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FROM THE SEMINARIES: SEBTS women’s ministry intensive; Mohler on Margaret Thatcher

SEBTS hosts first Ministry
to Women intensive courses

By Lauren Pratt

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SEBTS) Master of Arts in ministry to women (MAMW) made an idea a reality in early October as women gathered together for the program’s first layered hybrid intensive — a program that allows students to combine online coursework with intensive in-class instruction, making it possible for them to experience on-campus interaction without relocating.

“My desire for our Ministry to Women intensive week is to expose our students to faithful women who serve the church through Bible exposition and godly leadership, as well as to pastors who view women as co-laborers in doing the work of the Great Commission,” said Julia Higgins, associate dean of graduate program administration and associate professor of ministry to women.

On the second day of the weeklong intensive, women participated in Bible Exposition for Ministry to Women taught by Jen Wilkin, who serves as director of classes and curriculum at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. Wilkin told students how from an early age God cultivated in her a love for teaching. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and communication and then an MBA in five years and thought she would go into business as it seemed more viable than a teaching career. However, the Lord gradually redirected her plans and allowed her to use her gift of teaching to serve the churches of which she was a part. She recalled watching a Beth Moore Bible study and thinking, “I didn’t know I could do that. I did not know that was an option.”

Wilkin saw the need for churches to have women’s ministries that did more than have pseudo-Bible studies. She wanted to give women the tools they needed to study the Bible for themselves.

“When we call something a Bible study, and what’s happening in there has little to nothing to do with studying the Bible, we are not just not teaching our women the Bible; we are telling them they are learning it when they’re not.”

Wilkin, author of “In His Image” and “None Like Him,” highlighted the importance of teaching women to see the communicable and incommunicable attributes of God. The communicable attributes speak of God’s characteristics that can be seen in his image-bearers while the incommunicable attributes of God focus on characteristics that belong solely to God.

Wilkin also participated in a panel discussion during chapel with SEBTS President Danny Akin and Keith Whitfield, dean of graduate studies and vice president for academic administration at SEBTS as part of Southeastern’s “Casual Conversations” chapel series. The Casual Conversations are wide-ranging in their topics and more conversational in tone than a typical chapel service. In this conversation, they discussed topics ranging from lesson preparation, how women’s roles in the church are vital to the congregation’s overall health and how God led Wilkin to begin serving in women’s ministry.

One of the biggest challenges to developing female leader in the local church, said Wilkin, comes with the “misunderstanding that the gifts that God gives to women are nice but not necessary. God does not give needless gifts, so if a woman has the gift of teaching and she’s in your church and there’s nowhere to utilize it, that is a wastefulness the church cannot afford.”

Bible teachers need to put considerable thought into their lesson preparation and vocal delivery as the two are equally important in teaching God’s Word to others. Wilkin discussed these topics and how to best implement these practices during the afternoon session of Bible Exposition on Thursday.

Thursday evening concluded with a dinner featuring a panel with Dean and Krissie Inserra, Micah and Tracy Fries, Keith Whitfield and Julia Higgins. The Inserras are the pastor and pastor’s wife at City Church in Tallahassee, Florida, and the Fries are the pastor and pastor’s wife at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Students taking Biblical Theology of Womanhood heard from author and Bible study teacher Nancy Guthrie. Guthrie gave a comprehensive study on the grand narrative of Scripture. She explained that the sequence of events in Scripture better inform the reader’s comprehension of the biblical narrative. Likewise, the themes in Scripture provide a lens into the author’s original intent.

Guthrie spent a significant portion of her morning session looking at the theme of “kingdom” in the Bible. The theme of kingdom is seen from creation to redemption as God establishes his kingship over creation in Genesis and will one day bring all things on earth back under his rule in Revelation. Nineteen other themes exist throughout books of the Bible, which ultimately point people to love and long for Jesus, she explained. Some of these themes include blessing and curses, salvation and judgment and priest and priesthood.

“What I learn from studying these themes over and over is that they show me how essential Jesus is,” said Guthrie, explaining that the biblical narrative points people to Christ.

On Sunday morning, students also heard teaching from Kelly King, women’s ministry specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources. King taught the women in attendance the essentials for building a healthy team, including women who are servant-hearted, visionary and evangelistic. Along with building teams to reach women, it is vital to develop and call out leaders from among these teams. Prayer and seeking out the “unlikely” are a couple of key considerations to this process of finding team leaders.

