Southern Seminary dean Russell Moore preached his final chapel sermon as Senior VP for Academic Administration this week. You can check out the chapel sermon below or on Southern Seminary’s resources webpage.
This historic event has me reflecting about the legacy of Dr. Moore at Southern. To me, Dr. Moore isn’t just a dean. He has been professor, Sunday School teacher, pastor, mentor, doctoral supervisor, colleague, and trusted friend.
As I’ve watched his life and ministry up close and personal for the past 7 years, here’s the legacy I believe he’s left at Southern Seminary:
- A vision for the kingdom of God – The leading contribution Dr. Moore has made at Southern Seminary, and more broadly in evangelicalism, is a vision for the kingdom of God and its application to theology, socio-political engagement, and the entire Christian life.
- A precedent of Christ-centered preaching – The lasting impact Dr. Moore has made through both his preaching courses and his sermons at Southern and Highview Baptist Church is a precedent of Christ-centered expository preaching from all the Scriptures.
- A model for Christocentric cultural analysis – The ongoing legacy Dr. Moore has left behind through his writings and podcasts is a model for analyzing the culture through the lens of Christ–a legacy that will be amplified in his new role at the ERLC.
- A passion for classic country music – The musical memory that Dr. Moore has embedded at Southern Seminary is a passion for the greats of classic country music–no sermon or theology lecture was complete without a reference to Waylon, Willie, and the boys.
- A love of Coke Zero – When I arrived at Southern in 2006, I’d never heard of Coke Zero. Dr. Moore has not only consumed his weight in it over the last 7 years, but also managed to get this heavenly nectar on tap around campus. Instant impact!
As was announced yesterday in conjunction with Southern Seminary’s trustee meetings, I will also transition to the ERLC with Dr. Moore in June. I am thrilled about this chance to work alongside Dr. Moore in this capacity as the organization serves as a voice to and a voice for the SBC on the urgent moral and ethical issues of our day.
At the same time, I am excited for the next chapter in the life of Southern Seminary under the leadership of men I absolutely love like Randy Stinson, Greg Wills, and Matt Hall. You can read more about these leadership transitions in this press release.
These transitions leave me optimistic that the best days are ahead for Southern Seminary:
- The foundation is strong – Dr. Mohler has assembled the greatest faculty in the evangelical world and has combined that with academic innovation that leaves Southern poised for impact on the churches of the SBC.
- The leaders are capable – The new academic leadership team is poised to carry on the gospel-centered momentum of the last few years under the direction of Randy Stinson, Greg Wills, and Matt Hall.
- The future is bright – The best days are ahead for Southern Seminary as the school continues its mission to train soldiers for the front lines of spiritual warfare
Though my time will come to an end at the close of May, I look forward to continuing to be a part of Southern as I get the chance to continue to teach both in Louisville and in Nashville. The monumental moment of Russell Moore’s last chapel sermon has me reflective about his legacy and excited about the future of Southern Seminary.
The next time you eat out, you should think of the horrific murders committed by abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Why? Not because I want you to ruin your appetite.
You should think of Gosnell the next time you eat out because he performed an average of 4-5 illegal late term abortions per week–which just so happens to be the number of times per week the average American eats out.
While many are (rightly) focusing on the gruesomeness of Gosnell’s abortion murders, an underemphasized facet is their frequency. The travesty of what happened is amplified by how often it occurred.
A helpful resource to provide more details about the Gosnell murders is this article by Joe Carter.
If you listen closely enough this Easter weekend, you might hear the tap-tapping of keyboards emerging from behind closed doors on Bible College and seminary campuses. Why? This Sunday is the deadline for paper proposals for this year’s Evangelical Theological Society meeting (or as one friend calls it, the “revenge of the theological nerds”).
I just submitted my paper proposal for ETS, entitled “Onward Christian Soldiers: Understanding the Kingdom-Oriented Nature of the Church’s Mission.” I will argue that evangelical discussions of the church’s mission can be helped by integrating reflections on the church’s identity, mission, and ethics with the kingdom of God.
This annual submission process has caused me to reflect on why I enjoy ETS and like being a part of it. As a professor at Southern Seminary, here are some of the key benefits of the Evangelical Theological Society:
- Scholarship – The main benefit of ETS is the quality of scholarship. It provides an annual opportunity for scholars to test-drive new ideas and propose advances in contemporary theological discussion. It also forces scholars (a notoriously procrastinating bunch) into a form of external academic accountability. The paper that seemed easy to write when proposed in March is a lot harder than expected to complete in October (or November, depending on the level of procrastination). But the process makes all of us sharper in scholarship as we present and receive feedback.
