Today's From the Seminaries includes:
GGBTS (3 items)
SWBTS (3 items)
NOBTS (1 item)
MBTS (1 item)
"Chaos: Being Christ Amidst Crisis" is seminary's mission conference theme
By Phyllis Evans
MILL VALLEY, Calif. -- The world today can be a pretty scary place to live. War. Disease. Natural Disasters. Terrorism. Christians may wonder, What is our role and our responsibility in responding to crisis? How can we most effectively communicate the message of Christ amidst all the chaos?
These questions and more were addressed during Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary's 51st Annual Missions Conference, Feb. 17-18 at GGBTS' Northern California campus in Mill Valley.
John B.*, North Africa/Middle East regional leader for the International Mission Board, was this year's keynote speaker, sharing his experiences living and working in one of the world's most volatile regions.
"The Apostle Paul lived in a chaotic world," said John B. to 100-plus conference attendees. "The Middle East is still one of the most chaotic places in the world. As Paul journeyed in that place, God spoke to him and gave him the opportunities to serve and do some amazing things. …
"Like Paul, God has called me to share the Gospel. He has called you, too. We get to carry the Gospel to those who have never heard -- it's the greatest privilege."
In addition to John B.'s presentations, the conference included eight seminars on topics such as tent-making missionaries, counseling in crisis, opportunities for serving with the IMB, disaster relief ministry and Burmese refugee camps and orphanages.
The missions conference was the culmination of the seminary's Global Missions Week, which included several IMB missionaries on campus all week, speaking in classes and in small groups and student lunches.
"Having these missionaries sharing what God is doing in places in the world where they serve was inspiring," said Eddie Pate, Golden Gate's director of The David and Faith Kim School of Global Missions and chair of the Intercultural Studies Department.
"Dr. Tom Elliff, president of the IMB, gave a compelling message in chapel on Friday," Pate recounted. "He also spoke later at a pastor's luncheon the seminary hosted, focusing on the role of the church in ministering to unreached people groups."
"There's a place in this great wide world for you to plug into," Elliff said in chapel. "Everyone in this room," he said, "should ask God, 'Give me a heart for missions.'"
To know what it means to have a heart for missions, Elliff spoke of the heart of the apostle Paul." In Romans 1:14, he noted, Paul's repeated phrase "I am" was like a heartbeat, the heart of a missionary. In verse 14 Paul says, "I am obligated." In verse 15 he says "I am eager." In verse 16 he says "I am not ashamed."
"Having a heart for missions is having a heart that is compelled by the presence of a serious debt," Elliff said, quoting Paul, "When I see anyone, I have a sense of obligation." It is a profound obligation to the Greeks, the barbarians and everyone in between -- the entire population, Elliff said.
Noting that the world's population encompasses some 7 billion people, Elliff asked, "How many will die without hearing the name of Jesus? If you have a heart for missions, you will have this sense of obligation.
"You will want to go," he explained, "not because it's an adventure, not to see the scenery, not to see new places, new things or new people, but because of the debt we owe to Jesus."
The IMB president concluded by saying, "Sometimes we make it so complicated to share the Gospel. The spirit of God is in it -- just tell the people and let God do the work. … If you won't confess Christ here, I doubt you'll do it at the end of a gun. If you won't share the Gospel here with your neighbors, are you going to do it in Afghanistan? There is no message more important. The Good News is not good news unless it gets there on time."
Saturday afternoon's missions conference activities included an "Urban Excursion." Accompanied by Golden Gate students, grads and Eddie Pate, nearly 30 people went to several areas in the city to pray, observe and engage people. A women's henna party was also held Saturday afternoon. Henna, a temporary artwork drawn on hands and other parts of the body, is a popular beauty technique in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Christian women use henna to illustrate Bible stories and share the Gospel in a non-threatening manner. Conference attendees learned how to use this tool to reach women in these cultures.
Lisa Hoff, Golden Gate's assistant professor of intercultural studies, challenged attendees "to go beyond where we are comfortable, to the places where God want us to be, to do the things that God want us to do." She concluded by praying, "Lord, sensitize our hearts to recognize what is happening around the world, that we would long to take action through our prayers and through our lives."
