If you haven’t already, you should take a look at the College at Southeastern. It’s a great institution with solid, and expanding, degree options. What is more, it’s a place where you or someone you care about can be instructed by professors who are passionate about the church, the Great Commission, and training people to take the Gospel to the nations. From top to bottom the College at Southeastern is passionate about Jesus, his Church, and reaching the nations. What could be better said about an institution?
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary served as a major sponsor for our luncheon and along with that sponsorship we give them the opportunity to share about what they do as they seek to equip students. Check out the letter from the Dean below, and take you a look at the College of Southeastern.
Southeastern has always had a great college. But recent changes and additions have positioned the college to do much more than ever before. As always, we continue to be an institution focused on the church, Great Commission, and training people to take the Gospel to the nations. Yet, we have given fresh attention to our curriculum and found ways to make it better.
What Has Changed?
The college continues to offer all the programs that make it distinctive. For example, we continue to read the Great Books of the Western tradition, study Christian theology, and offer a variety of exciting degree programs like Theology, History, English, Pastoral Ministries, and Humanities. Overall, this well-rounded curriculum enables students to articulate and defend the Christian faith wherever God may place them. Within the past year, however, we have made some significant changes to our curriculum. For example, while we have kept the History of Ideas program, we have rebuilt it to give it greater clarity and focus. We have also given a major overhaul to our undergraduate missions curriculum. We began by creating all new courses for this program to draw from intercultural & cross-cultural studies, theology, apologetics, language, and missiology. Next, like our graduate programs, we built into this program a significant portion of the degree that must be earned on the field. In most cases, students serving overseas for six months in places like Taiwan, Germany, or the Sudan fulfill this part of the program. Finally, to better reflect the well-rounded nature of this program, we changed the name of this program from “Missions” to “Global Studies.”
What Has Been Added?
Finally, we’ve recently added four new undergraduate degree programs that will help us place students in churches, the mission field, or in some other vocational setting for kingdom influence. Our new undergraduate Philosophy degree (BACS and Philosophy) is designed for those who want to do apologetics, Theology, or anything else that requires intellectual rigor. The new Biblical Studies degree (BACS and Biblical Studies) provides 18 hours of biblical languages and an additional 18 hours in biblical theology and book study. This degree is ideal for those that want to pastor or teach the Bible. Our new Worship Ministry degree (BACS and Worship Ministry) is for those that want lead worship in the local church, but want something beyond basic training in music. This program’s primary focus is on theology, the Bible and ministry preparation. Lastly, our new History/Pre-Law degree (BACS and History/Pre-Law) is for those that want to serve Christ in the public square or possible in the legal profession.
In short, the College at Southeastern continues be the wonderful place it has always been. But recent changes have given it a greater ability to train students for Gospel ministry and send them to strategic places. These changes and additions open new doors for our students and make the College at Southeastern an exciting place to prepare for ministry.
James K. Dew, Jr., PhD
Dean of the College
Associate Professor of the History of Ideas and Philosophy
B21 is excited for the release of The Song in theaters tonight!
Pastor and best-selling author Kyle Idleman is a producer on The Song and has helped to write curriculum and a devotional for couples that will generate great discussions in your next small group. Check out Kyle’s guest post below, the resources available, and go to see The Song in theaters tonight!
Over Mother’s Day weekend I read an article titled “Your Mom Lied to You.” The article exposed a number of things our moms told us growing up that may have been well intentioned, but were not necessarily true. For example, my mother used to tell me, “You need to put some Hydrogen Peroxide on that.” But as it turns out, those “healing bubbles” didn’t do anything to heal my wounds and was, in reality, the hydrogen peroxide attacking me.
Another lie my mother told was, “Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.” In truth, according to the latest “knuckle cracking” research—and yes, there are medical professionals who study this—cracking my knuckles will not lead to arthritis.
And then there is the ever-popular lie all moms like to tell, “Don’t swallow your gum because it takes seven years to pass through your digestive system.” Yet, advances in colonoscopy-based research (gross, I know) refute this claim.
My point is that there are certain things we have just accepted over the years. They sound reasonable and are reinforced by others, so we spend our lives pouring hydrogen peroxide onto our wounds, abstaining from the pleasures of knuckle popping, and feeling unnecessarily worried about swallowing our gum.
When it comes to the areas of love, sex, and marriage, we have similarly been told things that sound reasonable and have been reinforced by numerous cultural influences. Instead of questioning these things, we often just accept them. After all, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, and the magazines we read all seem in agreement when it comes to how we should think about our love lives. And yet God is the one who created these things. He has made us to have feelings of love and passion. Sex was His idea. He owns the copyright on marriage. So the default question we should be asking is, “What does God have to say about it?”
