Month: October 2016

Five faculty elected by Criswell College trustees

DALLAS–Criswell College trustees approved five faculty members and re-elected current board officers during their regular meeting Oct. 6.

Having previously taught under appointment, the newly elected faculty members include Vickie Brown, assistant professor of education and program director for Bachelor of Science education; Jeffery Campbell, assistant professor of preaching and dean of students; Craig Mitchell, associate professor of philosophy, politics and economics; Katherine Pang, associate professor of psychology and counseling and program director of the Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Master of Arts in counseling; and Brandon Seitzler, assistant professor of politics and economics, and program director of the Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, politics and economics.

Trustees re-elected Tony Rogers of Bowie as chairman, Chris Lantrip of Forney as vice chairman and Jack Pogue of Dallas as secretary. With the decision of trustee Andrew Hebert of Hobbs, N.M., to decline a second term, the board approved David Galvan of Garland to serve as trustee at large beginning in January of next year.

Policies related to board assessment, gift acceptance and investment were approved on second reading. Initial approval was given to a whistleblower policy that establishes the right of trustees, faculty, staff, volunteers and contract service providers to raise concerns without the prospect of retaliation, as well as an intellectual property policy that ensures compliance with accreditation standards and legal regulations.

Criswell College is affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and provides accredited Bachelor of Arts degrees is biblical studies; church planting and revitalization; ministry; philosophy, politics and economics; and psychology. The newest degree, a Bachelor of Science in education, received approval from the Texas Education Agency State Board for Educator Certification as well as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

In addition to the Master of Divinity, graduate programs are available for the Master of Arts in Christian leadership, Christian studies, counseling, and theological and biblical studies.

Now debt-free, German seminary looks to lead revival in Europe

BONN, Germany—After the news broke, the room full of German businessmen and seminary faculty quickly began to whisper among themselves the word “miracle.” Then, as the weight of the news set in, the men began to weep.

These tears of joy, quite the rarity in that part of the world, were brought about by the presentation of a small piece of paper by Southwestern President Paige Patterson. This paper, a check generously contributed by Harold and Patricia Mathena to Bibelseminar Bonn (BSB), indicated that BSB’s debt, for the first time in the institution’s history, would be cleared.

“Debt-free!” exclaims Heinrich Derksen, president of BSB, which has been Southwestern Seminary’s partner institution in Europe for 11 years. “Being debt-free means to us that we are freed to do even more in our work for Christ in Germany from [our now fully paid-off residence] Haus Wittgenstein. We want to grow as a theological seminary so that even more effective kingdom workers will be used by our God to change the world for Christ in an unprecedented way.”

Founded in 1993, BSB leaders purchased Haus Wittgenstein, a historic building in Germany that has since served as a beautiful place for students to meet for classes. Unfortunately, the money that BSB students could afford to pay the institution was insufficient to cover the cost of the building.

“They bought it on faith, not knowing where in the world the money would come from,” explains Southwestern president Paige Patterson. “And it had become what I would describe as a blessed albatross around their necks.”

Increasing interest rates prevented BSB from making progress on clearing its debt, which hindered the institution’s ability to operate at its fullest potential. Upon the formation of the partnership between BSB and Southwestern Seminary in 2005, Patterson and his wife, Dorothy, set out to raise funds for paying off the debt, but even in light of such efforts, BSB needed a miracle. 

Word of BSB’s need eventually made its way to Gary Mathena, who serves as adjunct professor of worship studies at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Mathena was already acquainted with BSB through personal connections with its faculty, and so when Dorothy Patterson informed him of their financial situation, he began to pray. He then shared his burden for the seminary with his parents, Harold and Patricia Mathena, and as they, too, prayed about the need, God spoke to their hearts.

The Mathenas wrote a check for $350,000, which covered half of BSB’s debt. Previously, a German businessman had pledged that, if the Pattersons could raise $350,000, then he would contribute the same amount, thus covering the other half of the debt. For this reason, this check from the Mathenas signaled that BSB would become a debt-free institution.

While in Germany for BSB’s graduation, Oct. 3, the Pattersons attended a meeting with German businessmen and Bonn faculty. There, Paige Patterson informed them of the Mathenas’ gracious gift.

“The room … had a moment of difficulty, believing that Americans loved them that much,” Patterson says. “As it fully registered with them, they began to weep. This had to be one of the most profound moments I have ever experienced, blending together German blood and American blood in the cause of preparing for the great coming European revival.”

Being debt-free means that BSB can now invest more fully in its academic programs, hire additional faculty and make improvements to their property. In addition, officially owning its own property puts BSB one step closer to gaining accreditation in Europe.

“I’m personally very excited about this because it’s going to free up the school there in Bonn to move a little quicker to do some of the things that they’ve dreamed of doing and wanted to do,” says Gary Mathena. “And I’m especially excited about the potential of maybe moving toward a school of music there at the seminary in Bonn. I’m hopeful that maybe this will speed that process along and that God will provide future resources and opportunities for the school to expand not only in training pastors and preachers and church planters, but also training those who lead the church in worship.”

“We are ready,” Derksen says, “to continue to build the future of an excellent academic seminary in Germany that glorifies our God through faculty and hundreds of Bible students who take bold and passionate steps of faith into a future that will bring spiritual revival to our German families, churches, schools and our whole nation. … We see a future of opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in Germany and Europe. Yes, we are indeed hopeful to see many find eternal life in Jesus Christ and devote themselves to a life-long ministry for the glory of God!”

5 Reasons You’ll Want to be in Austin in November

My fellow pastors and church leaders, please consider coming to our annual meeting in Austin Nov. 14-15. If you have fallen out of the habit or maybe even never got into the habit, here are some reasons you should come.