Golden Gate alumni Carson and Joni Choy attended the conference with three teens from their church's youth group. "We both have a love for missions," Joni said, "and since we served together overseas in East Asia (2007-10), we wanted to share with these students the scope of what God is doing with the nations."
"The conference as a whole gives me a global perspective of God's movement of reaching the nations," added Carson, associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Cupertino, Calif. "Often we focus just on our own church and ministries. A conference such as this helps us to look outward to the nations. I want to be involved in that, moving us towards something greater, with a worldwide focus."
"Missions is at the heart of what happens at Golden Gate," Pate said, "and for 51 years the missions conference has been where that heartbeat is most loudly heard on campus." It's "a wonderful chance for our students to focus on the nations as a community, and to corporately experience God's heart for the nations."
Golden Gate is a Cooperative Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention, with five fully accredited campuses: Northern California, Southern California, Pacific Northwest, Arizona and Colorado. For more information, visit www.ggbts.edu.
*Name withheld for security reasons
Golden Gate receives funds for master of Christian counseling degree
By Phyllis Evans
MILL VALLEY, Calif. -- Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary has received a $200,000 gift for launching a new degree program, the Master of Christian Counseling. The degree, to be offered at both GGBTS campuses in California, will be designed to equip men and women for a Christian counseling ministry to individuals, couples and families in a congregational, denominational entity, counseling center or missions setting. The gift was given by Naomi and John Paget of Bellville, Texas.
Naomi Paget graduated from Golden Gate with a Master of Divinity in 1995 and a Doctor of Ministry in 2003. She was also selected as one of the seminary's Distinguished Alumni last year. She is a Mission Service Corps missionary with the Southern Baptist Convention and also trains chaplains and other volunteers to minister in crisis situations. Her husband John is the CEO of Pivot Acquisition Corp.
"We believe there is a great potential for Kingdom growth when ministers serve effectively in times of crisis. … he eternal impact on lives during these times is tremendous," the Pagets said in a statement released through the seminary. "The need for trained counselors is so great and we are confident that this program will help provide the trained workers needed."
The development of the degree program will begin with a search for a new professor of Christian Counseling, who is projected to be in position by fall 2012. Other current Golden Gate faculty will also be assigned to the new counseling department.
"Once we have appointed the new professor, we will begin the process of designing, accrediting and delivering the program," said Michael Martin, Golden Gate's vice president of academic affairs.
Students who want to begin the program immediately may take coursework in the seminary's existing counseling concentration as part of the Master of Divinity curriculum. They may take up to 20 hours of biblical, historical and theological studies, and then include the counseling component hours when the Master of Christian Counseling launches.
"We are grateful for the Pagets and their generosity in helping to launch this valuable degree," said Jeff Iorg, GGBTS president. "Providing this program will enable the seminary to provide desperately needed ministers in this critical area of Kingdom work."
Golden Gate D.Min. track helps pastors expand their ministries
By Phyllis Evans
MILL VALLEY, Calif. -- Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary is offering a Doctor of Ministry track for pastors who want to expand their ministries into the classroom or onto the printed page.
The Expanded Ministry course will begin on the Seminary's Northern California campus in Mill Valley on July 24.
"We've designed this track to help those pastors who want to gain the necessary skills to write for publication or teach as an adjunct," said Jim Wilson, associate director of Golden Gate's Doctor of Ministry program. "This track will help expand the reach of their ministry beyond the local setting."
Like all of Golden Gate's Doctor of Ministry tracks, this one features seminars which will improve the pastor's leadership capacities, his walk with God and his ability to relate to those he serves. It will also include seminars on the ministries of teaching and writing.
Professors for this track include well-published authors and seasoned teachers such as Marshall Shelley, editor in chief of the Leadership Media Group for Christianity Today International; Ralph Neighbor Jr., author of the best-selling book "Survival Kit for New Christians"; and Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate and author of five books.
For more information, call 1-888-442-8703 or email email@example.com. For more information about Golden Gate seminary's Doctor of Ministry program, visit www.ggbts.edu/dmin.
