P R E S I D E N T ’ S Page
PRAYER— THE OFTEN NEGLECTED COMMAND IN THE GREAT COMMISSION BY D R . MIC HA EL SPR A D LIN Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest (Luke 10:2). Where will we find the next generation of missionaries? Though many answers can be given to this question, one key component of an answer that cannot be overlooked is the foundation of specific, concentrated prayer. If we have a shortage of workers, then we must have a shortage of prayer. When the Lord Jesus instructs his followers to go two-by-two in Luke 10, he gives them a two-fold commission. Interestingly the second part of this commission is often overlooked. First, the disciples are commanded to go tell people about Jesus. Second, they are instructed to pray for more workers. This is a very specific command to pray a very specific prayer. Go and pray for more “goers” is the challenge before us today. The challenge is great, but the Great Commission compels us to give our all in service to our Savior. Would you join me in praying for a great response to the call of God to take the Gospel to the nations?
contents VOLUME 46, NUMBER 1 | SUMMER 2018 Published by the Mid-America family of educational institutions
PRESIDENT Michael Spradlin, PHD EDITOR Randy Redd, PHD CONTENT COORDINATOR Deanna Coscia DESIGN Eternity Communications
MISSIONS & CULTURE The theme of this summer issue of the MidAmerica Messenger is “A Constant Commission in Changing Cultures.” Standing steadfast in the face of waves of change requires a rock solid commitment to God’s unchanging Word— underscoring the need for Mid-America training.
KEEPING THE LIGHT SHINING A guest writer from Answers in Genesis, founded by Dr. Ken Ham who will be our featured speaker at Founders’ Days, brings a timely reminder that we need to defend biblical truth and not allow culture to dim the light of the Gospel.
OPPORTUNITIES TO GIVE A world of new opportunities awaits Mid-America, but funding is urgently needed in order to take advantage of them while the window is still open. Discover how you can invest in the vision and help Mid-America reach “all the world for Jesus’ sake.”
NORTHEAST AWAKENING Discover growth principles for your own ministry drawn from the Second Great Awakening and from remarkable Gospel advances happening right now in the Northeast, influenced by the impact of Mid-America’s Northeast Campus.
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WE WILL NOT BE DETERRED FROM THE MISSION IF WE HOLD FAST TO THE ROCK OF AGES BY DR. GUY A. THOMPSON The world has demanded that everything and everyone keep pace and conform to its contemporary and ever-changing culture, leaving behind all that resembles conviction, truth, and certainty. Faith is classified as foolishness; blessed assurance is considered nothing more than a naïve illusion for weak minded religious fanatics; and the preaching of the Gospel is often interpreted as nothing more than “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Who would dare send forth messengers with a contradictory message during such shifting times and unfavorable circumstances? Simply put, nobody but God.
CONSIDER GOD Perhaps one of the most detrimental flaws in the life of modern-day
twofold experience with God: it is God’s
REMEMBER GOD DOES NOT CHANGE
pleasure to use us, and it is our pleasure
So, what is God’s response to
alone use us? Such a scenario provides a
to serve Him. So, when we think about
changing cultures and the demand for a
God setting His mind upon us and using
more contemporary and open-minded
us, it should take us to unparalleled
approach concerning Christ, our faith,
depths of humility and praise. We must
and His Word?
not forget to consider God.
DEPEND ON GOD’S POWER God reveals His power in both
First, God directly states in Malachi 3:6 that He does not change, saying, “For I am the LORD, I do not change.”
His message and His messenger, and
We know that the Eternal God is not
both will lack any true effectiveness
subject to time, but He dwells in eternity;
apart from God’s power. Unfortunately,
therefore, He is forever the I AM God.
changing cultures and worldly
GOD DOES NOT CHANGE!
influences often cause the messenger
Second, the Spirit tells us in the
to rely on gadgets and gimmicks and
letter to the Hebrews that “Jesus Christ is
to compromise God’s message in order
the same yesterday, today, and forever”
to gain favor and produce man-made
(Hebrews 13:8). We also know that Christ
results; but an artificial gospel can only
“has an unchangeable priesthood”
produce artificial Christians.
(Hebrews 7:24). So, CHRIST DOES NOT
The apostle Paul declared, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ;
CHANGE! Third, Jude exhorts us “to contend
for it is the power of God unto salvation
earnestly for the faith which was once
to every one that believeth” (Romans
for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
1:16). Therefore, it is the message of the
Scripture also tells us that without faith
Gospel that represents God’s power
it is impossible to please God (Hebrews
and produces salvation, and God’s
11:6), and “the just shall live by his faith”
messengers must trust in God’s power
(Habakkuk 2:4). So, we know that OUR
alone and leave the results to God
FAITH DOES NOT CHANGE!