Around ten years ago I started teaching through the Song of Solomon with different audiences and was amazed at the relevance of this Old Testament book of poetry. That is one of the reasons I produced a film about the Song of Solomon called The Song. The Song is a modern-day adaptation of Solomon’s life, inspired by the writings in both the Song of Solomon and the book of Ecclesiastes. It will be released nationwide on September 26th. My prayer is that this film—as well as the video curriculum and couples devotional that go along with it—would awaken love in our marriages and point to the truths of Scripture as the authority for our love lives.
Let me share a few truths from the Song of Solomon that challenge what many of us have been told and what has been culturally reinforced over the years:
Beauty is more than outward appearance.
Love is more than a feeling.
Sex is more than a physical act.
Marriage is more than a piece of paper.
These teaching principles are helpful, but there is nothing like a story to engage our hearts. That is why I’m excited for this film to engage people in a different way than simply teaching and applying text.
I was thinking about the time my wife and I were newly married. Heavily influenced by Hollywood, we had all kinds of ideas and expectations about what marriage should be and how we should feel. But very quickly we were given the opportunity to watch a story unfold that showed us just how important it was to have a Christ-centered marriage built on a spiritual foundation. We didn’t watch this story on the big screen, however. We saw it play out in real life.
I was preaching at small community church where we became friends with Jim and Mary, a couple in their fifties who had been married for a long time. They were going through a difficult time with Jim battling lung cancer. One night, when my wife and I stopped by their house to pray with them, we noticed that Jim had become very weak and feeble. The most aggressive chemotherapy was being used, along with radiation treatments, and it had taken its toll. It was obvious that the cancer was strong—but the faith of Jim and Mary was even stronger.
Mary led us into Jim’s room where I opened up my Bible to read a few Scriptures. That’s when the smell made it clear that Jim had lost bowel control. Mary said, “Excuse us for a minute,” and we waited outside while she cleaned up. My wife and I stood in silence, holding hands in the living room—I had never previously considered that kind of moment in marriage. When Mary came back to get us, there was a smile on her face that I’ll never forget. “In sickness and in health,” she said.
That was an education for my wife and me—young and healthy and in love. We were given a front row seat to the difference Jesus makes in a marriage.
As Christians we live in a time when many people are trying to agree on a definition of marriage—and even more people are trying to figure out how to be happily married. What an incredible opportunity we have to celebrate God’s way and to set an example of the intimate, passionate partnership that marriage can be.
“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” -Song of Solomon 8:7(NIV)
B21 is pumped about the release of The Song, both the movie and accompanying resources. If you’re not familiar with the project, clink on the link and check it out, or read the letter below from Kyle Idleman about it’s usefulness in your life and ministry.
Dear Fellow Pastor,
If you’re like me, you’ve given a lot of relationship advice over the years. Whether it’s someone who’s interested in dating but doesn’t know how to do that in a way that honors God, or an engaged couple who want to build their marriage on a firm foundation but haven’t had a good example of what that looks like, or a newly married couple struggling with conflict, or someone ready to quit and throw in the towel on their marriage. We’ve all sat across from someone struggling with these areas of their lives, and we’ve tried to teach them what God’s word says about these things, because we know that God knows best. He is the author and designer of love, sex and marriage. But sometimes it’s hard to connect people’s current issues with the ancient stories of Scripture.
That’s why I partnered with City on a Hill Studio to produce The Song– a modern-day adaptation of the life of Solomon that helps couples connect their story to God’s word. The Song is a feature film releasing nationwide in theatres September 26 and a full like on church resources — including a Small Group Study, Pastor’s Kit and Couple’s Devotional — that deal honestly with real-world relationship issues like dating, romance, intimacy, conflict, restoration and cultivating true commitment. You and I know these areas belong to God and our culture is desperate to rediscover what He had in mind when He created marriage and love between a man and a woman.
So I’m writing to you to ask you to view the movie and review the study resources. Pass them along to your leaders. Consider how you could use them to minister to and encourage both the couples and singles in your church and community and bring grace and hope to their relationships. Many pastors are buying out showtimes and are preaching sermon series around the topics. Others are encouraging their church members and small groups to use the movie and study to engage their neighbors and friends, not only on the subject of marriage but, more importantly, on the subject of their faith.
As ministers, it’s our desire to see couples thriving, to see love awakened and to see Christ glorified. It is my prayer that The Song materials will help accomplish these ends.
Teaching Pastor, Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY
As we all wrestle with how we view our job as a Christian, undoubtedly important questions arise. In this post Benjamin Quinn both asks some of those questions and offers helpful resources for pastors and laypeople alike. Let’s continue the discussion and all seek to redeem our understanding of work in light of the gospel.
What is work? Does it matter to God? How do these forty or more hours each week relate to our faith?