Patterson opens election year with sermon series
By Benjamin Hawkins
FORT WORTH, Texas --Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson opened an election year and the spring semester with a new sermon series during the seminary's Jan. 19 convocation. Based on the life of David and called "The Shepherd King," the sermon series will feature the exposition of passages from 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel and the Psalms.
"This is an election year," Patterson said during the first sermon in the series, an exposition of 1 Samuel 16 titled "Faithfulness in the Badlands." According to 1 Samuel, the godless leadership of King Saul provoked chaos, grief and fear in the land of Israel.
"When there is a country with godless leadership, it will eventually always descend into chaos. What we have in America today is nothing less than chaos," Patterson said, insisting that he was not criticizing just the U.S. president but "the whole Washington establishment." Unless the nation's leaders seek God's face and ignore the politically correct demands of "certain kinds of loud people," he said the nation will sink into chaos, grief and fear.
Nevertheless, Patterson told students and faculty not to become discouraged, for "God is still on his throne." Amid the darkness and chaos in 1 Samuel, God commanded the prophet Samuel to anoint a new king, one of the sons of Jesse. Though Samuel thought God might choose one of Jesse's older sons, God instead chose Jesse's youngest son, David, who was caring for his father's sheep in the badlands of Israel. David's "faithfulness in the badlands" carries an important lesson for students, Patterson said.
"He was faithful in the wilderness," Patterson said. "Did you know that the Bible says, 'He who is faithful in a few things will be made ruler over many'?
"We live in a day, today, when most people who feel called of God into His service think they are the answer to the world's problems. And they also seem to want to come of age now: 'Choose me now. I am a 'young leader.' I'm here to resolve your problems. I'm here to tell you what to do.'
"Listen, may I offer you a sage piece of advice this morning: Would you stay with the sheep in the wilderness until God calls you out? You just stay with the sheep, what God has given you to do, and faithfully discharge that duty," Patterson said, "… and He will raise you up, and He will make you ruler over many."
During the convocation, Executive Vice President and Provost Craig Blaising introduced three newly appointed faculty members: Alicia Wong, assistant professor of women's ministries in the Jack D. Terry School of Church and Family Ministries; Candi Finch, assistant professor of theology and women's studies in the School of Theology; and John Massey, associate professor of missions in the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
To listen to Patterson's convocation sermons, visit swbts.edu/chapelarchives.
Bingham calls for baptismal instruction in SBC churches
By Benjamin Hawkins
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Church historian Jeffrey Bingham called Southern Baptist churches to reinstitute the practice of theological instruction immediately before or after baptism during Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's 2012 Day-Higginbotham Lectures, Feb. 2-3.
"If God would grant me one answered prayer for the Southern Baptist Convention, it would be that we would return in all our churches to doctrinal instruction associated with baptism," said Bingham, department chair and professor of theological studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.
"As the United States becomes ever more quickly post-Christian, as the fundamental Judeo-Christian narrative of redemption fades away as part of the American metanarrative and as more and more of our missions focus on Muslims and various types of paganism, I believe that extended, pre-baptismal instruction in Baptist churches becomes more warranted and needed."
Bingham referred Baptists to their Anabaptist forebears who often trained new believers in Christian doctrine for six to eight weeks before baptizing them. Baptist churches should follow this example, he said, adding that churches should at least train new believers in the faith immediately following baptism if they do not do so beforehand.
For clarity, Bingham noted that this time of teaching "must provide instruction on the following aspects of our faith: the doctrine of the one true God who exists only as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who created all things in heaven and on earth, immaterial and material; and who saves us in body and spirit -- material and immaterial -- through the incarnation, real death, burial, resurrection, ascension and return of His Son, Jesus Christ, who will return and raise our mortal, corruptible, shameful bodies to be like His glorious, incorruptible, immortal body, in unity with our purified spirit; and who by His grace through the Son gives us the Holy Spirit, by whom we are made truly spiritual in both body and spirit and, thereby -- and only thereby -- made fit for the Kingdom of God."
