Raising up the next generation of pastors

Vance Pitman said he thinks one of the “great tragedies in America” is the failure of senior pastors to raise up the next generation of men who can communicate God’s truth.

‘A tragedy all over’

“It’s a tragedy that we’re watching churches all over the Bible Belt get to a place where a senior pastor retires or steps off the scene and there’s nobody raised up to step into that place,” Pitman, pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas and a national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board, said at the State Evangelism Conference on Feb. 24.

Pitman says he sees it as an epidemic that’s happening across the denomination.

Philip Camp, pastor of Pine Grove Baptist Church, Phenix City, is trying to change that reality right where he is.

Camp has been developing a pulpit program to raise up men who believe they have been called to preach.

It’s similar to the way Camp himself was mentored after he surrendered to preach 11 years ago.

Mentoring others

“When I first received the call to be a minister, I was led to Pastor Jimmie Hobbs,” Camp said.

Hobbs asked him to join his church — Bethany Baptist — go with him to every funeral and wedding he did for the next year and get plugged into a teaching position in the church.

Camp did, and Hobbs later ordained him.

“I use this same logic for my students today in Pine Grove Baptist Church’s pulpit program,” Camp said.

At the beginning, he talks with the ministerial candidate and helps him evaluate his calling and his walk with Jesus Christ.

Then he guides the candidate through a 12-month curriculum that includes preaching a sermon one or more times each month.

“Our pulpit program does not replace seminary or Bible college but gives the candidate a firm grip on his calling,” Camp said.

Strengthening skills

It also helps provide bivocational ministers and pulpit supply for area churches as well as an opportunity for the men to strengthen their preaching skills.

A pastor or ordained minister provides oversight, offers constructive feedback throughout the process and assures the men affirm the Baptist Faith & Message.

Camp has ordained three ministers through the program and has a new student now who started in January.

“These young men many times have just failed to recognize the calling or have no one to help them realize it and mentor them,” he said. “The pulpit program, simple as it is, works.” (TAB)