FT. WORTH, Texas (SBTS) — 175 students from five different Southern Baptist seminaries gathered under the scorching Texas sun for one purpose: to testify to Christian faith in the neighborhoods of Ft. Worth, Texas, June 4-10. Among them, eight students from a personal evangelism class led by Timothy K. Beougher, who is the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Southern Seminary, knocked on doors and ignored their comfort zones as they articulated the Christian faith to others.
“Jesus commanded his disciples in John 4 to lift up their eyes. That command comes through the disciples to us, too. Naturally, if left to our own desires, we begin each day by setting our eyes on ourselves and our own needs. We tend to be self-focused because that is our natural inclination,” said Beougher. “We have to lift our eyes from our own circumstances, problems, and needs and realize there are lost people in a lost world who need to hear about Christ. Crossover helps remind us that this ought to be our business every day of our lives.”
The event is a yearly precursor to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, which took place in Dallas on June 12-13. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, hosted Crossover, and it was organized by Brandon Kiesling, who is assistant professor of evangelism at Southwestern. Each day began on Southwestern’s campus before the schools split up and partnered with local churches to evangelize surrounding neighborhoods.
Students were each encouraged to report statistics from their outreach efforts in three categories: contacts, gospel conversations, and commitments. According to some anecdotal statistics, 10 percent of contacts (knocking on someone’s door or giving them a gospel booklet) will result in conversations (an articulation of the entire gospel), and 10 percent of conversations will result in some sort of faith commitment. The overall numbers from Crossover roughly reflected that, with 19,464 contacts, 3,180 gospel conversations, and 340 commitments.
The eight Southern Seminary students arrived on Thursday during the week of Crossover and contacted 741 people, leading to 205 gospel conversations and five faith commitments during their evangelistic efforts on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Jim Hudson, executive pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, and SBTS student, said he had plenty of experience in passive evangelism. He was, as 1 Peter 3:5 commands, “ready to give an account” for his faith if anyone asked him.
But Crossover helped him develop the discipline to leave his comfort zone and actively share his faith, he said. Despite having previously ministered in both short-term mission trips and crusades, Hudson said this event stretched him in new ways.
“I’d be one of those guys who would say, ‘Sure, when the opportunity comes to me, I want to be ready to give account for the hope that is in me.’ But I don’t often lean into the idea of going out and actively sharing my faith.
“Evangelism is worship,” he said. “At the end of the day, we talk about the things we have affection for. The desire to talk about Jesus Christ is a reflection of who Jesus Christ is to us, and if he is our greatest treasure, then we can’t help but talk about it.”
Southern Seminary students also led an evening debriefing session on Friday night, and Beougher taught on developing a healthy theology of evangelism during a morning session. Every orthodox, Bible-believing Christian should affirm the centrality of evangelism in Christian life and testimony, he said during his lesson.
“I don’t care how many points you have in your theology,” Beougher told students from the five Southern Baptist seminaries. “If evangelism isn’t one of them, you’re not biblical. Evangelism is the heartbeat of theology.”
Although Southern Seminary students didn’t see a lot of gospel commitments during their door-to-door ministries, they said they introduced hundreds of people to the gospel with the hope that another evangelist sometime in the future will reap the harvest.
“I think the team did great,” Beougher said. “The conditions were tough — the heat was oppressive and the logistics were complicated. Our students were troopers, as I anticipated they would be. They rose to the occasion. I’ve seen that year after year at Crossover.”
The event culminated in the Harvest America crusade in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on the evening of June 10. Over 35,000 people attended the crusade, including the SBTS cohort.
Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, preached at the event and issued an altar call in the style of the late Southern Baptist evangelist Billy Graham. More than 2,000 people made professions of faith during Harvest America, according to early reports.
Gratitude is a deeply theological issue, argues Mary Mohler in her new book, Growing in Gratitude: Rediscovering the Joy of a Thankful Heart. The book was released this week.
