|EDITOR'S NOTE: "From the Seminaries" includes news releases of interest as written and edited from Southern Baptist seminaries.
Today's From the Seminaries includes:
Stetzer to church leaders: set biblical patterns for ministry
By Frank Michael McCormack
NEW ORLEANS -- When Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, spoke at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, he did not speak just to today's seminary students. He issued a challenge to tomorrow's church leaders.
"You're now on the journey of ministry preparation, and you're setting and creating patterns for how you're going to minister in the future," Stetzer said, later adding, "Sometimes those patterns are healthy and sometimes they're not."
Stetzer focused on one pattern in particular that involves how vocational ministers and members of the church commonly view the task of ministry.
"Part of the challenge is, we live in a world ... where Christians are more likely to be passive spectators than active participants in the mission of God," Stetzer said.
Stetzer, in a chapel message Feb. 5, described how people just starting out in ministry often will attend seminary and gain tools not just for preaching and teaching but also for leading others to participate in the mission of God both at home and abroad.
"But then we go out ... into a Christian world that's desire is for you to minister to them and to be the objects of the ministry rather than the partners of the ministry," Stetzer said. "Here's the thing: People love to be passive spectators rather than active participants in the mission of God. And you have to decide whether you're going to be a part of that system or whether you're going to break from that system."
That system, he said, in no way reflects God's desire for the church. Stetzer pointed to 1 Peter 4:10-11 to address who in the church is gifted for ministry and how that ministry should be carried out.
Stetzer first emphasized that all Christians have gifts. As verse 10 begins, "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another."
"This is written to believers who have been born again by the power of Gospel, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And therefore based on the gift -- singular, of the Holy Spirit -- they have received, use it to serve one another," he said.
To compliment the 1 Peter 4 passage, Stetzer also pointed to 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, which gives a partial list of gifts from the Spirit those within the church may have.
"Every person in your church and my church, if they're a follower of Jesus, is gifted with and by the Holy Spirit to accomplish God's agenda in the world, to share the love of Christ, to show the love of Christ, to live as agents of God's mission," Stetzer said.
Secondly, Stetzer said not only are all gifted with and by the Holy Spirit, all are expected to put that giftedness to work. As 1 Peter 4:10 concludes, "as good managers of the varied grace of God."
"God has filled your church with redeemed and spiritually gifted people to accomplish His agenda in the community, to see His Gospel preached, and to see people shown the love of Christ," he said. "The problem is the system teaches them their job is to pay, pray and stay out of our way. I think you have to make the decision to break that system."
Stetzer then highlighted the two broad categories of gifting in 1 Peter 4:11 -- speaking and serving -- and God as the source of that gifting.
"When pastors and staff do for people what God has called the people to do, everyone gets hurt and the mission of God is hindered," Stetzer said.
Stetzer concluded by reminded seminarians why people are empowered to be ministers: to bring God glory (1 Peter 4:11), noting: "If you will step into this situation and say ... 'I'm not going to be satisfied with the status quo of church as store; instead, I'm going to see church as equipping center,' the end result is some people won't like it but God will get His due glory in the church," Stetzer said.
Frank Michael McCormack writes for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Missions gets spotlight for seminarians, collegians
By Craig Sanders
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- "If you're not committed to missions, you're not serious about the Gospel," Zane Pratt, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism, said in a chapel service during Global Evangelism Week at the Louisville, Ky., campus.
Pratt, in his message "The Missionary Logic of the Gospel," drew from Romans 10:5-17 to remind students that missions is the central focus of the Gospel message. Pratt served as a missionary in Central Asia for 20 years prior to coming to Southern Seminary.
Representaatives of the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board were on campus during the Feb. 11-15 missions emphasis to provide resources to seminary students interested in pursuing missions or mobilizing their churches for evangelism.
Students had the opportunity each day to attend lectures, panel discussions, information sessions and prayer vigils to emphasize the need to advance the Gospel around the globe.
The seminary community also gathered for the week's biggest event, a Valentine's Day chapel service with John Piper, associate pastor for preaching and vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
Students and faculty began streaming into Alumni Chapel earlier than an hour before the service, with some attendees later standing or moving to an overflow room.
Piper, in his sermon "The Sadness and Beauty of Paul's Final Words," examined 2 Timothy 4:9-22 and offered observations regarding the difficulties of ministry.
Drawing from Paul's last words to Timothy, Piper noted that pastoral ministry inevitably involves difficult but necessary friendships. He offered encouragement that "the Lord will stand by you as a never-failing friend."
At the end of the missions week, Southern welcomed college students from across the country for the collegiate Resolute conference, which SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr. hoped would be the "genesis of a great deployment" for world missions.
The conference featured Piper, Mohler and Russell D. Moore, vice president of academic administration and dean of the seminary's school of theology. Charlie Hall, a songwriter and worship pastor with Passion conferences, led worship for the weekend event.
Piper preached messages for two of the four general sessions of the conference, aiming to place students on "a trajectory for world missions" and provide lasting support for their journey.
That support came from a reminder that God does everything for "magnifying His glory" and displays His glory by saving sinners through the cross of Christ. "The removal of God's wrath," he said, "is a universally relevant message."
Piper also urged students to serve in world missions either by going themselves or sending others. He distinguished the roles of missionaries, those who plant churches in unreached areas, and pastors, those who mobilize churches for missions efforts.
The most important factor in one's call to missions, Piper said, is holy ambition.
"How do you gain a holy ambition? Immerse yourself in the Bible and ask God to make something burn in your heart," Piper said.
Mohler proclaimed the universal purpose of God's salvation in his message "Finding Your Place in God's Story." He reminded students, though, that their personal stories do not matter much beyond their role in illustrating God's regenerative power.
"Our purpose is to find our story and then lose it in God's story," Mohler said.
Moore closed the conference with a message from John 12:16-43 when Jesus foretells of His death. Moore pointed to verse 31 as an illustration to show the relationship between the cross and the Great Commission, that "Jesus drew all people to Himself."
"The desire to take the Gospel to the nations," Moore noted, "means you must crucify the desire for your own glory."
To open Global Evangelism Week, Southern Seminary hosted the Embrace IMB Conference with Gordon Fort, the IMB vice president for global strategy. Fort spoke at chapel, Feb. 7, and headlined the weekend conference, Feb. 8-9.
More information about missions training and efforts at Southern Seminary is available at www.sbts.edu/missions
Craig Sanders writes for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Build a church not an assembly hall, Osborne says
By Keith Collier Continued...