Himself, no matter the changing tides of society. We should also find encouragement
Finally, the apostle Paul declares that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16), and Peter
messengers is our lack of consideration.
in our risen Lord and Savior Jesus
reminds us that “the Word of the Lord
By this I refer not so much to our
Christ, who gives us reassurance for
endureth forever” (1 Peter 1:25). So,
consideration of others, but I am
the mission. Before commissioning the
we see that GOD’S WORD DOES NOT
referring to our lack of consideration
apostles after His resurrection, Jesus
towards God; in all our thinking, we
declared that He possessed all power.
often forget to consider God.
Our Lord also promised His presence
In Psalm 8, the psalmist uses the
with those He commissioned, saying,
words “When I consider,” and then he
“I am with you always, even to the end
goes on to present a contrast with the
of the age” (Matthew 28:20). So, we are
words “What is man?” In other words,
reminded to depend on God’s power,
when we consider God, what are we
and we are reassured by the ever-
that He should set His mind upon us, let
abiding presence of Christ.
Dr. Guy Thompson (MABTS alumnus, MDIV, 2002) is the pastor of Riverdale Baptist Church, Roanoke, Virginia. He also served as a U.S. Navy Chaplain.
WILL AMERICA, TOO, LOSE OUR PLACE AS A LIGHT TO THE WORLD? BY ME L I S SA W EB B Great Britain was once known for sending Christian missionaries all over the world. David Livingstone, William Carrey, and J. Hudson Taylor went to Africa, India, and China to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Before heading to the United States to help spark the Great Awakening, George Whitefield and John Wesley lit Gospel
fires across the United Kingdom. Earlier
and knew the Gospel. He assumed he
William Tyndale gave his life to translate
was a Christian early on in his life but
and disseminate the Bible in English.
realized it was in name only and came to
But the UK, once a light to the world,
faith in Christ in his early 20s.
only 4.3 percent of the nation’s citizens
HIS CONCERN ABOUT THE CHURCH in the UK has grown as
attend church and 48.5 percent identify
he realized the damaging effects of
themselves as nonreligious.
abandoning belief in biblical creation
is now spiritually dark. Statistics show
Simon Turpin, a speaker and the
and instead, accepting Darwinism and
new general manager for Answers in
the belief that it took millions of years
Genesis–UK (AiG–UK), has a desire
for the earth to evolve. “Although the UK
to see the Gospel impact his country
never was a Christian nation, it certainly
once again. Simon believes Christians’
was Christianized in its values and laws.
inability to understand Genesis 1–11 is
But the evolutionary ideas have changed
weakening their faith and undermining
the course of this nation.”
their witness to their lost countrymen.
Simon cites F. Sherwood Taylor, a
Simon grew up in a churchgoing home
world expert on the history of science and
Challenging the Culture
“I MYSELF HAVE LITTLE DOUBT THAT IN ENGLAND IT WAS GEOLOGY AND THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION THAT CHANGED US FROM A CHRISTIAN TO A PAGAN NATION.”
curator at the Oxford Science Museum
make a difference, no matter what their
that connects creation and the Flood in
after World War II: “I myself have little
calling or place in life. The focus of the
Genesis 1–11 to our everyday lives.
doubt that in England it was geology and
ministry is not evangelism directly,
the theory of evolution that changed us
but to encourage and train Christians
this year in West Bromwich, West
from a Christian to a pagan nation.”
to become better evangelists—to
Midlands, more than 1,300 people from
After his conversion, Simon wanted
AT THE UK MEGA CONFERENCE
show them how to defend their
all over came to understand more about
to serve the church, completing a BA in
faith and expose the bankruptcy of
how the creation message affects the
Theology in 2010 and serving in church
evolutionary ideas, so they can use
Gospel and can improve our witness.
ministry for five years. But in working
their understanding of biblical history
In the two years since he started
with people, he began to recognize the
to make sense of our world and explain
working for AiG–UK, Simon has spoken
need for Bible-based apologetics if the
everyone’s need of the Gospel.
to thousands of believers about the
church was to reach his country. This led
AiG–UK does this primarily through
truth of God’s Word and has also had
him to finish an MA degree in Theology.
speaking at churches, conferences,
numerous opportunities to share the
And in 2015, an opportunity opened for
homeschool groups, and creation
Gospel with nonbelievers.
him to become a speaker at AiG–UK,
groups—wherever they can help all
known for its creation-based apologetics.
around the UK and in Ireland. People
of Christians who “have a hunger for
are hungry for solid, practical teaching
biblical truth. God has also answered
Simon trusts every believer can
At every event, Simon talks to lots
prayer by opening doors for us to get into churches where the people have never heard a case for biblical creation.” The UK ministry has six members
relating the Gospel back to Genesis. “Believing in a six-day literal creation right from the start of my Christian life was not a problem at all.
on staff, all of them wholeheartedly
Having had my eyes opened, it just
dedicated to sharing the Gospel and true
seemed incredibly obvious,” he said.
message of creation. Office manager Gary Burchnall typifies the staff’s
YET THE CHALLENGE IS DAUNTING. Even most conservative
passion. Gary once openly denied the
churches in the UK will not take a stand
Creator. On a typical Sunday, he could be
on the biblical account of Creation, the
found drinking at a local pub.
