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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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New seminary

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Plans are underway to start a seminary which will specialize in the teachings of the 16th century reformer John Knox..  It will have high academic standards and will be known as the School of Hard Knox.

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    • From Seminary President to NFL Head Coach

      Imagine Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler taking over the Dallas Cowboys. Or Trinity International University president David Dockery coaching the Chicago Bears. Or Covenant Theological Seminary president Mark Dalbey heading up the Los Angeles Rams. This fall, former Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) Charlotte campus president Frank Reich began his first season as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. “I could never have predicted this path,” Reich told The Washington Post. “It’s crazy. It’s fun.” It’s not the first time his path has seemed crazy. When he enrolled in his first RTS class in 1997, he was a backup quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. “When I was playing, I always thought I was going to be a coach,” Reich told TGC. “When I went into full-time ministry, that was for all the right motives—a real, sincere, heartfelt love for God. I was trying to do the right thing.” He was “selling everything” to follow Jesus. And he did—he graduated from seminary, led RTS for three years, then pastored a local church. But he didn’t feel called to it. And RTS had taught him that pastoring isn’t everyone’s calling. “I came to recognize more and more this false dichotomy between sacred and secular work,” Reich said. He learned about “the priesthood of all believers—that every Christian is called to live out their faith in their sphere of influence.” And Reich’s sphere of influence is football. Comeback Kid The first thing to know about Reich, the Indianapolis Star told readers when he was named head coach in February, is that “he knows about comebacks.” Reich, who grew up in a religious home, has been playing organized football since sixth grade. He went to the University of Maryland on an athletic scholarship, where he was a year behind All-American quarterback Boomer Esiason. He backed up Esiason for three years. When Esiason graduated, Reich finally had his chance to start in 1984. But one month in, he injured his shoulder. Three weeks later, the coach told him the team would stick with his replacement, and Reich was back on the bench as backup. Reich couldn’t believe it. God, I thought you and I were good, he remembers thinking. Why are you doing this to me? He realized that “football had become my God. . . . When that was taken away from me, I realized I had to reprioritize my life.” So he worked at it. And a few weeks later, in a game against the Miami Hurricanes, he came off the bench at halftime. The Terrapins were down 31-0. Over the next two quarters, Reich threw three touchdowns, handed off for two more, and ran one in himself. Maryland won 42–40, and the comeback remained college’s greatest for 22 years. Almost 10 years later, he did it again, this time coming off the bench in his first NFL playoff game with the Buffalo Bills. Three minutes into the third quarter, the Bills were down 35–3 to the Houston Oilers. Reich handed off for the first touchdown, then threw four in a row. The Bills won 41–38 in a 1993 game that would get its own name (“The Comeback” or “The Choke,” depending on the fan), its own Wikipedia page, and its own NFL record (largest comeback in NFL history). But Reich’s not a prosperity theologian. He knows getting himself straight with God didn’t lead to touchdowns and paychecks. Four weeks after The Comeback, the Bills lost the Super Bowl 52–17. They would ultimately lose four Super Bowls in a row, from 1991 to 1994. And Reich never would land that starting quarterback position. Frank Reich / Courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts “[A]fter our crushing 52–17 loss to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVII, I was devastated,” he wrote. “The devastation was compounded by the fact that I had played more than half of the game. I couldn’t understand how God could allow us to get beat like that, especially after the Houston miracle.” He was flying home from Pasadena when he realized the answer. “For the first two hours of the trip, I was going crazy trying to figure out why the Super Bowl went the way it did,” he wrote. “Finally, I could take it no longer. I realized I could be asking the same questions the rest of my life. I needed some peace of mind. The only thing I could think to do was to put on my headset and listen to [Michael English’s] ‘In Christ Alone.’” It was a song his sister had introduced him to. He’d listened to it hundreds of times, even reading it at the press conference after The Comeback. Now, he “sought comfort from the song which gave me peace during the stressful week prior to the Houston game. The message I was now hearing was that we can experience victory