Dr. Christopher Wright, International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership, was our guest lecturer at our Frank and Pauline Patterson Fall Colloquy 2016. I learned of Dr. Wright when pastoring a local church struggling to understand the concept and application of the term “missional.” Many have used the term and applied it in many ways, but to be missional is a call to intentional methods of being and living as God’s People in the mission field where God has planted Christ’s church. Wright’s book, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative, provided a biblical framework that centered my ministry again in the “Mission of God” and the church. When I heard that Dr. Wright had been invited to speak at the Colloquy, I was elated for the opportunity to hear him again and to see how he might connect with the missional emphasis of Carroll.
We abbreviate our mission statement to “We equip missional leaders.” We have had our own internal discussions as to what is a “missional leader” and how we apply that image of our students to our work as a seminary. Dr. Wright gave us all some language—and mandates—to clarify that meaning. He opened his lectures with “The Missional Nature and Goals of Theological Education.” He observed,
Teaching within the church in all its forms, including what we would now call theological education, is an intrinsic part of mission. It is not an extra. It is not merely ancillary to ‘real mission.’ The ministry of teaching has to be included within our obedience to the Great Commission.
I summarized what he said in my notes, “Missional means teaching!” Teaching as part of a missional strategy has been neglected in far too many presentations. I am convinced that equipping missional leaders involves raising up a generation of pastor-teachers who can teach the church who God is and how to live as a follower of Jesus within a biblical framework of the “Grand Narrative” of God’s mission. Churches need well-equipped pastor-teachers as much now as it ever has. These servants of the church are not necessarily lead or senior pastors, but trained, spiritually gifted pastor-teachers who “equip the saints for works of service.” (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Wright went on to ask the question, “How can we make our ministry of teaching effective for mission?” He answered,
I believe that the only legitimate answer to that question is to call for a re-centering of the Bible itself in all our ministry of teaching – and a more integrated way of teaching it.
Dr. Wright did not have time to dig too deeply into his answer with us, but I believe what we do as Carroll is to aid church leaders in “re-centering of the Bible in all our ministry of teaching” and to integrate that teaching into the overall ministry of the church. This emphasis is essential to our work to “equip missional leaders.”
Seldom do a speaker and an ethos of an institution connect with such synergy. We are grateful to Dr. Wright for his ministry and for encouraging us to continue the mission God has called us to complete.
I want to thank the Advanced Studies Council and our staff for their quality work to host Dr. Wright, our doctoral students and candidates, graduates, faculty, supervisors, and friends of Carroll. There is no finer group than these servant leaders, and I am honored to serve with them.
I am singing Psalm 100 with you this week as we thank our Provider and Sustainer for all we are and have. May the Lord fill your heart with gratitude for his blessings in your life, and may you share that thankfulness in tangible ways with others.
Serving Him With You,