‘Retreading:’ Barnhart retiring from SBOM after years of associational ministry

Rick Barnhart leads a training

Rick Barnhart said when Gary Swafford first called him from the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and asked if he would be interested in moving up from the coast to Montgomery, he didn’t want to say yes.

“I was happy,” said Barnhart, who at the time was the associational minister for Baldwin Baptist Association. “I knew Baldwin was a place I could retire, and my grandkids were really young.”

But even though he didn’t want to consider moving, he knew he absolutely wanted to be faithful.

“I asked the question, ‘What is the last great impact God wants me to have before I retire?’ And in that, the answer came that I was to come on to the State Board and help other associational missionaries as well as church planters to accomplish their work,” he said.

It wasn’t long before Barnhart started seeing those answers flesh themselves out in his work as director of the SBOM’s office of associational missions and church planting.

“It was a hand-in-glove fit,” he said. “The Lord just worked everything together to make it happen.”

‘Best years of ministry’

As he prepares to retire June 30, he feels like “these have been 12 of the best years of ministry.”

“And it’s not really over,” he said. “I’m retreading.”

In December 2023, Barnhart finished his doctor of ministry, which focused on developing a way to help Baptist associations in rural contexts with strategic planning.

“Because of the graciousness of Cooperative Program giving, I’ll be able to work one week per month to do this project across the state of Alabama,” he said. “The diversity of responsibility I’ve had over the decades, all that experience has allowed me to have the layered learning that I have needed to accomplish this work.”

That “layered learning” has included not only his church planting, pastoral and associational missions work in Baldwin Association, but everything that’s happened in his SBOM office in the past 12 years.

“We’re one of the most diverse offices in the whole facility,” Barnhart said.

The office of associational missions and church planting encompasses those two things plus a variety of others.

“It’s been such a joy to establish friendships with associational missionaries, men sold out for Christ who are doing the very best they can in the place where they are, and they just need encouragement,” Barnhart said.

Continue reading here.

This article was originally published at TheAlabamaBaptist.org.

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