in all our circumstances through Jesus Christ. He gives us the strength and hope to overcome all odds.” Not Just a Testimony Reich grew up Catholic, coming to know Jesus as a University of Maryland senior through Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) and Athletes in Action. As a ball player, Reich “was very involved in Bible studies and traveling around and sharing the gospel at different events,” he told TGC. “As I was growing, I felt like I needed some more formalized training to be able to use the platform that sports had provided to be able to share the gospel,” he said. Not only that—“my heart was not just to share my testimony. I also wanted to be able to teach the Bible.” Because Reich was playing for the Panthers, he was living in Charlotte. After “a little bit of research,” the backup quarterback of the Carolina Panthers ended up in a couple RTS classes in the offseason. (“Of course, I heard about it pretty quickly,” said Ric Cannada, then president of RTS’s new Charlotte campus. Reich even hauled some buddies along with him—the campus still has former Panthers in the classroom.) Reich kept taking classes during his time with the Panthers, then the New York Jets, then the Detroit Lions. After he played his last pro game in 1998, he took classes while he worked on a few business interests (a sports memorabilia display company and a boot store). “I was in my fifth or sixth year when [Cannada], who had left to become chancellor over the whole system, called me up and said, ‘Can you come into my office?’” Reich said. “So I went into his office and he said, ‘Hey, I’ve been praying about this for a long time. I’d like to ask you to be the next president.’” Reich laughed. “You’ve got the wrong guy,” he told Cannada. “I haven’t even graduated yet!” Natural Leader As a general practice, RTS doesn’t ask its students to take over operations. But Reich “was an older student when he came,” Cannada explained. “He was mature. He had been reading and studying for 10 years already, and you could see that he was a knowledgeable and serious student in his classes.” Reich was also “easy and personable, a natural leader.” Early on, Cannada started asking Reich to come along on speaking engagements to share his student testimony. “We spent a lot of time together in the car, going places and sharing vision,” Cannada said. “I got pretty close to him.” That closeness ran both ways—on the road, Cannada and Reich “would stop and eat and talk, and I got to learn the inner workings of the seminary,” Reich said. So when Cannada was elevated to chancellor, and tasked with finding his replacement in Charlotte, Reich was “a natural choice.” “I’d been with him enough that I knew his character was right, and he could set an example,” Cannada said. “He was comfortable with faculty and students, and his character was strong. And there was vision there—and that’s what you need in a leader.” Teacher and Coach Frank didn’t say yes right away. But he respected Cannada enough, and loved RTS enough, to agree to pray about it. Then he went down to Jackson to meet the board. Then he agreed to give it a try for a few years. “It went exceedingly well,” Reich said. “I really did enjoy it.” The school enjoyed him too. “During his tenure as president, Frank Reich was known as a man with a vision not only for the growth and well-being of the RTS Charlotte campus, but also for striving to elevate the strategic importance of each faculty and staff member serving with him,” said Rod Culbertson, director of admissions and professor of practical theology under Reich. “He was highly respected for his straightforward communication, integrity, trustworthiness, and humility. Like a coach, he relied upon the insights and advice of others who could help him gain wisdom in decision making.” Reich and quarterback Andrew Luck at an off-season workout / Courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts “One of the things that impressed me most about Frank was his humility,” said Michael Kruger, who was RTS Charlotte’s academic dean while Reich was president. “While he had accomplished amazing things in his football career, Frank was never interested in talking about himself. His focus was always on Christ and how to bring glory to him.” Reich’s best leadership was through example, said Kruger, who is now RTS Charlotte’s president. “Leaders today often underestimate the power of their example,” he said. “They tend to lead by telling people what to do, rather than showing them what to do. Frank was not that way. He would not ask someone to walk a path he was unwilling to walk himself. He sought to embody the values of the seminary, not just talk about those values. That’s been a great lesson for me.” But at the end of three years, Reich “just didn’t feel like I was called to be an administrator. I’m more of a teacher and coach.” He knew he was only qualified to teach two things—the Bible and football. He tried his hand at being an interim pastor, but it only took “about a year to figure out that wasn’t the calling on my life. That’s probably the hardest job in the world.” And his theology told him that preaching isn’t the only work that honors God. “I learned that