The Sovereign Grace Pastors College welcomes Mark Prater, Ian McConnell, and Tim Shorey as our missiology instructors this week. These men bring a combined history of nearly 50 years of pastoral ministry that includes church planting, replanting, and short-term missions work.
Mark Prater's opening lecture sprang from Colossians 1:24-29. He drew our attention to Paul's ambition to proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ, even amid difficulty, so that everyone might be found mature in Christ. He then shared the following:
There are certain quotes that stir my soul. Let me share one with you for I believe it may stir your soul as well.
“Between Eden and the eternal state, between Abraham and Armageddon, between Babel and the beast’s confinement to the lake of fire, few biblical topics are as important as mission. This is because mission, while purposed by God prior even to sin, is inextricably linked to man’s sinfulness and need for redemption and God’s provision of salvation in the person and work of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. This ‘good news’ of salvation in Jesus, however must be made known. Thus mission is the ingredient that both precedes Christian existence and constitutes a major motivation for Christian living: the saving mission of Jesus constitutes the foundation for Christian mission, and the Christian Gospel is the message of mission, a mission that is not optional but mandatory.” (Kostenberger and O’Brien, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth).
This brings tears to my eyes not only for the provision of salvation I have in Jesus Christ but also because sinners, like you and me get to participate in something grander and greater than us, the “mandatory mission” of making known the good news of Jesus Christ.
For the last 32 years our family of churches has participated in the “mandatory mission” of making known the gospel of Jesus Christ primarily through church planting. Why church planting? Because it’s what you see in the New Testament, the good news of Jesus Christ being made known through ordinary people that participate in the planting of churches.
We don’t plant churches to replicate the sending church, nor do we plant churches to grow Sovereign Grace Ministries. We plant churches because you and I live “between Eden and the eternal state” which means we don’t have much time to make known the person and saving work of Jesus to those who don’t know Him as their Savior. We must not grow numb to the truth that people all around us need God’s provision of salvation in the finished work of Christ. Quite simply, that’s why we plant churches.
A Church Planting Story
Last September I attended the memorial service of my friend Gunter Kiesewetter in the Pittsburgh area. Church planting is very dear to me because in 1996, Covenant Fellowship Church sent me, my family, and about 12 adults to plant a Sovereign Grace church in the South Hills of Pittsburgh (Providence Church). One of the members of our church planting team was Dirk Kiesewetter who was sent from Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA. Through Dirk our church got to know, befriended, reached out to, and shared the gospel with Dirk’s father Gunter.
Gunter along with his wife Helma (who was already a Christian) immigrated to America during W.W. II. Gunter was successful in business and was a “hard working, hard playing” type of guy whose heart was hard toward the gospel. However, the members of Providence Church spent time with him, loved him, and shared the good news of Jesus with him. At some point Gunter was born again and trusted in Christ as his Savior. I’ll never forget the day when we, as a small church family, gathered around Gunter’s pool in his backyard and baptized him as a Christian.
That memory was in the forefront of my mind when I attended his memorial service in September. I pondered the joy Gunter was experiencing as he gazed into the eyes of Jesus and heard “well done my good and faithful servant.” But I also found my heart filled with gratitude to God for the members of the Providence Church church planting team. Ordinary people, like you and me who participated in something grander and greater than themselves, making known the good news of Jesus. Because a church was planted, this memorial service had an element of joy, for our friend Gunter heard the good news, responded to it, and now will spend eternity at the throne of grace. I tell you this story because it embodies why we plant churches and participate in the “mandatory mission” Jesus gave us.
Your Participation in the Mandatory Mission
Never forget there are people like Gunter Kiesewetter living all around you who need to hear about the saving work of Jesus. Pray for opportunities to befriend them and share the gospel with them for one day you will stand around a pool or baptismal and rejoice like we did on the day we baptized Gunter.
As I consider the church plants Sovereign Grace Ministries has planned this coming year, I pray for and anticipate the conversions of many like Gunter as we participate in our “mandatory mission" together.
March 12, 2013 by
Categories: Interviews | Pastors College
The Pastors College welcomes Jerry Bridges as their guest instructor this week covering Grace and Sanctification. This marks the 13th year Dr. Bridges has served us through his teaching and example at our Pastors College. We are most grateful!
Dr. Bridges is the author of numerous excellent cross-centered books like:
Over the years Dr. Bridges has conducted interviews with us on a variety of topics. The audio from these interviews has been gathered below:
Train yourself for godliness [Audio]
Learning to preach the gospel to yourself every day [Audio]
An explanation of "union with Christ" for the new believer [Audio]
Counsel for stuck-in-the-mud Christians [Audio]
Five life truths learned from over six decades as a Christian [Audio]
C.J. Mahaney interviews Jerry Bridges [Audio]
Author and speaker Jerry Bridges will join the Pastors College next week as their guest instructor covering Grace and Sanctification.