Fall, and the global Flood. In fact, most
“I was reckless, anxious, and utterly
preach that God created the world
depressed,” he said. But he noticed the
through evolutionary means, if they talk
joy and contentment of Christians with
about creation at all. So the key is to work
whom he came into regular contact. So,
with individuals, to see the light turn on
he decided to try to be like a Christian
and spread in God’s perfect timing.
and began attending church. One Sunday the pastor preached on
Simon and the AiG–UK staff cling to the example of the book of Acts, where
Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember also your
God spread the Gospel and grew his
Creator in the days of your youth,” and
church despite the adversity of a hostile,
Gary said the “lights came on.”
“I now knew that I deserved
“Whereas the culture may deny that
absolute punishment for my many sins
they have a Lord over them, our duty as
and for rejecting the Creator.” The church
Christians is to proclaim Jesus Christ as
he attended stressed the importance of
Lord over us all.”
Melissa Webb is an editor for Answers magazine, published by Answers in Genesis, an apologetics ministry dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Answers in Genesis was founded by Dr. Ken Ham.
DR. KEN HAM PRESIDENT/CEO OF ANSWERS IN GENESIS
SPECIAL CONVOCATION SPEAKER DURING FOUNDERS’ DAYS AUGUST 21 7:00 P.M. FOR MORE DETAILS, VISIT MABTS.EDU/ FOUNDERSDAYS SEE BACK PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON FOUNDERS’ DAYS AND CONVOCATION OF THE COLLEGE AT MID-AMERICA, AUGUST 20–21
“WHEREAS THE CULTURE MAY DENY THAT THEY HAVE A LORD OVER THEM, OUR DUTY AS CHRISTIANS IS TO PROCLAIM JESUS CHRIST AS LORD OVER US ALL.”
SHARING FAITH SHARING STORIES BY S I RG REGO RY THO R NTO N The Witness One:Seven program has truly
WITNESS ONE:SEVEN & GO! PROGRAM REPORT 2017–2018
encouraged and motivated me to live an intentional life of personal evangelism. My first semester at Mid-America, I heard stories of how my classmates were sharing the Gospel with lost people in the city. Hearing these stories placed a desire in my heart to join in the work. The problem was that, due to my job, I didn’t have time to go out and be involved fully with a ministry in the city that routinely went out to evangelize. So, I shifted my focus to sharing the Gospel at my workplace. I began to pray every day as I entered into the doors to start my shift, “Lord, allow me to be light and salt in this building.” I asked God for opportunities to share the Gospel with my coworkers.
ONE DAY, A COWORKER AND I began to have small talk. He randomly told me that he was getting baptized the upcoming Sunday. I asked him what was making him get baptized, and his response showed me that he did not have a clear understanding of baptism. He said he didn’t know when he was going to die and “just wants to make sure he is good to go.” I then in full detail was able to teach him man’s problem with sin and how because of sin we all stand facing an eternity separated from God, being punished for our sins. Though we have all sinned, God saw us and
because of His great love for us, He sent His one
and only Son Jesus to come and die, taking upon Himself the wrath of God that was due to us. He died on a cross, was buried in a grave, and three days later He defeated sin and death by rising from the grave. Through believing and trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior, believers are able to spend eternity in Heaven with God the Father. I was able to share with him that baptism isn’t the source of salvation, instead it is an outward expression of an inward reality. As I reflect on this conversation, I am thankful that God answered my prayer by giving me an opportunity to share. I have been encouraged weekly during this time of sharing stories, and I pray that the Lord continues to save souls and change lives. What a blessing it is to be a part of something so great.
TENNESSEE NEW YORK TOTAL
PRACTICAL MISSIONS 5,617 363 5,980 PERSONS WITNESSED TO 4,932 274 5,206 PROFESSIONS OF FAITH
496 25 521
SERMONS PREACHED 1,102
Witness One:Seven and GO! Program reported August 1, 2017–May 23, 2018
PROFESSIONS OF FAITH SINCE 1972 = 165,135
DO YOU BELIEVE IN PLANTING NEW CHURCHES? DO YOU BELIEVE IN STRONG BIBLICAL TRAINING FOR NEW PASTORS?
DO YOU BELIEVE IN GLOBAL MISSIONS?
IF SO, WOULD YOU PLEASE STRONGLY CONSIDER FINANCIALLY SUPPORTING MID-AMERICA?
DO YOU BELIEVE IN SUPPORTING THE NEXT GENERATION OF CHURCH LEADERS? DO YOU BELIEVE MID-AMERICA SHOULD GO “TO ALL THE WORLD FOR JESUS’ SAKE?”
