Seminary Blog

Leader influences

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:44

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Categories: Seminary Blog

Bevin Center Trips

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:44
Houston, Texas

A student-organized and student-led team helped with disaster relief for NAMB Send in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Justin Fountain, a Houston native and student at Southern, led the team.


A five-member team was given the rare opportunity to receive pastoral training in Cuba. Felipe Castro, director of Hispanic Initiatives, led the team.

Costa Rica

Jeff Hunter, dean of students at Boyce College, led a seven-member team to Costa Rica. While there, they received invaluable pastoral training.


Students from the Boyce College Soccer team learned personal evangelism skills and received pastoral training while hosting a kids soccer camp. Matthew Hall, dean of Boyce College, led the team.


Nine people spent part of their spring reaching out and evangelizing to the refugees in Greece. John Klaassen, associate professor of global studies, led the team.


An eight-member team spent 10 days in July evangelizing the people of Ireland. Stephen Wellum, professor of Christian theology, led the team.


Ten students experienced an incredible opportunity for pastoral training in Ethiopia. Michael Pohlman, assistant professor of Christian preaching, led the trip.

Middle East

Eleven students learned how to use business skills in a missionary context in the Middle East. David Bosch, associate professor of business administration, led the team.

North Africa

Ten students received cultural training while practicing their personal evangelism skills in north Africa. Ayman Ibrahim, the Bill and Connie Jenkins associate professor of Islamic studies, led the team.

Persian Gulf

Six students learned how to use their business skills in a missionary context in the Persian Gulf. Kevin Jones, assistant professor of teacher education, led the team.


A six-member team spent two weeks reaching and teaching the people of India. George Martin, professor of Christian missions and world religions, led the team.


A team of eight spent part of January doing evangelism among the people of Indonesia. George Martin, professor of christian missions and world religions, led the trip.


A eight-member team spent 10 days in may evangelizing and teaching children grades K-12. Melissa Tucker, associate professor of teacher education, led the team.

Serving in Our Own Backyard

Students and faculty from SBTS and Boyce served their community through evangelism and preaching throughout the year.

A team of men preached all over the city, including Oxmoor Retirement Home, Louisville Rescue Mission, and jails and prisons around Kentuckiana.

Other men spent time being chaplains at Churchill Downs and for FCA.

A team of Boyce students spent multiple days a week tutoring and evangelizing students in the west end of Louisville at Portland Promise Center

Students worked with Ayman Ibrahim to evangelize the large Muslim population in Dearborn, Michigan.

Boyce and Southern students did sidewalk counseling with women seeking to get an abortion with Speak for the Unborn.

Students from Southern helped cook meals and facilitated devotions for women trapped in the adult entertainment industry with Scarlet Hope.

The post Bevin Center Trips appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

7 things every Christian can learn from Billy Graham

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:43

Definitive pronouncements about a person’s legacy are best left to future historians, but in the case of Billy Graham, certain reliable observations can be made now. As I both mourn his passing and rejoice that he is now with the Savior whom he deeply loved, I offer these reflections on his enduring legacy.


After struggling with a season of doubt, prompted by his friend Charles Templeton’s skepticism, Graham made a bedrock commitment to affirm the Bible as God’s certain and trustworthy Word. The signature phrase in his preaching became, “The Bible says.”

2. experience THE POWER OF PRAYER.

He repeatedly said, “There are three secrets to my ministry. The first is prayer; the second is prayer; and the third is prayer.” He pled with God for the souls of people. In his 2006 book, The Journey, Graham gives this advice: “Every man or woman whose life has ever counted for God has been a person of prayer. A prayerless Christian is a powerless Christian.


The great Welsh preacher Stephen Olford helped Graham understand what it meant to have the fullness of the Holy Spirit fueling one’s life and one’s preaching. In his 1978 book, The Holy Spirit, Graham enunciates what was the heart of the matter for him: “It is not how much of the Spirit we have, but how much the Spirit has of us.”


Like the Apostle Paul, he “determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). In the midst of growing secularism and skepticism, when other so-called “evangelists” might shy away from preaching the cross, Billy Graham made clear that without the cross (and the resurrection) we have no gospel message.