"What must be passed on is that redemption and regeneration unto God is the act of the triune God, where and when all three are present and active in their ministry upon us," Bingham said. "To baptize someone in the name of the triune God -- Father, Son and Spirit -- when he or she has not been instructed or will not be immediately instructed in the great Trinitarian narrative of salvation makes little sense.
"And to perform baptisms in front of those who have not been repeatedly schooled in the redemptive ministry of the Trinity is a lost opportunity," Bingham said. "This all takes time. We must not be afraid of its lengthy duration. To not do this is the more frightful thing. Those who have started well in the faith are more prone to finish well in the faith. As Baptists, we should connect this essential instruction to Baptism."
An expert in the history and theology of early Christianity, Bingham drew this lesson from his study of the second-century church father, Irenaeus of Lyons. In three lectures, Bingham showed that, for Irenaeus, both baptism and biblical interpretation were essentially doctrinal in nature.
"From the great inaugural right of baptism, then, to the enduring daily practice of Bible reading and interpretation, I hope to show how early Christian life had a central doctrinal core, how doctrine characterized the Christian journey," Bingham said. "In this way, I hope to demonstrate that faith, theology and doctrine is the nectar that quenches the thirst of the Christian soul. It is what we believe that justifies us. I hope that in an age of evangelical Christianity that seems to value the sentimental, the experiential and the romantic over the theological, that these lectures might help us return to our Christian heritage."
To listen to Bingham's lectures, visit Southwestern Seminary's website at swbts.edu/mediaresources.
Miller rocks out for the 'Stone the builders rejected'
By Sharayah Colter
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Turn a typical rock star upside down, shake them up and spin them around and the outcome may be a little closer to the kind of rock guitar artist found in Southwestern student Lindsey Miller. No amount of spotlight or stage could take her focus away from pointing people to Christ.
"I get the opportunity because I work in both the secular world and the church world," Miller says. "I always have a doorway to people outside the church. I feel humbled that I get the opportunity to share, to be outside in the world with the people, sharing through music."
Miller, who came to Southwestern to pursue a Master of Church Music degree, has a history laced in music spanning from the time she began playing guitar at age 10 to her stint as a member of the now-defunct rock band Oso Closo. She has played with multiple symphony orchestras and in well-known venues such as the Granada Theater and Lincoln Center and has been a studio guitarist and writer for industry icons such as Universal Music Group.
Yet, her personality would belie her distinguished list of accomplishments only barely mentioned here. Miller seems easygoing, easy to talk to and easy to relax with -- all things that likely help her to be so approachable as she shares the Gospel through her work.
Regardless of their response, Miller knows what she believes and does not shy away from sharing it with people.
"You have to maintain a balance of not being legalistic about where someone is in their life the first time that you share with them and also not condoning what they do either. So it's a very fine line to walk," Miller says. "Some people are open to it and some people , 'I hate that stuff, I want nothing to do with you.'"
A staff musician at Southcliff Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Miller says many of the people she meets find the church hypocritical or adhere to an individualistic concept of being spiritual but not needing church.
"It's basically the mentality of 'I'm not religious, I'm spiritual,'" Miller says. "I can't stand that at all right now. Even Christians I've met now are like, 'I don't belong to a denomination; I don't need to belong to an organized church; I'm just a disciple of Christ,' and I don't agree with that at all. Basically, church is a gift of God to humanity at the time that Christ provided salvation for us, so we're never to operate outside of the body of Christ. I think that's an extremely dangerous thing."
In addition to the accountability and fellowship that come from uniting with a local body of Christ, Miller says everyone has a part to play.
"Everyone, no matter what they think how minute their role is, they have an essential role in the church, so they need to be in the body worshipping," Miller says. "And you can't distance yourself from the overall cannon of theology either. If you're not in line with that, you're probably doing something wrong."
Miller, who earned her Bachelor of Music in Jazz at the University of North Texas prior to enrolling at Southwestern, says the seminary has offered a side of music education secular schools lack and one that is vital to music ministry.
"Dr. Gordon Borror was my teacher here my first year, and he's retired now, but I generally believe I learned more from him in my first year than I did in all four and a half years of undergrad just practicing music, because the way he taught for worship and ministry just gave you the right foundation of what your life as a musician is to be based around," Miller says. "It's not based around making music the apex of what you believe in, but God. And from there, music flows out easily."
