Pastors Leading Change - The Nehemiah Leadership Network


The Nehemiah Leadership Network (NLN) is a pastoral leadership training program and ministry of ten American Baptist regions, including the ABCNJ, with support from the Center for Career Development and Ministry, the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board (MMBB), and the American Baptist Foundation (ABF).

It provides specialized training, guidance and support for persons who have high potential for leading renewal and transformation in their congregations. Participants are nominated by region staff. After acceptance, each pastor submits a proposal for an individualized learning plan that will address spiritual growth, emotional maturity, skills and conceptual models of systems and change.

It is expected that each pastor in the program will participate for three years, working with a group of four other pastors and a mentor with whom the group will meet four times a year, and during annual conference. Pastors and their congregations will be asked to provide a modest amount of financial support, but all major costs will be covered by the Network.

ABCNJ has recently graduated its first NLN class - (l-r) the Reverends Jay R. Thatcher III, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Westmont;  Mia Chang, pastor of NextGen Church of West Windsor; and Rodger J. Harris, Jr., pastor of Mt. Hermon Baptist Church, Irvington.  Next to them is Rev. Dr. Frank Reeder, an NLN mentor and pastor of Seaview Baptist Church.

Rev. Mia Chang reflects on her Nehemiah Leadership Network experience,

"The three year journey of Nehemiah Leadership Network has been a wonderfully enriching experience.  As a novice pastor, I was grateful to have received the collegial support and mentorship. Nehemiah's yearly retreat served as a refreshing time of learning and connecting with fellow colaborers of Christ.

Rev. Rodger Harris, Jr was also deeply impacted by his journey with Nehemiah,

My participation in the Nehemiah Leadership Network gave me balance in my ministry. I was chosen to attend in my first year of my first pastorate and through this experience I have been  able find my personal voice in ministry. The Nehemiah Network provides invaluable workshops through the retreats and mentor groups. Nehemiah retreats are wonderfully crafted to help us tap into ourselves and critically engage our call and commitment to be effective in the context in which we serve.  The instruction on family systems theory and various readings have aided in my transformation as an effective pastor and servant of Christ. The past three years I have made new friends and become a healthier disciple of Christ. I thank God for the vision of all my American Baptist family that recommended and supported me through this whole process of growth. I'm a better man and pastor for this experience.

If you are an ABCNJ pastor, and are interested in participating in this outstanding resource to equip you in your ministry, please contact Rev. Drs. Lee B. Spitzer or Elmo Familiaran at the region office.