EDITOR’S NOTE: “From the Seminaries” includes news releases of interest as written and edited from Southern Baptist seminaries.
Today’s From the Seminaries includes items from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Golden Gate names new director of Ariz. campus
By Phyllis Evans
MILL VALLEY, Calif. (GGBTS) — Dallas C. Bivins has been elected by trustees as the new director of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s Arizona campus, assuming the position Dec. 31.
“We are delighted to bring Dallas Bivins home to Arizona,” Jeff Iorg, the seminary’s president, said. “We are thrilled someone with his experience and credentials will be leading the Arizona campus. Our partnership with Arizona Baptists is strong, and we expect the campus to continue to fulfill our mutual vision of training leaders for Arizona churches.”
Bivins is uniquely qualified for the position, Iorg said. He has two doctorates, including one from Golden Gate. He grew up in Arizona, has served in a variety of mission contexts and has significant experience as a ministry leadership coach.
David Johnson, a former Arizona campus director and current executive director of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, said Bivins will be a good fit.
“I am excited about Dallas Bivins. He has all the ability, experience and skills needed to lead the campus effectively and move it forward,” Johnson said. “I look forward to working with him and continuing the partnership with Golden Gate Seminary to shape leaders who will help us accomplish our vision of making disciples in Arizona and around the world.”
Phyllis Evans is director of communications at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
Marketplace viewed as mission field
By Alex Sibley
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) — “Is it any wonder in this globalizing world that God would use the marketplace to move in a really new and fresh and dynamic way?”
Posed by keynote speaker Neal Johnson, this question served as the overarching theme of the Kingdom Professionals Conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Nov. 1-2.
Johnson, chair of the business and management department of Hope International University in Fullerton, Calif., addressed students, professors, missionaries and businessmen, encouraging them not to choose between missions and business but to do both, reaching people for Christ in the marketplace.
“Our concept is that you can be called to business the same as a pastor is called to the pulpit or a traditional missionary is called to the mission field,” Johnson said at the conference’s opening session. “This is not something that is in addition to traditional missions; it’s something that is augmenting it.
“God has explicitly called [business people] and anointed them. They can bring transformation to their jobs, to their companies, to their cities, to their nations.”
The conference, the second to be hosted by Southwestern’s Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement, educated attendees about the marketplace missions movement — methods by which business intersects with faith to accomplish missions.
Noting the importance of learning the context before entering a mission field, Johnson said the marketplace is a context just like any other.
“The marketplace is really the place that people go to raise their standards of living,” Johnson said. “The marketplace, in that sense, is very interesting. It’s really the only human institution that touches, directly or indirectly, virtually every person on the face of the earth. That’s been true in every era in every society and every political system. If you eat, if you wear clothes, if you use a car, you are being impacted by the marketplace.”
As Johnson pointed out, this concept is not new. The apostle Paul, for example, worked as a tentmaker to support his ministry. Likewise, William Carey, the father of modern missions, began his ministry by opening a printing business in India.
This movement comprises two foundational elements: (1) reading Scripture through marketplace eyes (such as noting the numerous business references in Jesus’ parables) and (2) following the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.
“[This] is foundational to where we are because it’s talking about the mobilization of laypeople,” Johnson said. “It’s from the laity, by the laity, for the laity. It’s been outside of the basic church. Business can be a vehicle for ministry.”
The movement encompasses five camps: tent-making, marketplace ministries, enterprise development, business as missions (BAM) and social entrepreneurship.
Johnson, a practitioner of BAM, wrote the field’s leading textbook on the subject, “Business as Missions: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice.”
Johnson said a business in this field must be a “Kingdom company” (managed by biblical principles), operate cross-culturally and focus on community development. To illustrate this concept, Johnson quoted the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Johnson amended the proverb by adding the line, “Help a man start a fishing business and you will feed many families and their communities for generations.”
