My phone rang with an unknown number.
On the other end of the call, Dr. Jason Allen, the new president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, spent some time talking about the vision he had about gathering a team for a high-risk revitalization project in Kansas City.
“We have 5 years to show the SBC why we need a seminary in this region!” he explained. “And I want it to center on the reason a seminary exists – to be for the church. Will you join us in the work?”
As a full time pastor who left teaching at a sister seminary because I wanted to embrace this very ideal, my heart soared. Our seminaries and Southern Baptist entities are at their best when we see them connect to the heartbeat and baseline of our cooperative work, the local church.
But therein was the tension. I loved the local church I pastored. God gave my family such an amazing congregation to be a part of. I enjoyed preaching the Word and shepherding the people. I delighted in regular baptisms. I cherished new ethnic church plants and ministry to refugees. How could we possibly leave?
Over the course of several months God began to set in motion things that only in retrospect make sense. In our prayer and Bible reading, my wife and I began to sense God was making a change in our ministry assignment. When we finally agreed, we did so knowing we were fully trusting the Lord.
And we are ecstatic about what God has done as we trusted him. Only once in a lifetime do some have the opportunity to be a part of something that can only be explained through the direct work of the Holy Spirit. There have been days of struggle for sure, but what an amazing place to serve where God is at work.
November 1, 2018 marked our 5 year anniversary at Midwestern. Time really does fly past. Our kids have grown, our ministry has expanded, and God continues to provide in ways we could only have imagined.
Reflecting on this, I thought about 7 key things that we have experienced at Midwestern that shape how I think about academic leadership.
John Mark Yeats