Ken Whitten, recently retired pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., will become national director of pastoral leadership at the North American Mission Board, beginning in March. NAMB president Kevin Ezell shared the news at NAMB’s board of trustees meeting in Miami, Feb. 7.
“Ken is humble, intentional, and he loves pastors,” Ezell said in comments before the announcement. “Every pastor could use a friend like Ken, and that’s how he will lead in this effort — as a friend and a fellow servant.”
In an interview, Whitten described his vision for the role as being a “minister of encouragement” to pastors across the Southern Baptist Convention.
“How do you know a pastor needs encouragement?” Whitten asked. “Here’s what I say: Check his pulse. Does he have a pulse? Yes. I’m telling you, he needs encouragement.”
Whitten aspires to be a connector, a counselor and a comforter for ministry leaders no matter what stage or season of ministry they find themselves in, with the goal of boosting both them and their churches toward a place of health and vitality.
One way he aims to connect pastors will be through prayer, to connect them to other pastors and introduce them to resources and ideas. One aspect of what he hopes to do is break down barriers of comparison between pastors that often culminate in distinctions between different sized churches.
“When we compare the lostness of North America, every one of us pastors a small church — every one of us, and we need each other,” said Whitten. “We need to depend on each other. So, I see myself as a connector.”
Whitten served at Idlewild Baptist Church for 33 years.