A WORLD OF NEW OPPORTUNITY AWAITS MID-AMERICA, BUT FUNDING IS URGENTLY NEEDED
scholarships, curriculum, and
every seven days. It is a major
materials. All of these important
reason that Dr. Negrut wanted to
areas require funding.
partner with Mid-America. At Mid-
Are you aware of Emanuel
America, Witness One:Seven has
University in Oradea, Romania?
resulted in hundreds of thousands
Emanuel is the only accredited,
of people being saved through
conservative Baptist seminary
the Gospel as it is shared by our
in Europe. Dr. Paul Negrut, the
president of Emanuel University
was on campus in February, speaking to our faculty and students
To provide transportation for professors and students to
Romania to share and demonstrate,
BY RAY HELTON
and participating in private group
firsthand, how to build the doctoral
We never apologize for asking you to
discussions. Dr. Negrut has
program and establish a culture and
support Mid-America because there are
demonstrated a desire to lead
habit of evangelism.
significant God-given opportunities right
Emanuel to a higher academic level
All of these important areas require
now that must be funded for us to move
and a greater impact on the lost
ahead. We are having difficulty making
people in Europe. As a result, he has
budget this year, but we are going to
asked Mid-America to become a
Convention has provided us with
follow Dr. Gray Allison’s advice to “trust
partnering institution with them in
an opportunity. With the approval
God and tell the people.” God has given
of the governor of Arkansas and
us some great windows of opportunity
To establish a doctoral
the Arkansas Department of
Corrections, we have been asked
to teach in more places to more people. These windows of opportunity will pass us by unless we can fund the initiatives needed to take advantage of them.
LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE BUT STILL REQUIRE ADDITIONAL FUNDING. You already know The College
To provide guidance to build an integrated evangelism
program for Emanuel that is similar to Mid-America’s key evangelism distinctive, our Witness One:Seven program. As you know, Witness
at Mid-America is launching in
August. That’s less than three
months away! We still need
adjunct professors, classroom
upgrades, printed materials, website
accreditation of new degrees, and
social media upgrades. All of these
important areas require funding.
We are scheduling the launch of
The Arkansas State Baptist
two or more new degrees every two
to share the
years to ensure The College at Mid-
truth of the
America offers diversified courses
Gospel with at
of study. This requires professors,
least one person
THESE WINDOWS OF OPPORTUNITY WILL PASS US BY UNLESS WE CAN FUND THE INITIATIVES NEEDED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEM.
to offer a degree in biblical studies
these opportunities, they cannot be
about increasing your support to
in their maximum-security facility
funded by our current budget, as we
near Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Prisoners
will likely have an operational shortfall
in this facility are serving life
this fiscal year. Both Dr. Spradlin and Dr.
America recently, would you
sentences and have no possibility
Allison have always led Mid-America
prayerfully consider supporting
of parole. Often, prisoners are saved
to and through great visions that God
these new, key opportunities?
and want to share the Gospel with
provided by relying on the principle
You will be supporting the training
other inmates, and Mid-America
that “God’s money always follows God’s
of the next generation of pastors,
has a unique opportunity to train
mission.” The Lord has repeatedly
missionaries, deacons, businessmen,
them. When a prisoner completes
engaged Mid-America in visionary
church leaders, community leaders,
his study and is awarded his degree,
challenges that He funded in His way in
and parents. You will have global impact
he will be moved to another prison
His time. Our prayer is to work within
through the gifts you offer to support
in Arkansas where he will teach
the vision He provides for Mid-America,
Mid-America Baptist Theological
others the Gospel and the truths of
regardless of the ease, difficulty, or
the Bible. This program has already
challenge that it produces.
seen great success in Louisiana
If you believe in this mission and
If you have not supported Mid-
Because you are reading this, you are already a good friend of Mid-America
and Texas. The level of violence has
vision, would you please help us as God
and part of everything we do across the
decreased substantially where God’s
Word is taught and inmates are saved. All of these important areas require
Would you pray about becoming a first-time donor? As a current donor, would you pray
Please ask God what He would have you do, and then be obedient to His guidance in your life. Thank you for your
generosity and for your concern to go “to
ALTHOUGH THERE IS AGREEMENT BY OUR LEADERSHIP
all the world for Jesus’ sake.” Ray Helton serves as Mid-America’s Chief Development Officer.
and our trustees that God has provided
GIVE ONLINE AT MABTS.EDU/ SUPPORT
MID-AMERICA WELCOMES NEW SENIOR DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS & ENROLLMENT
many different opportunities to develop
has for this place. It’s hard not to get
my skills and develop the gifts God chose
excited to come to work every day and
to give me. Each one has benefitted me
work in that type of environment. It is
in different ways to be successful in the
obvious that God is working at Mid-
role I have at Mid-America.
America, and to have the opportunity to
I wanted to do something that when
work alongside such godly people is very
I laid my head down at night, I knew I
was making a difference. I worked in the
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT?