In her book, Mohler traces the roots of gratitude in the Bible and provides application for readers to live a more gratitude-filled life. The book is available now for purchase from The Good Book Company or Amazon for $12.99, and Amazon Kindle for $5.99.
The second annual Giving Days initiative at Southern Seminary raised more than $300,000 to support the mission of the seminary. This year’s initiative generated, so far, more the 240 gifts.
“We are thrilled by all that was accomplished during Giving Days,” said Craig Parker, who is a senior vice president at the seminary and who heads up fundraising efforts for the seminary. “God’s kindness to Southern Seminary and Boyce College was on display each of the four days of Giving Days. The outpouring of support that came from alumni, students, trustees, and friends of Southern and Boyce served as a reminder of the profound impact this institution has had on scores of lives.”
The multi-day event, which happened April 19-22, comprised four parts: “Tell Day,” social media testimonials; “Serve Day,” a community-wide service project around the city of Louisville, Kentucky; “Giving Day,” a funding drive for the seminary’s annual fund, which helps offset tuition costs; and "Preach the Word," when the seminary honors the students and alumni who serve in preaching ministries around the world.
Students, faculty, and alumni shared their stories through social media for Tell Day on April 19. Several notable figures in the Southern Baptist Convention recorded testimonies during Tell Day, including James Merritt, Dan Darling, and Lauren Green McAfee and Michael McAfee, who is director of communications for the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.
On Friday, April 20, the school encouraged alumni and friends to make financial investments supporting the mission and students of Southern Seminary and Boyce College. A group of donors pledged $75,000 in matching gifts before the event. The effort ultimately resulted in the 240 financial gifts.
On April 21, students and staff from Southern Seminary deployed around the city of Louisville to paint, clean, build, rake and dozens of other tasks in service of the Louisville community. The city-wide project was led by the seminary's dean of student life, Jeremy Pierre. His teams of staff and volunteers organize the massive project in conjunction with officials from the City of Louisville.
Those efforts take a lot of work, but according to Jim Stitzinger, who is an associate vice president at Southern Seminary and who overseas aspects of Giving Days, the message the 1937 Project sends to the community is well worth it.
“The 1937 project mobilizes Southern Seminary and Boyce College to serve our community," he said. "It’s a powerful way we can go to the neglected areas of town and serve in a way that shows Christ’s love.”
Stitzinger said staff from the campus’s student life office puts a lot of time into coordinating with officials from Louisville to identify areas of need, as well as “considerable” effort in mobilizing the SBTS community.
“Deploying over 400 students is worth all the effort when we see the impact their hearts and hands have on our city,” he said.
“Southern’s campus is a wonderful place to learn, but Louisville is our city to serve. As students and staff deploy across town, we often discover areas to continue serving long after the 1937 Project concludes for the day. The Southern Seminary classroom is the finest place to learn, and the heart of students to serve shows that their studies are compelling them to action.”
Preach the Word
The Sunday following the 1937 Project was “Preach the Word,” a day that highlights the global pulpit ministries of Southern Seminary’s alumni. Currently, Southern has graduates serving in churches in at least 63 different countries around the world.
Parker said that while the Giving Days effort was in support of the seminary, the result is a display of how Southern Seminary has shaped the lives of students and alumni around the country.
“The gifts, the personal testimonies, the sacrifices of time and effort all told of the deep affection so many have for Southern Seminary and Boyce College,” Parker said. “It is tremendously encouraging to see how our mission has influenced so many lives, and that the work accomplished here has motivated so many to love our Lord Jesus more and to serve His church better.”
Graduates of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary can draw strength for ministry from the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and their obedience to his calling on their lives, said President R. Albert Mohler Jr. in his May 18 commencement address to the 2018 graduates of Southern Seminary.
During the 220th commencement exercises on the seminary lawn, 284 master’s and doctoral students were present to receive degrees as part of a graduating class of 320. The 320-person class is the largest during Mohler’s 25-year tenure as president of the institution.
