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Golden Gate Seminary sharpening focus on effective church leadership

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary has completed the first phase of establishing a new “leadership development paradigm” for theological education in the next century, President William O. Crews announced.
A focus on leadership is the “crying need” for the church, Crews said during chapel Feb. 4 at the Mill Valley, Calif., campus.
“As a pastor most of my life, I’ve known men and women who were sound in theological conviction and steadfast in character,” Crews said, “but who were unable to integrate important leadership qualities with the skills necessary for leading a group of people to accomplish mutually shared goals.
“Seminaries willing to help change this reality have a vital role to play in preparing new generations of leaders for the emerging world of ministry,” he said.
“We want to ensure the seminary’s leadership development emphasis aligns with our biblical convictions and in a way that sharpens the effectiveness and impact of local churches,” Crews explained. “We must always look to the local church as a key measure of evaluation and accountability for our programs.”
Over the past year, Crews involved several groups in sharpening the seminary’s leadership development efforts, including faculty groups and an advisory board composed of pastors, business executives, seminary trustees and executive directors from three state/regional Baptist conventions.
A “purpose statement” released as part of the study says the seminary is “shaping leaders who influence others to accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission through the churches.”
“Influencing others is the heart of leadership,” said Richard Melick, the seminary’s provost, at the chapel service. “Acceleration implies movement and direction, and the fulfillment of the Great Commission is the heart of what we do.”
The seminary also developed a list of critical leadership characteristics:
1) Integrity: “Consistently applying biblical principles in character and action.”
2) Vision: “Understanding and articulating the form of God’s mission for a particular situation.”
3) Courage: “Risking whatever is necessary to articulate and apply appropriate biblical principles for formative and corrective change.”
4. Relational competency: “Working with others in a Christlike way to mobilize them to accomplish God’s purposes.”
5. Passion: “The lifelong commitment to the pursuit of God’s call upon one’s life.”
6. Creativity: “Ability to apply eternal principles in fresh and effective ways.”
7. Wisdom: “Following God’s Spirit to apply biblical principles to complex life situations.”
“We’re not saying that these qualities can be taught directly in the classroom, but they can be shown through us, our relationships with others and our relationship to God,” said Melick, who served alongside Crews on the advisory board. “These seven characteristics and definitions will be a grid to evaluate all leadership at Golden Gate.”
The “leadership initiative” marks a strategic turning point in the life of the seminary, Crews said.
“Our faculty and others are engaged in providing a framework for focusing our academic program and shaping our campus environment to do even more to equip people for commitment, competence and compassion in leadership, whatever the ministry setting,” the president said. “Our biblical conviction and Great Commission passion remain firm, but we look forward to unleashing those commitments in creative expressions of [God’s] will for new generations of Christian leaders.”
The second phase of the process, Melick said, will be to “develop the implications of our leadership aims and their characteristics and work them into course syllabi and programs.”
“This leadership focus will affect the academic program, campus environment, our relationships to churches and practically everything about us,” Melick said. “We’re excited to get to this point and also about what lies ahead.”
Crews quoted Psalm 78:70-72, which mentions God choosing David to shepherd Israel with “integrity of heart” and “skillful hands.”
“I hope when each student leaves, the passage will apply to them,” Crews said. “And if someone asks them what Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary is all about, this leadership definition should be on their minds.”
In addition to Crews and Melick, members of the advisory board are Fermin Whittaker, executive director, California Southern Baptist Convention; Steve Bass, executive director, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention; Jeff Iorg, executive director, Northwest Baptist Convention; GGBTS trustees Gary Black, president, Fireman’s Fund Insurance, John C. Funk, president, John C. Funk Associates, and David George, pastor, Lake Arlington (Texas) Baptist Church; and businessmen Bill Long, president, ECbridges, Inc.; and John Wilkinson, president, Momentum Textiles.

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