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:
Iorg notes ‘a coming crisis to pastoral ministry’
By Phyllis Evans
MILL VALLEY, Calif. — A crisis is looming in pastoral ministry, Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, warns. “The crisis isn’t Internet pornography, misuse of funds, authoritarian leadership styles or doctrinal error.
“The coming crisis is we soon won’t have enough pastors.”
Speaking to students, faculty, staff and guests at the President’s Convocation on Feb. 7, Iorg noted that a consistently declining number of students have enrolled at Golden Gate Seminary over the past decade who checked “pastor” on the entrance survey as their ultimate ministry objective.
Iorg listed various reasons he believes many men are reluctant to become lead pastors or senior pastors:
— “Men tell me they have witnessed pastoral abuse,” Iorg said, “and don’t want it to happen to them or their family.”
— “They have also seen dysfunctional church life and don’t want to waste their time with such nonsense.”
— “Men also avoid pastoral ministry because they didn’t grow up in a church, perhaps coming to Christ as a college student, and they have never seen a model of a healthy pastor or pastoral family.”
— “Some men don’t want the spiritual responsibility,” Iorg observed. “Delayed adolescence has infected young men who should already be church leaders.”
— Contemporary culture, he noted, “devalues aggressive leadership by men, and that is projected on the church.”
— And there’s “the ‘I love Jesus but hate the church’ mentality, which devalues the church and thus church leaders has confused many young men.”
Speaking from 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Iorg described the call to pastoral ministry as the highest leadership role in the Kingdom of God. The pastoral office, he noted, is a noble task and a worthy goal.
“You can desire, aspire, aim for or even be ambitious about becoming a pastor. Doing so isn’t demonstrating pride,” Iorg said. “It’s longing to serve in the most effective role possible.”
A pastoral call is a character calling, Iorg said. “The pastorate requires men of character [referencing 1 Timothy 2 and following]. It will test and develop your character. Pastors live in community, demonstrating Christian growth, modeling Christian family, standing against sin and teaching true doctrine. Some men avoid the pastorate because it is a personal crucible — a refining fire God uses to purify motives and leach out hypocrisy.”
The pastoral calling is a family calling, Iorg continued. “When a man is married, the pastorate requires a mutual call to ministry,” he explained. “The call to pastoral ministry is a partnership, which may involve different ministry marriage models, but always includes two people working together appropriately to provide pastoral ministry.”
Referencing the advantages of children being reared in a pastoral family, Iorg said, “Your family gets to go to work with you. They also get to know the best people on earth — church members. Your family can benefit from a flexible work schedule. Most importantly, your family gets to see God at work in ways other children simply don’t experience.”
And Iorg underscored the pastoral calling as a community calling, noting that a pastor “must have a good reputation with outsiders, meaning his community.” Using illustrations of African American community activist pastors as well as others who have served on school boards and other leadership roles, Iorg described the pastorate as an opportunity to influence an entire community.
Iorg exhorted the students in the audience: “I would like to ask you today to either ask God to call you to be a pastor, or ask Him to give you a passion for supporting pastors in their call. This is a serious matter. The future health of mission boards, seminaries and other ministries depends on strong churches. The quality of pastoral leadership will largely determine the future health of churches. So much depends on pastors.”
Phyllis Evans is director of communications for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (at www.ggbts.edu), a Cooperative Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention with fully accredited campuses in Northern California, Southern California, Pacific Northwest, Arizona and Colorado.
Vines left speechless by book in his honor
By Keith Collier
FORT WORTH, Texas — Moments before standing to preach a sermon in a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel service, well-known Southern Baptist preacher and former SBC president Jerry Vines was presented with a book written in his honor by a number of leaders, pastors and theologians. The unexpected recognition left Vines in an unfamiliar state — speechless.
“I was totally unprepared for this,” Vines admitted during the March 5 presentation. “There are a lot of emotions welling up in my heart, and I just say thank you.”
Southwestern’s dean of theology, David Allen, who grew up in and was called to ministry under Vines’ ministry, served as general editor of the book and presented it to Vines. Allen wrote the foreword to the book.
“For 60 plus years, Dr. Jerry Vines has been preaching the Gospel,” Allen said. “You might say that his ministry, in many ways, is John 3:16 in a nutshell. From small rural churches in Georgia all the way to the great mega-church First Baptist in Jacksonville, Fla., and everywhere in between, over the past 60 plus years of ministry, Jerry Vines has preached the Word. He has been a model, an example, a mentor, an encourager to so many of us in what it’s all about when it comes to biblical preaching, to expository preaching.”
The book is titled “Preach the Word! A Collection of Essays on Biblical Preaching in Honor of Jerry Vines.” Among its contributors are past SBC presidents Johnny Hunt and Paige Patterson along with other Southern Baptist leaders, pastors and theologians, including Steve Gaines, Mac Brunson, Stephen Rummage, Steve Lemke, Malcolm Yarnell, Steven Smith, Adam Dooley, Emir Caner and Jeff Pennington. Additionally, the book concludes with a reprint of Vines’ famous convention sermon “A Baptist and His Bible” along with an introduction to the sermon by the late Adrian Rogers.
“Much of what I know about preaching today I owe to Dr. Jerry Vines,” Allen said. “I love him, I appreciate him, I’m thankful for him; but all of us as Southern Baptists and beyond are in his debt.
“Martin Luther said toward the end of his own ministry, ‘I simply taught and preached the Word. Otherwise, I did nothing. The Word did it all.’ Dr. Vines, I know you, I know your heart, and I know that the Word does it all through you,” Allen said. “It is my honor to present to you this honorary volume.”
Vines, Brunson and Dooley were on campus as guest speakers at Southwestern’s spring expository preaching workshop. The workshop also featured seminary preaching faculty and President Paige Patterson as presenters.
Keith Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews). Photo available at http://www.swbts.edu/campus-news/news-releases/vines-left-speechless-by-book-in-his-honor/.