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‘Multiply disciples,’ Max Barnett exhorts fellow MBTS graduates

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary awarded degrees to 93 students May 20 –- including the first two bachelor degrees from the seminary’s new undergraduate program.

Commencement speaker Max Barnett, director of Baptist Collegiate Ministries for the Colorado Baptist General Convention, who received his doctor of ministry degree during the commencement, addressed his fellow graduates, saying that unless they “focus on that which is primary we will not have success in ministry.”

Two great themes running through the Bible: “becoming like Jesus” and “discipling the nations,” said Barnett, formerly the longtime Baptist Student Union director at the University of Oklahoma.

Commenting on the fact that the seminary’s graduates had been trained to preach and teach, he exhorted them to invest face-to-face time with people.

“Don’t function like a cuckoo clock,” he said. “A cuckoo clock comes out, says something and then goes back in. You won’t multiply disciples if that’s the way you operate.”

Neither Jesus nor the Apostle Paul functioned that way, Barnett said. “Regardless of what you do under the little side tent [in your life and ministry], under the big main tent you better be making disciples or you’ll be living in disobedience,” he said, referring to the Great Commission.

Whether a person works with children or in music ministry, he reiterated that, “Your calling is to make disciples. It’s true for everyone.”

Barnett challenged the graduates to maintain an intimate walk with the Lord through studying and memorizing the Word of God on a daily basis.

“Don’t you get too busy to feed your soul on the Word of God. Not for your sermons, but to feed your soul,” he said. “And I want to challenge you in another area: Put the Word of God in your heart.”

Barnett concluded by leaving the graduates with one final charge: “Let’s give ourselves to doing what the Lord commanded us to do: going into all the nations and making disciples.”

During the ceremony, Midwestern President R. Philip Roberts presented Dan McDonald with the President’s Medallion, one of the seminary’s highest recognitions of individuals who have made a significant impact on Midwestern and Christian higher education.

McDonald, of Woodstock, Ga., is the president and founder of Marketing Solutions Now, Inc., a marketing firm, and Viking Properties, Inc., a real estate investment firm. He and his wife, Susan, are members of First Baptist Church in Woodstock.

Academic dean Thorvald Madsen presented 12 academic awards to nine graduating students:

— The Zondervan Greek Award – Eric Connell

— William H. Collier Evangelism Award – Eric Connell

— J.J. Owens Hebrew Award – Andrew McClurg

— The Baker Book House Award in Theology – Joseph Rhodes

— North American Professor for Christian Education – Kristi Van Dyke

— G. Hugh Wamble Award in Church History – Kristi Van Dyke

— Wornall Road Baptist Church Award – Philip Redmond

— LifeWay Preaching Award – Joe Tolin

— Wanda J. Keatley Award – Eric Connell

— Broadman & Holman Seminarian Award – Kristi Smart

— Lora Lee Kieser Church Music Award – Patrick Smolen

— The Doctoral Studies Award – Phil Hall

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