calling—for most people—is to stay where you are and do your work to the Lord.” So Reich circled back around to football. “If pastoring isn’t what I’m called to do, and it’s not an accident that God has given me a career in football, then I guess I should make an impact in that arena in whatever way I can,” he figured. “I decided to start coaching at that time.” 45-Year-Old Intern At 45, Reich took a coaching internship with the Indianapolis Colts. He moved up to offensive coaching staff assistant, to quarterback coach for Peyton Manning, to wide receivers coach. He coached for the Arizona Cardinals for a year, for the San Diego Chargers for three, and for the Philadelphia Eagles for two. Reich and his wife, Linda, after the Eagles Super Bowl win in 2018 / Courtesy of Ric Cannada Perhaps not surprisingly, Reich coaches like a teacher—”He does a great job letting us understand the why, teaching us why we are running a certain thing,” quarterback Andrew Luck told the Indianapolis Star. “I think when you understand an offense, as a player, you are going to buy in.” Reich isn’t shy about his faith, but isn’t obnoxious about it either. “I do think there’s a time to be assertive and proclaim what we believe and stand up on the rooftop and shout it out,” he told Penn Live. “But there’s also a time where we need to keep our mouth shut and just live it out and make someone else ask, ‘Hey, why do act like that? What is it that shapes how you act?'” “And then when people want to know the why,” Reich told TGC, “you have the opportunity to tell them.” Reich’s been telling them. Stories of his faith have popped up in news articles: “Reich Answers Higher Calling,” “Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich Balances Religious Beliefs in Coaching Role,” and, most recently, “Reich, a Man of Deep Faith, Will Need Plenty of It As He Leads the Rebuilding Colts.” Because when Reich took over the reins in Indianapolis this year, the team was coming off a dismal 4–12 season. Star quarterback Andrew Luck was sidelined with a shoulder injury. The Colts owner was asking fans for patience. And then the team lost five of its first six games this fall. Theology of Sports If you congratulate Reich on being the Comeback Kid, he’ll remind you that he also holds (shares, really) the record for most fumbles in a Super Bowl game. Football is like that. After losing nearly the entire first third of the season, the Colts won nine of the next 10 games to become the third NFL team in history to make the playoffs after a 1-5 start. (“No NFL playoff team came further this season than the Colts,” The Washington Post observed.) Faith “really keeps you grounded and centered” during the wild emotional swings of professional sports, Reich told TGC. “It gives you perspective. . . . We don’t always understand the ups and downs of life, but we try to stay steady, loving and serving people and being committed to the process of doing things the right way and making an impact that way.” Frank Reich / Courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts Reich is sure that God doesn’t have a favorite football team. (A quarter of Americans say God has a hand in determining the outcome of sporting events; 28 percent have asked him to help their team.) “I have two little kids, and when I see my children playing a game together I don’t care who wins that game,” Reich told Team NFL magazine in 1993. “I’m their father. What’s important to me is that there’s character being built and they’re learning the lessons that come along with that activity. I think God looks at us the same way. I think the football game is insignificant to him. But what is significant is that we learn what he wants us to learn out of that game, win or lose.” Reich roots his view of work in Genesis. “Our job description comes from Genesis 1:28—bring out the best in the environment and the people around you.” As a quarterback, he tried to “be a good teammate, to bring out the best in players around me, to make a good locker room environment, to do my job right.” As a coach, he “works hard, trying to create a culture where people can flourish.” The ability—and charge—to work well is given to everyone, from seminary presidents to head coaches. It’s also a lesson that RTS teaches. “I wasn’t disappointed or bothered by it,” Cannada said of Reich’s decision to leave ministry. “At RTS we very much hold a Reformed worldview, where calling from the Lord can lead us in all kinds of directions. Church ministry is a good one, but it’s not the only one. We’re to serve the Lord wherever we are.” Current RTS Charlotte president Kruger agrees. “Frank’s story is a perfect example of what we value here at RTS,” said Kruger (who wouldn’t turn down a job coaching the Liverpool Football Club in the English Premiere League). “The Reformers taught that all callings matter, not just callings to vocational ministry,” he said. “God’s sovereignty extends to all categories of our life, not just to the ‘religious’ category. And thus God’s Word applies as much to the banker, the farmer, and the athlete as it does to the pastor.” View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • Prayer request for Horatius for Seminary.