  1. The gathering of pastors and leaders from our 2,600 local churches in Texas will lead to the praise and glory of Jesus Christ. Pastors old and young leading churches that are inner city, urban, suburban, rural, and house churches, ranging in size from 20 to multiple thousands, is “other worldly” and can only be explained by the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are secure enough through unity in primary doctrines, the gospel and mission that we are free to celebrate and enjoy vast methodological differences.
  2. The Holy Spirit is going to speak to us from the pages of Scripture. I’m so excited about the preaching plan this year: The subject is the Holy Spirit. We have made sure the preachers are all very good preachers. The six sermons will be verse by verse through Romans 8. The stage is set for us to hear from the Lord. (Bonus: All the preachers in attendance will leave with a six-part series on the Holy Spirit through Romans 8!)
  3. You will receive deep, soul-level encouragement and renewal. We have intentionally designed times to address difficult ministry issues common to all pastors that often leave us hurt and discouraged. For example, during the Monday night session and again during the Tuesday President’s Lunch, we will address issues like loneliness, resentment, when our families hate the church, and the burden of unrealistic expectations.
  4. We have a plan to bless and encourage the Christian community of Austin. The Tuesday night session will be a non-denominational worship gathering with three key pieces. Jeremy Camp will lead the singing to draw Christ’s disciples from all over the city. Then Austin’s prayer network will lead us in a time of prayer. If you aren’t aware of it yet, the Holy Spirit has prompted a unique prayer movement in their city. Anywhere from 200-1,000 Christians from a variety of denominations gather regularly to pray for their city. Kie Bowman, one of our key SBTC leaders, is also a major player in the prayer network. Finally, Greg Matte, pastor of FBC Houston will preach. The event has the potential to draw many believers from all over the city for encouragement in kingdom work. We want the kingdom of light to be greater and the kingdom of darkness smaller as a result of the SBTC annual meeting coming to town.
  5. The essential administrative business of our annual meeting has been boiled down to a minimum and streamlined in its presentation. I believe that what will emerge from the reports and presentations is a picture of a convention of churches in which the Lord is clearly present and working.

Make plans to attend our annual meeting. If you know of likeminded pastors whom you would love to see join the SBTC, this is the annual meeting to which you should invite them. See you there.

“Culture of invitation” leads many to salvation in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO After years of invitations to join a friend at church, Mary Grace Gonzales finally accepted the offer Aug. 28 to go hear a guest speaker preach at Castle Hills Baptist Church in San Antonio, where her friend, Joy McAnear, is a member. 

Gonzales grew up in the Catholic tradition, knowing about the Christian faith since her childhood but never regularly attending a church. After enduring recent trials, Gonzales said she felt like her life was “all scattered,” but that Sunday at Castle Hills changed everything.

As guest speaker Tony Nolan presented the opportunity to make a commitment to Jesus, Gonzales said she was moved.

“I felt like I really had to make a commitment to God and stand up for him, and not just go wherever anything else leads me,” she said. “I had stood up before, but I had never really committed. This time, I am actually going to be baptized. That’s a big thing for me.” 

Gonzales is one of more than 100 people who made commitments of faith to Jesus during a recent weekend at Castle Hills. With summer winding down and a new school year beginning, church staff decided it was a good time to invite families and individuals from the community to re-engage in church.

“It naturally kind of dips in the summer, and you’ll see an increase in attendance during this time of year, so we really wanted to capitalize on that,” said castle Hills campus pastor Jonah Easley. 

Castle Hills hosted a youth dodgeball tournament that Saturday night, where nearly 50 teenagers professed faith in Christ, followed by a breakfast the next morning and services at both campuses where guest speaker Tony Nolan presented the gospel, leading to many more professions of faith. 

“I think it’s very biblical to have opportunities for people to invite their friends to some kind of evangelistic outreach,” said pastor Matt Surber. “We had lots of participation from our people, both in serving and in inviting.” 

While Nolan spoke at the Leon Springs campus, Easley stood in the back of the room, watching and listening as Nolan invited the audience to follow Jesus. 

“When the hands shot up across the room, I was almost overwhelmed, not only by the number, but some of the people who raised their hand—blown away in a great way. … It was an emotionally overwhelming moment to see God do what God does, and for us to be a part of that,” Easley said. 

The weekend of evangelism outreach opportunities was part of an ongoing effort at Castle Hills to better engage the surrounding community, Easley said. The church has been around for more than five decades, but over the past two years has restructured into a multi-site church, which now includes two campuses, with plans for a third. 

“Our vision from the beginning has been to create a multi-site model to maximize our presence in the community, as we meet people where they’re at, not only spiritually, but geographically,” Easley said. 

By placing campuses throughout the city and providing many opportunities for evangelism, Easley said the hope is to create a  “culture of invitation,” where church members don’t merely rely on church staff to do ministry but are actively inviting friends, neighbors and coworkers to join them in hearing the gospel. 

Seeing so many church members take this to heart during the recent outreach event was “very rewarding,” Easley said.

“We are called to equip people for ministry, and when we actually see them doing that ministry and grasping that this is a body-wide journey we’re on, it fills my heart with joy to see the body of Christ understanding what the body of Christ is supposed to do and who they’re supposed to be.” 

Moving forward, both Easley and Surber said following up with individuals who made decisions of faith at the evangelism outreach event is a top priority.

“We saw a lot of people saved, so that’s great that they’re in the kingdom, but we want to see the full gospel, the full great commission fulfilled in their lives,” Surber said. 

Ultimately, he wants to see “lives transformed with the gospel,” and disciples being multiplied, Surber added. 

“Hopefully, people who are saved and people who will be discipled will grow in God’s Word and can replicate that in other people, too. That’s when you really see the fruit is when somebody comes to an event like this and someone disciples them and leads them to Christ and then they end up doing the same thing, leading other people to Christ.”