Mid-America is pleased to announce
admissions office at Union University
that Tad Wingo has accepted the role
and managed a team of enrollment
of Senior Director of Admissions and
counselors, a transfer coordinator,
Enrollment. With the current needs of
America grow, and watching the impact
student counselors, and student
the Seminary and the beginning of The
it makes in the Memphis community. I
ambassadors. I loved Christian higher
College at Mid-America, Tad begins his
know we are going to do amazing things,
education and truly thought I would
work at an exciting time.
and I am ready to get going!
never leave Union University. It took a
TAD, TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND, TESTIMONY, AND FAMILY.
special opportunity at Mid-America for
I was born and raised in Bradford,
and I love that challenge. Past roles
Tennessee. My family attended First
have taught me how to plan, and
Baptist Church Bradford, and we were
most importantly how to lead
in church whenever the doors were
my team to execute that plan. I
open. I was baptized when I was eight
understand the importance of
Please pray for
years old. My wife Tara and I were
customer service and the need to
Tad and ask our
college sweethearts. After our college
take care of people. Lastly, I have
graduation, Tara and I married, and we
experience in recruiting and know
were blessed with a son, Jack, in 2004.
what it takes to succeed. I have a
Jack was born with cystic fibrosis (CF).
passion for Christian higher
It’s been a difficult road at times, but
education, and I know
God, in His providence, has used this
God has prepared
situation to bless our family and others
me well to lead
in ways we would have never expected.
Jack is currently an 8th grader at
enrollment at Mid-
Trinity Christian Academy in Jackson,
You never realize when you’re going
WHAT HAVE YOU ENJOYED LEARNING MOST ABOUT MID-AMERICA IN YOUR FIRST TWO MONTHS?
through things what God has in store
The thing I have
for you, what He’s preparing you for,
enjoyed most so far at
but sometimes when you get there, it all
Mid-America is the
makes sense. My past roles have given so
YOU COME TO MID-AMERICA WITH A STRONG RESUME. TELL US ABOUT YOUR PAST ROLES AND HOW THEY HAVE PREPARED YOU FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY.
me to be where I am today.
I am most excited about seeing Mid-
WHAT HOBBIES DO YOU ENJOY? I enjoy all things Tennessee Vols, golf,
We are starting something new,
playing video games with my son, hanging out at home with Tara and Jack.
Lord to bless the team he leads.
Tad Wingo Senior Director of Admissions and Enrollment
THE COLLEGE AT MID-AMERICA OFFERS A CHRIST-CENTERED EDUCATION THAT CHECKS ALL THE BOXES
future spiritual and vocational growth.
þ FULL ACCREDITATION The curriculum for the Christian Studies, Biblical Counseling,
“scholarship on fire.” Students know from the first day that faculty hold themselves to the highest standards and expect no less from their students.
Organizational Leadership, and Business
þ AFFORDABLE COST
Administration (pending SACSCOC
According to Gordon Wadsworth, author
approval) degrees has been designed for
of The College Trap, college costs have
students to strengthen their personal
been rising roughly at a rate of 7 percent
relationship with Christ as they develop
per year for decades. Since 1985, the
the skill for their chosen profession. The
overall consumer price index has risen
As we anticipate the convocation of The
four components of each undergraduate
115 percent while the college education
College at Mid-America this fall, it is an
degree (Bible and Theology, General
inflation rate has risen nearly 500
opportune time to remind ourselves of
Studies, Major and Minor Studies) have
percent. The College at Mid-America
the great benefits of earning a degree
been planned to cultivate a student’s
at a Christian college. Those who are
mind, heart, and spirit. Because these
enrolling at The College at Mid-America
degree programs are fully accredited,
will learn alongside classmates from
academic rigor and credentialed faculty
different ages and backgrounds who
are of utmost consideration. Being
BY DR. BRAD THOMPSON
are committed to Christian scholarship in the context of a Christian community of learning. This experience of “iron sharpening iron” will catalyze
taught by instructors who have succeeded in their respective fields makes the Mid-America experience
The College at Mid-America
is dedicated to keeping tuition costs
importantly, they agree not to teach
connects the classroom to the practical
low so students can graduate without
against Mid-America’s Articles of Belief
aspects of community service and
mortgaging their futures. Each student
as they build up the faith and experience
enhances his/her preparation to serve in
pays approximately $8,000 a year, and
of students, not tear it down. Every class
the local church or the business world.
scholarships can reduce tuition to a
begins with prayer, and the unwritten
If you are interested, we are
curriculum or “teachable moments”
currently accepting applications.
þ INVOLVED FACULTY
shared by students and professors is a
To apply and for more information,
The quality of instructional staff at The
defining characteristic of the College.
please view our website:
College at Mid-America is unparalleled.
þ COMMUNITY FOCUSED
Only those who have earned the
The College at Mid-America’s GO!
appropriate credentials and have been
Program provides the ideal setting for
approved by the school’s accrediting
students to learn how to serve others.
body are allowed to teach. More
Connecting the classroom to the community has always been essential to the Mid-America experience since its founding. The GO! Program is the demonstration of what the student learns in the classroom. Students are expected to fulfill the biblical command to love their neighbor and thus are required to serve in community service sites each week and report on the work completed. By serving weekly, the student
COLLEGEATMIDAMERICA.COM Dr. Brad Thompson serves Mid-America as Executive Vice President, Dean of The College at Mid-America, and Chairman and Professor, Department of Christian Education.
