Written by Larry Anderson
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 00:00
Yesterday, I was asked by some accreditation officials how we assess that our students are learning and comprehending what we are trying to teach them. After giving this question some serious thought, I had to smile because, to be honest, it's not their test or their grades that really lets me know they comprehend what I'm teaching. It's their lives, their hearts, and their ministries that show they are understanding and embracing missional theology.
It's amazing watching traditional pastors walk into the doors of Biblical, so discouraged with the current state of the church and with little to no hope of change on the horizon, only to be revived through their studies and the opportunities missional theology affords them. To repeatedly hear from these pastors how they have been ignited and challenged to pastor not only their churches, but their communities as well, is so exciting. To hear how they have been taught to see other churches as partners in the ministry even if they are from different denominations is amazing. The fact that they are no longer evaluating ministry success simply based on how many people are coming into their buildings, but on how many disciples they are sending out to impact their context with the Gospel demonstrates not only that they understand and embrace missional theology, but that they are practicing it as well. Some have even become pioneers for the missional church within their denominations.
It's not just the pastors that have been ignited by their studies here at Biblical. There is a large amount of lay leaders who have discovered purpose and meaning in ministry apart from the pulpit. Students have become missional ambassadors to their churches and are now serving in ministries that are more reflective of their actual vocations which excite, validate, and empower them to do what God has uniquely gifted them to do. They have come to realize that church ministry is no longer limited to maintaining the church's in-house responsibilities. This is not to say the ushers, choir members, and armor bearers are not important; it just means caring for the oppressed, the hurting, and the marginalized people of our community has also been validated as important ministry.
So to answer the question "What's so special about Biblical Students?); the answer is simple, our student's have embraced the mission of God. They know the Gospel calls for proclamation and demonstration. They have committed to exegeting the Bible and the culture. And most of all, they have demonstrated they are disciples by their love and fellowship with other disciples.
Larry L. Anderson Jr. is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and the Director of the Urban Programs at Biblical. He is also the pastor of Great Commission Church, previously located in the suburb of Roslyn, PA, but now situated in the West Oak Lane community of Philadelphia to provide a holistic ministry to an urban setting.