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EDUCATION BRIEFS: Midwestern enters MBA partnership; … NOBTS tackles gas price pain

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–It’s a unique partnership between two institutions of higher education — one tasked with theological education and the other offering a master’s degree in business administration, with both sharing a common goal of preparing students with a Christian worldview.

“It is now possible for someone to pursue a Southwest Baptist University MBA on the campus of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, with the latter institution being contracted to teach nine credit hours that would apply toward SBU’s degree,” said Thorvald Madsen, academic dean at Midwestern.

The agreement gives students at Midwestern the option of completing the master of divinity or doctorate simultaneously with the MBA. Prospective students in the Kansas City area interested in the MBA only also may enroll in courses taught at the seminary and through online courses taught at Southwest Baptist in Bolivar, Mo.

“This agreement provides a unique opportunity for business professionals in the Kansas City area to pursue additional education, and for students who are preparing for the pastorate and bivocational ministry,” said David Whitlock, SBU’s associate provost. “Furthermore, this MBA integrates business and management with a biblical worldview.”

Shelly Francka, MBA director at Southwest Baptist, said the MBA provides a valuable tool for the minister as well as the business professional seeking career advancement.

“We are discovering the MBA opens up many doors in countries typically off-limits to traditionally prepared missionaries. Because so many are seeking expertise in free enterprise and entrepreneurship, someone with an MBA is welcomed in otherwise closed societies,” she said.

Students in the MBA program at SBU also can take additional specialized training in either pastoral leadership, which requires nine course credits, or ethics, which requires 10. Upon completion, the additional training would be recognized by a certificate from Midwestern Seminary.

Stanton Norman, vice president of university relations at Southwest Baptist, said the combined master of divinity and master of business administration degree “provides the business community an opportunity to receive training in the construction of a Christian worldview.”

“The Midwestern faculty will provide business professionals seeking the graduate level degree with an education that is both biblically grounded and theologically conservative,” Norman said. “I am confident that this program will adequately prepare those students in the program to engage the business world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Whitlock and Norman each have addressed the integration of a Christian worldview in preparation for a business-related vocation in the book “A Noble Calling: Devotions and Essays for Christian Business Professionals,” which Whitlock edited with SBU Provost Gordon Dutile.

While recognizing that God calls some from among business professions into such vocations, Whitlock said, “I am convinced that many simply haven’t realized the full potential of where God has placed them. God’s people assigned to duties in corporate board rooms, offices, on sales forces and in entrepreneurial ventures are among His most treasured ministers and have the potential to have a wider impact and larger influence than most full-time pastors and ministers.”

Norman said the agreement “demonstrates that partnerships between Baptist seminaries and universities can offer quality educational programs that effectively educate students for excellence in their respective professions as well as train them for successful ministry in their vocational callings.”

More information may be obtained at www.sbuniv.edu/mba.

NEW ORLEANS COPES WITH GAS PRICES -– At a time when gasoline prices are crimping budgets, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has taken steps to ease the burden on students and make theological education more accessible.

The efforts include a new online commuter connection center to aid in establishing carpools, a one-year exemption of the online course restrictions for main campus students, and Wednesday schedule changes. The cost-saving steps are designed to relieve some of the financial strain on commuter students throughout the seminary system.

“We want to be responsive to our commuter students, whether they are extension center students or students coming to the New Orleans campus,” Steve Lemke, the seminary’s provost, said. “[The increased fuel cost] is something we are all experiencing, but the burden falls much harder on our commuting students. We want students to know that we are doing all we can to mitigate the dramatic increase in costs that they are experiencing.”

A student with a 100-mile round-trip commute could spend several hundred dollars during a semester to travel to campus just one day a week, Lemke said. The financial burden rises with each additional trip. And it is not uncommon for commuter students to travel to campus two or three days per week.

Through the online commuter connection forum, students may log in on the seminary’s secure Web system to find other commuters from their area. The user-friendly forum allows students throughout the seminary system to respond to carpooling requests and post new requests.

While many commuters already carpool, Lemke said he hopes the commuter connection will facilitate even more ridesharing for the seminary’s main campus or any of its extension center campuses.

“It is a way to help our students be good stewards of their own resources and of the environment,” he said.

The second initiative is a one-year exception to the rule prohibiting New Orleans students from taking online classes. In the past, on-campus and New Orleans commuter students have not been allowed to take online classes.

“First of all, on-campus students have greater access to the courses they need,” Lemke said. “These courses are routinely offered in each semester, many of them multiple times. It is not normally an issue of students being able to get the courses.

“Secondly, the seminary receives no SBC funding at all for Internet courses, whereas the SBC provides maximum funding for master’s-level on-campus students,” Lemke said. “In order to keep the regular tuition affordable for everyone, we had to limit who takes the Internet courses.”

