News Articles

FROM THE SEMINARIES: NOBTS Contend conf.; Boyce College graduation; MBTS prof’s book on story

NOBTS Contend apologetics conference offers unique training for youth

By Timothy Cockes/NOBTS

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Contend, an annual apologetics event for high school students at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College, gathered nearly 300 students from 23 different churches for a one-day conference discussing apologetic issues impacting society today.  

Taking place Saturday, April 27, this year’s Contend event was the second ever of its kind after last year’s inaugural conference.   

Jamie Dew, president of NOBTS and Leavell College, spoke to the importance of teaching apologetics to the next generation.  

“Training students to think apologetically has always been important, but it’s especially important now because in our broader cultural landscape, every problem we face, every fight, is an ideological fight,” Dew said. “It’s just vital that we really make sure we’re doing what we can do to help our students think about their faith and then defend their faith.  

“Culturally speaking, we’re in a different moment than we were even 15-20 years ago. Christianity is under attack very directly. It’s no longer subtle. It’s no longer implied. Our culture largely today sees our faith as evil or problematic. Even in middle school and high school they’re (students) already facing this. If that’s the climate that we’re in today, then I think it’s more important than ever before that we’re training people apologetically.” 

Dew commented on the unique nature of the conference’s focus on apologetics.  

“It’s a unique conference because most youth conferences are evangelistic in nature,” Dew said.  

“Which is fantastic. I preach and speak at a lot of those types of conferences. But there’s very few conferences that step beyond some kind of evangelistic appeal and actually sit down and start doing the heavy lifting of Christian thought. I don’t know of many conferences in the United States that are A, doing that, and B, bring to bear the faculty and the quality of instruction that we are bringing to them. It’s a very unique type of conference that we can offer to students and their youth pastors.” 

In addition to Dew, plenary speakers for the conference included science and religion scholar Melissa Travis and Dean Inserra, lead pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Fla.  

Dew opened the conference with a lecture on the existence of God. Inserra spoke on thinking biblically about success and ambition, while Travis spoke about the un-livability of the atheistic worldview. 

Breakout sessions during the conference included topics such as: 

  • Dealing with Doubt  
  • Science & Faith  
  • Gender & Sexuality  
  • Evil & Suffering  
  • Can We Trust the Bible? 
  • Cults & Other Religions 

Registered attendance for the conference was 288, an increase from last year’s inaugural event. States represented at the event include Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.  

Matt James, vice president for enrollment for NOBTS and Leavell College, said he was “thrilled” by the growth of the conference and is excited for youth groups to learn more about apologetics at future Contend events.   

“In a world that is increasingly averse to the Christian worldview, our hope is that the Contend conference provides rich biblical and theological teaching, so that students can be confident in their faith as they take a stand for Jesus,” James said. “Our hope is that student ministry leaders will continue to make it a staple in their annual calendars and join us for years to come.” 

“We hope that students and their leaders were able to see firsthand that NOBTS and Leavell College is a place that God is using to train up a generation of servants to take the gospel into some of the hardest and darkest places in the world.”  

Dew echoed the sentiment, saying he hopes the event helped attendees learn more about the mission of NOBTS. 

“I believe in every single youth group across the Southeast, that there’s that one, two, three or four students who God’s called to ministry and they are the kinds of students that we exist to serve. I’m hopeful that through conferences like this, youth pastors and even those students will recognize there is something different about Leavell College.” 

Boyce graduates an answer to prayer, Mohler says

By Jacob Percy/SBTS

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – “You have to understand what you look like to us,” President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. said to the 2024 Graduating Class of Boyce College. You look like the answer to prayer, and you look like the promise to the church. You look like God’s promise that he is not finished with his church and is going to supply his church with a generation of faithful believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, fulfilling all that Christ has commanded.”

On Thursday, May 9 the Graduating Class of Boyce College assembled on the Seminary Lawn to celebrate the 26th commencement of Boyce College, marking a significant milestone for the graduating class as they embark on a new chapter in their lives, equipped with knowledge, skills, and experiences gained throughout their time at Boyce College. Faculty, family, and friends witnessed as 185 students graduated with 159 walking and 26 receiving their degrees in absentia on a beautiful May morning.

Drawing on 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 President Mohler charged the students, “Know your convictions. Know who you are. Know your passion for the Lord Jesus Christ and in that passion and in those commitments, be steadfast, immovable.” Mohler promised the graduates, “Your labor is not in vain, not because of who you are, not because of what Boyce College is, not because of the family that has brought you here… Your labor is not in vain because Jesus Christ is Lord and because Jesus Christ is raised from the dead.”

“My exhortation to you,” concluded Mohler, “is to remember that as we are always abounding in the work of the Lord, the work is never in labor in vain because Jesus Christ is Lord, the grave is empty, and we are here in His name.”

Boyce College Dean, Dustin Bruce encouraged the students from 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 that just as the Apostle Paul witnessed the growth of the church in Thessalonica, so too have the Boyce College faculty witnessed the growth of this class. “Nothing excites us more than seeing a student who came in four years ago with raw talent and a vague sense of what God may be calling them to, mature into a godly young man or woman with robust expertise and a clear calling on their life,” said Dean Bruce. He continued, “I’ve read your papers, I’ve heard you worship, I’ve seen you serve, and despite all of that cultural pressure, I can say you’re steadfast in your faith, and that’s so encouraging to us.”

