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FROM THE SEMINARIES: SEBTS at N.C. Baptist meeting; Iorg preaches at NOBTS

SEBTS celebrates Great Commission at N.C. Baptists’ annual meeting

By Chad Burchett/SEBTS

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP) – On Nov. 6-8, over 1,600 attendees gathered in Greensboro, N.C., for the pastors’ conference and annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC). Celebrating partnerships with NC Baptist churches, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) connected with alumni and other attendees through various events throughout the meeting.

“We are grateful to partner with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina as we labor together to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission,” said SEBTS President Danny Akin. “Each year as we gather with fellow North Carolina Baptists, we get to celebrate God’s faithfulness, encourage one another in our ministries, and deepen our Great Commission partnerships.” 

On Monday’s pastors’ network panel, Southeastern visiting professors J. D. Greear, Pastor of The Summit Church, and Matt Carter, Vice President of Mobilization for the North American Mission Board, joined Mark Dever, Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and Juan Sanchez, Pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church, to discuss strategies for church multiplication in the context of the local church. “One sign of health in a church is not the size of the building but rather the number of people sent out,” shared Greear. “We should celebrate our sending capacity more than our seating capacity.” 

At the SEBTS alumni and friends luncheon on Tuesday, Akin charged attendees to hold fast to the Great Commission. Addressing the critical importance of prioritizing missions and discipleship, Akin challenged attendees to choose what is best and most important over many competing good causes and priorities. “The Great Commission is mentioned in some form in all four Gospels and in the book of Acts,” Akin said. “If Jesus says something once, it should be enough, but if he says something to us five times — as he has done with the Great Commission — you have to believe that it is very important to the heart of our God. Our priority at Southeastern is training men and women to be Great Commission Christians wherever it is that God sends them to do whatever it is that God calls them to do.”  

Throughout the day on Tuesday, SEBTS professors led several breakout sessions including Brad Hambrick’s Understanding the Traumatic Effects of Abuse: Pastoral Implications, Tate Cockrell’s Redeeming Sexuality: Caring for Those with Sexuality Struggles, and Scott Pace’s The College Question: How Do I Choose a College? With a heart to serve the convention, Southeastern’s faculty is grateful for these opportunities to invest in NC Baptist pastors and church leaders. 

During Tuesday’s afternoon session of the annual meeting, Akin shared about Southeastern’s Great Commission heartbeat and vision for theological education. “Southeastern is your Great Commission seminary,” Akin reminded attendees. “Last words are meant to be lasting words, and of all things that the Lord Jesus could have said before he ascended into heaven, he commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations. … I believe that all of God’s children — no matter where he calls or sends them — should have the heart of Jesus: that is, a heart for the Great Commission.” 

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Iorg urges NOBTS chapel attendees to ‘shine like stars’ in a dark world

By Marilyn Stewart/NOBTS

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, called on ministry leaders to “shine brightly” in today’s dark world when he spoke in chapel at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College, Nov. 8.

Jamie Dew, NOBTS president, welcomed Iorg to the podium calling him “one of the most strategic thinkers and leaders in the SBC … particularly about theological education.”

Dew added, “He’s somebody that I trust, that I respect and that I esteem.”

Iorg began by describing a place in southern Utah where stars provide enough light at night that visitors can walk down a hill to a seating area without needing a flashlight. 

Remote locations, high elevation and low humidity make Utah’s multiple “stargazing parks” popular spots to view the stars.

“That image of the stars shining brightly against the darkness of the universe is the backdrop for today’s text,” Iorg said, drawing from Philippians 2:12-16. Iorg repeated Paul’s admonition in verse 15, “You shine like stars in the world.”

Shine brightly

Iorg explained that the Christological passage, verses 5-11, that precedes the sermon text set the stage for Paul’s explanation in verses 12-16 for how believers must live.

“This passage (verses 12-16) outlines for us as ministry leaders what it means to shine so brightly against the backdrop of the darkness of the world … that we are noticeable in the difference that we make,” Iorg said.

Iorg said the phrase translated “work out” in verse 12 is used in other sources to refer to the process of solving a math problem by “showing the work,” Iorg explained. “In other words,” Iorg added, “act out the Christian life you claim to have.”

Living out the “Christian life” is possible only because God is at work in a believer’s life, Iorg said, pointing to verse 13.

“He is working out your salvation,” Iorg said. “It is only possible for you to work out the fullness of what it means to live a life committed to Jesus Christ in the power of God and in Him working through you to empower you to get this done.”

Iorg said the text names two specific areas in which a believer must live differently from the world – “mouths and morality.”

Control the mouth

Controlling the mouth means a believer must stop “grumbling, muttering, murmuring, and whining,” Iorg said, and cautioned listeners to “stop grumbling about how hard it is to be in the ministry.”

While self-care is important, Iorg urged pastors to remember that they are not alone in leading busy lives that demand sacrifice and inconvenience, and that others will be “embarrassed” for the pastor that complains.

“The Bible is speaking to us very clearly … that when you work out your salvation in the power of God in such a way that you are demonstrably a Christian in this culture, one of the ways it will show up is you will stop grumbling about everything,” Iorg said.

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