What Class Most Influenced You (Part 5)

We recently asked several members of our faculty the following question:

What class from your own Seminary (or College/Graduate School) most influenced you and why?

Here are some of the responses we received:

Dr. Scott Hildreth, Assistant Professor of Global Studies (Ph.D., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, M.A., University of Mobile):

The most influential class(es) I took has to have been my History of Christian Thought in college. These classes were both frustrating and liberating! They showed me how Christians in different cultures and time periods struggled life out and express their faith in Jesus. I learned that it was important to maintain a biblical faith, but there are different ways to articulation the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Some got it right and others got it wrong.

These ideas have been extremely helpful as I have worked with people in different cultural contexts and also as I have sought to train our students to serve around the world. The theological formulations of our church fathers have always been missional expressions of the faith and today, as we seek to make disciples of all nations, we are joining them and laying a foundation for those who will come after us.
Dr. Alvin Reid, Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism, Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry (Ph.D., M.Div. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary):
So many classes influenced me, but the teachers made a greater impact than the courses themselves. My PhD seminar on the History of Spiritual Awakenings with Dr. Roy Fish would have to rank as the all time high. That seminar, a year in length, shaped me greatly as a professor, a write, and a thinker. It helped to bring together theological concepts, my love for history, and personal experience and calling beautifully.

Stay tuned for more answers from our faculty.

Marks of Revival Movements for Leaders

In 2014 current SBC President Ronnie Floyd issued a call entitled  Pleading with Southern Baptists  calling for a focus on revival prayer. Last fall Dr. Floyd asked me to address almost 100 SBC leaders about the need for and nature of revival. I shared with them five marks of awakenings gleaned from past movements. These do not represent an exhaustive list, but in my mind are critical for our times. The first two marks would surprise no one familiar with God’s work in past revival movements. The next two may surprise some, and the final mark surprised me, as it represents an aspect of awakening I missed in my years of study but saw clearly in seasons of real revival in my own experience and in that of friends.

1. Deep, burdened, desperate prayer. Matthew Henry said, “When God begins a work, He sets His people to praying.” John Knox prayer, “Give me Scotland, or I die.” As a boy, Jonathan Edwards made a booth in the woods and prayed five times a day. No wonder he wrote a treatise on prayer in the middle of the First Great Awakening.

Baptist pastors Stephen Gano and Isaac Backus sent a circular letter in 1795 to pastors of all denominations in New England calling for a concert of prayer, using Edwards’ treatise on prayer in their exhortation. Within a few years the Second Great Awakening came. A group of college guys prayed under a haystack in 1806; as a result the first movement of global missions on American soil was born out of this “Haystack Revival.” Jeremiah Lanphier experienced a prayer revival out of a prayer meeting in 1857 in New York City. On and on the examples go.

Leonard Ravenhill said when it comes to praying for revival, God does not answer prayer, He answers desperate prayer. For what are you praying in holy desperation?

2. A radical passion to win the world to Jesus. Movements of revival send believers into the culture to win people at all costs. John Wesley, a proper, Oxford trained Anglican, wrote in his journal that he doubted whether a person could be saved outside a church building. But when revival came he found himself reaching a whole population by preaching in the fields. Edwards noted that when rescuing people from a burning house, they had no time to fight one another. In the same way, when we focus on advancing the gospel, we build each other up instead of tearing each other down. In the Jesus Movement, a trio of pastors in their pressed suits came upon some Jesus freakish hippies sharing Jesus on the street.

“What are you doing?” A pastor asked a young man. “Sir, we are doing what you just talk about,” the young believer replied. Ouch. When is the last time you were so broken for a lost person you became less concerned about methods or being proper and more broken to show and share Christ?

3. Youth play a vital role. Jonathan Edwards said the Great Awakening was mostly a youth movement. I’ve read countless primary accounts of revival movements from history; youth figure prominently in around 90% I have read. Spurgeon preached to thousands in London in his early 20s. Whitefield preached across the colonies at 25. Brainerd and McCheyne died before they turned 30 yet we remember well their valiant ministries.

If you are middle aged or older, be aware: you and I are not likely to be the people who start a revival, but we certainly have the influence to kill one. What are you doing to involve young people and to allow them to lead?

4. Social justice: in awakenings, people are reach, churches are planted, and orphanages are established. Whitefield spread the Great Awakening across the colonies. He also founded an orphanage called Bethesda in Georgia. Spurgeon, Spener, and others had orphanages as well. Numerous other social enterprises had their genesis in revival movements.

Millennials love causes. If we want to impact a younger generation note this: before they will join in our causes we have to care about theirs. What are you doing about the brokenness in our land and in your community?

5. Here is the one I missed: in revival, leaders get right. Isaiah was the most godly man in the land, yet he was ruined by his own sin. Edwards wept in his church as Whitefield preached. Brainerd lay in the snow, coughing up blood from tuberculosis, begging God to save the Indians.
Leaders can so easily isolate themselves from accountability and thus from confronting their own sin.

Who is in your life that can call you out? Note: you can be in the middle of the activity of God and miss Him. I know I am experiencing revival personally when I stop confessing the sins of others and look in my own heart. When is the last time you were broken personally and sought God to revive your heart? God is stirring the hearts of many. Let’s join together, seek the Lord, and be available for His Spirit to use us.

Note: I’ve written a bit on this topic.  See Firefall 2.0 and Revival Revived.

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Book Notice: “As You Go: Creating a Missional Culture of Gospel-Centered Students”

Thank you for having been about to ask. Yes, Alvin Reid has committed another act of Reid_As_you_goliterature. Dr. Reid, SEBTS professor of evangelism and student ministry, has published a new book As You Go: Creating A Missional Culture of Gospel-Centered Students (NavPress). Those of us who know Dr. Reid perceive in him a real passion both for gospel-centered ministry and for students. Fittingly, then, As You Go calls students and student ministry leaders to the same sort of passion.

The back cover of the book states the context and goal of the book:

“Today’s students long for a rich, meaningful faith. They want something more than a moral code and therapeutic worship that leaves them unsatisfied and uninspired. Speaker, author, and evangelism professor Alvin L. Reid reveals a key to capturing students’ hearts for life: a missional youth ministry. Through practical teaching and powerful application tools, discover how giving teens a grander purpose and vision and encouraging them to see all of life as a mission field transforms their faith, their lives, and the world.”

Reid’s proposal is a simple one: return student ministry to the biblical moorings any faithful ministry needs. Thus he offers four interrelated ways: a return to 1) God-centered theology and worship; 2) the gospel (“a radical, Christocentric transformation . . .” p. 19); 3) the goal that is to glorify God; and 4) the gathering, which is to connect teens to the whole congregation not just one another (pp. 18–21). For those who desire to glorify God in their church’s student ministry–as a student, student minister, pastor, or parent–this book will help them reach that goal. Follow the link above to pick up your copy.