In today’s From the Seminaries: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
9Marks conf. at SEBTS: Mobilizing a church on mission
By Lauren Pratt
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — Understanding the purpose and practice of missions as well as creating a culture of generous support of missionaries were among the ways 551 church leaders were challenged to lead their congregations to be Great Commission-focused.
The lineup of speakers for the missions-themed 2018 9Marks conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Sept. 28-29 included some new and familiar names — John Folmar, pastor of United Christian Church of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hills Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.; Andy Johnson, associate pastor of CHBC; Trip Lee, young adult pastor at Dallas Concord Church in Dallas; Chuck Lawless, dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern; and Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of Anacostia River Church in Washington, D.C.
Folmar, the conference’s first Friday evening speaker, taught from Isaiah 2:1-5, describing the passage as “the divine forecast of the modern missions movement.” The kingdom foreshadowed by Isaiah is of “one international people of God” and a kingdom of peace, fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus, Folmar said in referencing Hebrews 12:22-24.
In two application points for the passage, Folmar said the church is God’s evangelistic plan and that healthy churches are launch pads for further missions outreach.
“Be part of making Christ known through the manifold wisdom of God that is the local church,” Folmar said.
Dever, who spoke on the understanding and practice of missions, said a biblical grasp of missions is a key aspect of church health. Pastors need to both model and preach evangelism in creating a missions-minded church and lead their congregations to understand that evangelism is not an option, it’s a command, Dever said.
“Missions isn’t something occasional or optional; it’s an essential extension of what God has done to … bring glory to Himself through us.”
Johnson, drawing from 2 Timothy 4:1-5, listed three questions that the text addresses: What does a faithful missionary do, how does a faithful missionary work and whom does a faithful church support? It takes patience and discernment, he said, as churches look for and follow up with the missionaries they send out.
“One of the great truths of Scripture is that the work of missions is the work of God, so our faithfulness will never be in vain,” Johnson said.
Friday night’s session concluded with a message from Lee on Romans 10:14-17 that “Gospel action is driven by Gospel agony.” Regarding lostness, Lee said the passage points out that a person cannot call on a savior they’ve never heard of; a person can hear the right message and respond the wrong way; and faith comes through hearing God’s Word.
Lawless, Saturday morning first speaker, drew from Ephesians 6:18-20 and Colossians 4:2-4 on the importance of partnering in prayer for missionaries.
Both passages, Lawless noted, begin and end with a call to pray. The apostle Paul emphasizes in Ephesians the need for the church to be alert in prayer while also praying specifically for his boldness to proclaim the Gospel. In Colossians, Paul calls the church to pray with urgency and persistence while also praying for doors to open to share the Gospel and that he would proclaim it clearly. Lawless told attendees that Paul is encouraging the church to pray “proactively,” not “reactively.”
“If we send them out, we better send them out with our prayers ongoing,” Lawless said.
The conference concluded with a message by Anyabwile from 3 John 1:5-12 on how churches should give and support missionaries in a manner that displays the worthiness of God. Churches must exemplify faithful hospitality when missionaries are home and faithful generosity when their missionaries depart, he said
“Let us beware in ourselves, and let us teach our people to watch in themselves, any tendency toward self-promotion and selfishness that would innervate the Gospel mission,” Anyabwile said.
Prior to the Saturday morning sessions, the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Ministry hosted a Pastor’s Roundtable breakfast. Jim Shaddix, director of Southeastern’s Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership, moderated a panel discussion with Lawless, Johnson and Scott Hildreth, who serves as the George Liele director of the seminary’s Center for Great Commission Studies. Questions from Shaddix included such topics as how new pastors can lead their congregations to be missions-minded and how the panelists have seen pastors lead in that way, followed by a Q&A time from the audience.
Speakers also participated in panel discussions throughout the conference, which were moderated by Jonathan Leeman, editorial director for 9Marks.
In the 9Marks at Southeastern conference’s 10th year, missions was a continuation of the previous nine conferences, which specifically emphasized a different mark of Dever’s book, “9 Marks of a Healthy Church.”
To view videos from the conference, click here. Photos from the conference are at https://www.flickr.com/photos/southeastern/sets/72157700266080671.
SBTS releases video for Mohler’s 25th anniversary
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — A 15-minute video commemorating R. Albert Mohler Jr.’s 25 years as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary debuted Oct. 11 at a chapel service that included a message by Jimmy Scroggins, senior pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Titled “XXV: The Enduring Vision of Albert Mohler at Southern Seminary,” the video’s release culminated a week of celebration of Mohler’s presidency.
The video can be viewed on YouTube at https://youtu.be/b5vS3dgyams.
“When I came here in 1993 as president, I had a really clear idea that I wasn’t coming to wrap things up; I came in order to get things ready for what was yet to come,” Mohler says in an interview in XXV. “And 25 years later, there is a generation yet coming, there are yet people who have not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are churches that must be planted [for people] who must be reached, sermons that much be preached. This is what the future looks like. By God’s grace, if the Lord allows us, we’re going to perpetuate this into the generations to come.”
The video, from Southern Products, recounts the story of the earliest days of Mohler’s presidency. When he was inaugurated on Oct. 15, 1993, it was with the expectation that he would return the seminary to its founding vision laid out by James P. Boyce in the 1859 Abstract of Principles, the school’s confession of faith.
Southern Seminary at the time was in the midst of a long slide into theological liberalism. In the century after the drafting of the Abstract, the seminary had drifted from its confessional moorings and its loyalty to the Southern Baptist Convention. Mohler’s mission to restore the seminary’s identity was met with opposition and protest, culminating in a 1995 vote of no confidence from the faculty.
The board, however, stood by its president, and despite a temporary dip in enrollment at the time, the seminary has been in an upward trajectory ever since — from 1,583 students at its lowest point in the mid-90s to an enrollment of 4,018 in 2018.
In addition to an interview with Mohler, the video features comments from his wife Mary reflecting on her husband’s surprise election in 1993 and the difficult years of his early presidency. The video also includes original footage from the early 1990s of Mohler’s interview process with the presidential search committee and his election announcement. It also features a local NBC affiliate’s news coverage of the tumultuous 1993-1995 period.
Personal friends and colleagues of Mohler’s appear throughout the video, including John MacArthur, Matt Chandler and James Merritt, along with his wife and daughter Katie.
Scroggins, who first visited Southern Seminary as a prospective student in 1993 and developed a close relationship with Mohler, spoke after the video was shown. Preaching on the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8, Scroggins said that ministers of the Gospel are responsible to love people and give them a home. There are needy people in the world, broken by sin and circumstance, and they need the Good News of grace through Jesus.
“That’s why Southern Seminary exists, that’s why God brought Dr. Mohler here, and that’s why God brought you here — for these people, who need a home for their heart,” Scroggins said. “Jesus is inviting them through you. … That’s what Southern Seminary is about, that’s what Dr. Mohler is about, that’s what the fight is about, that’s what the study is about.”
Audio and video of chapel will be available at equip.sbts.edu.