FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–One name is synonymous with evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: Roy Fish. The seminary designated Oct. 10 as “Roy Fish Day” and honored the distinguished professor emeritus in chapel and at a reception in his honor.
Fish, who has served Southwestern Seminary for more than 40 years, preached during the chapel service on the value of focus in ministry, especially in evangelism.
Using 1 Corinthians 9:19-27, Fish illustrated how the Apostle Paul was obsessed with his commission to the Gospel. Lamenting the fact that some churches spend most of their time and effort on superficial irrelevant issues, Fish said, “Effective evangelism doesn’t come with a marked-down price tag.”
Being focused demands an absence of prejudices, Fish said. One of the most prevalent prejudices Christians must abandon, he noted, is toward “moral lepers,” individuals who are proud of their sinful lifestyle.
Along with freedom from preconceptions, Fish said churches must be culturally relevant and willing to pay the price to accomplish the goal of evangelism. Paul used illustrations from the athletic arena to emphasize the need for discipline in order to win people to Christ, Fish said, noting, “Focusing means winning!”
“Will you become one to be a winner for [Christ]?” he asked the audience, who honored Fish and his family with a standing ovation.
“Every single professor who has taught at this seminary has left an indelible print upon this school,” SWBTS President Paige Patterson said. “But there are only a handful who have left a print that you just cannot get away from no matter where you turn, including Roy Fish. He is one of the major contributors to the success of this institution.”
As a gift for the occasion, Southwestern gave Fish a custom-bound set of the books he has written and a book containing photos and personal letters from his former students and colleagues. The letters praised him for being a consistent role model and expressed gratitude for the life-changing impact he has had throughout the years.
Fish’s legacy of passion for evangelism echoes through the halls of the seminary. He served as distinguished professor of evangelism and held the L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism prior to his retirement. Fish was honored in 2005 when Southwestern’s division of evangelism and missions in the school of theology was reorganized as the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
In celebration of the seminary’s 100th anniversary in 2008, the school of evangelism has issued a challenge for 100 days of personal evangelism. Seminary professors will commit to 50 consecutive days of personal evangelism, which will be followed by 50 consecutive days of student evangelism in the community.
Fish, in addition to serving Southwestern, earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary. He has held several prominent denominational positions, including interim president of the North American Mission Board and second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has authored several books and has served as pastor or interim pastor at more than 20 churches, while his speaking engagements have taken him to every continent except Antarctica.
Fish also has received numerous awards, including the W.A. Criswell Lifetime Award in Evangelism from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, which in 2006 also established the Roy Fish Evangelism Award.
Fish and his wife Jean have four children and 11 (soon to be 13) grandchildren.
Keith Collier is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Recordings of Southwestern’s chapel services may be viewed or listened to through the seminary’s website, www.swbts.edu.