Investing in the next generation is another critical aspect of women’s ministry, and this includes various types of mentorship. Mentorship can take on many forms, King noted, such as a teacher, discipler or counselor. Women can be mentored through more non-traditional ways like reading biographies and through divine appointments with other believers who provide godly wisdom.

Students participating in Biblical Theology of Womanhood also attended a Sunday morning service at The Summit Church and heard a message from pastor and president of the Southern Baptist Convention J.D. Greear.

“A number of students expressed how meaningful it was to learn from leaders in the field of women’s ministry, and for the opportunity to do so in a hybrid format that allows them to get their degree without having to move to Wake Forest,” said Higgins. “We are already looking forward to fall 2020 and the speakers who will join us to teach about various foundations for ministry to women and how to counsel women well.”

SEBTS offers a number of other degrees in the area of ministry to women, including the MAMW and biblical counseling, Th.M. program and D.Min.in ministry to women. For more information about Southeastern’s degree programs, visit sebts.edu/academics.


Mohler: Margaret Thatcher believed
liberty depended on ‘moral center’

By SBTS Staff

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Margaret Thatcher, the British stateswoman who served as prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979–1990, was an elegant woman who embodied essential leadership principles from which all leaders can learn, said R. Albert Mohler Jr. at a Leadership Briefing November 5. The event was hosted by The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and held in a packed Heritage Hall.

Mohler, who is president of Southern Seminary, said he has long admired Thatcher, who was a lifelong defender of liberty. The 20th century was a breeding ground for leaders both good and bad, but the thing that set good leaders apart was a commitment to decisive opposition to evil, Mohler said. This commitment came from Thatcher’s unshakeable commitment to morality as the center of a well-functioning state.

“She was a moralist,” Mohler said. “Margaret Thatcher believed in a central conservative axiom: that there has to be a very clear and unquestioned moral center — a moral character to the people — if liberty is to be possible.”

Born Margaret Roberts in 1925 in a very small town, Thatcher became Britain’s Conservative Party leader in 1975 and then was elected prime minister in 1979. Her father was a lay Methodist preacher who also worked as an import grocer, meaning she grew up surrounded by the goods of the British Empire, Mohler said. She observed the whole community as they came through her father’s store, and got a close-up view of the people of the British Empire and what it meant to be English — a commitment to community, neighborhoods, and strong moral values that defined social neighborly obligations, according to Mohler.

“Margaret Thatcher was not the product of growing up in London or Birmingham or Manchester,” he said. “She was not born near the corridors of power, but she was born destined for power.”

Thatcher, called the “Iron Lady” by a Soviet journalist, embodied a tough, uncompromising leadership style that was desperately needed in the United Kingdom during her time. In many ways, she was a Victorian-era leader in a morally compromised time, Mohler said. She also expressed deep Christian convictions during her life, telling the Church of Scotland in a famous speech that Christianity was “about spiritual redemption, not social reform.”

“Had Margaret Thatcher been born in 1825, we would not know of her because it would have been inconceivable in the 19th century that a woman would have served as the prime minister of Great Britain,” Mohler said. “And I daresay, if she were to be born in 2025, she would probably have no place in British politics because her ideas would be considered so absolutely antiquated. That would not offend her because she would argue that the abandonment of those principles is what has led to political chaos today.”

Throughout her career, Thatcher defended conservative principles such as privatization of the British economy, limits to the growth of the government, and the confronting of unions. Along with American president Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, Thatcher was an avowed opponent of socialism and refused to accept Soviet Communism as a viable governmental structure.

She fought against the widespread support during her lifetime for turning the United Kingdom into a welfare state and enacted her essentially conservative and moral values in order to create a strong and honorable population.

“Margaret Thatcher believed in the British people. She believed that if the British people were set loose, they would prove themselves. And they did,” Mohler said. “She was as patriotic about Britain as Winston Churchill was, and they believed in the same thing — that there was a greatness in the heart of the nation that only needed to be set loose.”

Toward the end of her political career, as she declined in popularity, Thatcher’s opponents began to wonder if she might begin to loosen on some of her more conservative ideals. But since she was a convictional leader, Thatcher refused to turn from her most deeply held beliefs.

“I can only wish that more leaders of her stature would emerge in our day,” Mohler said. “We need more leaders who have the intellectual firepower of Margaret Thatcher, tested over time in argument and debate. We need more leaders with the dignity of Margaret Thatcher. We need more iron, and we desperately need more leaders who aren’t for turning.”

Audio of the Leadership Briefing will soon be available through the Southern Equip page.

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  • SBC Seminaries staff