He realized that God had called him to be a preaching evangelist to millions, but he also understood that the majority of people who come to Christ would be brought through the witness of faithful believers. Over the years, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has sponsored hundreds of training opportunities.

6. Prepare FOR THE FUTURE.

He knew that should the Lord’s return not happen in his lifetime, the need for ongoing gospel ministry would continue after he was no longer preaching. Graham loved the Billy Graham School (the only graduate school in the world to carry his name) and was thrilled for the ongoing gospel training that men and women would receive here long after he was gone.


Throughout his remarkable ministry, spanning some eight decades, there has never been a hint of scandal. Early in his ministry Graham set high standards for both financial accountability and sexual morality. Perhaps his wife Ruth said it best when asked how to explain his worldwide impact. She observed, “Billy isn’t a great preacher – but he is a holy man.”

During one of his extended crusades, Billy had his brother-in-law, Leighton Ford, preach one evening so Billy could rest his ailing voice. Billy wanted to be there to pray for Leighton as he preached, so he put on large sunglasses and pulled a baseball cap down low on his forehead, and went out and sat in the audience that night.

Billy sensed that the man sitting next to him had come under conviction during the message, and when Ford gave the invitation, Billy asked this man if he wanted to go forward to commit to following Christ. The man looked at him and said, “No, I think I’ll wait until tomorrow night when the ‘big gun’ shows up.”
The world has lost a gospel champion today. But Billy Graham would want to say to every believer, “Don’t wait for the next ‘big gun’ to come along. Go share Christ with your family member, coworker, classmate, neighbor, friend or acquaintance today.”

Timothy K. Beougher is the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth in the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry.

The post 7 things every Christian can learn from Billy Graham appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

5 reasons pastors get depressed (and why they don’t talk about it)

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 10:30

Many pastors really do struggle with depression.

This is true today and it has been true throughout the history of the church. The great Charles Spurgeon wrestled with depression throughout his life. Martin Luther and John Bunyan had grappled with significant bouts of anxiety and fear. God’s men are clay pots indeed.

Most church members have no idea their pastor was depressed. They don’t know until they are awakened to the reality of some of the dramatic consequences of the depression: broken marriages; sexual affairs; resignation from ministry; and even suicide.

If you are a pastor reading this post and you are struggling with depression, please get help. Too many pastors have been taught that depression is a sign of failure in ministry, that it is something that must be hidden from view. Those are lies, blatant lies. Please get help. Now.

Five causes

The primary purpose of this brief article is to explain the precipitating factors to depression. More clearly, these are the five primary causes many pastors identified as the reasons behind their depression. Each of the causes is followed by a direct quote from pastors who shared with me their struggles.

  1. Spiritual warfare. “I don’t mean this in a profane way, but there was a point in my ministry when all hell broke loose. I can’t explain the attacks any way other than spiritual warfare. The enemy was intent on destroying my ministry, and I began to spiral downward emotionally.”
  2. The surprising reality of pastoral leadership. “I wish someone had told me how tough it is to be a pastor. My single counsel was to preach the Word, and I understand the priority of preaching. But, after a year or so in my first pastorate at age 31, I saw the underbelly of local church life. I was just caught off guard. And it took me some time before I realized I was truly depressed.”
  3. Sense of inadequacy. “My church is declining. While I don’t get hung up on numbers, my members started talking about the decline. And when we had to delete a position because we could no longer pay the person, I really begin to hit rock bottom. I felt like it was all my fault.”
  4. Critics and bullies. “Pastoral leadership really can be a death by a thousand cuts. It’s not any one person or criticism; it’s the constant and steady stream of criticisms. It wears on you. My depression came on gradually, so by the time I was in deep depression, I did not see it coming.”
  5. Loneliness. “It’s really hard to find a true friend when you are a pastor. And when you have no one to talk to about your struggles and questions, life can get lonely.”
Pray for your pastors

Depression is real with pastors. It seems to be pervasive. May we who serve alongside them, staff and laity alike, take a few minutes a day to pray for our pastors.

It could very well be one of the most important ministries we have.

