[Next Generation] Walnut Street Baptist Church announces ministry residency program

This article was written by Sarah Seibert, Pipeline Residency Coordinator at Walnut Street Baptist Church in Jonesboro.

2 Timothy 2:2 – “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also.” 

We have realized that, like me, the Lord has brought many to Walnut Street Baptist Church in Jonesboro to be trained up and sent out. Walnut Street hired me right out of college to do International Student Ministry – a huge act of faith on their part. I had gone overseas the summer before graduation and came home with direction from the Lord to do International Student Ministry. I thought, “Well that is not a job, so I guess I’ll apply for jobs at universities with international students.” As I was looking for jobs, I remember the Holy Spirit telling me, “Sarah, I called you to this, I have something for you. Don’t take this into your own hands.” So, I did what I would never advise anyone to do three months from graduation…. I stopped looking for a job and waited for the Lord to provide. That very week, my missions pastor sat me down and explained that the Lord had been working on his heart while I was gone, specifically regarding the church’s involvement with international students in Jonesboro. He asked if I would like to work at Walnut Street doing International Student Ministry. Would I? Working at Walnut Street was such a gift. When I started, I truly had no idea what I was doing.  

In those formative years of my first ministry job, I was given so much freedom and grace by the staff and pastor of Walnut Street. They said, “Go do it, and let us know how it is going and what you need.” They allowed me to try, fail, try again, and grow as they celebrated with me that we were all learning. They invited me in to see how a healthy church staff functions and to work through my own call to ministry. After a few years, they sent me overseas for two years and supported me while I was gone. I returned in 2020 and can confidently say, I have experienced the best of Walnut Street Baptist Church.  

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As I look back, I remember those first few Sundays and what I saw that ultimately drew me in. Immediately, I noticed the church’s heart for missions and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Over the years I saw those truths play out in numerous ways. One of which was when they committed to giving generously toward every college student’s Christmas break mission trip in the same breath that they announced their plan and prayer to pay off the building’s note over the next year and a half. It was at Walnut Street that I learned to hunger for God’s Word daily and to study it in context, and where I was taught how to share the Gospel with words in daily life. It is for all of these reasons and more that I am excited about the “Pipeline” – Walnut Street’s ministry residency program. 

They have loved me well and given me freedom to grow and we want to continue that pattern for more people called into the ministry. We want to live out 2 Timothy 2:2 for God’s glory and the advancement of His kingdom. Our desire is to give future residents two years of intentional mentorship to learn, grow, fail, and try again with freedom to work out their ministry calling with the Lord. We want to see them do this before they begin their first job in ministry. Our two-year program is specifically designed to give the residents opportunity to not only see a church staff function in a healthy way, but to be intentionally mentored by a staff member in their area of interest: Pastor, College Ministry, Youth, Children’s, Worship, Missions, Administration, Audio/Visual and Communications, and more. We also designed the program to focus on instilling four core values into the residents over two years: Bible, Multi-generational, Intentional Relationships, and Prayer. We will send our residents on at least one stateside and one overseas mission trip during the two years, as we develop an understanding of God’s heart for the nations.  

All of this leads us to the heart behind the program – sending them out to wherever God has for them next with a solid foundation for longevity and health in ministry, supported by the church and other residents who have gone through the program. Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 2:2 are clear and our culture is in a pivotal place right now. We have seen churches close their doors, cities turning to false gospels, and burnout among ministers of the Good News. It is our job, as the local church, to take all that we have learned in the presence of many witnesses and entrust that to the next generation called to ministry, so that they may teach others also. It is more important than ever to send called ones out with a solid foundation based in God’s Word and saturated in prayer. Pray with us as we invest in the next generation of ministers. If you or someone you know are interested in learning more, then please visit walnutstreetbaptist.org/pipeline

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