Speaking to what comes next for the graduates Mohler said, “We’re going to be looking forward to hearing how some of you preach the gospel. We’re going to look forward to hearing how some of you take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We’re going to learn how some of you show the glory of God teaching in an elementary school classroom. How some of you show the glory of God in your investment in business, how some of you show the glory of God and your involvement in other cultural activities and everything from politics to the nonprofit sector. You go down the list.”

The faculty has prepared graduates with both the requisite knowledge and as whole-hearted disciples of Christ, ready for the future God has in store for them. Many in this graduating class have already secured career placement in fields ranging from church ministry to accounting, with job titles ranging from pastor to business analyst. Others have been admitted into postgraduate programs to pursue advanced degrees.

The commencement ceremony concluded as the graduates stood together to recite the graduate pledge which begins, “As graduates of Boyce College, we hereby declare to the watching world that we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who are called to ministry and service by the power of the Holy Spirit.” This pledge makes the Commencement Ceremony at Boyce College so praiseworthy – each of the graduates of the Boyce College Class of 2024 is committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and stands ready to “commit the length of our days to the service of our Savior.”

Honoring Excellent Pedagogy

Kha Do, Assistant Professor of Music and Worship, received the Charles W. Draper Faculty Award. The annual award is named in honor of longtime Boyce professor Charles W. Draper, who died in 2017 after many years of faithful service on the Boyce faculty. Do has served on Boyce College’s faculty since 2019.

Jared C. Wilson book explores writing for God’s glory

By Michaela Classen/MBTS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated the May 7 release of “The Storied Life: Christian Writing as Art and Worship” (Zondervan) by Jared C. Wilson, assistant professor of pastoral ministry and author in residence at Midwestern Seminary. In The Storied Life, Wilson explores the themes of writing and story, offering spiritual and practical insights to help readers see the power of story in the Christian life and grow in the skill of writing for God’s glory.

“If you are familiar with the work of Jared Wilson, you know he is a master writer and creative storyteller,” said MBTS President Jason Allen. “In this new book The Storied Life, Jared gives his audience a peek behind the curtain, so to speak, on how we can all grow in our ability to write and be creative for the glory of God. I am thankful for Jared’s work, and I am excited to commend to you The Storied Life.”

In the introduction to The Storied Life, Wilson shares his aim to help writers understand the eternal significance of their craft. “Creative writing is in fact a reflection of the creative meaning of the universe, a direct derivation from the Creator himself. He has made everything with words and has given even of himself as the Word.”

The book encompasses two parts, beginning with “Reflections on Story,” in which Wilson explores concepts like the nature of good writing, the relationship between liturgy and story, and writing as a spiritual activity.

In part two, “Cultivating the Storied Life,” Wilson offers insight from his rich experience to help writers grow in skills including voice, organization, and composition. He also addresses the importance of loving readers through writing well, stewarding platforms and publishing, and writing as spiritual warfare, discipline, and calling.

Wilson noted several key ideas in the book that he is especially excited to share with readers, including, “Practical application—from a spiritual perspective—on fighting writer’s block; seeing writing as an aspect of the spiritual disciplines; and seeing good writing as a reflection of the ‘liturgy of Story.’”

Reflecting on his hopes for the impact of The Storied Life on the Church, Wilson said, “My primary hope is that Christian writers and aspiring Christian writers will get a fuller sense of how their efforts contribute to the glory of Jesus.”

He went on to say, “Seeing our creative endeavors as a vital aspect of building for the Kingdom and adorning the gospel is a great way to be encouraged in our efforts and inspired to work toward truth and beauty.”

In addition to The Storied Life, Wilson has authored 26 books, including the novels Echo Island and Otherworld, and has contributed to many others. Known for his focus on the centrality of the gospel to Christian life and church ministry, Wilson has previously explored the relationship between God and story through his books The Story of Everything: How You, Your Pets, and the Swiss Alps Fit Into God’s Plan for the World and The Storytelling God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Parables.

The theme of story has interested Wilson since his childhood, shaping his walk with Christ over his lifetime. He shared, “In The Storied Life, I talk about as a child reading There’s a Monster at the End This Book and being really taken in with how it engaged the reader and had a twist ending. That children’s book captivated my imagination in terms of my understanding of story. Of course, as I grew in the faith, I began to see how the Christian story is not some detached thematic concept but a living history that God has told and is telling through Jesus and, by His Spirit, through followers of Jesus.”

Numerous writers, scholars, and ministry leaders have commended The Storied Life, expressing gratitude for Wilson’s gospel-centered approach to writing and highlighting the book’s value for students of writing.

Trevin Wax, vice president of research and resource development at the North American Mission Board, said, “For years Jared Wilson has served us with his writing—his ability to arrange words and adorn truth so we experience the good news afresh. Here he points us to the Story that gives shape and significance to all our work.”

Tim Challies, author and elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Canada, recommended the book to aspiring Christian writers, saying, “If you have ever dreamed of deploying your gift or talent of writing for the glory of God and the good of His people, this is definitely a book for you.”

The Storied Life: Christian Writing as Art and Worship is now available for purchase.

To read an excerpt from The Storied Life, click here.

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