BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Jason Allen's report to the messengers at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting reflected the institution's determination to serve the local church.
Allen noted that Midwestern's primary focus is to constantly evaluate and answer the question, "How do we best equip and serve the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention?"
Reading from Ephesians 4:11-16, Allen explained that the passage clearly points to Jesus' emphasis on the corporate body of believers, saying, "The main act is not Midwestern Seminary. The main act is not even theological education. The main act is the local church – the body of Christ.
"The magic of this convention is not in its six seminaries. It is that nearly 50,000 congregations, week after week, are winning people to Christ, baptizing believers into the body of Christ, sending missionaries unto the nations for the cause of Christ. Our work at Midwestern Seminary, therefore, is to undergird and support your work in the local church."
Thanking messengers for their faithfulness in supporting Midwestern Seminary through their Cooperative Program giving, Allen said the past year in the life of the institution had been "unprecedented."
Among the achievements for which he gave thanks, Allen noted the completion of the Mathena Student Center, the seminary's significant faculty hires, the transition to a biblical counseling model, the relaunching of Spurgeon College, and school's record enrollment.
Allen said the $13 million, 40,000-square-foot Mathena Student Center is a spectacular addition to campus, meeting an institutional need that has existed since the seminary's earliest days.
Significant new faculty hires, Allen told messengers, were Andreas Köstenberger as research professor of New Testament and biblical theology; Jason DeRouchie, research professor of Old Testament and biblical theology; Andrew King, assistant dean of Spurgeon College; and Thomas Kidd, distinguished professor of church history.
Allen said the hiring of Dale Johnson as associate professor of biblical counseling has transitioned Midwestern from an integrative counseling to a biblical counseling model.
"We're really looking forward to seeing how God impacts students through [the biblical counseling model]. Why such a transition? Because, again, we asked how do we best serve the churches of the convention? For us, it became clear that this was the decision God would have us to go."
In relaunching the seminary's undergraduate program, Spurgeon College, a little over a year ago, Allen reported that the college's ministry footprint is expanding, with students coming to Kansas City not just to be trained as pastors, ministers and missionaries.
Students in new degree like business and communications are not only "for the church," they are "for the Kingdom," Allen said. "The reason for this is that they will now have the ability to go and serve vocationally in the marketplace at home or overseas – taking the gospel of Christ to the nations via a business or other platform."
Regarding enrollment, Allen expressed gratitude to God that Midwestern's enrollment is on course to reach 3,800 to 3,900 students, which means the seminary's enrollment has more than tripled over the past seven years. Additionally, he said, all early metrics portend another record enrollment this fall.
Concluding his report, Allen explained the mission of Midwestern Seminary is simple, "It's not about one man or an entire faculty. It's not about the brilliance of a team, the eloquence of speakers or the savviness of marketers. It's about three words: for the church. It's a mission, a determination, a resolve that continues to resonate with the messengers seated before me and the churches throughout the land.
"We are here to train pastors, ministers, missionaries and church planters for Southern Baptist churches. Three words: for the church."
Written by Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.