      Hello. Please could you pray that the Lord Jesus will help me to get a place in Seminary. I have applied for 6 now, sadly, they don't ever even bother to reply to me. It is heart breaking - I just want to be trained and educated so that I can work with Prisoners as a Chaplain and Abuse Survivors - especially in a foreign Missions setting. I am relying on either free Seminarys or Scholarships as I am just not rich. Please do pray, thank you and God Bless you.  

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    • Third Millennium Ministries: Seminary Outside the Box

      Counseling student Jamie Pillow was sitting at a library table at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Jackson, Mississippi, when the student next to her made a sound she can still remember more than 20 years later. The student—an older man, a ThM candidate from Africa—“moaned a moan that gives me chills to this day,” Pillow said. “Then he whispered under his breath, ‘I think that’s my son.’” Pillow followed his gaze to the table. “There were Time and Newsweek magazines, but one had—as far as you could see—bodies piled up.” The bodies belonged to Rwandan refugees who were trampled as they raced to escape the continent’s largest genocide. (Between April and June 1994, about 800,000 people—mostly Tutsis—were killed.) Pillow took her fellow student to the student administrator’s office, and they called the Red Cross. Six weeks later, confirmation: The boy in the photo was his. Horrified and livid, Pillow called one of her favorite professors. Richard Pratt spent most summers on mission trips to other countries, and often stayed late after class to tutor international seminary students. “She said, ‘We have to stop doing this,’” Pratt remembers. “I said, ‘Doing what?’” “Sending international students to the States for theological education,” she replied. She’d been worrying about this for a while, having spent the last year in a prayer group with lonely and anxious international students. “I was praying that my oldest son wouldn’t get hurt in a football game,” Pillow said. “They were praying that God would be with their wife who had just been raped, or praying for those whose homes had been burned down, or for their children who had had their hands cut off.” Pratt asked what she wanted to do. “I want to put seminary in a box and mail it to them,” she told him. “If I can get the money, can you get the box?” “That’s easy,” he said. “I can get the box.” But it wasn’t easy. At times, the endeavor seemed ridiculous—too expensive, too hard to translate, too difficult to transport. “Richard quit a million times,” Pillow said. “I quit a million times.” But neither ever did. Pratt taught himself a video program and made VHS tapes in his bedroom. Pillow juggled seminary homework, her six kids, and asking strangers for funding. And over the past 20 years, Third Mill has created 119 lessons for 27 seminary courses in five core languages. The lessons have made their way into every country in the world. Numbers aren’t easy to track, especially in countries hostile to Christianity. But over the past five years, nearly 700,000 confirmed supervised students have taken Third Mill classes. This summer, Third Mill finished creating enough courses that a pastor anywhere in the world could earn a master’s degree in Bible and theology. From a solid Reformed perspective. For free. “The biggest joy for me has been knowing that people I will never see until I get to heaven have had this wonderful opportunity to learn the true gospel, instead of a paganized version of it,” Pillow said. “To know that good theology is being taught about the true God and his works and his laws and his love thrills me better than anything else in the whole world.” Spreading Seminaries In past decades, if you wanted a solid theological education (and had enough money), you went to school in Europe or North America. Of course, if you lived in a developing country, that was far easier said than done. Denominations tried to solve this problem a few ways: by sending missionaries, by building seminaries, and by bringing pastors to study in the United States. “Traditional strategies are important and should continue, but the need is far too great to be met with these strategies alone,” Third Mill’s website states. That’s hard to argue against—the number of Christians is predicted to grow from 2.2 billion in 2010 to 2.9 billion in 2050, according to Pew Research Center. Most of that growth is happening in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, where the fewest opportunities for theological education exist, Pratt said. In 1950, some estimate there were just 70 to 80 pastoral-education or theological schools in the entire continent of Asia. Richard Pratt (left) and Greg Perry / Courtesy of Third Mill That number has grown—thousands now attend evangelical seminaries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. But even in 2010, there were at least five times as many seminaries per 10 million Christians in North America as there were in Africa, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. More than half (58 percent in Africa, 62 percent in Latin America) of