Amidst a full week of events at Midwestern Seminary, which included an anniversary celebration, trustee meetings, and the Spurgeon Lectures, President Jason Allen introduced a new tradition to the seminary community on Oct. 17.

Called the “Inaugural Faculty Address,” Allen noted the goal is to allow a member of the faculty to deliver a formal, academic presentation to his or her peers each semester – offering an opportunity to build collegiality and recognize the research and study interests of each professor. Midwestern Seminary Provost, Jason Duesing, will deliver the second address in the Spring 2018 semester.

“We argue and believe that our right to exist therefore is directly tethered to our faithfulness to the local church.”

In his faculty address, Allen presented on the subject, “For the Church: A Five-Year Appraisal” – covering ideas such as why Midwestern Seminary exists For the Church; what it means to be For the Church; what God has done over the past five years at Midwestern Seminary; and what it will look like to project the vision forward.

To his first point, Allen noted that Midwestern Seminary exists For the Church as the result of a biblical mandate in Matthew 16, where Jesus promised to build his church.

“We argue and believe that our right to exist therefore is directly tethered to our faithfulness to the local church,” Allen said. “Christ has promised to build his church, not his seminary. But, as we are faithful to his church, doubtlessly he will build this seminary.”

Allen added that existing For the Church is a denominational mandate – serving the underserved Southern Baptist churches in the region who need pastors and ministers to equip their members. He also noted that it is imperative, from a historical vantage point, for seminaries to remain submissive to the oversight of the local church – lest they stray from their true mission.

“Christ has promised to build his church, not his seminary. But, as we are faithful to his church, doubtlessly he will build this seminary.”

Secondly, Allen addressed what it actually means to be For the Church. In answering, he noted, “Everything we do, we want to filter through the question, ‘Does that enable us to serve the local church?’”

Among many things, this includes how the seminary orients itself toward institutional goals; how the seminary projects itself and makes institutional decisions; what is included in the curriculum taught; how professors teach and what is taught; and the faculty and staff hired.

Allen then turned his attention to what God has done at the seminary over the past five years and noted that there’s been a renewed spirit of unity, purpose, cheerfulness, comradery, and mission on campus. He also referenced the school’s surging enrollment – explaining how it has nearly tripled over the past five years. He added that it’s not just the quantity of students, but the quality keeps getting better as well.

Allen further noted a solid and sustainable business model that has been built, as well as words of confidence and goodwill from the SBC and beyond in what is happening at Midwestern Seminary.

Wrapping up his address, Allen asked, “God has given us five good years, but what would it be like for God to give us five good decades?” and “How do we project forward and toward our mission and ministry?”

Among the points he suggested in answering these questions were:

Being stubborn in maintaining the vision of existing for the church is imperative. “I believe this, any conviction worth holding is worth holding regardless of its seasonality. For the Church, we truly believe, is God’s vision for this institution; we truly believe it is a biblically-based vision; and it must be a perennial one, and one we must make sure we are perennially committed to.”

He also noted that For the Church must continue to be “For the Nations.”

“For the Church is a global vision,” he said. “God is a global God doing a global work across the nations. We are a Great Commission people, and we have to be intentional to talk about, strive for, to teach for, and to pray for the international church as well as the domestic church.”

Allen said the seminary community must “guard our hearts” and “assume nothing.” He explained that Midwestern Seminary needs to continue articulating, advocating, and speaking to hold ourselves accountable to the BFM 2000, the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

He further noted that Midwestern Seminary must carry this vision and pass it along to other evangelical entities and institutions. “I believe God has given us such a clear vision, and such a perch from which to speak, that we must challenge and encourage other institutions and ministries to strengthen their commitment and service to the local church.”

Other items of note included the need to continue to gain institutional strength; building and sustaining a seminary community where each member flourishes; and being intentional to not stray from the current business model.

Allen concluded saying, “For the Church. It is the vision that has radiated through this campus and reverberated across our great denomination. It is the vision that we, with appropriate institutional self-confidence, are projecting to all who have ears to hear. May we never cease to thank God for the victories he has given us these past five years. May we never cease to serve in such a way that he is pleased to give us such victories going forward.”