Mr. Bridges is 83 years old, and he's been walking with the Lord for 65 of those years. A couple years ago Tony Reinke had the opportunity to sit down and interview Mr. Bridges. During that interview Mr. Bridges shared five life truths he's discovered during his six decades in the faith. Wise words from a man who never ceases to stir the listener's affections for God.
To listen to this 8-minute conversation, right-click to download, or listen here:
January 24, 2013 by
Categories: Interviews | Pastors College
What is the role of the Mosaic Law?
Where are people most vulnerable to misinterpretation of Scripture?
What priorities should pastors have for their ongoing study?
These questions (and many others) were answered by Dr. Stephen Wellum in a recent interview with Jeff Purswell, Dean of the Sovereign Grace Pastors College. For 45 minutes they explored covenant theology, hermeneutics, and biblical theology with application for the busy pastor in mind. This interview concluded a very fruitful week in the Pastors College where Dr. Wellum served as our guest hermeneutics instructor.
|An Interview with Dr. Stephen Wellum
|Covenant Theology, Hermeneutics, and Biblical Theology
[0:01] Dr. Wellum: husband, father, student, pastor, and professor
[4:18] A discussion on Dr. Wellum’s latest book, Kingdom Through Covenant
[6:50] Where does Dr. Wellum's understanding of the covenants fit among Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology?
[12:46] What is the role of the Mosaic Law?
[15:46] What about the Sabbath command?
[19:08] Is the Mosaic Law normative for us?
[22:30] A discussion on hermeneutics
[26:22] Where are people most vulnerable to misinterpretation of Scripture?
[29:38] Wisdom for the young preacher/exegete
[32:16] Wisdom for the busy pastor who recognizes his need to grow in putting the whole of the Bible’s teaching together in his preaching
[35:42] 3 prioritizes for a pastor's ongoing study
[40:05] Every pastor should read these books...
[41:48] How has Dr. Wellum’s pastoral experience influenced his academic work?
January 11, 2013 by
Categories: Pastors College
Journeys, no matter how large or small, bring with them uncertainties and surprises. Our road to the The Pastors College was no exception.
Beyond the obvious challenge of leaving everything familiar behind to move into the uncertain, the class of 2013 also encountered some more unusual surprises. But multiple vehicle breakdowns, snowstorms impeding progress, and last minute housing changes did not shake our awareness of God’s faithful provision each step of the way.
Things that were uncertain to us just days ago are becoming less so. By the grace of God, friendships are already forming through the times our class has shared together over meals and fellowship groups. And while we’re just four days into the coursework, we’ve been richly blessed by our instruction in Systematic Theology I with Jeff Purswell, our Dean. Each one of us has been, not surprisingly, overcome by the glory and beauty of God found in Scripture. The richness of the teaching we’ve received this first week has been evidence of God’s certain plan to reveal more of himself to us through our studies here.
This journey we’re on (and for that matter, the journey you find yourself on), is sure to be filled with many things that are unexpected. It may seem that we’ve entered this year with uncertainties about our financial stability, our intellectual capacity, or what lies beyond the Pastors College year. But there is one thing that is certain. It’s that one thing we all must absolutely lean on: the love of God toward us in Christ Jesus and his faithfulness to give us everything we need to listen, learn, read, study, parse Greek, care for one another, and see Jesus with more clarity. This first week has been filled with rich teaching and an abundance of opportunities to depend on God. And that, not surprisingly, is God’s plan not just for the families at the Pastors College but for each one of his children.
Steve is a student in our 2013 Pastors College Class. He has served in pastoral ministry since 1993 and on staff at Sovereign Grace Church, MN since 2008.
January 10, 2013 by
Categories: Pastors College
During the Sovereign Grace Pastors College year, students benefit from a wide variety of instructors, both seasoned pastors within Sovereign Grace Ministries as well as outstanding guest instructors. Next week, we are pleased to welcome Dr. Stephen J. Wellum as our instructor of Hermeneutics.
Dr. Wellum is Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and editor of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. He has written many articles, book reviews, and contributed to works such as Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity and Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times.
Most recently, Dr. Wellum and Dr. Peter J. Gentry authored Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants, which has garnered much attention for attempting to stake out a middle way between dispensationalism and covenant theology.
We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to host Dr. Wellum next week and benefit from his instruction and example.
For further information about this year’s guest instructors, including an exceptional trio of Church History instructors, read here.