NORTHEAST PROFESSOR DISCOVERS HISTORIC PRINCIPLES STILL AT WORK BY D R . S E A N P IE R C E One night, while my kids watched a movie I had already seen too many times, I searched for “Albany Church Planting” on the Internet. I hoped to find out what was happening in my area that I didn’t already know about. Instead, I soon found myself reading Second Great Awakening accounts of church planting in our area. I was in awe of what God was doing in the Albany-Schenectady region 200 years ago. I read about 21 people starting First Baptist Church, Albany in 1811. The church struggled during its first 18 years. However, through the ministry of a young pastor, Bartholomew Welch, it grew to 327 members by 1834. It was then that the church made an amazing decision. Feeling the responsibility to multiply rather than simply grow, they sent out their pastor and 123 members to begin Pearl Street Baptist Church in the same city. Their commitment to multiplying churches led Pearl Street to start four more churches. In all, about a dozen Baptist churches were started during the Second Great Awakening in our area. The Second Great Awakening resulted in significant church planting efforts in New York State. I was encouraged, realizing that Hudson Baptist Association (HBA) has been experiencing a similar story. We have adopted similar strategies of church multiplication with similar results. Approximately 30 churches
have been started in HBA, and we are
partnership among churches in a region
continuing to average one new church
for church planting will continue to be
per year. God is still at work in New York!
critical for Gospel expansion.
While our culture today is different, our efforts remain the same. Many of the
New churches were started to reach recent immigrant groups.
challenges we face are the same as 200
Many new churches in the United States
years ago. Some are not. While people
are needed among people groups God is
in our area often explore spiritual ideas
already bringing to our neighborhoods.
online or through other non-church
To miss them is to miss the Great
related activities, they are still asking
eternal questions. People are still just as lost and in need of a Savior. While
New churches struggled to afford sufficient meeting space and to
cynicism and lack of trust rules the day,
adequately compensate their pastors,
only the Gospel provides answers that
but the churches continued anyway. A
truly satisfy. Where the Gospel is lived
daunting task and humble beginnings
and shared, God still changes lives!
shouldn’t stop us from continuing
To help us continue the same Gospel mission in a changing culture, here are seven lessons from Albany’s
church planting efforts today.
Because of financial issues, the new churches relied on
first church planting efforts among
bivocational pastors. The future of
Baptists. We would do well to learn
ministry in North America hinges on
from them in our efforts to reach North
raising up and helping these capable
The churches were equally committed to church planting and
A few churches died after a season, but significant things happened
church growth. They sensed a profound
during their short lives. While we
responsibility to plant new churches
should minimize the closure of new
in obedience to the Great Commission.
churches, waiting to plant until there
We need to see these two initiatives in
is minimal risk of failure means many
tandem and not as opposing priorities.
people will never hear the Gospel.
Dr. Sean Pierce serves as Adjunct Instructor of Missions and Church Planting at Mid-America’s Northeast Campus.
Church planting wasn’t simply for pastors or missionaries. New
churches were started by sending out members, often before securing a pastor. We need to make evangelistic church planting a part of the regular conversation and activities in all of our churches.
Two primary elements sustained church planting efforts: 1. Lead
pastors whose ministry was blessed evangelistically, and 2. An association of churches that catalyzed church planting efforts. Coordinated
TODAY’S PASTORS MUST UNDERSTAND MODERN AMERICAN CULTURE
in order to understand the historical
missionary anthropology, I teach the
setting of each scriptural passage. The
students headed for missionary service
professors further teach the students
how to understand the cultures in their
the principles of biblical interpretation,
new countries. This involves learning
especially how to interpret each Bible
to understand their worldview, values,
text in its context. All the above are
beliefs, and customs. In order to reach
necessary to “rightly divide (interpret)
these nations for Christ, the missionaries
the Word of truth,” as the Apostle Paul
must learn to preach the Gospel in the
instructed Timothy (2 Timothy 2:15).
local language and to do it in a way that
Perhaps there was a time when pastors
resonates with the people. For example,
I live in Texas now, and I picked up a
only needed to learn to do biblical
Adoniram Judson was the pioneer
nice bumper sticker at our local library.
