Monday, October 4, 2010

Bethlehem College and Seminary's Inaugural Convocation

Last night, it was my privilege and delight to attend the Inaugural Convocation of Bethlehem Baptist Church's new program of education, Bethlehem College and Seminary (BCS). This school will offer undergraduate and graduate degrees for those interested in entering the ministry.

It was a treat to see not only people from Bethlehem Baptist Church (BBC) there, but presidents, faculty, and administrators from many different Christian colleges and seminaries. Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., from my own Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, gave the inaugural address.

All the pomp and circumstance of the event thrust home the eminence of what is occurring here in Minneapolis. This is not merely a new school, another option among seminaries; this is a rethinking of Christian education. Most seminaries are merely small universities draped with Christian clothing and focused mainly on academic pursuits. The practical - the stuff of ministry itself - is found outside the classroom and is only hinted at by academic pursuits. There is little, if any, theological or ministerial accountability to the churches they serve, especially among evangelical schools. BCS, in its charter, and its avowed goals, is committed to remaining accountable to BBC. The two will be inextricably linked.

What this means is that the entire focus of the BCS program is on ministry, and that ministry is foremost within the context of BBC. Secondarily, the training should be an excellent ground for church planters. Dr. Mohler's words ring true here, "Churches should put seminaries out of business." When churches are faithful in educating their lay people and raising up members to positions of ministry, the seminary will no longer be necessary.

I, for one, am thrilled at the prospect of young men being not only trained rigorously academically, but lovingly built up and tested in actual ministry work throughout the education process. I think our city, our nation, and the world will be far better served for the cause of Christ. May we have more faithful churches that will follow this model.

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