Atkins redirecting ministryBy Jeremy Smith Published 11:54pm Friday, September 16, 2011
Allan Atkins is still the pastor of Fairhaven Baptist Church, for now. Atkins recently announced to the church his intention to leave his pastorship and begin working full-time with AMEN Ministry, a concept he helped launch under the umbrella of Fairhaven.
“It was hard. It’s the most difficult decision I have ever had to make since I have been in the ministry because I can’t even put into words how much we love the people here and how much they love us,” Atkins said of how he agonized over the decision. “This has been the best 10 years of our lives. I told the church when I announced it was that the easiest thing and the most comfortable thing for me to have done would have been to have stayed right here for about 20 more years. But it didn’t surprise anybody.”
His announcement did not surprise anyone at Fairhaven because Atkins’ desire to work in evangelism and edification on a full-time basis have long been known.
“When I first felt like God was calling me into the ministry as a teenager. I always had in the back of my mind that one day it would be some kind of itinerate ministry whether it was doing youth work or music or evangelism. After seminary, I knew that God was calling me to pastor,” Atkins explained. “I’ve been serving churches for 31 years, every since I was a teenager. It has always been still in my heart in a way. Just over the last few months, God through scripture and through circumstances, confirmed that now was the time to step out in faith and do it full-time.”
The concept of AMEN Ministry is two-fold, according to Atkins. It is to focus on both evangelism and encouragement, two things which Atkins readily admits have been close to his heart for some time.
“The name of the ministry is going to be called the AMEN Ministry. That stands for two different things. It’s kind of an acronym,” Atkins said. “One thing that it stands for is awakening, by that I mean spiritual awakening. Awakening Missions Evangelism Network, partnering with other churches and ministries. The other thing it stands for is encouragement. The other is a ministry encouragement network and there is just a great need right now to encourage those who are serving the Lord.”
The idea took its root in the work of Fairhaven some seven years ago. Since that time, it has blossomed to encompass a wide range of efforts.
“About seven years ago I was praying about Fairhaven for God to show us if we were missing something. I felt like God was speaking to my heart that Fairhaven has always been a great missions giving church. I felt like the Lord was telling me that Fairhaven needed to be a missions going church. So we set a goal for people going on missions trip every year, whether it be in North America or internationally. We started doing that and it really just kind of lit a new passion in our people,” Atkins said. “About five years ago, God just confirmed to me in His word in my quiet time that we were supposed to start this ministry called the AMEN Ministry. It has been really a part of the mission ministry of Fairhaven. It just has been amazing what God has done through that. We are finishing up our second church building in Romania. Those villages didn’t have an evangelical church. We have distributed hundreds of bibles. We’ve trained pastors. We have helped an orphanage with some supplies that they needed. Two years at Christmas, we were able to distribute Samaritan’s purse type (gifts). And we’ve helped financially support ministers in third world countries. God, just in the last few months, he has just kind of confirmed that Lisa and I need to step out and do this full-time.”
AMEN Ministry will be an independent endeavor that will be entirely dependent upon others. Atkins said the ministry will not be under the umbrella of any other organization but will require assistance and efforts from individuals and organizations in order to be successful.
“We’re going to be on our own, so to speak. We’re not going to be working with the Southern Baptist Mission Board or anything. This is a new ministry,” Atkins said. “We’re going to partner with pastors and with churches and with different ministries. But it will be a faith-based ministry. It’s going to depend on people partnering with us, mostly with their prayers, but even financially.”
Atkins’ plans to step out into AMEN Ministry do not yet have a specific target date. At this point, he knows only that the change should come in the spring some time. For the time being, he will continue preparing for AMEN while maintaining his duties at Fairhaven.
“It was an announcement. It wasn’t a resignation. The church is being so gracious and so encouraging and so supportive and they are giving us the next few months to kind of get the foundation laid. In these next few months, nothing is changing as far as my day-to-day ministry.
“I am still 100 percent the pastor of Fairhaven as far as my duties and responsibilities. Some time in the spring when we feel like everything is set up, we will have an official resignation,” Atkins said. “I wanted the people at Fairhaven to hear it from me. But also so they could be praying and be aware of what God is doing.”