During her time at Southwestern, Miller has fine-tuned her perception of worship and her ideas about how it can become more biblical. She has learned that worship leaders should not only make sure the words of the songs conform to correct theology but also that the worship is Christ-centered, not people- or instrument-centered.
"... y whole thing is every day I say, 'God, whatever Your will is for my life, I will totally do it, '" Miller says.
Maybe her Facebook page says it best: "I live everyday like it's my rockin' last."
NOBTS' prospective church planters visit the Pacific Northwest
By Suzanne Davis
NEW ORLEANS -- The balance between classroom education and practical experience is a serious consideration for most seminary students. Damian Emetuche, director of Nehemiah Center for Church Planting and the Day Center at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, is committed to helping his students achieve both.
"My philosophy for training church planters is the same as that of training a medical doctor. I have a clinical bias," Emetuche said. "You have to take a doctor to the hospital, not just give him books to read. He must be able to smell a disease and see what it looks like. It is not all glamour, it is bloody and smelly and messy. Some may not want to deal with the mess."
Emetuche led a team of students to Seattle, Wash., and Vancouver, British Columbia, last fall where they learned firsthand from church planters in the field what planting a church is like.
NOBTS missions student Jenna Shaw recounted, "It hard to read about church planting and fully understand what this type of ministry actually looks like. On this trip we meet over a dozen different church planters, all with different types of churches in different contexts."
Marie Barreto, who is pursuing a master of divinity with specialization in church planting, said the Nov. 2-7 trip enabled her to see how Christianity is growing in the non-Christian culture of the Pacific Northwest.
Barreto and classmate Jason Thomas identified some of the obstacles church planters must overcome, such as lack of immediate church or team support, different perceptions of church culture, and learning how to build relationships within the community.
"They focus on building relationships with the people there," Barreto said. "It's all relational."
Thomas gave an example of how Epic Life Church, a Seattle congregation, was reaching the community. They received a church building from a congregation that had disbanded, turning it into a community center. "Now, it's no longer 'that church on the corner,' but it's being used to meet the needs of the community," Thomas said.
Emetuche said another benefit of the Seattle/Vancouver tour is the exposure to diversity. "Most of our students are from the South, and in the South we don't have much diversity -- mostly black and white. In the Pacific Northwest, you see a mosaic of cultures that is the future of America."
The diversity extends beyond cultures, but also drives different church plant models. Shaw explained, "It opened my eyes to a different ministry and cultural context and showed me that church doesn't have to look the same everywhere."
Thomas worked with two Asian American church planters. One pastor had moved to Seattle because his wife had taken a job there. The church he planted was in response to the need he saw for his Vietnamese neighbors. The other church planter came to the area with the intention of starting a church, but his congregation is more ethnically diverse. Thomas said he learned from them that "no matter how innovative we think we can be, we're not going to build a church; God is going to build a church."
Barreto echoed Thomas' understanding that all the work, including the call, must come from God. "The biggest thing I learned is if God has not called you, do not go," she said.
The lesson, however, was one of encouragement for Barreto who has answered God's call to serve this summer in Montreal. "It's about being willing to take risks and stepping out of your comfort zone but prayerfully seeking God's will," she said. "I'll be losing some of my jobs on campus, but I know that's where He wants me to be."
Another lesson learned involved the definition of success. Thomas said success must be defined not by numbers but by faithfulness. "I need to be a little more faithful to where I am," he said. "Sometimes we can get caught up in where we think we will be. God has me here right now for a reason."
For Jenna Shaw and her husband Benjie, the trip may have been a gateway to the future, with Benjie noting, "I am praying through the possibility of planting a church and Jenna and I have discussed a move to the Northwest to do some type of ministry when we graduate," Benjie said. "We'll see how the Lord leads."
Emetuche is convinced that diversity will continue to increase in America due to immigration trends and globalization. For that reason, he intends to continue approach to church planting, taking students out of the classroom and into the field. "I teach them the concepts, principles of church planting, and take them to the field where they can see," he said.
