LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s School of Leadership and Church Ministry will alter its approach to equipping students for local church ministry by giving more attention to creation’s oldest institution, the family, new dean Randy Stinson told seminary trustees Oct. 10 during the board’s annual fall meeting.
In recent years churches have fragmented families by segregating them according to gender, age or other categories, Stinson said. Southern Seminary hopes to change that by teaching future leaders how to integrate local church ministries in a way that builds healthier families and churches.
“Most local church ministries tend to act independently of one another,” Stinson said. “You have a women’s ministry doing its thing over here, and you have a men’s ministry doing its thing, and you have youth ministry and children’s ministry, and they tend to act independently of one another.
“Consequently, they tend to lack a unified vision. [When] everything is segregated by age or gender or in some other way, it inadvertently ends up fragmenting the way that the family should operate,” he said. “We are going to seek to reinforce spiritual growth as it occurs as a family. This will be done by integration of various church ministries … in a way that they reinforce each other and keep a unified vision of how they are supposed to operate and what they are supposed to be doing.”
Stinson was appointed dean of Southern’s leadership school in August. He succeeded Brad Waggoner, who served as dean for five years before becoming the director of research at LifeWay Christian Resources. Stinson also serves as executive director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
The new vision of local church ministry, Stinson said, will equip students to:
— integrate women’s ministries in local churches with children and youth ministries so that older women are teaching and mentoring younger women in a mold akin to the second chapter of Titus in the New Testament.
— coordinate men’s ministries that work directly with ministries to women, children and youth to provide male leadership for families, widows and orphans in a James 1:27 vein.
— promote a philosophical unity between the various ministries of the local church to include unified views of marriage and parenting as well as a unified vision of gender roles in the home and church.
— equip and encourage husbands and fathers to serve as spiritual leaders in their homes.
— aim all local church ministries toward evangelism. “I see this operating in a way that there is a specific evangelistic component in all of this so that when a father recognizes that there is a young boy in the church that doesn’t have a father,” Stinson said, “he reaches out to that young man, so when he takes his boys to a ballgame or a fishing trip, he is bringing this young man with him and in turn will eventually meet the boy’s father and will eventually have the opportunity to share the Gospel with that father. The same thing would be true for women’s ministry in the Titus 2 format.”
Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said the family centered vision of church ministry is unique among Christian institutions of higher learning.
“I don’t think we realize how revolutionary this kind of vision is,” Mohler said. “No other school on the planet is trying to do quite what we have just described here. There is something very unique that God has given us the opportunity to do here and Randy Stinson is the man to do it.
“I believe that God created him for this purpose because when we were looking to the future of this school, to set its future in terms of direction, it was just really clear that the issue of family ministry was at the very heart of what we wanted to see take place in our local churches through this school,” Mohler said.
In other reports to the board:
— Chuck Lawless, dean of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth, said the school is building on the unchanging vision of reaching Louisville, the state of Kentucky, North America and the world for Christ.
“As we look at the future of the Billy Graham School, I do think our job is to keep missions, evangelism and healthy, biblical church growth at the forefront of everything that we do in this institution,” Lawless said. “That is a great challenge and privilege for us…. This is not a new vision for us, but building on a vision we already have…. Our vision is to be a Great Commission school with an Acts 1:8 impact.”
Lawless noted numerous initiatives the Graham School is implementing to carry out the task of taking the Gospel to both the local area and the nations. The school will be matching up students with area pastors for practical training and mentoring, he said.
The Graham School also is sending its first mission team to the state of Kentucky in several years and next year will sponsor nine student mission trips across North America and the globe, Lawless said. He also noted that the seminary is establishing a scholarship fund to assist with student expenses for annual mission trips.
— Mohler, in his address on the status of the seminary, spoke from Titus 2, pointing out that Southern Seminary exists only because the grace of God has appeared.
In response to the grace of God, Southern must continue to be an evangelistic, gracious, sensible and godly seminary, Mohler said, noting that it does not exist to serve itself but the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“The purpose of the seminary is not accomplished at 2825 Lexington Road,” he said. “It is in the churches, churches made up of regenerate believers who have covenanted together under the authority of Jesus Christ and the authority of God’s Word in order to be God’s people in that place accomplishing all that the church is called to accomplish.
“We are a servant to those churches and we had better reflect the character that is called for in God’s people,” Mohler said. “The grace of God has appeared and we had better demonstrate that grace.”