January 9, 2013 by
Categories: Pastors College
“No work can possibly confer a greater benefit upon mankind than the training of ministers who God has chosen, for around them spring up churches.” —C.H. Spurgeon
The Sovereign Grace Pastors College
By God’s grace, the Sovereign Grace Pastors College has trained 243 men for ministry since opening in 1997. At the Pastors College these men invest time in their studies, their families, and each other to return better equipped to serve their local church.
Class of 2013
This week we welcomed our fifthteenth Pastors College Class to our new location in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to our lineup of Sovereign Grace instructors, this year's class will benefit from many outstanding guest instructors: Dr. Stephen Wellum, Dr. Mike Bullmore, Jerry Bridges, Dr. Michael Haykin, Dr. Steve Nichols, Dr. Ray Van Neste, Dr. John Woodbridge, and Dr. Iain Duguid. As you can imagine, the Pastors College program is an intense experience. We invite you to take a moment to look over the class roster and to pray for these men and their families.
|Student name||Sending church|
||Sovereign Grace Church (Bloominton, MN)
||Covenant of Grace Church (Copley, OH)
||Covenant Fellowship Church (Glen Mills, PA)
||Sovereign Grace Church (Gilbert, AZ)
||Solid Rock Church (Riverdale, MD)
||Cornerstone Church of Knoxville (Knoxville, TN)
||Grace Church (Frisco, TX)
||Grace Church (Frisco, TX)
||Sovereign Grace Church (Louisville, KY)
Training Pastors And Our Mission
Training future pastors is so important to our mission that the Pastors College receives 25% of our annual Mission Fund. In this video, the 2012 graduating class recounts how this academic instruction with an emphasis on pastoral care and spiritual growth served them in preparation for pastoral ministry.
By God’s grace, the Sovereign Grace Pastors College has trained 243 men for ministry since opening in 1997. The 2012 graduating class alone included 23 men, eight of whom returned with their families to church planting residencies.
Later this month, we’ll welcome the 2013 Pastors College Class. For those of you less familiar with our Pastors College, it is a ten-month pastoral training program for men in Sovereign Grace churches. It combines academic instruction with an emphasis on pastoral care and spiritual growth. The Pastors College also provides ongoing training for current pastors in Sovereign Grace Ministries.
In this video, the 2012 graduating class recounts how this academic instruction with an emphasis on pastoral care and spiritual growth served them in preparation for pastoral ministry.
Training future pastors is so important to our mission that the Pastors College receives 25% of our annual Mission Fund.
October 18, 2012 by
Categories: Pastors College
This year an exceptional trio of scholars will teach the Church History courses at the Sovereign Grace Pastors College.
Michael A.G. Haykin (B.A., University of Toronto; M.Rel., Wycliffe College and Univ. of Toronto; Th.D., Wycliffe College and Univ. of Toronto) will teach Church History I (Ancient Church). Dr. Haykin is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also the Director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. His doctoral work has been published under the title The Spirit of God: The Exegesis of 1 and 2 Corinthians in the Pneumatomachian Controversy of the Fourth Century (Brill, 1994). At a more popular level he has written Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church. Dr. Haykin has also developed research interests in Baptist history and spirituality. His numerous publications in this area include One Heart and One Soul: John Sutcliff of Olney, His Friends, and His Times; Kiffin, Knollys and Keach: Rediscovering Our English Baptist Heritage (Reformation Today Trust, 1996); ‘At the PureFountain of Thy Word’: Andrew Fuller as an Apologist; Jonathan Edwards: The Holy Spirit in Revival; and The God who draws near: An Introduction to Biblical Spirituality. 1
John D. Woodbridge (Ph.D, University of Toulouse; M.Div., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; M.A., history, Michigan State University; B.A., history, Wheaton College) will teach Church History II (Medieval Church). Dr. Woodbridge is Research Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His areas of expertise include evangelicalism, fundamentalism, the history of the Bible's authority, the French enlightenment and religion, the French Hugenots, and the origins of higher criticism. His published works include The History of Biblical Authority (Zondervan 1982), The Evangelicals (Abingdon, 1975), and Revolt in Prerevolutionary France: The Conspiracy of the Prince de Conti Against Louis XV (1755-1757) (Johns Hopkins, 1995). He has edited works such as Ambassadors for Christ (Moody, 1994), More Than Conquerors (Moody 1992), Great Leaders of the Christian Church (Moody 1988), and Renewing Your Mind in a Secular World (Moody, 1985). Dr. Woodbridge also frequently writes and edits books with faculty colleague D. A. Carson. Together they have written Letters Along the Way (Crossway, 1993) and edited Scripture and Truth (Zondervan, 1983). Dr. Woodbridge has received four Gold Medallion Awards for his works related to Christian history and biography. He has also coedited scholarly works published in France and Germany by university presses. 2
Steve Nichols (Ph.D, M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary; M.A., West Chester University; B.S., Philadelphia College of Bible) will teach Church History III (Reformation to the present). He is a professor at Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School, and an adjunct professor of church history at Reformed Theological Seminary. His published works include The Pages of Church History, Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought, An Absolute Sort of Certainty: The Holy Spirit and the Apologetics of Jonathan Edwards and J. Gresham Machen: A Guided Tour of His Life and Work. He chairs the Jonathan Edwards Study Group of the Evangelical Theological Society. 3
Although their resumes do not say so, these gentlemen-scholars are three of the most winsome and unassuming academics one could ever wish to meet. All three have published extensively not simply for their academic peers, but for the edification and education of us regular Christians in the pews. Pastoral and practical lessons from history always remain near the forefront of their minds. Dr. Woodbridge has taught Church History II at the Pastors College for many years where he has been much beloved. Dr. Nichols returns to the Pastors College for a second time after a triumphant debut teaching Church History III last year. We eagerly await Dr. Haykin’s first appearance at the Pastors College, as his reputation precedes him.