“As much as we glorify God in this [commencement], we glorify God for redeeming a church by the blood of his Son and gifting that church with ministers who have served since the time of the apostles until now,” said Mohler during his commencement address.
Preaching from Romans 16:25-27, Mohler explained that the Apostle Paul concludes his watershed epistle with a fanfare to God’s glory in Christ. The book of Romans is the titanic center of the New Testament, he said, describing in comprehensive terms the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The conclusion to the letter praises the God “who is able to strengthen,” assuming that all Christians — including ministers of the gospel — need strengthening. Seminary graduation, though a significant accomplishment, should be a testament to every student’s absolute dependence on God in both life and ministry.
“I want to tell you graduates, as I look at you, you look very strong. You look good. You look healthy. You look ready. But you are not strong, and you are not ready,” Mohler said. “You are not up to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ — not one of the ministers of the gospel of Christ is sufficient. Every single one of us at every single moment is dependent on another’s strength. We are never weaker than when we think we are stronger, and we are perhaps never stronger than when we sense that we are weaker.”
As the graduates enter their various ministries, they need to remember Christ’s individual, solitary ability to rule over the universe and control all things. That power is utilized on behalf of believers, and that power is the only thing that can strengthen Christian ministry, Mohler said.
This strengthening occurs in three ways, according to Mohler: the preaching of the gospel, the Word of God, and the command of God on the lives of believers. In the preaching of the gospel, Paul makes it clear that all ministers preach the same gospel that transformed Paul’s life. This transformation is the only thing that equips faithful Christian ministry, Mohler said, and inspires believers to teach and proclaim the saving message to the ends of the earth. Only the Word of God can provide the content of that faithful preaching, Mohler said, noting that the seminary curriculum was designed to cultivate a biblical reflex in all its graduates.
“What has been inculcated in you through hours and months and years of study of Scripture is the instinct to turn to Scripture,” Mohler said. “When we are ready to preach, when we are about to teach, when we need our own souls fed and as we prepare to feed the souls of others, our right instinct is to turn to the Word of God.”
Finally, ministers are strengthened by the call of God they obeyed when they attended seminary. The call to repent and believe in the gospel is a command that must be obeyed, Mohler said, and so is the call to ministry.
“What you see here, brothers and sisters, in these graduates is the answer to a command,” he said. “We refer to it as a call, and it is not a call that was offered to these graduates for their consideration. It’s a call that came as a command, and the only rightful response is obedience. That is what we are celebrating here today: obedience.”
During graduation, Mohler presented the annual Findley B. and Louvenia Edge Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence to Michael A.G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern Seminary. Haykin has taught at Southern since 2008 and is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. Haykin is the author of the 2011 book Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church, among many others. Haykin and his wife, Alison, have two grown children: Victoria and Nigel.
The recipient of the 2018 Josephine S. and James L. Baggott Outstanding Graduate Award was Jason E. Milton, a Master of Divinity graduate from Berea, Ohio.
Mohler’s entire address will be available in audio and video format at equip.sbts.edu.
R. Albert Mohler Jr. today announced a new course scheduling initiative that will allow students to complete a Master of Divinity degree while working full time. The “Evening M.Div.” from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will allow students to complete a Master of Divinity program in four years exclusively through courses offered in evenings.
“This is another bold statement of our basic commitments as The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” Mohler said. “We are committed to the training of pastors, which means we are committed to the master of divinity program. We are committed to offer the finest, most accessible master of divinity program available anywhere.”
The good life is the faithful life, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told 150 college graduates at the May 11 commencement ceremony of Boyce College, the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The graduates who received diplomas were part of a 170-person graduating class, which is the largest in the history of the school.
Each May across the United States, graduating college students listen to inspiring messages about how successful they can be. They are told they can achieve anything they put their minds to and are encouraged to do something significant. Mohler suggested the Christian gospel — and by extension a student’s education at Boyce — inspires a more mundane kind of achievement: faithfulness.
