Birmingham (BP) — Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Jason Allen’s report to the messengers at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting reflected the institution’s steadfast determination to serve the local church.
Allen noted that Midwestern Seminary’s primary focus is to constantly evaluate and answer the question, “How do we best equip and serve the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention?”
Reading from Ephesians 4:11-16, Allen explained the passage clearly points to Jesus’ emphasis on the corporate body of believers, saying, “The main act is not Midwestern Seminary. The main act is not even theological education. The main act is the local church—the body of Christ.
“The magic of this convention is not in its six seminaries. It is that nearly 50,000 congregations, week- after-week, are winning people to Christ, baptizing believers into the body of Christ, sending missionaries unto the nations for the cause of Christ. Our work at Midwestern Seminary, therefore, is to undergird and support your work in the local church.”
After thanking messengers for their faithfulness in supporting Midwestern Seminary through their Cooperative Program giving, Allen noted that the past year in the life of the institution had been “unprecedented.”
Among the many achievements for which he gave thanks, Allen noted the completion of the Mathena Student Center, the seminary’s significant faculty hires, the transition to a biblical counseling model, the relaunching of Spurgeon College, and school’s record enrollment.
Allen shared how the $13 million, 40,000 square foot Mathena Student Center is a spectacular addition to campus, meeting an institutional need that has existed since the seminary’s earliest days.
Significant new faculty hires were also highlighted by Allen, as he recognized Andreas Kostenberger, research professor of New Testament and biblical theology, Jason DeRouchie, who will be research professor of Old Testament and biblical theology, Andrew King, who will serve as assistant dean of Spurgeon College, and Thomas Kidd, who will be distinguished professor of church history.
Allen further mentioned the hiring of Dale Johnson, as associate professor of biblical counseling. As Midwestern Seminary has transitioned from an integrative counseling to a biblical counseling model, Allen explained why the decision was made to move that direction.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing how God impacts students through it (biblical counseling model). Why such a transition? Because, again, we asked how do we best serve the churches of the convention? For us, it became clear that this was the decision God would have us to go.”
Relaunching the institution’s undergraduate program, Spurgeon College, a little over a year ago was Allen’s next topic of discussion. He told how the college’s ministry footprint is expanding, saying that students are coming to Kansas City not just to be trained as pastors, ministers, and missionaries.
With new degree programs like business and communications, these students are not only “for the church,” they are “for the kingdom.” The reason for this is that they will now have the ability to go and serve vocationally in the marketplace at home or overseas—taking the gospel of Christ to the nations via a business or other platform.
Along the enrollment front, Allen expressed his gratitude to God for continued growth. He said Midwestern Seminary’s enrollment is on course to reach 3,800-to-3,900 students, which means the school’s enrollment over the past seven years has more than tripled. Additionally, all early metrics portend another record enrollment this fall.
Concluding his report, Allen explained the mission of Midwestern Seminary is simple, “It’s not about one man or an entire faculty. It’s not about the brilliance of a team, the eloquence of speakers, or the savviness of marketers. It’s about three words: for the church. It’s a mission, a determination, a resolve that continues to resonate with the messengers seated before me and the churches throughout the land.
“We are here to train pastors, ministers, missionaries and church planters for Southern Baptist churches. Three words: for the church.”
Patrick Hudson is assistant professor of communications & history and institutional editor at Midwestern Seminary.