For more information about the Pastors College, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nathan Sasser is the Assistant Director of Academic Affairs for the Sovereign Grace Pastors College. He has bachelor's degrees in English and in Philosophy from North Carolina State University, an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and is a PhD student in philosophy at the University of South Carolina. Nathan, his wife Patricia, and their daughter make their home in Louisville, Kentucky.
September 27, 2012 by
Categories: Articles | Pastors College
In my previous posts (A Simple Conversation with a Profound Presence; Biblical Institute, Seminary, and the Sovereign Grace Pastors College), I wrote about the care received and grace experience while attending the Sovereign Grace Pastors College.
I would be remiss not to write about the academic piece of the Pastors College.
The emphasis for the PC became evident during orientation. We did not attend it alone, but with our wives (where applicable). This was no mere formality, but an expression of SGM’s commitment to care for pastors by caring for their marriages. After all a college for pastors must emphasize his primary pastoral responsibility.
Here’s an annotated and sampled list of our classes:
Systematic Theology 1-7: Yeah, you read that right. SEVEN. Beginning with the doctrine of Scripture. THE appropriate place to begin any systematic theological endeavor. (Of course, I am biased considering my dissertation is entitled “The Self-Authentication of Scripture as the Proper Ground for Systematic Theology”!). We were taken up into the glory of God’s condescension in a book. Theology Proper. Christology. Pneumatology (with Wayne Grudem!). Ecclesiology. Eschatology.
Biblical Theology: How does the entire biblical narrative fit together? Yep, that’s something theologians have been discussing for centuries and we tackle in a week!
Hermeneutics: Mark Mullery did an excellent job of helping us connect dots and read genres.
Pastoral Theology: Ken Mellinger, Andy Farmer, Rob Flood, Warren Boettcher, John Loftness. These are men who are pastors. They love theology and they love people and they love God. We could ask them questions about bugbear issues as theology works itself out in the context of a local church.
Preaching 1 & 2: How do you preach an O.T. narrative without making it merely moral? Can you preach about Rahab’s scarlet cord? How about the five smooth stones David picked up? How do you simplify and drive a point home (a question I am still trying to answer!)?
Apologetics: We give a worldview when we speak of Christianity. Take your time to enumerate and to demolish other fine-sounding arguments. Be gentle, but direct and gracious when trusting the Spirit of God to bring light to blind eyes.
Galatians: (with Tom Schreiner). Need I say more than a parenthetical statement?
Spiritual Disciplines: Mike Bullmore modeled such a life as much as he talked about it.
Sanctification: Jerry Bridges stood up the whole time! And as he was standing he convicted me of my lack of the grasp of grace and offered me grace to assuage my guilt.
Okay. There are many more classes, but I won’t enumerate them here. Can I just say that the bent towards being a pastor was palpable? Every class had numerous take-aways for how it applied to pastoring people. How does the Spirit empower you in preaching and shepherding and integrated into counseling? How should eschatology affect our fervency in pleading with men and comforting the suffering? Having lunch with professors each week was pretty sweet–especially if pizza was ordered. I remember being able to take Bridges to the airport with my family and my girls giving him hugs as he boarded his plane. I remember eating at Chipotle with Craig Cabaniss and talking about church planting. I remember taking John Woodbridge to Chuck Colson’s memorial service in D.C. with Andrew and Jeff and eating at Burger King afterward. What a memory as we spoke about the development of doctrine in France and the need to defend the Christian worldview in an accessible way. . .over a double Whopper with cheese.