Tim Dowdy, pastor of Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, has accepted the position of lead strategist for Pastor Wellness of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. ELFBC/SPECIAL
DULUTH — Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church pastor Tim Dowdy announced to his congregation today, Oct. 20, that he has accepted a call to serve as lead strategist in Pastor Wellness of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
In his new role Dowdy will oversee Georgia Baptist efforts to coordinate the provision of resources for pastors relating to all aspects of health, whether that be physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. The position was created earlier this year with the restructuring of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
The need for a Pastor Wellness lead strategist was affirmed after a series of listening sessions with pastors led by Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond, Jr. Responding to “What does the Mission Board do that it needs to keep doing and do better?, the third-highest response behind “Evangelism” and “Revitalization” was “Help pastors deal with stress, difficulty, and potential for burnout.”
“I’m a pastor, a local church guy, so it’s exciting for me to help pastors with their relationships,” Dowdy said. “I want to help them be encouraged and prepared to fulfill the call God has placed on their life. It’s a great honor to be in this position to help them be most effective in presenting the gospel in their communities and leading their churches.”
Wellness covers many areas
For years ELFBC has been one of Georgia Baptists’ largest churches in terms of membership and baptisms. In that time Dowdy has learned the importance of a healthy lifestyle to keep the needed pace.
“The aspects of wellness affect each other. If someone’s not feeling his best, it’s going to be difficult for him to lead his church or have a healthy relationship with his spouse,” Dowdy explained. “‘Being well’ points to the whole person, from his personal devotion and spiritual life as a believer to his relationship with his children to leadership in the church.”
Dowdy became the first full-time pastor at Eagle’s Landing in 1989, the same year it was constituted as a church from Koinonia Baptist Mission. Within two years the congregation mirrored the exponential growth taking place in McDonough and Henry County, having more than 2,800 members and Sunday School attendance exceeding 1,000. At this time ELFBC also became a regular leader in baptisms in the Georgia Baptist Convention. In 1994 the church purchased the Greater Atlanta Christian School’s Meadow Creek campus and renamed it Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy. Today, ELFBC reports more than 7,200 members.
His longevity with one congregation lends itself to a unique perspective for the 58-year-old.
“I’ve been in about every size church … in the same church. It’s taught me so much over time,” he said.
In the late 70s Dowdy was a 6’2” point guard at North Clayton High in College Park whose favorite book (besides the Bible, of course) was “Pistol Pete Maravich: The Making of a Basketball Superstar.” A pretty good high school player, he admits now that his “dreams of being a professional far outreached my athletic ability.”
During his senior year Dowdy felt called by God to preach. “The whole focus of my life changed at that point,” he said. “I wanted to impact the world through the gospel through the local church.”
While Dowdy pursued the ministry, though, he also maintained a relatively healthy lifestyle. He watched what he ate and exercised. But like so many other pastors, the demands of ministry could also test that resolve to better wellness.
“I had such a busy schedule that exercise felt like a sacrifice,” he remembered. “My regular regiment slid onto the back-burner for a while.”
A rededication to healthier living coincided with Dowdy’s decade-long tenure as a trustee for the North American Mission Board (he completed the last two years of another trustee before serving his own two, four-year-terms). Dowdy led in the search process that eventually brought Kevin Ezell as the entity’s president in 2010.
Speaking with Ezell, the two wanted to bring attention to bivocational pastors and the many hats required of those in that ministry setting. “We talked about how they are the ‘ironmen’ of the convention,” said Dowdy.
Training for all areas
Already a regular runner, it inspired Dowdy to begin competing in Ironman triathlons, races that consist of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride, and running a marathon (26.22 miles), in that order. The opportunity became a father-son effort, as Dowdy and his wife Christie’s only son, Micah, joined in with the endeavor. Micah and his wife, Kelly, have given Dowdy two grandsons, Wyatt, 4, and Jack, 2.
“I noticed that the bi-vocational pastor assumes the responsibility of pastoring a church, working at a full-time job, and also taking care of the needs of his family,” Dowdy told The Index in a 2012 article. “In meeting so many of those guys I was so impressed with their devotion and dedication to impacting lives with the Gospel of Jesus and how much time they invest in their ministry.”
The multiple hats required today for ministers of all settings – bivocational or not – place them in that same “Ironman” setting. In a triathlon one must train for all areas of the race. When it comes to wellness, one can’t focus on just a single area. It requires a much broader approach.
“This isn’t going to be a cookie-cutter program,” Dowdy expressed. “It’s starting at the relational level. We want to be a help to pastors throughout Georgia. “The bottom line is to serve the pastors of this state in every way, in the most effective way.”