We pick up with entity reports again this morning. Again, I try to reproduce the words of the speakers in summary and am not providing commentary of my own (unless my choice of their words can be seen as commentary in itself).
SWBTS: Paige Patterson. Dr. Patterson told a long story about how he recently transferred the Chair of Evangelism to Dr. Matt Queen. He has been called to create a stronger emphasis on evangelism in and through the seminary. It has had a huge effect and faculty and staff are out leading students in personal evangelism and witnessing throughout the community. Theological education can never be an “end all.” It must be a stepping stone to witness. That is what is happening at SWBTS.
WMU: Wanda Lee. We believe that every church that is a part of the SBC should make missions learning and doing a primary part of their life together. The WMU is working with new church plants (in partnership with NAMB) to develop approaches that help young churches in growing in missions. They have developed E4, which is a 4 week missions curriculum for young churches that gives an overview. Justmissions.com is a new website that has been developed to assist new churches in this emphasis.
The WMU continues to support its previous work with established churches and in their established programs to foster a missions lifestyle throughout the SBC.
NOBTS: Chuck Kelley. NOBTS was started in 1917 as the first seminary that Southern Baptists actually started themselves. At this point, New Orleans only had 5 SBC churches – 4 of them were missions and only one was self supporting. Southern Baptists chose this area because they did not want to wait to fulfill the Great Commission. The idea was to plant theological education right in an area of need. Dr. Kelley then began to talk about ministries that they support, like the drug and alcohol rehabilitation ministry that has a car wash across the street or the work at Angola Prison where inmates are being trained and led to Christ and churches are being started. He talked about MissionLab, which brings in students from around America to share the gospel and minister in New Orleans each summer. He then began to talk about the role that NOBTS has taken in promoting evangelism amongst its students through training and accountability. He called for a return to who we are and what we are supposed to be doing.
ERLC: Russell Moore. “If you don't know what you are saying and you don't know who you are talking to, then you don't have anything to say.” We are no longer dealing with a Nicodemus culture. Nicodemus wanted to ask Jesus about the Kingdom of God. He was a religious person who had religous questions. That is what America used to be like. They asked questions about how to find meaning and how to escape guilt. But, we aren't like that anymore. We are more like the Woman at the Well in John 4. She did not have questions for Jesus, but Jesus had questions for her – questions meant to show the lostness of people. Jesus said, “Woman, where is your husband?” That is the first question that demonstrates the lostness. Some would say that we should say nothing about the 5 husbands or affirm her in having 5 husbands in the hope that she would come to Jesus. But, she would then not have living water. Jesus told her to go get the man that she was living with and “come here.” Jesus has water that is living and that satisfies. We must go to Him.
The ERLC is working to ask questions of the culture that will cause them recognize their need and where to find living water. We are not making the argument that religious liberty is a favor granted by the state, but rather that it is a right given by God. If you think that government mandated healthcare is difficult, government involved soul care is impossible.
October 27-29, 2014 is the ERLC conference on the Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage. This is a major conference that is intended to equip the church on how to deal with this issue. The upcoming March for Life is being encouraged as an important way to demonstrate our value for life.
We are trying to ask questions that expose lostness, but not just leave it there. The idea is to then invite people to Jesus to come and drink living water. We are trying to bring John 3:16 answers to a John 4:16 culture.
SEBTS: Danny Akin. 4th straight year of record enrollment at SEBTS. We are encouraging students to share the gospel with someone each day over the month of October and are partnering with other Southern Baptists to share the gospel on October 14. This is a day of unprecedented partnership with our mission boards. We are sending out more church planters than at any other time in seminary history. An online M.Div. program has been developed in partnership with NAMB to train church planters. We are now sending out more missionaries than at any other time in seminary history and the partnership with the IMB is strong.
We believe that the church on earth should look like the church in heaven. We celebrated the 1964 Civil Rights Act with Civil Rights leaders from the Greensboro Sit In that lead to the historic legislation. We are working hard to bring diversity to the seminary so that the church on earth looks like the church in heaven.
Upcoming 9Marks conference with Alistar Begg.
We are trying to educate and expose students to the work and value of the Cooperative Program. We sent out a letter just this week helping students understand what the CP does. They then asked the students to use social media to promote the incredible savings that they are able to experience through giving to the Cooperative Program. It was a big success as hundreds of students broadcast the benefit of the CP in their own education.
