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Lawless named new dean of Billy Graham School


LOUISVILLE, Ky.–The president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary did not have to look far to find a new dean for the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth.

R. Albert Mohler Jr. has appointed Charles E. Lawless, the Graham School’s senior associate dean, as its new leader.

Lawless succeeds the Graham School’s founding dean, Thom Rainer, who was elected Sept. 12 as the ninth president of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Lawless was greeted with a standing ovation after Mohler announced his appointment during the chapel service the following day.

“[Lawless] is a leader — one that has given us a model of the kind of leadership upon which institutions are built,” Mohler said. “I have no doubt whatsoever that this is the man God would give us to lead the Billy Graham school into its next phase. He had the enthusiastic and unanimous support of his own faculty and that says a lot as well.

“Moments like this are the events of which an institution’s history is made…. You never know how God will use a man placed into a position like this…. We need to pray with absolute gratitude to God for giving him to us and a sense of anticipation of what God is going to do through him.”

Lawless has served as senior associate dean of the Billy Graham School since 2002 and has been a member of the faculty since 1996.

“I have for 10 years had the privilege of working alongside Dr. Rainer, who is the most creative leader for whom I have ever worked,” Lawless said. “He has built a great Graham School team to lead us into the future. I am honored that President Mohler would ask me to follow in his footsteps.

“At the same time, I look forward to working with Dr. Rainer to consider ways that the Graham School and LifeWay might work together to help reach this nation for Christ,” he added.

Lawless is a two-time graduate of Southern Seminary, having completed a master of divinity degree in 1992 and a Ph.D. in 1997. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Lawless is a popular seminar speaker on such issues as spiritual warfare and prayer.

He has written numerous books including “Membership Matters,” a book released this summer by Zondervan and “Discipled Warriors: Growing Healthy Churches That Are Equipped for Spiritual Warfare” (Kregel, 2002).

In 2002 Lawless received the Findley B. and Louvenia Edge Award for Teaching Excellence, an honor conferred by a vote of the student body. Since 1981, Lawless has served numerous Southern Baptist churches in Ohio and Kentucky in various capacities including pastor and interim pastor. Lawless and his wife, Pam, have been married since 1991.

Lawless said he wants to continue building the Graham School upon the foundation that was put firmly in place by Rainer.

“My first goal is to keep building on the foundation that is already in place,” Lawless said. “Dr. Rainer has given us the vision to be the finest Great Commission school ever built and we will continue to move in that direction. Ultimately my mission is to be a Great Commission school with Acts 1:8 impact, that is, that our students would spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Louisville, Kentucky, North America and around the world.

“I want us to produce what I call ‘discipled warriors’ who march into battle wearing the full armor of God,” he said. “All of us in the Graham School would appreciate the prayers and support of Southern Baptists as we tackle this challenge.”
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  • Jeff Robinson
    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.Read All by Jeff Robinson ›