- Fellowship – Though the primary benefit of ETS is the scholarship, the benefit I enjoy the most is the fellowship. It provides an annual opportunity for scholars to connect with old friends and forge relationships with new ones. That’s especially true for folks with ties to Southern Seminary because, in recent years, people with SBTS ties have presented more papers than those from any other school. The benefit of fellowship is also why Southern hosts an alumni and friends fellowship at ETS every year.
- Mentorship – Another benefit of ETS is the great opportunity it creates for mentorship. Because students and scholars gather together for the week, there are many chances for professors to intentionally invest in their pupils. The first several years I attended ETS, I had the unique opportunity to shadow my mentor Russell Moore during the event. My experience at ETS and my scholarly development benefited from his intentional investment in me during those days. The benefit of mentorship is also part of the reason we offer a course for Southern Seminary masters students who wish to earn credit while attending ETS.
Family and friends often wonder why I would enjoy traveling across the country to listen to people read manuscripts of academic papers. The benefits of scholarship, fellowship, and mentorship are what draw me back to ETS each year. As onward Christian soldiers, this is one way the evangelical theological community positively impacts the church’s mission.
This week Southern Seminary goes through its re-accreditation process that happens once every ten years. Think of it as the educational equivalent of your visit to the doctor for a physical. Or, to put it in spiritual terms, think of the accreditors as our “educational accountability partners.”
This site visit has required months of preparation. We’ve cumulatively written hundreds of pages of documents and gathered thousands more. So, why is Southern Seminary accredited? In other words, if the process takes so much time and energy, then why is it worth it?
Accreditation allows Southern Seminary to more effectively signal several important facets of our core identity as a school:
- Southern Seminary is a quality institution – Re-accreditation helps to ensure that Southern maintains high quality academic standards. By evaluating the credentials of our professors and the strength of our academic programs, the accreditors can affirm the quality of a Southern education.
- Southern Seminary is a trustworthy institution – Re-accreditation helps to ensure that Southern can be trusted for your education. By reviewing our academic offerings and our campus experience, the accreditors can validate the reliability of a Southern education.
- Southern Seminary is an innovating institution – Re-accreditation helps to ensure that Southern seeks to advance its mission through innovation. By analyzing our institutional effectiveness and mandating intentional areas for growth through a Quality Enhancement Plan, the accreditors ensure that we continue to improve as a school.
- Southern Seminary is a biblical institution – Re-accreditation helps to ensure that Southern operates consistently with its biblical convictions. By evaluating our mission and core values and reviewing the beliefs of our faculty, the accreditors cause us as an institution to ensure that our faculty and training are biblical.
Of course, accreditation is not essential to be a quality, trustworthy, innovating, and biblical institution. However, the outside accountability provided by the accreditation agencies helps to ensure these facets of our core identity are central priorities in our educational efforts.
It’s that time of year again: March Madness is here! Just like last year, Southern Seminary invites you to join our bracket challenge (password: Southern) because we are serious about March Madness.
But this year we are introducing a twist: in addition to the standard SBTS bracket challenge, the Admissions and Student Life teams invite you to take part in “Book Bracketology.” We have randomly assigned a Southern Seminary professor’s book to each team in the bracket. When that team advances, someone who retweets details about our “Book Bracketology” challenge will win a copy of the book. 60+ books in total will be given away! More details are available on the Book Bracketology webpage.
Joining the frenzy of March Madness isn’t an accident. The Southern Seminary Student Life and Admissions teams join forces in this effort to magnify the uniqueness of Southern’s academics while building campus community. The goals of Southern Seminary’s March Madness are:
- To highlight our professors – The Book Bracketology competition highlights one of Southern’s greatest strengths: our professors. One of the most attractive features of SBTS is the ability to study with the authors. At other seminaries, you’ll read our professors’ books. At Southern, you get to study with them too. So, join the Book Bracketology challenge to celebrate them.
- To foster campus community – When hundreds of students, staff, and professors participate in anything together, it helps to build community. But in basketball-crazed Kentucky, that’s especially true if it involves March Madness.
- To involve online and extension students – While most student life opportunities are limited to residential students, the SBTS March Madness efforts are available to online and extension students as well. This gives our distance students a chance to feel more involved in campus life.
- To keep Dr. Mohler humble – Everyone knows Dr. Mohler is not into sports, even though he joins us by filling out a bracket. So, our annual March Madness competition gives students a chance to defeat Dr. Mohler in the only arena possible.