Shane Hall: Chairman of the Administrative Committee Report
- Approval of application from the territory of New England for admission as a convention and with pursuant privileges. It passed.
- New Heart Community Church – the Executive Committee considered whether the church has acted to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior in violation of Article III. On the basis of the information received, this church does not presently meet the definition of a cooperating church and that messengers should not be seated until the actions of this church change to come into compliance with Article III. This also passed unanimously
- Recommendations of affirmation and gratitude to different people. – Jim Wyman, exec dir/treasurer of New England baptists upon his retirement.
- Jim Austin, exec dir/treasure of the South Carolina Baptist Convention upon his retirement.
- John Sullivan, exec dir/treasurer of Florida Baptist Convention upon his retirement.
- SBC Referral to assess convention's progress on racial reconciliation. The recommendation is that the work group update the 2011 report with 12 recommendations that would take into account a detailed review of the progress made since 2011, a general review of progress on racial reconciliation since 1995, and report from Frank Page on his meetings with ethnic leaders and reports from ethnic advisory councils made up of 77 people from 23 ethnic groups, encouragement that each SBC entity submit a detailed report on their own progress in racial diversity, and a call to those nominating people for committees to consider the ethnic diversity of those they nominate. A larger report will be given to the SBC in Columbus in June, 2015. It passed unanimously.
Southern Seminary – Al Mohler. In this day with the challenges that we face, we must consider the whole counsel of God and divide it rightly. We must train up a generation of young pastors who will not give hearty approval to the evil that society wants them to participate in (Romans 1:32). We must put Scripture into the hearts and minds of young people to shape their minds and their hearts for God. That is what Southern is seeking to do. We must develop practices that disciple young people and that pours faithfulness into them in the context of the local church. Truth, Gospel, and moral and theological instincts were poured into me at a young age and what would I be if that had not happened? What is happening to this next generation who has not had those experiences, who fill their time and their minds with other things from the culture that wants them to give hearty approval to what is evil? The ministries of the SBC, supported by the Cooperative Program, help shape and form a people who gives hearty approval to the things of God and not to the culture who wants them to approve of it. Southern Seminary has more students than it ever has before and this year, has the largest number of Divinity students at any point in the history of the world (over 2,000 students). Thank you for CP support. My last work is always thank you.
MWBTS – Jason Allen. Giving has dropped throughout the larger evangelical world for theological education. CP giving is a bulwark against that and keeps theological education going. Our calling is to prepare ministers for Southern Baptist churches. We want pastors and preachers to be prepared theologically and as practicioners. The new chapel that seats 1200 people has been used as a tool to gather people for training and equipping. How many of these people will be pastoring SBC churches in 5 years? That number is growing. There has been a focus on evangelism institutionally and students are being sent out as evangelists. There is a sense of renewal on campus that is palpable. There has also been massive funding increases and the largest enrollements in the history of the seminary the past two years. Up 18% from 2013 to 2014. Students are showing up who are eager for the gospel and convictional about the Scriptures and love the local church and Southern Baptists. They are coming to give their lives for the cause of Christ. Thank you for your support and pray for us.
GGBTS – Jeff Iorg. We are picking up one of the 10 largest seminaries in North America and are moving it 400 miles south while continuing operations and not closing it for even one day. We have sold the Northern California campus and have purchased facilities in Southern California. Thank you to the faculty, current staff, and students of GGBTS for working together to make this happen. God has given us a supernatural unity regarding this process. Our most senior faculty members who are paying the highest price personally believe that this is God and that it is what must happen. He thanked the four Vice Presidents of GGBTS who have worked hard and faithfully to guide this process. The VPs are running a full-time seminary now and are basically opening up a new seminary and are reworking everything at the same time. It is a mammoth job. The trustees have also done an amazing job of helping to steer the seminary through this process and have kept confidentiality appropriately. He also thanked the leaders of the Executive Committee.
GGBTS will be even more narrowly focused on the work that Southern Baptists have given us to do. We are buying a brand new building that is 20% larger than our current facilities for 50% of its market value. Giving to the seminary has continued through this process. Because of the new direction that we are going, even more giving has increased in amazing ways. Our Fall enrollement at all of our campuses is larger than it was a year ago, even with the announcement of the move. In February, there will be a recommendation of a name change for the seminary (changing name to Gateway).