Our pews are filled with workers who ask these kinds of questions. Pastors, even the most attuned and sympathetic, often struggle to provide answers beyond “work hard, tell the truth, and share the Gospel when possible.” Hard work, truth telling, and evangelism are indeed critical for Christian workers, but could there be more to our work and its relationship to our faith?
What if God created us to be workers whose purpose and personhood somehow come together when we rightly engage with creation? How was work different before Genesis 3, and where do we see sin’s effects today? How might we redirect sin’s effects on our work toward proper ends? Further, how does our work today relate to the new heavens and earth?
The purpose of this post is simply to raise these questions, and offer a handful of resources I’ve found helpful on the topic. Below are books, lectures, videos, and websites worth perusing. An asterisk is placed beside those I recommend to start with.
As we continue in our work, may we, as our Lord said, “work for the food that endures to eternal life.” (Jn 6:27)
*Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work. Boston: Dutton Adult, 2012.
Gene Veith, God at Work. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2011.
*Lester Dekoster, Work; The Meaning of Your Life. Grand Rapids: Christian’s Library Press, 2010.
Amy Sherman, Kingdom Calling. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011.
Hugh Whelchel, How Then Should We Work? Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2012.
*Dorothy Sayers, Why Work? (an essay) http://www.faith-at-work.net/Docs/WhyWork.pdf
Tom Nelson, Work Matters. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2011.
Steven Garber, Visions of Vocation. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2014.
J.D. Greear, “Work as Worship,” www.rightnow.org
Tim Keller, “Humanizing Work,” http://www.faithandwork.com/conference-audio/
Lois Kehlenbrink, “How the Gospel Prepares Your Heart for Work,” http://www.faithandwork.com/how-the-gospel-prepares-your-heart-for-work/
Tim Lubinus is the new Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of Iowa. His vision is to get the state convention to a 50/50 split of CP dollars even if that means sacrifice at the local level. We are grateful for Tim’s leadership in this area and pray that this mindset takes root across our conventions. Tim was kind enough to give us this interview.
When I was with the IMB and on furlough in the States, I sometimes felt like people in churches were given the impression that most Cooperative Program funds went to the IMB. At that time in our state of Iowa, only about ten percent of Cooperative Program funds made it to the IMB. I later learned the percentage was only slightly better in other states. I’d like the Baptist Convention of Iowa to change from sending twenty percent to fifty percent to the Executive Committee as quickly as possible.
I’d answer this question like I would counsel someone who was learning to tithe. At times sacrifice is required for the greater good of the kingdom of God. I’d talk about ways to increase income and decrease expenses. Then I’d encourage him to give ten percent as quickly as possible, even if it means he has to decrease his own spending.
I think that giving half is a good target for state conventions to adequately contribute to international and domestic missions, seminaries, and state convention ministries. I don’t have chapter and verse on this, but like the tithe, I think percentage giving is a good discipline for anyone. If conventions don’t have a fifty percent anchor, there will likely be a budget shortfall, special project, or other temptation to justify increasing the amount that stays in the state. I hope that when Iowa churches discover that more of their funds are going to national and international mission efforts, they will be excited about giving even more generously to the Cooperative Program. When state conventions give more generously to the executive committee this will also give less incentive for churches go around the state conventions to send funds directly to the Executive Committee or to designate extra funds to special missions offerings. If we believe that the Cooperative Program is the best system, let’s use it.
I don’t think we need a new structure, just a streamlined and focused one. I’d like to move from a “one-stop shop” for any church need and focus on fewer strategic ministries of higher intensity and quality. With the internet, state conventions have less need to be an information hub for churches than they did twenty years ago. Lifeway and NAMB are more user friendly and state conventions need fewer staff to accomplish their core missions. Also churches connect more relationally and less geographically than they used to; this is transforming the mission and structure of associations.
I can’t speak for other conventions, but in Iowa the convention is needed to provide identity and connection for churches in the state. We learn in the New Testament that churches felt the need to connect to one another relationally and also to pool resources for cooperative ministry. In our context there are several key ministries that can be done best at the state convention level rather than the church, association, regional, or national level. These include partnering with churches to place and support church planters in priority cities, community center ministry in difficult neighborhoods, disaster relief, supporting and encouraging pastors, some types of training, and more. We are too big geographically to be an association and too small to financially support enough directors of missions without defunding our national missions agencies. More here.
State conventions are uniquely positioned to connect churches with one another. State conventions also have distinctive opportunity to pool resources to identify, prioritize, and resource strategic needs and population segments in a state for evangelism and church planting.
As for critiques of state conventions, I think it is essential for state convention leadership to constantly evaluate staff to make sure they have the right staff person in the right ministry. Sometimes organizations compromise their mission to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. This compromise tends to lower morale of other staff members and hurt the convention’s reputation for effective leadership.