TIFTON – Fred Evers, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Tifton, is mentoring and teaching young men who have been called into ministry or who are open to God’s will in regards to whatever He may lead them to do.
There is a biblical precedent for other pastors to do likewise. Jesus occasionally taught thousands and was often ministering in the midst of great crowds of people, but He basically spent His life mentoring twelve men and there were three men, Peter, James, and John, who became special objects of his attention and instruction.
The disciples of Christ were a rather motley crew at the beginning, but Jesus molded them into a mighty force for spreading the Gospel.
Paul, the apostle, adopted Timothy as his son in the ministry and began to mentor him. Some contend that Timothy was not likely to graduate summa cum laude in Paul’s mentoring process, but he was a learner under the Apostle’s supervision and made a positive impact for the cause of Christ.
John Stott describes Timothy this way: “He was very far from being a stain glassed saint. A halo would not have fitted comfortably on his head. No, the evidence is plain that he was a real human being like us, with all the infirmity and vulnerability which that entails.”
However, those who are called to mentor and those who are willing to be mentored are generally melted together in bonds that cannot be broken and the results of such mentoring are unfathomable and profound.
For years Evers’ church has supported young adults who wanted to go to seminary by giving them $100 a month. And subsequent to that, the church began to pay the tuition for those who wanted to go to seminary to prepare for the ministry.
In a recent interview Evers’ stated, “We have sent approximately 20 students to Southern Baptist theological seminaries and in recent years [and] paid for 90 percent of their education. The church currently has a budget line item of $46,651 to help students pursue a seminary education to any of our six Southern Baptist seminaries – that is in addition to Northside’s Great Commission giving and the $170,403 the church gave to the Cooperative Program in 2016.
“In the fall of 2018 we will have eight seminary students taking classes in Southern Baptist seminaries. Four of the students will be pursuing Master of Divinity degrees, one will be pursing a Master of Church Music degree, and three will be in doctoral studies.”
Evers continued, “A few years ago when I was the chairman of the Executive Committee we interviewed all six seminary presidents, because we realized that many who graduated were not going into the pastorate. We asked the presidents about that and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, responded by saying, ‘It is not the seminary’s job to call out the called. That is the responsibility of the church.’”
Evers explained, “That is when I started working with young men. The Baptist Campus Ministry at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Ministry Director Penny Chesnut have been a great source of encouragement and help in this process.
“I started a preaching class with eight students. We meet at 6:30 every Wednesday morning. I teach them how to take a passage and write a sermon on it. I write a sermon on that same passage and that is what I preach on Wednesday nights to my church.
“I talk to them about how to be a pastor and from that group I select an intern each year. The church provides the intern with an apartment and a small salary and I try to invest my life in that person. I take the intern with me on hospital visits and to various churches when I preach. He goes to deacons meetings to see how I interact with my deacons. I also have him attend the full staff meetings. The intern gets an up close and personal view of how a church works.
“While the men that I am teaching on Wednesday morning do not receive seminary credit for the preaching class, Southeastern Seminary does allow me to teach classes for academic credit through the seminary. The seminary sends me a syllabus and I go through four classes a year, which grants the students 12 house of academic credit. I am teaching these classes to our interns as well as our student pastor. I am committed to teaching two classes to each of them in the spring and fall semesters. Any student I am teaching is required to participate in the preaching class.
“I permit these students to preach for me when I am away and other churches are now calling us to request these men to supply for them on occasion. I always tell the congregation where these young men are preaching when I get up to preach and we pray for them as they proclaim the Gospel. Some of those who have been through the classes are now serving churches. We are actually multiplying our ministry in a significant way.”
Evers added, “The church has been extremely supportive and they think this is the greatest thing in the world.”
Chuck Swindoll speaks of the value of a mentor and writes, “Years ago Dan Fogelberg wrote a song about his father called ‘Leader of the Band.’ In that chorus he calls himself a ‘living legacy’ to his dad. I love that phrase. Why? Because it tells of the impact a mentor can have on another life.”
Dear pastor, Fred Evers has developed a strategic mentoring ministry. You may not be able to do what he is doing on the same scale, but God has given you a place of influence as a pastor. Look around for a young man who needs coaching and encouragement. Pour your life into his life for the next few years. You may be amazed at what it does in his life – and yours.