exegesis, but that time has passed long
Baptist missionary to Burma. He and his
It says, “Take Care of Texas; It’s the Only
wife, Anne, arrived in 1813. He learned
One We’ve Got.” Of course, that is a community and state. One could make
PASTORS TODAY MUST ALSO LEARN TO EXEGETE THEIR CULTURE. Of course,
the same statement in regard to our
this is what I have taught
nation—Take Care of the United States;
It’s the Only One We’ve Got. The problem
for years. In my class on
BY D R . J O H N MA R K TER RY
noble sentiment. We should care for our
with that is the USA is constantly changing. In fact, the pace of change in the USA makes older folks dizzy. One issue we face at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary is preparing our students to minister in contemporary culture. Our graduates must minister in contemporary culture. It is the only one they have, at least here within the USA. I have spent much of my adult life teaching in seminaries, both overseas and in the United States. In a seminary the professors teach the students to carefully exegete (analyze) a passage of Scripture. They study Greek and Hebrew in order to understand the Bible verses in the original languages. The students also learn biblical history and geography
Preaching and Culture
to speak Burmese and began to preach
to chat with him, and within one year
communicate the Gospel. Facebook
the Gospel. He preached faithfully
he won 19 people to Christ. He did not
did not exist and Mark Zuckerberg was
for five years without one convert.
change his message, but he did adopt a
not even born yet., Facebook, however,
Naturally, this frustrated him, and he
new way of communicating the Gospel.
can be an effective means to share the
decided to observe how the Buddhist
MANY PASTORS TODAY HAVE GROWN UP IN CHRISTIAN HOMES
Gospel today. In order to evangelize
monks taught the Burmese. He noticed that they just sat and conversed with
and attended Christian schools or
planters must study contemporary
the people, answering their questions.
have been home schooled. They may
American culture to understand how to
Adoniram decided to try that method
not understand the modern American
share the Gospel in new, effective ways.
of communication. He built a zayat
culture, nor how to best communicate
Rick Warren is the most famous
(covered pavilion) in front of his house,
the Gospel. For sure, when I studied
Southern Baptist church planter in
and he sat in it for several hours every
in the seminary 45 years ago, we did
America. In 1980, he and his wife
day. Burmese folks passing by stopped
not learn how to
moved from Texas to Orange County in
use Facebook to
southern California. He realized that as
the United States, pastors and church
a native Texan, he did not understand the culture of Southern California. So, for one year he interviewed people and tried to learn as much as he could about the people of Orange County. After that research, he started holding worship services. His efforts succeeded beyond his wildest imagination. Now, Saddleback Community Church runs 30,000 in worship and has planted more than 40 daughter churches. If pastors today will learn to think and function like a missionary, they will imitate the sons of Issachar mentioned in the Old Testament—“the children of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). That is the challenge we professors face—how can we teach our students to understand the times? Dr. John Mark Terry serves as Chairman of the Department of Missions and Professor of Missions at Mid-America.
IN THE FACE OF CHANGING TIMES, THE SOLUTION REMAINS THE SAME: MAKE MORE AND BETTER DISCIPLES
KEY TO FULFILLING THE GREAT COMMISSION IS FOLLOWING ALL THREE PARTS BY DR. BRAD RODERICK
parts. As we go into the world baptizing
“. . . I AM WITH YOU, ALWAYS . . .”
new believers and helping them grow as
Another question I frequently ask when
disciples, we are to:
talking about discipleship is “who in
have Jesus’ answer, and it contains three
“TEACH THEM . . . ALL THAT I COMMANDED YOU . . .” Obviously, a key component of making disciples is transferring knowledge. The Apostle Paul referred to this
Originally, the article I was asked to
aspect of disciple making when he
write was “A Constant Commission in
met with the Ephesian elders at the
Changing Cultures,” but I changed the
end of his third missionary journey.
last word, because I think sometimes
He reminded them that he did not
we overlook the fact that the answer to
“shrink from declaring to you anything
many of the issues facing the church
that was profitable and teaching you
today, in America and around the world,
publicly and from house to house”
has the same solution no matter our
(Acts 20:20). In Western churches, the
culture or circumstance: make more and
communication of information about the
Bible often has been seen as the entire
Are you sensing that God is calling
discipleship process. As important as
the Bible, as a category of people, were the best at knowing and obeying the commands of God?” The answer, of course, is the Pharisees. They kept every jot and tittle of the law. So, is our goal in making disciples to make Pharisees? Indeed not! So, what was missing? The third essential to making disciples is an intimate abiding relationship with the Lord Jesus. Our disciple making process must emphasize a dynamic relationship with the Living Christ as the only way to live out all that
you to serve Him as a missionary
that is, however, it is only one third of the
overseas but you don’t know how to
definition Jesus has given us.
prepare? Go and make disciples. And
“. . . TO OBSERVE . . .”
magazine or moving
Frequently when I am teaching on
on to the next article,
Matthew 28:18–20, I will quote the
take out a sheet of
passage intentionally dropping the
paper and write down
phrase “to observe” and ask my audience
the issues that you
if I am right. Almost always, the answer
are confronting in your
is “yes.” Sometimes I ask people to tell
ministry today. As you pray
me what the verse says, and more often
through the list, ask yourself, “What
than not, the answer will be “teach them
would happen in this circumstance if we
all I commanded you,” or some variation
could make more and better disciples?”
on that theme. But what is missing?