WASHINGTON (NRB) — The most basic liberties enshrined in the U.S. Constitution are today “confused, contorted, and sometimes even condemned,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr. to Christian leaders gathered Thursday (May 3) for the National Religious Broadcasters’ First Amendment Lunch in Washington, D.C.
“Religious freedom, freedom of speech, and the freedom of the press — along with the other rights recognized and respected within the Bill of Rights — are all threatened even as other rights are marginalized,” said Mohler, who is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, during the event on Capitol Hill, sponsored by In Touch Ministries and held on the National Day of Prayer.
“Even more distressingly, a new regime of invented rights threatens to replace the rights that are clearly enumerated within the text of the Constitution,” he said.
Speaking specially to invited guests who were in Washington for events related to the National Day of Prayer, Mohler shared how religious liberty “becomes fragile in a secular age,” as do all liberties.
Religious liberty, he suggested, is viewed today by some as “problematic and out-of-date” and “injurious to human freedom, sexual liberty, transgender liberation, and a host of new imperatives.”
Some people think the freedom of religion is no longer a right, but a privilege, he added.
Mohler quoted a 2016 official report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in which the chairman, Martin R. Castro, writes, “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”
Mohler noted: “The commission’s report included both religious liberty and religious freedom in scare quotes as if they are merely terms of art — linguistic constructions without any objective reality. We are now witnessing a great and inevitable collision between religious liberty and newly declared and invented sexual liberties.”
He went on to share past statements that predicted the inevitable conflict, and recent events that illustrate how the collision is now taking place.
Before concluding, Mohler encouraged Christian leaders to hold on to the truths expressed in the Declaration of Independence, and to defend these truths “that should be, but often are not, recognized as self-evident.”
And to the generation of young people who are committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ but assume that the defense of religious liberty is political, Mohler said they also need to be committed to the free propagation and voicing of the gospel, without which sinners will not hear the gospel.
“We’re in a fight that’s worth fighting,” Mohler said. “And we understand that as we contend for the freedom of religion, and the freedom of speech, and the freedom of press, again, we’re doing this not just for ourselves and for our children; not just for our churches, but for the world.”
He concluded: “Let’s pray that God will give us wisdom to hold these truths in perilous times.”
Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, after the event called Mohler’s address was the “greatest word I’ve ever heard on religious liberty. Grateful for him.”
Gaines, who is also an NRB member, gave the benediction at the event.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited with permission from NRB communications staff for the specific purposes of Southern Seminary. The original, full report appears here.
George Washington, the first president of the United States of America, embodied classic public virtues but also had one significant, staining flaw: his views on race. This is according to R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, who made this argument to a packed Heritage Hall on the campus of Southern Seminary during the Leadership Briefing, April 26.
Mohler suggested that, in many ways, Washington is the consummate American success story: He overcame great disadvantages in his upbringing and became a leader fit for a new model of government. Washington was not the most educated, eloquent, or ambitious of the Founding Fathers — but he left behind perhaps the strongest legacy.
“People listened to Washington because of his character and because of the importance of what he was saying — not how he would say it,” Mohler said.
Trustees of SBTS elect first-ever African-American board officer, affirm strategic plan at spring board meeting
Members of the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary elected the first African-American board officer in the 159-year history of the school. By a unanimous vote during the April 16 board meeting, Alan “Keith” Daniels, a businessman from Texas and a member of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church (SBC) in Irving, became board secretary.
Anyone who has grown up in the church has heard the command to be holy. It is one of the distinctive marks of Christianity, even in the derogatory intent behind the common secular claim that Christians act “holier than thou.” This is not by accident — the Bible’s call for holiness spans both the Old and New Testaments, from Leviticus to 1 Peter. Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, and Paul all talked about it. Numerous books have been written on the topic by evangelical giants such as the late R.C. Sproul.
Yet the church has a problem. The world still seems so alluring, and the church consistently struggles to balance Jesus’ desire in John 17 that his people be “in the world” but not “of the world.” Western culture only grows more resistant to Christianity.