National program directors discuss ABHMS’ new ministry model: Jamaal Nelson

The Rev. Jamaal Nelson, director of American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ “In Support of Excellence” shares his excitement about the initiative.

Q.: What is In Support of Excellence?

A.: In Support of Excellence is a Lilly grant-supported initiative designed to equip pastors and lay leaders in three ways: to support them with financial-literacy best practices; to engage them in meaningful conversations about appropriate compensation for pastors; and to encourage them to take a deep, honest look at their own personal finances to assess whether the pressures associated with personal debt can be mitigated so that they can focus on what they’ve been called to do—and that’s to love people and advance the kingdom of God.

Q.: How is it beneficial?

A.: There are so many pastors who love the kingdom of God—who love what they do—but are suffering in silence because they just aren’t being adequately compensated. This program provides a safe space for pastors to come together and process the conflict between managing the reality of their call and their basic financial needs.

Q.: What’s a particularly exciting aspect of the initiative?

A.: As we support a bevy of leaders, we, by extension, support tens of thousands of other people. Leadership is a critical gift in the Body of Christ. As we amplify leaders, we’re also amplifying the true impact of the local church. There’s nothing more beautiful, more compelling, more extraordinary than the power of the local church. That power is exponentially expanded as we lift the lid on the leadership capacity of clergy.