Eli Byrd - Associate Pastor of Discipleship
We are very excited to announce that Eli Byrd received an overwhelming vote of affirmation of 91%. We want to thank each one of you that voted for your participation, and we are greatly encouraged by the response.
We know that you are going to love Pastor Eli, his sweet wife Julie, and their 4 precious children. Eli has been highly sought after over the past few years by a number of influential churches in the Southern Baptist Convention and by several institutions of higher learning. However, God has knit the Byrd’s heart to you and to the Atlanta Metro area. They cannot wait to get here and get to work.
Eli will begin serving our church immediately, and we will have the opportunity to give them a warm First Baptist welcome in July. In this role, he will have two primary responsibilities. First, he will be responsible for giving oversight to all of our age-group discipleship ministries. This means that he will be working very closely with Pastor Scott Patrick, Pastor Jamie Wynn, and Pastor Phillip Morris as we develop a comprehensive approach to discipleship that focuses on an intentional strategy for making disciples from childhood through adulthood. Second, Eli will work hands-on with our Student Ministry. He will be responsible for working with our student ministry staff and volunteers to provide an effective strategy for disciplining students in our church and an effective strategy for reaching students in our community.
Pastor Jamie Wynn has faithfully and effectively led our Student Ministry for many years. He is a gifted preacher, he has a heart for discipleship and a passion for missions. With Eli coming to serve on our church staff, we have asked Pastor Jamie to step into a new leadership position that will match his gifting and passion for missions and discipleship as our Pastor of Groups and Missions. In this role, he will be providing direct pastoral leadership to all of our adult discipleship efforts. This means that he will be working closely with all of our Sunday School classes, weekly Bible studies, our Men’s and Women’s Ministries, and he will lead our First Connection membership class. Furthermore, he will give pastoral leadership to all of our local, national, and international missions efforts. This is a very important and strategic role for our church family, and we are excited to see Pastor Jamie excel in this position.
We have intentionally designed a team approach to ministry that capitalizes on our staff’s passions, gifts, and experiences. Pastor Eli and Pastor Jamie have the ability and the training to lead in a variety of roles. It is our desire to maximize their leadership capacity and impact, and this will allow us to accomplish this goal.
These are exciting days for our church family as we strive to be a Multi-Cultural, Multi-Generational, and Multiplying Church. It is a privilege to be your pastor.
Pastor Tim Akin
MY TESTIMONY AND CALLING
First Baptist Church family, it is such an honor to be considered for the position of Associate Pastor of Discipleship! From the time that I began to communicate with Pastor Tim and others from the church, I discovered very quickly that God is doing something special here. To serve Him and this body of believers in this community would be a blessing and a privilege.
While I made a profession of faith at the age of twelve, it was not until college that I trusted in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Before that time, I would call myself a Christian, but I lived as an enemy of the cross. There was a pastor who was the chaplain of my Charleston Southern University (CSU) football team and who knew me and my struggle with sin and the flesh. But he was always gracious to me. He would speak life to me and tell me how God could use me to disciple many people and to preach and lead people. This softened my heart. Jesus showed me my hypocrisy and self-dependency through Matthew 7:21-23. It was the Holy Spirit’s conviction in this passage as well as other life events that brought me to the end of myself and to complete dependency on Christ. Because I could not wed the two lifestyles of being a Christian and a college athlete, I stepped away from playing football to follow Jesus. He has shown me that I made the right choice and has continually displayed His faithfulness to me and my family.
After my conversion, I was baptized in Charleston, SC. Not long after that, I was introduced to the concept of discipleship through some friends who served in Campus Crusade for Christ. It was through those relationships and training that I saw growth in my walk with Christ, and I realized how important discipleship is in the life of the believer and the church.
MY MINISTRY EXPERIENCE
I became a Pastor at Summit Church of Charleston in 2011. Summit Church meets in the chapel on CSU’s campus. I oversaw a ministry called Pastors in Training (PIT), in which I mentored four men who sought to pursue pastoral ministry. Two of the men are now pastors in South Carolina and North Carolina.
I had the privilege of serving CSU students from 2010 to 2013, when I served on staff as a residence life coordinator and chaplain for the men’s basketball team. Since I played football at CSU, I had the privilege to minister to the football team and got to see brothers in sports become brothers in the faith. That season was probably the time in my life when I saw the most personal spiritual growth in terms of serving other people, because I got to see the depths of marriage, the struggles of depression, the difficulty of discipline, and the dominance of drug abuse in the lives of those with whom I was blessed to minister.
My wife and I believed that the Lord wanted me to attend seminary to become better equipped for service in ministry. We moved to Wake Forest, NC, in January 2014, so that I could attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). I came on staff at Richland Creek Community Church in 2017 to serve as the Director of the College Ministry. In this season, I learned the importance of structure in discipleship for people to flourish. In 2019, I was asked to start an internship program for people that wanted to lead in ministry.
While I was leading the college ministry at Richland Creek, I also worked full-time at the seminary overseeing our certificate programs. This experience helped me learn more about structure and education in the local church. One of the best moments of my life came as I learned about vision, mission, strategy, and assessments. These principles of discipleship have changed my life and guided me on the path that I am currently on and hope to continue for the rest of my life.
One of the things that I am passionate about in life and ministry is integrity. I desire to see the people of God glorify Him by living lives that reflect His character. In other words, I desire to see the church walk the talk and for people to respond as the Queen of Sheba did when she came and saw King Solomon’s wisdom in action. Instead of simply making much of King Solomon, she left praising God. That is what I want to see in the city of Douglasville, GA, the state, this country, and the world: that people would see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. I want people to desire God because of their engagement with us. My desire is that we can disciple them to turn around and do the very same thing for someone else until all will know the one, true God and the One whom He has sent, His Son Jesus Christ.
I have been married to my beautiful wife, Julie, for nearly 8 years. We started our journey in Charleston, SC, where Julie and I met in college at Charleston Southern University. By God’s perfect timing, we got married on June 16, 2012. We have been blessed by the good Lord with 5 children. Micah (6) is our oldest son. (Zoe Charis is with the Lord). Veda (4) is our daughter, a rose amongst thorns. Jachin (3) is our wild man comedian. Luca (8 months) is our youngest son.
We like to play board games and card games, but most recently we like riding e-bikes. We are also excited about the potential of watching some Atlanta sports up close and personal, and I also believe that fishing and hunting are on the horizon for me and the boys!