It’s not too late to join us for our SBTS bracket (password: Southern) or our Book Bracketology challenge. At Southern Seminary, we are serious about March Madness because we are serious about the gospel.
Leadership development does not occur by accident. No one ever “just so happened” to grow as a leader. That’s why we are very intentional at Southern Seminary in the way we train the next generation of leaders for the evangelical world.
We have multiple leadership development outlets including our ambassadors who support the efforts of our admissions and advancement offices, our interns who support the efforts of various professors or administrators, and our Student Leadership Council who support the efforts of our student life team.
Here’s the who, what, when, where, why, and how of our leadership development strategy at Southern:
- Who – Southern’s leadership development strategy happens by investing in the top students on campus. By enabling them to cross-pollinate with students, staff and faculty across campus, they gain a better identity as future leaders.
- What – Southern’s leadership development strategy happens by mobilizing students to work on substantive projects. By enlisting students to work on key initiatives such as the 1937 Project, recruiting efforts, or student enhancement initiatives, they gain great experience that will shape their future effectiveness.
- When – Southern’s leadership development strategy happens year round. The semesters provide opportunities for weekly growth through meetings and project development. The breaks provide chances to reload and grow.
- Where – Southern’s leadership development strategy happens in residence. There’s a lot of things you can learn through an online classroom, but you can’t learn how to lead people through pixels alone. So, we maximize the benefit of having one of the most beautiful seminary campuses in the world to train our leaders.
- Why – Southern’s leadership development strategy happens for a reason: we are serious about training leaders. Our goal is to raise up the next generation of front line gospel warriors who are prepared to equip the church for ongoing spiritual warfare. That happens both in the classroom and outside of it.
- How – Southern’s leadership development strategy happens through an intentional plan. We evaluate the needs of our students and the keys to growth and customize a strategy for intentional investment.
One of the ways we invest in our student leaders is happening this weekend through our first annual Southern Seminary Student Leadership Conference. We will take some of our student leaders to Nashville for a fun-filled, intentional time of leadership development including:
- A lunch with Southern Seminary alumni
- A chance to hear from Lifeway president Thom Rainer
- A tour of the SBC executive committee building including a word from president Frank Page
- A visit to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission to hear from executive vice president Harold Harper
- A stop by Baptist Press to meet with associate editor Michael Foust
- A dinner with host families
- A panel discussion on marriage and ministry at the Southern Seminary extension center
- A tour of Vanderbilt’s campus to hear from Mark Coppenger on issues related to leadership and religious liberty on the campus
- And, last but not least, a trip to the Grand Ole Opry for a concert including Steven Curtis Chapman, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Charlie Daniels, and Ricky Skaggs!
We can’t wait for this weekend! Southern Seminary is serious about leadership development and the 1st annual Student Leadership Conference is one way we do it.
Recently, I was asked to speak in a challenging environment on very short notice. That experience caused me to reflect on Paul’s admonition to Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
There are times when every preacher will need to preach or teach on short notice, so how do you prepare in advance? The keys to being ready to preach in season and out of season are development and diagnosis.
To be ready in season and out of season, preachers should develop the following items:
- Character development – You won’t be ready to preach in season and out of season unless you are developing your character. Short notice preaching and teaching depends on a saturation in the word and the ongoing pursuit of spiritual growth for its effectiveness.
- Arsenal development – You won’t be ready to preach in season and out of season unless you are developing your arsenal of preaching and teaching material. The more you gain experience, the more you’ll be able to dust something from the past off the shelf to present on short notice.
- “Bullet in the chamber” development – You won’t be ready to preach in season and out of season unless you are developing your “bullet in the chamber.” Every preacher should have (at least) one sermon ready to preach at any time. Maybe this is one of your best sermons on a text you love, or maybe it is something you update periodically after you’ve used your previous “bullet in the chamber.”
To be ready in season and out of season, preachers should diagnose the situation regarding the following issues:
The best example of “out of season” preaching I’ve ever seen was several years ago at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville. Right before a Christmas season service started, the preaching pastor Russell Moore’s wife went into labor. So, he called on the worship pastor Dan Odle to preach. With about 2 minutes of preparation time, Dan preached a great 20 minute sermon on the Christmas story. I won’t soon forget the moment because of the quality of the sermon and the relief I felt that Dan was selected and not me!!!
One of the most challenging yet most fruitful opportunities any preacher has it to be ready to preach in season and out of season. You can’t always anticipate when you will be called on to preach or teach on short notice, but by focusing on these issues related to development and diagnosis, you will put yourself in a position to honor Christ in any situation.