoted, an event that Miranda described using Christ’s timeless fishers-of-men metaphor. “If you want to go fishing, you go to a lake. But here in Texas, we don’t have lakes, so we build reservoirs,” he said.
Devoted is exactly that, a reservoir where Texas Baptists goes fishing for young people who are interested in ministry and passionate about growing through mentorship. The first Devoted session was held last spring and attracted a variety of people with different mentorship needs.
In order to reach each group effectively, the Missions Team has created three mentorship groups with unique purposes. As the Missions Mentoring Program continues to develop, these three mentorship groups are seeing exponential growth and success.
The Common 01 was the first mentorship group to take form. It is a group geared toward pastors in their mid-20s to 30s seeking to improve their ministry skills and grow their churches.
At the first meeting, this group of young leaders indicated the top eight areas of need in their churches. Based on these results, Miranda began collecting seasoned leaders from across the Dallas area who could speak to these needs.
“This group takes the form of an executive mentorship,” said Miranda. “This is where experts come to share their knowledge with younger people in similar positions.”
Since its first meeting in September 2019, The Common 01 has welcomed ministry leaders including Dr. David Hardage, executive director of Texas Baptists, and Jeff Warren, senior pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, TX. These leaders have addressed needs such as leadership at the intersection of faith and culture, as well as effective communication in the church.
“In this group, pastors are developing practical leadership skills. It provides a space for culturally and biblically relevant discussions, as well as opportunities to learn from other’s experiences,” explained David Foster, leader and participant in The Common 01. “Everybody wins when leaders grow their skills.”
According to Foster, the best part of The Common 01 is its dedication to cultural diversity.
“I love sitting next to my Hispanic and African American brothers,” said Foster. “The world is diverse, and we need these different perspectives.”
The Missions Team is eager to see The Common 01 grow. It is currently seeking more young pastors who are interested in this executive mentorship opportunity.
As of October 2019, Miranda introduced The Common 02, a mentorship group that provides fellowship for young ministers seeking seminary-level training through Texas Baptists’ Urban Church Leadership Certification program.
This program seeks to equip pastors and church leaders with the tools needed to minister in situations unique to urban communities. In partnership with Truett Theological Seminary, up to four classes taken through the program may count as credit toward Truett Seminary’s 10-course Certificate in Ministry.
“There are lots of young men and women who are interested in education, but they don’t have the means to take courses at a university or seminary,” explained Miranda. “This is where The Common 02 seeks to provide options.”
One participant in The Common 02, Abraham Quinones, explained what demographic the group is geared toward and some of its goals.
“We’re looking for people who are already in shepherding positions,” he said. “When they join the program, they will develop these leadership capabilities. While they are doing the course work on their own, joining this group allows them to bounce ideas off one another and create a common language.”
As this mentorship group continues to develop, the Missions Team is searching for more young ministers in urban communities who are looking to expand their knowledge through education and create bonds with people in similar positions.
Starting in January 2020, the Missions Team will introduce Embrace, a mentoring group geared toward young women who are interested in ministry.
“Our goal is to create a platform for experienced female ministers to pour wisdom into younger women,” said Miranda. “This program will happen through both group sessions and one-on-one fellowship.”
Miranda has partnered with Missional Lifestyle Strategist Teri Ussery of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) of Texas to develop this mentorship opportunity. The two are currently drafting original lesson material for group discussions, identifying female ministers from the Dallas area as potential mentors and gathering a group of young women who are passionate about ministry and mentorship.
“I am a big proponent of anything multi-generational,” said Ussery. “I love connecting the generations because I believe they can both learn from each other. This is one thing Embrace will seek to do.”
Ussery hopes to launch Embrace with a group of 10-12 mentors and mentees. The number of mentees the group can accept will depend directly on how many mentors volunteer as Ussery wants to keep a 1-to-1 ratio of mentors to mentees. A mentee application is currently being developed.
“My prayer for Embrace is that it would not become a program. I want it to be a guide toward organic relationships,” Ussery emphasized.
For more information about the next Devoted session or any of these mentorship opportunities, contact David Miranda at firstname.lastname@example.org.