Emetuche has also led teams to New England. Possible destinations for upcoming classes include Los Angeles, Miami and Toronto.
Earlier in the semester, the seminary hosted a two-day training event called The Greenhouse Initiative for anyone interested or involved in church planting. The sessions were led by Church Multiplication Associates (CMA), a voluntary association of active church plants from across the nation who focus on organic church growth and leadership in small group settings such as homes and coffee shops.
The event attracted nearly 50 participants from Louisiana, Texas, and other surrounding states.
CMA trainers Neil Cole and Ed Waken led interactive sessions focused on growing the church by using lay leaders to reach the lost of North America.
Cole is the founder and executive director of Church Multiplication Associates & CMA Resources, which has helped start hundreds of churches in 35 states and 30 nations. Waken is an experienced church planter, trainer and CMA board member. For more information on the Greenhouse Initiative and CMA, visit the association's website http://www.cmaresources.org.
Laekan Carter also contributed to this story.
Midwestern launches online undergraduate program, registration underway
By T. Patrick Hudson
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Midwestern Baptist College, SBC, leaders unveiled a new 100-percent online undergraduate degree program on Feb. 21, with enrollment currently underway for the term beginning April 30.
Fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Midwestern's Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry degree will be added to the online program's Master of Arts, Theological Studies (MATS) degree that was launched in 2010.
Midwestern Baptist College, SBC, is affiliated with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.
The undergraduate program at the college was launched in the fall of 2006, and recognizing the need to stay current with improvements in educational technology and online delivery, online courses were added to the program in early 2011. With the announcement that the Higher Learning Commission has granted full accreditation to the online undergraduate program, non-resident students can now complete their bachelor's degree fully online.
MBC-Online will begin with a core of nine courses for its initial terms and then introduce new classes each term going forward until the degree track is completed. To earn the degree completely online, a student would need to take 42 classes for a total of 126 credit hours. With this addition, students now have multiple choices in completing their undergraduate degree: the traditional on-campus program, the fully online program or a blended program including both on-campus and online courses.
Online program leaders say this is a way for students who cannot make it regularly to campus to complete needed courses toward their degree. "What's really exciting about this new program is that people can obtain an undergraduate degree from nearly anywhere in the world, and do so at a pace that's convenient for them," said Ted Davis, director of the MBC-Online program. "The Midwestern-Online team is committed to providing high-quality Christian education for life and ministry and also to making that education affordable and accessible. We're thrilled that students will now be able to manage their busy schedules while achieving the important goal of a college education through these online courses."
Classes will be offered in eight-week terms, with two terms being offered each semester. MBC-Online currently is accepting applications to the program, and enrollment is available for the upcoming summer terms: Term A -- April 30-June 22 and Term B -- June 25- Aug. 17.
In Term A, available classes will be: Introduction to Nutrition, Survey of Old Testament Literature, Christian Doctrine I, and World Literature. In Term B, the classes will be: Christian Doctrine II, Introduction to Computers, Teaching Ministry of the Church, Marriage and Family, and The Pentateuch.
"Because the courses' lengths are considerably shorter than those in traditional semesters, the workload is challenging," Davis said. "However, we think students will find the online format friendly to their schedules. Whereas, people once had to travel to the main campus or extension locations to attend a class, they can now complete courses from anywhere they have Internet access."
"Another extremely beneficial aspect of these courses is the cost," said Rodney Harrison, dean of the School of Online Studies at Midwestern. "When compared to other online courses offered by state or private institutions, our costs are quite reasonable. One other point to note is this: the cost you see is what you get. There are no hidden fees whatsoever."
Tuition for the online courses is currently $250 per credit hour, with each course being three credit hours. The only additional costs a student will incur include textbooks and any other required materials for the course.
Davis added that "even if someone doesn't desire a degree but wishes to add to their biblical knowledge, there are great opportunities for them to grow spiritually and educationally."
To view the complete list of undergraduate degree plans available, visit the MBC website at www.mbts.edu/academics/distance_learning/online_courses/BA_Online. To enroll for one of the classes, students can do so on the MBC-Online webpage. For more information, contact the MBC-Online office at 816-414-3814 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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