SEBTS to Launch Spurgeon Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching

Chuck Lawless

The Charles H. Spurgeon Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching, which is expected to launch this fall, will be a means by which Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary equips Great Commission-minded pastors to preach God’s Word and lead healthy churches.

Charles “Chuck” Lawless, dean of graduate studies and professor of evangelism and missions at Southeastern, will assume the directorship of the Spurgeon Center, which will be run out of his office.

“I envision the center promoting practical leadership training for local church pastors,” Lawless said. “We want to help church planters as well as pastors who are working to revitalize a church.”

This center has a board of advisors composed of Edgar Aponte, director of Hispanic leadership development at Southeastern; Dennis Kim, senior pastor of Global Mission Church, Silver Spring, Md.; Johnny Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.; Sam Rainer, senior pastor of Stevens Street Baptist Church, Cookeville, Tenn.; and A.B. Vines, senior pastor of New Seasons Church, Spring Valley, Calf.

The board will help guide the center in assisting pastors in excelling within their daily ministries. Alongside of growing healthy churches and revitalizing dying churches, the center plans to encourage and resource church planters. It also will seek to build strategic partnerships with other Southern Baptist Convention entities, such as LifeWay and the North American Mission Board, that also work with pastoral leaders.

“I am excited about the blessing this center will be to the churches,” said Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern. “We will attempt to serve pastors in fulfilling this noble work given to them by King Jesus.”

A primary goal of the center is to help churches become Great Commission churches. Lawless said, “We’re partnering with local churches to make them more effective in areas such as leadership so that the gospel can penetrate local communities and ultimately extend to all nations.”

Lawless emphasized that the center “wants to provide the best advice and necessary tools for pastors of local churches.”

“Because of the world we live in today,” Lawless said, “we have to offer multiple media. I would like to bring individuals to campus as well as send our faculty to those local churches. Alongside of these traditional avenues, I think we also have to be ready to provide training online.”

The center plans to utilize the experience of Akin, Tony Merida, pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, and Jim Shaddix, pastor for teaching and training at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., to assist the center in helping equip churches.

“God calls and raises up pastors to feed, lead, protect and reproduce sheep,” Akin said.

“Those under-shepherds who labor for the glory of the Great Shepherd need to be equipped and well trained for the weighty assignment that has been laid upon them.

“And we want to equip and train ministers well through the Spurgeon Center at Southeastern.”



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.

Book Recommendation: The Young Shepherd

Many young pastors have found themselves in over their heads during their first couple of years in pastoral ministry. Just last week, I spent some time praying with one of my students who is pastoring his first church and facing a very difficult shepherding situation. While Christian colleges and seminaries do their best to prepare rookie pastors for the various scenarios they could face, it’s simply impossible to cover everything. Even seasoned pastors mentoring younger ministers can’t cover every situation that might come up. It can especially be difficult for a young man serving as a solo pastor in a smaller church, because often he is the only person providing any (formal) pastoral care and leadership to the church.

My friend Wayne McDill has co-authored a new book to help young pastors navigate the early years of ministry. Wayne has experience as a pastor, church planter, state convention evangelism coordinator, and—for 21 years—preaching professor at Southeastern Seminary. He is the author of numerous books on preaching, pastoral ministry, and personal evangelism. His co-author Austin Tucker is also a longtime pastor, professor, and author. Their new book, The Young Shepherd: Nathan Murray’s First Year as Pastor (CreateSpace, 2013), offers a treasury of wisdom for new pastors who are still a little wet behind the ears. It would also be a helpful read for veteran pastors.

The Young Shepherd is a fictional account of a young pastor’s first year serving New Hope Church, a rural congregation in the North Carolina Piedmont. Nathan Murray’s story is inspired in part by the experiences of Wayne’s son, Matthew McDill, as well as the experiences of Wayne himself and many other young pastors over the years. During the course of his first year of ministry, Pastor Nathan struggles through the nuts and bolts of shepherding God’s flock, some of the pitfalls and temptations that befall pastors (especially rookies), and how to navigate balancing church and family responsibilities. Along the way, he receives ongoing advice from his father, a veteran pastor, and other wise folks, both from inside and outside the New Hope family.

Students preparing to be pastors would do well to read this book before they tackle their first official church ministry position. But again, even those who are already involved in pastoral ministry, perhaps for many years, would benefit from this book. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter and the recommended readings at the end of the book make The Young Shepherd a helpful resource for associational reading groups, mentoring relationships, or classroom use.