But in light of the increased gasoline costs, Lemke said seminary administrators decided to lift the restriction for one year. Lemke emphasized the temporary nature of this move.

“It is not our intention to continue the exception past one year,” Lemke said. “Our hope is that this will give students time to adjust their budgets and driving patterns for the increased travel costs.”

A third initiative concerns changes in the Wednesday schedule at the New Orleans campus. Beginning with the fall semester, the seminary halted Wednesday chapel services on the main campus. Many commuter students were unable to attend Wednesday chapel because they opted for a Tuesday-Thursday-only class schedule. The move opens the 11 a.m. period Wednesday for additional course offerings, making it easier for commuter students or other on-campus students to meet full-time course load requirements by taking classes just two days per week.

Under the new schedule a student may take nine hours of coursework before 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. This allows those serving as pastors and church staff members to return home by early afternoon to prepare for Wednesday services. Student may elect to earn more hours by participating in Wednesday-Friday afternoon classes.

“It’s a much more commuter-friendly schedule now on Wednesdays and Fridays,” Lemke said. “A lot of these classes will be Wednesday-only classes. Students could consider doing a Monday-Wednesday schedule as another option. They can easily take a full-time load that way.

“Our hope is that all three of these moves will help our students overcome increased travel costs without slowing the theological education into which God has called them,” Lemke said.

CAMPING FOR GLOBAL MISSIONS — About 30 students pitched tents at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to begin September’s Global Missions Week.

The students spent the night praying for missionaries worldwide as part of the seminary’s second “Skene Festival,” named after the Greek term translated as “tent,” “temporary shelter” or “tabernacle.”

Art Savage, associate director of the World Missions Center at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus, said the campers gathered for prayer at 9:30 p.m. on Friday night, Sept. 12, on the lawn west of the B.H. Carroll Memorial Building.

“We broke into several groups and had some very specific prayer points, given to us by the [International Mission Board] regional office in Richmond, for unreached people groups, unreached mega-cities, and for the ongoing work of our missionaries in East Asia,” Savage said.

IMB representatives presented their testimonies during each chapel service of the following week. Also among the chapel speakers were Savage; Keith Eitel, dean of the seminary’s Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions; and Michael Hamlet, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in North Spartanburg, S.C.

“Whatever you are doing,” Hamlet said, “a part of the call of God upon your life is to help the Gospel go to the ends of the earth. And there are no exceptions to that.”

As Hamlet closed his message, he urged students to go without hesitation wherever God might lead them. Many students went to the front of the auditorium to surrender their lives to God’s will and to pray with professors who were on hand to counsel them.

PROFS SHARE TEACHING INSIGHTS — Thirteen professors in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s school of educational ministries have worked together to write a second edition of “The Teaching Ministry of the Church,” edited by William Yount, professor of foundations of education.

Six Southwestern professors wrote the first edition in 1995. While the format is comparable to the first, 80 percent of the information in the updated version is new, including five new chapters.

Reflecting their experience from the mission field to the classroom, the professors offer principles that change lives through biblical discipleship. The first part of the book lays out a theology of teaching ministry in the local church. The second half focuses more on practical recommendations for spiritual growth.

Contributing authors include current professors Johnny Derouen, Esther Diaz-Bolet, Octavio Esqueda, Scott Floyd, Karen Kennemur, Margaret Lawson, Bob Mathis, Mike McGuire, Marcia McQuitty, Terri Stovall and Bob Welch as well as former professor Robert DeVargas.

“Given this broader base of authorship, the book presents the passionate views of professor-practitioners who have given their lives to study and work in their particular areas of expertise,” Yount said.

Derouen said working on the project allowed him to see more clearly that the passing on of biblical truths is a lifelong process. “It involves equipping people to walk with God for a lifetime, with the process beginning at birth and moving throughout the lifespan,” he said.

DOCKERY CITES CHARACTERISTICS OF A LEADER — Great care must be taken in choosing church and Southern Baptist Convention leaders, as they will shape the convention for the next generation, David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., said during a chapel service at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

“The reason to take such care in choosing leaders is because so many false teachers are out there leading people astray,” Dockery said Sept. 18. “When false teachers increase, we must multiply the numbers of sound and true teachers who can leave this place and carry this out on a week-by-week basis.”

The next generation of leaders in churches and in the convention, Dockery said, encompasses most of the students in chapel that day. Looking at the desperate need that exists for leaders in big and small churches, urban and rural, Dockery said students can turn to the Book of Titus for instruction on how to be the right kind of leader.

“Titus is a little book, tucked away at the end of Paul’s letters,” Dockery said, noting the main points in Titus 1:5-9 regarding why Paul left Titus on Crete. “[Titus] was to straighten out what was crooked, amend what was defective and set in order what remained,” Dockery said. “Titus was also to appoint leaders in Crete. He was a one-man search committee.”

Dockery said the qualifications for this type of leader also can be found in 1 Timothy 3.

