Below you can watch a 10-minute video that summarizes the recent 2012 Pastoral Theology module with audio excerpts. Without question, this was one of the best Reformed Baptist Seminary has offered so far. It was marked by a couple of "firsts." It was the first time we held a module in our newly designed (but not completely finished) virtual classroom. It was the first time we asked five speakers instead of one to carry the lecture load. It was the first time we dedicated two sessions to a Q&A panel discussion with four pastors fielding a variety of questions. It was the first time we invited wives of two of our pastors to share with our students "a perspective on the pastoral ministry from a pastor's wife." It was also the first time I enjoyed the help of a professional videographer, Ryan Hobson, whom we've commissioned to edit and master all the lectures and sessions (coming soon!).
Bob Selph, the primary lecturer, covered topics like the pastoral office, the pastor as a man and his relations, shepherding the sheep, pastoral evangelism and equipping the saints, and the pastor and formal events. Dr. Tom Ascol focused on the pastor's "center," namely, Christ. He also spoke on the pastor as a theologian, the pastor as a defender of the faith, developing a reformation mindset, and the ever relevant and delicate subject of accommodation vs compromise. Pastor Gary Hendrix addressed the privilege of the pastoral calling and providing a biblical perspective on ministerial success. He touched briefly on the pastor and his sermon. But his crowning lecture was entitled, "The Pastor with the Army of God." Then Pastor Donny Martin took up topics like the pastor and biblical counseling, conflict resolution, and church discipline. He closed his series with the preeminence of grace in pastoral ministry. Finally, we asked Dr. Mark Ward Jr., whose an editor for a Christian publishing company, to address the pros and cons of modern technology, which he ably accomplished in a two-part series, "Technology Giveth" and "Technology Taketh Away." One student had this to say about the lectures:
The wisdom in spreading out the lectures between these men was apparent in two ways. First, their diverse backgrounds and experiences expanded and enriched the perspectives on ministry which they presented to the students. You get a more nuanced and balanced picture of the ministry when you are drawing off more than just one man's counsel. Second (and paradoxically), the significant commonality and overlap of a core set of themes among the men served to drive home the weight of those very central issues. (For Nick Alford's full reflections, click here.)
I highly recommend all the lectures, the audios of which can be accessed on our Virtual Campus.
The Q&A sessions provided a form in which students could submit questions (sometimes challenging) related to the pastoral ministry in general or to issues they as pastors are dealing with in particular. Each of the four pastors was assigned the task of addressing certain questions and the other pastors added their thoughts. In addition, wives of two of the pastors, Cathi Selph and Jane Martin, reflected on the pastoral ministry from the perspective of a pastor's wife. We also opened up that session for questions and interaction with Pastors Selph and Martin providing input along the way. Scott Stake, a pastor of Four Oaks Community Church, had this to say,
To have four men with over 100 years of pastoral experience provide sound biblical teaching, wise counsel, and grace-filled encouragement and exhortations is a gift that most pastors never receive in seminary or life in general. Pastors training pastors…what a concept!
The fellowship was sweet. We had 20 or more attendees for nearly every lecture. Eight of those attendees were students. Besides lots of fellowship during the 20 minute breaks between the modules, giving students a chance to get acquainted, we also enjoyed an evening stroll in downtown Greenville (a beautiful little city) and a sumptuous grilled steak dinner at the Selph's home with lots of theological discourse as well as some fun chitchat on the lighter side of life. It was a memorable experience, and I can only say, "I wish you were there!"