by Lauren Crane
During the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, alumni and friends of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary gathered to be encouraged by the work of the Lord through Southeastern alums.
June 15, Southeastern hosted an alumni and friends luncheon at the Phoenix Convention Center, gathering together alumni old and new. They heard from alumnus Nathan Knight, who currently serves as the pastor of Restoration Church, a church plant in Washington, D.C., Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern, Johnny Hunt, an alumnus of Southeastern and pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., and Bryant Wright, the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
After encouraging alumni to join the Southeastern Alumni Association, Albie Brice, director of alumni development, said the SAA has begun a new initiative to enable people to participate in and benefit from the association.
“Last year we launched the Southeastern Alumni Association. It’s a fee-based association, and it has really grown in the last year, with over a 100 members now,” Brice said. “This alumni association is not about just asking you to give to the seminary, it’s about trying to help us all connect to one another, support one another and be there for one another. It’s $40 a year, but you can now pay $4 a month, which is the equivalent to giving up a latte a month. We make sure every penny is accounted for and is put to good use for the gospel.”
Brice encouraged anyone interested in joining the SAA to do contact his office for details about benefits and payment options.
In his address to the gathered friends and alums, Knight, who planted Restoration Church along with Southeastern alum Joey Craft a little over a year ago, used the analogy of battle preparation to share how Southeastern equipped him for the work of the ministry in D.C.
“Can you imagine if on June 6, 1944, those soldiers had dropped out of their boats brandishing only wooden clubs? They would have been mowed down,” Knight said. Too many pastors in modern America, he said, fail to equip people for the ministry. Instead of teaching them to wield the sword of the word of God, Knight said too often they are taught only to wield a “club,” an ineffective means of ministry such as preaching based on fluff and image. This results in people who are not only unprepared for ministry, but who do not last in ministry for very long. Instead, though, Knight said Southeastern and his sending church in Wake Forest, N.C., North Wake Church, taught him to use the word of God in the battle against the darkness of Washington, D.C.
“At Southeastern, we get taught the weapons, as well as how to use the weapons,” Knight said. “At Southeastern, we were taught how to use those weapons to advance the gospel. What if I had walked into D.C. unprepared?
“How do you think ‘wooden clubs’ would have gone? How do you think fluff and flash would have gone? I live on a street with the rest of the world. We’ve had people from well over 30 countries come into our services. Do you think they will be persuaded by ‘Christianity Light?’ By fluff?”
Being able to use the word of God in evangelism, apologetics and discipleship is key in developing people who will image God well. Knight said the commandment to image God to the world, to disciple and to fill the world with more worshipers who image God well is as old as Genesis 1. “So what do we do to make God imaged in our city? How do you raise the dead? You do it the same way Ezekiel did – you open God’s word, deliver it to them and see people raised from the dead.”
God’s word was also the focus of a brief address from Wright as he encouraged the attendees to think on the “end game.” Reading from Revelation 7, he said, “Perhaps remembering the end game will help you in your own decision making. The vision God gives us all through the book of Revelation is a vision of where we’re ultimately headed. We have an opportunity to be a part of the most important work on all the earth – calling people from every tribe, every tongue and every nation to gather around the throne.”
The picture of heaven as set forth in Revelation also shows that in addition to worshiping with people from all nations, believers will also take part in serving however God wants them to, Wright said. “We won’t just worship the Lord, we will also get to serve the Lord in whatever way he sees fit. Thirdly, we will have fellowship with other believers.
“When the time comes, we’ll have fellowship in the kingdom with the people we helped to bring there. The reward in heaven is meeting all those people who came to Christ because of something we had a part in.”
Wright said, “I hope you’ll be part of the action. God is going to get it done. Our choice is, are we going to be a part of it, or are we going to be left out?”
As the preceding president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Hunt said he is still learning about what it means to lead well. “I’ve got to really deal more with my own heart as a leader. I’m learning that whatever is important to you is important to those people you lead. If you look at the Scriptures, you also see that Jesus never made a request of his followers that he had not already committed himself to.”
Hunt has been vocal in his leadership and support of the Southeastern Alumni Association, which was launched little more than a year ago. Continuing to push people to give, he said, “If you don’t learn to give out of your little, you won’t be heading in the right direction if God ever gives you anything more.”
The Lord has continued to bless Southeastern, Akin said, with this past fall seeing record-high enrollment numbers of more than 2,700. Additionally, Akin said he has been encouraged by the faithfulness of the faculty and the hearts of students to fulfill the Great Commission.
“God has been so good to us. For the first time, we may have a housing issue. The spirit on the campus is wonderful. We’ve got more students coming to go to the international mission field,” Akin said. “We’re about getting the gospel to those 3,800 unreached and unengaged people groups and penetrating the massive lostness of North America. That’s who we are and that’s who we’ll always be.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.