“I’m passionate about Christ in the marketplace,” Johnson said, “because there are so many isolated Christians out there in the marketplace at every level. They can be owners, CEOs, executive managers, sales clerks, workers in the field, or lawyers, bankers, engineers, secretaries … whatever. They haven’t heard the message that they can, in fact, be in ministry right there in the workplace, right where God has planted them, with those people in that place at that time.
“They haven’t heard that message, and in not hearing it, they’ve been denied the fellowship and the support and the encouragement of other Christians in the marketplace,” Johnson said. “And they’ve been denied the privilege of actually seeing how important their jobs are to the people that are around them.
“No matter how menial the jobs are, they’re important. They’re in contact with people that no one else can be. And it’s a tragedy because they’re in ministry 8 to 10 hours a day, and they don’t even know it.”
In addition to Johnson, conference speakers included BAM practitioners, marketplace professionals and IMB missionaries.
William Goff, professor of Christian ethics at Southwestern and one of the conference’s organizers, said one of the best markers of the event’s effectiveness was the networking that transpired.
“It was telling that at the end of the day on Friday, as well as at the meal times, the conversations were vital and engaging regarding the roles that different participants play in this world evangelization concentration,” Goff said.
Johnson’s prayer for conference attendees, as well as for all members of the marketplace mission movement, was that they would “have lives of significance so that we can say, ‘Thank God it’s Monday. I can go to my mission field.'”
Alex Sibley is a news writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).
Stephen Rummage emphasizes God’s vision
By RuthAnne Irvin
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — God’s strength, presence, love and fullness are greater than Christians can imagine, Southern Seminary chapel speaker Stephen Rummage said.
Rummage, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., preached from Ephesians 3:14-19, where Paul prays for spiritual strength. Rummage spoke about God’s vision for His people, which is greater than they can imagine.
“Your God has a vision for you that you can’t see yet. And it’s greater than anything you can ever imagine. As you walk with Jesus Christ day in and day out, He will work in you and on you,” Rummage said Oct. 22.
Rummage, who served as a second vice president for the Southern Baptist Convention, 2009-10, gave four reasons that God can do more than Christians imagine to accomplish His purpose.
The first reason, Rummage said, is that God’s strength is greater than people think. He said that God strengthens His people with, through and in the Holy Spirit’s work. The Holy Spirit allows Christians to accomplish things that they never could do alone, Rummage said.
“Strength is to take something that is weak and wilting and make it strong,” Rummage said. “God’s power is His can-do ability in your life to do what you can’t do on your own.”
Second, Rummage said, God’s presence is greater than Christians can imagine. He spoke about their attitude concerning the study and meditation of Scripture, noting Christians often give only one area of their life for Christ to rule, but He deserves all.
“When Jesus came into your life, He didn’t come to take a seat. He came to take over,” Rummage said.
Rummage’s third reason is that God’s love is greater than Christians can imagine. He said that no matter the situation, Christ’s love is sufficient for life; God wants Christians to build the foundation of their lives on His love.
“God wants you to grow deep roots into His love,” he said.
His fourth and last reason was that God’s fullness is greater than Christians can imagine. Rummage said that God’s fullness is His absolute control in a person’s life. It’s Him reigning over every part of life, Rummage said.
“God’s fullness is His absolute domination, control, lordship and satisfaction in your life,” he said. “As you are filled with His fullness, He will accomplish more than you can ever ask or think.
He concluded his sermon noting that Christians will face difficult days, but with the power of the Holy Spirit and the truths he spoke about from Ephesians, Christians will represent Christ even on those days.
Audio and video from Rummage’s sermon are available at sbts.edu/resources.
RuthAnne Irvin writes for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Mohler, in Alumni Academy, talks convictional leadership
By Aaron Cline Hanbury
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, lectured about convictional leadership and shared stories from the early days of his presidency during an Alumni Academy course.
Mohler, who is the Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology at the seminary, taught the course about leadership, based largely on his newest book, “The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters.” Two sessions of the course featured a special guest, James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga.
In Conviction to Lead, released in 2012, Mohler argues that most definitions of leadership are in error. Leadership, he suggests, should not be merely pragmatic; conviction must define leadership. And he proposes a model of leadership in which conviction drives action, inspiring and equipping others to do the same.