respondents said there were not enough theological schools to meet the need in their region. “In the vast majority of where the church is growing really fast—parts of Asia and Africa—many get their teaching by watching American Christian television or God TV from the UK,” said Pratt, who began traveling every summer to teach and preach after a mission trip with Cru in 1985. “Where the church is growing the fastest in the world, there is the least opportunity for Christian leaders to learn the Bible and sound theology.” When Pillow suggested boxing up seminary, he immediately saw the advantage. Before Third Mill even got going, he was already expanding the scope. Video Animation In 1998, the Prince of Egypt film was released in theaters. Val Kilmer voiced Moses, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey sang the theme song, and Pratt gave religious advice. (He was one of about 600 advisers, but Pratt is the reason the film ends at the Sinai instead of the Red Sea. “The story isn’t just about freedom from something, but to something,” he told filmmakers.) When one of the donors found out, he told Pratt, “I want you to do something like you did with [filmmaker Steven] Spielberg—make a movie.” Pratt counter-offered. He wanted to make videos that showed illustrations—that was how he liked to teach—and dropped in short interviews with experts. He wanted a host, photographs, charts, and maps. Less DreamWorks animation, more History Channel documentary. Third Mill “is indeed a very resourceful incredible material to help equip the preachers in this part of world where theological training is very challenging for many,” said Kole Community Presbyterian Church pastor Solomon. He’s in Lira, Uganda. / Courtesy of Third Mill “I went to a low-end studio in Orlando and told them what I wanted,” Pratt said. “They said it would cost $6,000 to $10,000 a minute. That was before mobile phones, so I had to go home and find a calculator. My goal was a two-year program, and I discovered it would take about half a billion to do it.” Nope, he thought. He called the donor and asked for the money to buy a computer instead. “I spent a year and a half in my back bedroom, learning how to make digital video and animations,” he said. “Then I made a demo to show people how it could be done—how effective it could be. By God’s mercy, people began to support it.” But not everyone. Some said it was too expensive, or that it couldn’t be translated well, or that transporting bulky VHS tapes would be impossible. On top of the practical objections, there were theoretical ones: “Leftover from the 1960s and 1970s missiology in America was the belief that even if you can make it, and translate it, and deliver it, [the students] will not want it because it’s from America,” Pratt said. But the way he saw it, somebody was going to take the gospel to the global South and East—“either prosperity gospel doctrine or worse. . . . It’s not a question of whether the West is going to influence Eastern Christianity, but what kind of influence they’ll have.” Robust The influence Third Mill is aiming for is “soft-touch Calvinism,” Pratt said. He’s an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, and Third Mill “has a commitment to the Westminster standards.” But Third Mill also likes to include as many theological experts as possible. The classes feature video interviews with 370 different professors and Christian leaders from around the world, who speak on their areas of expertise. Pastor Amgad Habib (third from left) uses Third Mill curriculum to teach at a Baptist seminary in Egypt / Courtesy of Third Mill Featuring academic experts from different ethnicities and nationalities lends Third Mill credibility with students and helps to keep the curriculum from feeling overly Western, he said. “We present different perspectives on non-salvific issues that Christians sometimes disagree about,” director of curriculum Cindy Sawyer said. “We also offer companion lessons that include interviews with several professors answering questions on topics related to the lessons—topics that will help students better understand the content of the lessons.” Even then, Third Mill is careful with what it presents as legitimate areas for disagreement. “We get to pick and choose,” Sawyer said. “We aren’t putting anything in there that is heresy, or that we strongly disagree with.” Explaining those viewpoints is part of Third Mill’s commitment to a robust theological education. “Sometimes people jump into making it easy for [international students], so they say something like, ‘Noah was a good man who went on the ark with the animals,’” Sawyer said. That’s not what Third Mill wants. They’re aiming for clear and simple language—“easily translatable”—but not easy concepts. “We have a really good process of taking difficult theological concepts and not dumbing them down,” Sawyer said. The result is material sharp enough to be used in Western seminary classrooms, but clear enough that “it’s understandable by someone with an eighth-grade education in the fields of Argentina,” she said. If you just thought, “Hey, maybe that’s something I could use,” you aren’t the only one. Third Mill