After launching the for The Church vision in 2012, Midwestern Seminary saw a host of men and women from across the country joining the mission in Kansas City. Kenneth Blackwell was one of those people, being the first to move his family on campus from out of state. After receiving his Master of Divinity degree from Midwestern in 2017, Ken and his wife Amy—along with their five children—moved to Washington, MO, to serve as Associate Pastor of Discipleship at Faith Baptist Church. As a great example of graduates Midwestern hopes to produce, we’re pleased to introduce Kenneth Blackwell to you in this edition of the Midwestern Magazine.
MBTS: How did your time at Midwestern Seminary help prepare you for ministry?
Ken Blackwell: The time and work in the languages, exegesis, background, biblical interpretation, and more, helped form a great foundation for ministry, but getting that foundation in the context of relationships and the local church was equally important. My time at Midwestern prepared me to continue to grow as a lifelong learner. I pray I never stop learning of God through His Word and loving Him more in response. But it has also helped me engage the world around the church and mobilize the church to be in the world bearing the name of Christ.
Every person who can take seminary classes should. Whether you pursue a degree or not, seminary prepares you to be a better minister to your household, your church, and your community. I’m a better husband and dad because of my time at Midwestern.
MBTS: Ken, you serve as Associate Pastor of Discipleship at Faith Baptist Church in Washington, MO. Tell us a little bit more about your local context and how the Lord has worked at Faith Baptist Church.
KB: Part of the beauty of our context involves the story of how God worked to get us here. We weren’t looking to move. But one day, a fellow Midwestern student called and shared that he’d love to give my name to this church. Though at first we felt unprepared for a transition as a family, God quickly made it clear that this was His will, and brought all seven of us to this community. This warm and loving church received my whole family with open arms and allowed us to bring our giftings and our baggage. They cared for us well as we began investing in them.
God has answered prayers as we continue to have new families join and see baptisms multiply. Our hope is to saturate our county with the gospel of Jesus, beginning with discipling every family God has given us stewardship over, and helping them become disciple makers. We have loved partnering with our church and church staff to increase the fame of God’s name wherever He opens a door.
MBTS: Can you tell us about your experience at Midwestern Seminary and what drew you to the seminary?
KB: At the beginning of our seminary search in 2013, I would not have been able to find Midwestern Seminary on a map. On the basis of a friend’s recommendation, we decided to visit Midwestern while on a winter road trip to see another seminary. Despite the conditions, Dr. Allen, Charles Smith, and their families were very hospitable and shared passionately about the vision for the seminary. We visited the President’s home, received a personal tour of the campus, and dined at a local BBQ place together.
One thing was very clear from our visit: Midwestern existed for the Church. That meant something to me. I wanted to leave seminary prepared to minister the gospel in a local church context. Our first days included more opportunities to get to know the Allen family, work and participate in campus life through Student Leadership, and build relationships with many faculty and friends that we enjoy to this day. Though in a lot of ways we were still figuring out the combination of seminary, work, and young kids, we were grateful to be on campus. Dr. Allen and others truly cared about our growing family and invited us to be a part of what was happening at Midwestern. During my time in seminary, God taught me what it meant to study to show myself approved and how to lead as a servant while learning to lead my family.
MBTS: As a graduate, what advice would you give to current students at Midwestern or those considering seminary education?
KB: I believe seminary has benefits for everyone. If you do it right, it should make you a better dad, father, servant-leader, and minister of the gospel. I would offer three things to consider during seminary study:
1. Do not divorce your study from application of that study in the context of a local church. Be plugged in to a local body and serve meaningfully.
2. If you are married, do not let your studies become your mistress or you will likely do the same in the context of vocational ministry. You should not lead in God’s household if you don’t lead well at home. As I was told by many, “If you must choose between getting an ‘A’ at class or at home, get an ‘A’ at home.” More than that, help your family be life-long learners through your posture and inclusion of them.
3. Put to death the thought of being “ready” for ministry because of a seminary degree. It’s a little like marriage. You are never ready. By God’s grace, He will call you to it, equip you for it, and see you through it as you depend on Him. But it’s better in community with other pilgrims going the same way.