In the book, Mohler establishes the priority of belief, then demonstrates ways in which beliefs find their way to practice. Mohler’s 25 principles range from belief and understanding worldviews, to passion and credibility; from communication and management, to moral virtues and digital engagement; from a leader’s endurance to his legacy.
Mohler does not limit convictional leadership to church or Christian-group leadership. Conversely, he suggests that the Christian worldview provides the necessary foundation for leadership in any sphere, and this worldview places a given sphere in the context of God’s mission in the world.
And much like his book, Mohler’s lectures for Alumni Academy Oct. 10-11 employed personal anecdotes. He addressed several topics straight from his book, including convictional leadership and leadership with passion.
From the outset, Mohler suggested that a Christian perspective of leadership views that leadership in its eternal context.
“From a Christian perspective, leadership has to be put into a temporal frame. And that is leadership for eternity, for now,” he said. “In other words, that means we, as leaders in a Christian context, are not just worried about this world and this life; we’re ultimately concerned about putting everything under our care and stewardship into an eternal frame of reference. And that is a humbling and a liberating act.”
However, Mohler said, leadership remains a “worthy” task.
“As much as leadership is about the eternal frame, it’s also about this life,” he said. “The Christian worldview dignifies this life; this life is not meaningless. … It really is worthy of your investment of a lifetime to lead.”
In his lectures, Mohler also addressed a topic he thinks is missing from his book: friendship.
“One of the main chapters I wish I had had the opportunity to put in [The Conviction to Lead] is one that is perhaps most personal of all, and that is leadership and friendship,” Mohler said.
Mohler rejected conventional leadership advice that leaders should avoid close personal relationships among colleagues.
He said, “I can’t work that way. One of my goals in life is to have a catalog of friends that I just enjoy spending time with anytime I have that opportunity.”
But, according to Mohler, leadership and friendship is about more than personal enjoyment.
“After 20 years in this role, now in my 21st, I don’t see how a leader survives without friends,” he said. “I don’t think I’d be here, humanly speaking, without friends.”
Mohler introduced Merritt as “one the dearest of one of those friends,” telling course attendees about the early days of his ministry when Merritt’s friendship was especially valuable.
During two sessions, Mohler and Merritt discussed leadership principles and practices and their history together, including Merritt’s time on the Christian Index board of trustees at a crucial time at the Baptist newspaper Mohler led before becoming president of Southern Seminary. When Mohler first arrived at the seminary, the school’s trustees charged him with returning the school to its founding commitments, commitments from which the seminary departed during the 1960s and 1970s.
Initially, many in the seminary community resisted Mohler’s leadership.
“It’s very difficult for some of you to appreciate what this school was when we were here,” said Merritt, who is also a two-time alumnus of the school.
Merritt described the “coldness” on campus when he attended the seminary. And he said the theological and cultural change at the school over the past 20 years is the fruit of Mohler’s leadership.
“To go from that to this, what you’re seeing, brothers and sisters, this is leadership,” he said. “You’re seeing the result of leadership.”
In addition to Mohler’s lectures and talks with Merritt, Alumni Academy held a question-and-answer panel with Dan DeWitt, dean of Boyce College; Aaron Harvie, church planter mobilization strategist for the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization; and Dan Dumas, senior vice president for institutional administration. Matt Hall, vice president for academic services, moderated the panel. The panel answered questions related to leadership in the local church, leadership development, priorities of a leader and more.
After the panel, Gregory A. Wills interviewed Mohler about his early presidency, a time when Mohler’s leadership was met with severe opposition.
Alumni Academy offers ministry enhancement and ongoing theological learning to the institution’s alumni free of charge. For a nominal fee, attendees may bring members of their church staff with them.
The next scheduled Alumni Academy course will be about family ministry within the local church with Timothy Paul Jones, professor of leadership and church ministry, Jan. 9-10. More information about Alumni Academy is available at events.sbts.edu.
Aaron Cline Hanbury is manager of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.