News Articles


EDITOR’S NOTE: “From the Seminaries” includes news releases of interest from Southern Baptist seminaries.

Iorg says ministry leaders are called to lead change
By Tyler Sanders

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (GGBTS) — Ministry leaders are called to lead change, which is often difficult for the people going through those changes, said Jeff Iorg, President of Golden Gate Seminary, in a convocation address on Feb. 2, 2015.

There is a key difference between change and transition, said Iorg. Change is the new set of facts — new locations, responsibilities and procedures. Transition is the emotional and spiritual process people work through to adjust to change.

“The biggest mistake ministry leaders make during major change is confusing change with transition,” Iorg said. “Because change is painful, as a ministry leader you are responsible to lead people through transition during major change in your future ministry settings.”

Iorg preached from Acts 20:17-38, using Paul’s announcement of imminent changes in his relationship with the church in Ephesus to illustrate how to interpret, mitigate and manage change processes in ministry. In his application, Iorg said students have a unique opportunity to learn about leadership in major change by observing how the school is proceeding through the relocation process of its primary campus to Ontario, Calif.

In the passage, Paul believed God led him to leave Ephesus, and the elders of the Ephesian church were now being called to take full leadership responsibility for their church. Iorg pointed out the importance of discerning God’s will through supernatural circumstances, though great care must be taken to avoid misinterpretation to validate only what we hope should happen.

“There are five clear ways God has intervened to confirm we are following His direction in this relocation,” Iorg said.

First, the school received governmental approval for the conditional use permit for the Ontario campus several weeks ahead of schedule, despite the often slow process of property development in California.

Second, there has been virtually no opposition to the relocation from constituents.

Third, a special gift of $850,000 for church planting scholarships was recently given to the school by a first-time donor after our initial relocation announcement.

Fourth, enrollment continues to hold steady. Though there has been a slight drop at the Northern California Campus, the rest of the system has balanced this with offsetting growth.

Fifth, a church donated land valued at $2.9 million for the new Bay Area Campus in Fremont, Calif., which is due to open in fall 2016.

In light of the changes the Seminary is facing, Iorg described ways students can learn to lead in spite of and because of painful change.

“From the beginning of our change process, we have implemented strategies to help manage the transition process — your emotional and spiritual response to the change — as well as implement the organizational changes we are making,” Iorg said.

He continued, “While we can’t eliminate the grief associated with transition through major change, we can provide a framework for processing it.” Iorg listed the ways Golden Gate Seminary has been dealing with the transition including accurate communication of time-sensitive topics, personal attention from executive leaders for all staff members, generous severance and continuance policies, customized graduation paths for students and transparent dialogue sessions with faculty, staff and students.

Iorg concluded the convocation by reiterating an earlier statement about the difficulty of the phase of the relocation the school is currently experiencing. “The middle of any transition is the toughest part. We are now moving through that phase,” he said.

A full recording of Dr. Iorg’s message is available at http://www.ggbts.edu/news.aspx?item=184. The complete manuscript is also available for download.

Mohler emphasizes ethnic diversity as gospel imperative
By Andrew J.W. Smith

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Ethnic diversity is part of God’s purpose for humanity and the reflection of the fullness of his gospel plan, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, during his Feb. 3 convocation address.

“Diversity isn’t an accident and isn’t a problem, but instead is a sign of God’s providence and God’s promise,” Mohler said in his address, “The Table of the Nations, The Tower of Babel, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb: Ethnic Diversity and the Radical Vision of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“If the church gets this wrong, we are not getting race and ethnic difference wrong — we are getting the Gospel wrong,” he said. “We cannot obey the Great Commission without celebrating the glory of the new humanity that only Christ can create.”

Mohler said the Gospel story is pitted against secular worldviews competing for cultural primacy. The modern story of multiculturalism, the cosmopolitan story of pluralism, the story of radical individualism, and the demonic story of racism all grapple with the gospel story of Jesus Christ revealed in the pages of Scripture, he said.

“For Christians,” Mohler said, “the question comes back to the one asked of Jesus by a lawyer: ‘Who is my neighbor?'”

Only the message of real hope, rooted in a Christological interpretation of the whole Bible, can overturn the false stories that harm our world, Mohler said. This Gospel “counter story” offers a lens through which Christians can make sense of tragedies like those in recent months in Ferguson, Missouri and Paris, he said.

Employing a biblical-theological reading of the Table of the Nations text paired with the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 10-11, Mohler observed that the Bible emphasizes the common descent of all humanity from an historical Adam and an historical Noah. After the Flood, three lines from the three sons of Noah compose the whole of humanity into 70 nations.

At the Tower of Babel, these descendants are dispersed throughout the earth because of their disobedience, though Mohler carefully noted the precise nature of their sin. While God had ordered Adam to “fill the earth and subdue it” in Genesis 1:28, in Genesis 11 Adam’s descendants built a tower in defiance of God’s command.

By creating language barrier at Babel, God was condemning their sin and restricting their communion. The divine judgment, Mohler said, was no difference or dispersion, but confusion.

Far from countering God’s intended purpose for humanity, Mohler said, the dispersion was actually in fulfillment of His plan from the beginning. In the Abrahamic Covenant, God’s purpose in blessing “all the nations of the earth” (Gen 12:3) is introduced, and the international program of God is fulfilled in the life of Jesus, the apostolic founding of the church, and the final victory of God at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

“Repentance and the forgiveness of sins are to be proclaimed in Fis name to all nations,” Mohler said. “Common humanity, common ancestry, common story, common need of forgiveness of sins, and common singular hope in Christ. Out of many nations, one new humanity.”

Pernicious misinterpretations of the biblical story perpetuate racism, Mohler said, as there is nothing mentioned in the Table of Nations or the Tower of Babel about skin color or physical difference between people.

The differences between cultures and people groups are to be celebrated and enhanced by the biblical story. It is only sin that sprouts racism and ethnocentricity, he said.

“To be human is to be ethnic,” Mohler said. “[Diversity] is not overcome by the Gospel but glorified by the Gospel.”

Before Mohler’s address, three professors elected to the faculty during the fall trustee meeting signed the Abstract of Principles during convocation. The Abstract is the doctrinal statement of Southern Seminary. The professors signed the original document drafted and signed by founding faculty including James Petigru Boyce, John A. Broadus, Basil Manly Jr. along with every subsequent faculty member of the school.

Signee numbers 251-253 of the Abstract were Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College; Adam W. Greenway, William Walker Brookes associate professor of Evangelism and Applied Apologetics and dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry; and Donald S. Whitney, professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean of the School of Theology. Mohler also recognized Michael Pohlman, who recently was appointed as assistant professor of Christian preaching.

Audio and video of convocation can be found at sbts.edu/resources.

    About the Author

  • Staff