“All of the character traits can be summed up as ‘above reproach.’ They are not flawless, but they are blameless, people of unquestioned integrity and marked by obvious grace,” Dockery said. “Church leadership is a very public role, and being blameless is amplified in four areas”: in the home, in character, in conduct and in doctrinal orthodoxy.

Because the home is the training ground for Christian leaders, Dockery said it is imperative that leaders be blameless in the home by making this area a top priority. “Sadly, the list is long of Baptist leaders who are on the sidelines of ministry because they messed up in this area,” Dockery said.

Blameless character should translate into blameless conduct, exhibiting outward signs of unquestioned integrity. Dockery said a godly leader should be blameless in what he preaches and teaches -– “in how he handles the Word of God.”

“We have received the body of truth. Our responsibility is to pass it along faithfully.”

Dockery said leaders must have two voices, one for gathering sheep and another for driving away wolves. “We must be prepared to refute the enemies of the Gospel and those who oppose the truth …,” he said.

Dockery said faithful leaders must first recognize the Bible’s authority over Southern Baptists, their institutions and their denomination. Secondly, he said leaders must have a “bowed head of submission to God’s Word, or it will be a turned back of rebellion.”

“Much is at stake for the sake of the Gospel,” Dockery said. “God is calling for a new generation of Baptist leaders to take the Gospel to the lost world. We must raise up leaders to serve in rural settings and in urban centers and bring God’s Word to light in this world by living out Titus 1.”

‘PASTORS OF THE WEST’ CONTINUES — A lot of people, even those in ministry, are discouraged at one time or another, Keith Evans, the second speaker in the “Leading Pastors of the West” chapel series said at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

The current president of the Northwest Baptist Convention, Evans has been pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Ore., since 1995.

Evans, who holds master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Golden Gate, used the story of David and Goliath to illustrate how the young shepherd overcame the discouragement of the Israelites to win the battle for the Lord.

“Discouragement is like facing a giant,” Evans said Sept. 18. “We become discouraged when circumstances don’t go the way we expect, when we have relational, financial or health struggles, or sometimes people’s words or criticism cause discouragement.”

The Israelites were discouraged, but David walked in with a different perspective, and everything changed. David defeated the giant with the weapons of God.

“One person who believes can change the perspective of an army. One person used by God can overthrow a giant. The battle belongs to the Lord. … Discouragement is the opportunity to believe God again,” Evans said as he reminded students that God can use each of them. “Today God is reminding you that the battle belongs to Him. Remember your heavenly Father, and trust Him again.”

Kevin White, pastor of First Baptist Church in Longview, Wash., was the third speaker in the series, and he used Colossians 2:9-10 as his text: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”

“We can sit in our ministry and think, ‘If only I had …,’ but you need to realize that we have everything God wants us to have at this time and moment to be successful in our ministry,” White said Oct. 2.

White earned a master of divinity degree at Golden Gate’s Pacific Northwest campus in Vancouver, Wash. A former president of the Northwest Baptist Convention, White began his ministry as a pastor’s son working in rural missions in California. Along the way, he served as a bivocational church planter, starting churches on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation on the Idaho-Nevada border and in Fernley, Nev.

“The majority of churches in the U.S. are not mega-churches,” White told the students. “They’re small churches in small towns. We tend to slip into the thought that our church would be better and bigger if only we had a better sound system, better music or better people — if we had Jesus plus this better thing.

“… You are complete in Christ Jesus, and if you depend on these other things for a successful ministry, you will fail,” he said. “Your calling is a holy calling from the divine God, and that is sufficient.”

Referring to Colossians 1:9, White said the Apostle Paul prayed for three things: spiritual understanding, spiritual strength and spiritual patience.

“These are things that God wants you to have, not the latest trend or program,” he said.

Paul included the phrase “filled with understanding” seven times in the chapter, White noted.

“You need to get out of the way and look at God’s will in your life,” he said. “‘Filled’ means ‘controlled by,’ and this means controlled by God, not controlling your own life.”

White quoted verse 11, which says, “May you be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might,” and he noted, “This is spiritual strength, God’s spiritual power and understanding.”

“I believe God is looking for a Noah, a Jeremiah, a Jonah, a Paul. Are you willing to proclaim the Gospel if no one is listening?” White asked. “Don’t measure your success by how many come to listen. Your strength is God’s strength.”

The Leading Pastors of the West chapel series began in September with Walter Price, pastor of Fellowship in the Pass in Beaumont, Calif., and will conclude Nov. 13 with Steve Davidson of Clovis Hills Community Church in Clovis, Calif.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach, with reporting by Tammi Reed Ledbetter of the Southern Baptist TEXAN newsjournal; Gary Myers of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Benjamin Hawkins and Michelle Myers of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Lauren Crane of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Phyllis Evans of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

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