Then ask the Father to guide you as
Obedience. Discipleship, according to
you share knowledge and demonstrate
Jesus, is not just about knowledge—it
obedience from the basis of an abiding
is about action. What do we do with the
relationship with God in Christ. “And
things Jesus has commanded us to do?
may the God of all hope fill you with all
Making disciples, according to Jesus,
joy and peace in believing so that you
requires putting into practice the word
will abound in hope by the power of the
of God in very real ways—and holding
Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
people accountable so that we know if
The newest addition to the Mid-America faculty, Dr. Brad Roderick serves as Professor of Missions and Evangelism.
when you get to the field you will know how to do what you need to be doing— making disciples. Has God called you to plant a church in an urban environment? Memphis, for example, needs 900 new churches before it will have the same church to population ratio as the rest of the United States. Go into the city and make disciples. Perhaps you are part of one of the 85 percent of American churches that are plateaued or declining and you are wondering what the best strategy is to revitalize your congregation. May I suggest that you go and make disciples. The commission of the church has not changed since the day it was first delivered by the Lord Jesus. We are to go into the whole world, every corner of the world, and make disciples. But what does that mean? In Matthew 28:20, we
they are actually obeying and not just hearing the commands.
He has commanded. Before closing this
SUMMER PREVIEW DAY JUNE 20, 2018
ACCELERATED MASTER OF DIVINITY
Come spend the day with us at the Mid-America
When a student has earned a Bachelor of Arts
Summer Preview Day, June 20, 2018. Whether you’re
in Christian Studies or Bachelor of Arts
interested in the Associate, Bachelor, Master, or Doctoral
in Biblical Counseling, Mid-America
level program, we have a special day planned just for
believes that they have acquired
you. Hear about our academic programs, scholarships,
the basic biblical knowledge
student life, and understand what makes Mid-America
necessary to move forward into
unique. Prospective students will participate in a
the Master of Divinity program.
breakout session on understanding cultural issues
This means that Accelerated Master
through a biblical worldview. After lunch, students and
of Divinity students are not required
families can tour student housing and see what makes
to repeat all of the basic courses on the
us a community. We look forward to getting to know you!
Master level that they have already completed on the
To register, visit our websites, email firstname.lastname@example.org,
Bachelor level, and they can move more quickly into
or call the admissions office at 901.751.3060. Deadline to
their desired area of concentrated study. (Some courses
register is June 16, 2018. Come preview your future!
do repeat; with the languages and preaching/teaching the administration of Mid-America feels that repetition on a higher level has benefit.) Each Accelerated Master of Divinity concentration consists of 60 total credit hours. Within that total, the Pastoral Ministry and Biblical Counseling programs also incorporate hands-on practicums. Students who have achieved an undergraduate degree with Mid-America (either BACS or BABC) are eligible for the Accelerated Master of Divinity. Also, students who graduated from other Christian colleges may also be eligible if they have a biblical or Christian studies undergraduate degree that included certain required classes. For more information, please visit:
NEW! MICHAELRSPRADLIN.BLOG THE ADVENTURE OF LIFE ETERNAL Dr. Michael R. Spradlin, President of Mid-America, recently launched a new blog entitled, “The Adventure of Life Eternal.” A man of many talents and interests, Dr. Spradlin introduces the blog, writing, “Welcome to my place to observe the world in action. My interests are varied, bordering on eclectic. Topics may range from travel, to sports, to faith, and to history. I have so many interests that I plan to write on a host of topics.” You’ll also find information on Dr. Spradlin’s recent books, Sons of the 43 and Beaman’s Commentary on the Gospel of John.
Visit Dr. Spradlin’s new blog at: MICHAELRSPRADLIN.BLOG
S U M M E R & FA L L
SBC ALUMNI & FRIENDS LUNCHEON June 12, Dallas Convention Center Registration: mabts.edu/sbcluncheon
JUNE MINI-TERM June 18–29
REGISTRATION FOR FALL SEMESTER July 9–August 15
ORIENTATION AND REGISTRATION FOR NEW STUDENTS FOR FALL August 9–10
FOUNDERS’ DAYS AND THE COLLEGE AT MID-AMERICA CONVOCATION August 20–21
FOUNDERS’ DAYS ALUMNI & FRIENDS RECEPTION August 20
FALL SEMESTER CLASSES BEGIN August 23
FALL PREVIEW DAY October 23
NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE PAID MEMPHIS, TN PERMIT NO. 831
P.O. Box 2350 • Cordova, Tennessee 38088-2350 901-751-8453 • email@example.com • mabts.edu
You’re Invited to the
Founders’ Days and Convocation of The College at Mid-America August 20–21, 2018 7:00 each evening
Special Convocation Speaker
Dr. Ken Ham President/CEO of Answers in Genesis August 21, 7:00 p.m. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT MABTS.EDU/FOUNDERSDAYS
The official magazine of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (mabts.edu) and The College at Mid-America (collegeatmidamerica), Memphis,...
Published on Jun 8, 2018
The official magazine of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (mabts.edu) and The College at Mid-America (collegeatmidamerica), Memphis,...