has started hearing from high-school teachers, prison chaplains, and Bible study leaders who wanted to use the curriculum. The courses weren’t exactly designed for that—the videos are usually an hour or longer—but Third Mill is “available to anyone who desires to study the Bible and theology more deeply,” director of communications services Darlene Perry said. Third Mill is in the process of creating application guides to help group leaders work more effectively with their materials. “It’s exciting what God does,” Sawyer said. “You set off to do one thing, and he says, ‘Great, but let’s also go here and here and here.” For The World When Pratt first started, he was still employed by RTS—essentially, earning a salary from one seminary while compiling course content for students who could never enroll in a seminary graduate program. “We are very positive, very supportive,” said RTS chancellor emeritus Ric Cannada, who headed up the RTS system from 2002 to 2012. “The quality and content of his stuff is great. We promote it, talk about it, encourage people to use it. There are just a lot of settings where people would like a [seminary] degree, but can’t for one reason or another. And Third Mill is an excellent alternative.” Paul Kondepudi wanted to become a pastor when he saw God’s Word being misrepresented in India. He found Third Mill online. After graduating, he gave his first paycheck as a pastor to Third Mill to show his gratitude. / Courtesy of Third Mill One of those settings is Zimbabwe, where a Presbyterian church went online a few years ago, looking for “evangelical, reformed, biblically-based and theologically sound resources” for its leaders and members, City Presbyterian Church teaching elder Joram Mugari said. “We needed a resource that would not require us to spend a lot of time preparing notes before actually engaging the students,” Mugari said. “We also needed a resource that would not cost the church an arm and a leg. Above it all, we needed a resource that was totally committed to the Bible and the Christ of the Bible, and yet flexible to the needs and context of Africa. . . . Third Millennium was an above-the-rest resource which suited us best.” City Presbyterian began using Third Mill to train its own pastors. But “many pastors in Zimbabwe lead churches without any theological education,” Mugari said. “We began attracting other leaders from different denominations.” Mugari, who is a professor at the Theological College of Zimbabwe (TCZ), is “keen on” this. Third Mill “gets me to train pastors who have no money to qualify to enter TCZ’s formal ministerial training,” he said. “Also, most of the pastors who take classes with me on Saturday mornings do not have enough qualifications or high school education to be at TCZ, where I teach on a daily basis.” Garry Todd from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Athens, GA, leads a “how to” class for 25 students at African Bible University. Students told him, “This is what we needed, but we had no idea it was out there.” / Courtesy of Third Mill City Presbyterian paired up with Birmingham Theological Seminary to offer a certificate in Christian ministry using Third Mill. Today, close to 60 students are taking Third Mill courses through the church, which plans to start 10 more cohorts in the spring. A St. Louis church is also using Third Mill to train African leaders. New City Fellowship worked through ministry partnerships to enroll about 20 students in the Congo and another 20 in Togo, with plans to begin training in Rwanda in January. But executive pastor Barry Henning is also using it in St. Louis. About 15 church members—doctors, lawyers, ministry leaders, carpenters, repairmen, and college-age students—watch the videos during the week and then attend a weekly two-hour class. Henning levels it up—”a bit more intense study, more one-on-one time for discussion, and additional readings”—when he uses Third Mill to train two Congolese immigrants for pastoral ministry. “I love it,” Henning said. “The breadth of teachers from across the world who are all biblically sound and well-trained, offering their resources in a highly accessible fashion—both in terms of the substance of the lectures and the format of video, audio and written formats—is a blessing from God for the next generation of leaders across the world.” Available Everywhere One of Coca-Cola’s earliest slogans was “around the corner from everywhere,” and “that’s what we want—utter ubiquity,” Pratt said. “Our model is like electricity—everybody wants it and needs it. Let’s put it out there.” But it’s going to take some time before Third Mill’s capacity can catch up to its vision. “One of the biggest challenges is that we can’t say yes to every opportunity,” vice president of strategic projects Greg Perry said. The going can be slow—Third Mill distributes its resources through local pastors’ councils, church-planting networks, or mission organizations, and it takes time to learn the peculiarities of each one. Not only that, but Third Mill’s staff has been built around content production. Adding distribution capacity will require more people with different skills. “It’s growing pains,” Perry said. “It’s