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Categories: Seminary Blog

How to preach difficult doctrines without splitting your church

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 06:00

The history of Christianity and of virtually every denomination is a narrative of spats, splits, and schisms. Many churches and denominations were born not of an intentional tactic to reach more people, but in response to personal or doctrinal conflict.

Doctrine does not have to divide, however, if a pastor will employ a few basic strategies when he encounters a difficult or controversial doctrine in the Bible.

1. Make it textual

Christians will never understand doctrine apart from grasping the warp and woof of Scripture. A steady diet of exposition teaches both the metanarrative of the Bible as well as the underlying truths. Narrative passages were “written for our instruction” (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) and as examples to us. They generally hold some sanctifying truth to emulate or sin to avoid, but even behaviors exhibited in the text fit within a doctrinal framework that reflects the character and will of God.

Jonah 4, for instance, is fascinating and has an incredible narrative appeal. You might expect the story to conclude with chapter 3. After initially defying the Lord, Jonah undergoes God’s chastisement in the belly of a great fish, cries out for deliverance, relents, and goes to Nineveh, where he delivers a message of judgment. The people repent and turn to God. Nothing could fit Aristotle’s analysis of drama better than that: exposition, complication, climax, reversal, and denouement. Jonah is a prophet (exposition), he refuses to obey (complication), he is swallowed by a fish (climax), he cries out to God and goes to Nineveh (reversal). And as a result of his preaching the Ninevites repent (denouement).

But chapter 4 is completely unexpected. It doesn’t seem to fit. Just when we think the tension is resolved, we’re taken to an unanticipated destination: the heart of God. The prophet who received God’s mercy pouts like an impetuous spoiled child because God shows mercy to the undeserving Babylonians. God exposes Jonah’s ridiculous and misplaced affections, and then exposes his own heart—naked and raw and bleeding for the people of Nineveh. If God destroyed Nineveh for their sin, even though justified, he would also destroy children and people of diminished mental capacity who “do not know their right hand from their left.” He even cares about the innocent animals (Jonah 4:11)!

This unexpected turn is a “zone of turbulence,” a rhetorical device that drives home the main point by dropping something entirely unexpected and “unfitting” into the narrative. A preacher must never preach merely the event, but must make clear the event’s meaning. Jonah ends with an intimate glimpse into God’s heart of mercy and how he thinks about his creatures. The narrative is not just a good story; it’s doctrine revealed in beautiful narrative form. Only a heart like this would send his Son to die for his people. The God who spared Jonah and Nineveh did not spare his own Son (Rom. 8:32).

Faithful doctrinal teaching always starts with the text, not a system.

Every time you preach a narrative, connect theological truth to the inherent attraction of a good story. Stories often raise questions like, “Why would God do that?” or “How can someone who claims to know God behave like that?” Good preachers answer those questions even as they preach a section within the larger story.

Similarly, didactic passages (in the epistles, for example) reveal truths about Christ, man, salvation, and other categories of theology. Doctrinal content in this genre may be much nearer the surface and thus easier to mine, but connection to other passages and doctrines demands careful exposition and correlation. Faithful doctrinal teaching always starts with the text, not a system.

If you want to avoid dissension and division in the church, always point to Scripture as the authoritative source of doctrine.


2. Make it biblical

As obvious as this point seems, pastors sometimes find themselves in a divisive church situation due to their loaded theological jargon. The problem isn’t so much that they teach unbiblical doctrine, but that they use extrabiblical language. The pastor’s primary task is always to show what the Word of God, and not a theological system, says.

If a pastor preaches a system, relies on insider language, or employs faddish expressions, he is far more likely to create needless controversy. A congregant can pack a word full of meaning incorrectly or, at least, differently than the preacher intended—and find 100 websites that confirm his faulty understanding.

Some of the members in my church, for example, come from denominations that warned them of the dangers of “once saved always saved,” since it gives license to pray the “sinner’s prayer” and then live with no regard for sanctification. While our church doesn’t hide our belief that a truly born-again person can never be unborn and ultimately lost, we also don’t believe a person can simply pray a prayer or walk an aisle and then live for the flesh with no change and expect to go to heaven.