the kind you want, but it is painful.” Flipped Classroom Before Perry came on staff at Third Mill, he used the curriculum to help train resettled Congolese refugees he was working with in St. Louis. But he also used it at Covenant Seminary, where he was teaching both online and traditional classes. “What was so important for me as a professor was to connect the great heritage of the church and the Holy Spirit’s work with what’s happening on the streets,” he said. That meant Perry’s greatest role wasn’t to deliver content, but to “be a bridge.” Pratt and Third Mill VP of global opportunities Andrew Lamb teach an ongoing training for pastors at Cornhill Scotland in Glasgow / Courtesy of Third Mill “I used the flipped-classroom approach,” he said. “They could watch the videos [on their own], and then I could use classroom time to focus more on formation of ministry skills, the ‘So what?’ questions.” One example is the imagery of heavenly worship in Revelation 4–5. Perry asked students to view the Third Mill course on Revelation, then led a classroom discussion about intercultural worship in the city. He also drew on Third Mill images of the renewal of earth as a global temple in Revelation 21–22 to talk about “the importance of cultural and community development work as a penultimate expression of kingdom mission.” Perry sees resources like Third Mill as a way for seminaries to pop out of their “academic bubble” and to get students into real-life ministry, while still under the guidance of a professor. Some of the 171 graduates from Los Pinos Nuevos Seminary in Cuba who completed Third Mill curriculum in Spanish under seminary supervision / Courtesy of Third Mill That’s what Calvin did in Geneva, Pratt pointed out. “Calvin made students serve in hospitals and work with refugees and live with elders. It was remarkable.” Whether or not other professors are following Perry’s approach, Third Mill has seen a few Western seminaries interested in using their curriculum to offer off-campus degrees. “Schools are realizing the need is so great that they need to partner with us to reach people they never could have before,” Pratt said. “So far God has blessed us in that we aren’t seeing a spirit of competitiveness [between Third Mill and brick-and-mortar seminaries]. “I remind people that the need is much greater than you’ll ever fulfill. We aren’t competing for anything here. If we are going to bring good, sound, gospel education to every leader of the church, then we need to work together.” Cannada agrees. “I don’t see it as an either-or, but both-and,” he said. “The need is so big out there. We need more and more good Reformed theological education, not less.” Engaging “We get letters every day,” Pillow said. Her favorite was “one from a man in solitary confinement serving a life sentence. His writing was hardly legible. He wrote and thanked us—he had been converted, his life had been changed, and he felt that rather than serving a life sentence, he was free.” The task hasn’t been easy—it’s difficult to find good animation artists. Writers need to have theological understanding, the skills to contextualize concepts globally (no American illustrations like comparisons to baseball or football), and the ability to engage both those with an eighth-grade education and those with a post-secondary degree. And funding is always a challenge. But the rewards are enormous. “God is definitely working here, because we look around and there’s a lot of stuff that should not have worked out that did,” Sawyer said. “I love what I do. I love what we’re doing.” The world’s need for gospel-centered theological education is too big and complex for any one organization to carry. But Third Mill is lending a hand. “By God’s grace,” Pratt said, “we are making enormous strides in meeting one of the greatest needs in the kingdom today—teaching the Scriptures and sound theology to Christian leaders everywhere.” View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • What Seminary Didn’t Teach Scott Sauls

      “We’re only effective when we’re humble.” In this new video, Scott Sauls—senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church and author—remembers what seminary couldn’t teach him about church leadership and pastoral ministry. Many hopeful men emerge from seminary eager to dive headfirst into ministry. Confident that seminary equipped them with the tools they need for the journey ahead, they find themselves discouraged when the realities of their first call don’t line up with what they came to expect from assigned readings and classroom discussions.   This book, with contributions from 15 veteran pastors, including Daniel L. Akin, Juan Sanchez, Phil A. Newton, and Scott Sauls, offers real-world advice about the joys and challenges of the first five years of pastoral ministry—bridging the gap between seminary training and life in a local church. Armed with wisdom from those who have gone before them, young pastors will find encouragement to stand firm in the thick of the realities and rigors of pastoral ministry. Order today! View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

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