My best move as a pastor, then, is to avoid any terminology that implies something other than what I intend to teach, so I default to using strictly biblical language whenever possible. I can talk about being born again to never be unborn or rejected. I can show them in the Scripture that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. I can point them to Paul’s confident word even to the Corinthians, despite all their disobedience, that Jesus “will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:8). I can explain that once one becomes a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), it’s impossible to become an old creation again. I can point to passages about perseverance in faith and holiness and deal honestly with warning passages because I don’t reduce the issue to one banal buzzword or facile phrase, but strive to say precisely what the Bible says.

3. Make it personal

Even the most controversial doctrine doesn’t exist in an antiseptic quarantined ecclesiological space, but in the grit and grime of life and spiritual struggles. The pastor who preaches on Christ’s humanity and merely describes the hypostatic union and its role in church history will face yawns or, worse, divisiveness from the church’s armchair theologians.

When a pastor relates theology to listeners’ lives, when he links doctrine to duty, then congregants more readily catch the teaching’s consequence and significance. Just as the writer of Hebrews relates Christ’s humanity to his faithfulness as a high priest who feels our weaknesses, so the wise pastor will always show the practical implications of doctrine. Belief always drives action. Faith inevitably leads to works. Doctrinal preaching requires application in the real world.

The wise pastor will always show the practical implications of doctrine. Belief always drives action. Faith inevitably leads to works. Doctrinal preaching requires application in the real world.

More than that, a pastor must make it personal in relation to Christ. All true doctrine ultimately finds its expression in the person and work of Jesus. When a pastor shows how a doctrine relates to Christ and how a proper understanding of it leads us to follow him, doctrine comes alive.

4. Make it proportional

Pastors can make the mistake of preaching what they love or what they’re most passionate about to the exclusion of other vital parts of God’s revelation. One can find a lot of passages in Scripture about social justice, for instance, but to preach those texts exclusively without the balance of justification, prayer, or evangelism would soon cause a church to list dangerously toward a social gospel that merely makes the world a better place from which to go to hell. (And of course, the opposite can also occur.)

Expository preaching that systematically works through books from both testaments, from multiple genres, and with a balance between law and grace, is the best steady diet for a congregation. Expositional series through major sections of Scripture help both pastor and congregation to gain a strategic grasp of Scripture’s grand story. One cannot adequately appreciate the whole without a knowledge of the parts, but the inverse is equally true.

The best doctrinal preaching refuses to ride hobby horses and deals with the grand sweep of God’s Word.

Some churches and denominations focus on specific doctrines over and to the exclusion of others. Churches and ministries will define themselves by their obeisance to those things, tending to ignore more pronounced themes and theological movements throughout Scripture. It might be footwashing, women’s hairstyles, missions methodologies, or some other minutiae, but they nonetheless strain at gnats and swallow camels. The best doctrinal preaching refuses to ride hobby horses and deals with the grand sweep of God’s Word.

5. Make it loving

Nothing should be more obvious, but 1 Corinthians 13 is for preachers too. Without love, doctrine doesn’t matter. The pastor whose knowledge has swelled his head rather than his heart will find himself without a church or, worse, with an arrogant church and a distorted gospel.

I’ve had tough doctrinal conversations with members who disagree with me on certain issues. If I remind them that I have a Ph.D. in New Testament, that I know the biblical languages, that I’ve been a seminary professor for 20 years and in ministry for nearly 40, they are not impressed or moved one bit. Nor should they be.

But if I lovingly thank them for taking the time to meet with me, remind them that I want to honor Christ and his Word above all, and tell them that I love them even if we don’t reach agreement, they tend to be much more open to what I teach. Even if they don’t see things my way in the end, they usually leave as friends and cherished Christian brothers and sisters. Would Jesus have it any other way?

This article was originally published at TGC.

The post How to preach difficult doctrines without splitting your church appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Dr. Compton Published in BibSac’s 175th Anniversary Issue

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 09:42
Dr. Bruce Compton, Professor of Biblical Languages and Literature, received the honor of having an article published in the 175th Anniversary Edition of Bibliotheca Sacra, the theological journal of Dallas Theological Seminary. His article, which is a later edition of a paper he presented at the 67th annual ETS meeting, is entitled, “The Ordo Salutis and Monergism: The Case for... Read More
Categories: Seminary Blog


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