Balanced: Truth and Love in Salvation and Mission

I am the supervising professor for a doctor of ministry student here at the seminary who is trying to graduate this spring. I had the privilege of directing the program for a several years and have always loved the students. The program is in far better hands now but I still get to interact some with them. One of the reasons I enjoy them so much is the fact that probably close to 90 percent of D.Min. students at Southeastern are pastors or missionaries in real ministry contexts. My own experience draws me to them.

The student I am supervising who is seeking to finish within a few days is an incredible guy. He is an Ethiopian pastor who leads a church in the Raleigh area. The church reaches out to the Ethiopian peoples of the region in language and culture. God is richly blessing his ministry and their covenant community. He is a sharp student and a great leader. I am probably learning far more from him than he is from me.

He is writing about a holistic approach to evangelism. This may sound odd to us but not for those from within his people group. In the Ethiopian context the word for salvation, for instance, means to be completely saved. Holistically saved. Just as Greek word for salvation can mean saved spiritually or physically depending upon the context, so it is in their language. For the Ethiopian believer, therefore, to be saved means to be saved spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally and even relationally. They do not think about trying to separate or compartmentalize the various spheres of life and existence like we often do in the American context. Somehow I feel they might be closer to the biblical context than we are at times.

He is writing specifically about the balance between personal proclamation evangelism where one is focused on sharing the gospel in hopes of spiritual conversion and social ministry based evangelism ministries; the discussion of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment so to speak. It would be difficult for him to divide the need to share the gospel with someone or to love that person by taking care of their needs. To love God and your neighbor would be part of the Great Commission in his mind, and in the fullest sense of meaning.

There is no doubt if one must choose that he recognizes the primacy of the salvation of the soul for eternity as compared to the temporal needs of people. Do not worry, he is theologically and soteriologically sound. (My name will be on this paper!) He just would wonder, why do we have to choose to do one or the other if we can do both?

The reason I am writing this blogpost is to prompt you to think about your balance in these areas. I have known some folks who can quote every theologian but are, quite frankly, pretty lousy at loving people. I have known others who cannot stand for truth because they are overwhelmed by their relationally driven emotions. I know some who are so uncaring they do not share the gospel. I know others who share the gospel but really do not seem to care for the people. Who are you? How is your balance?

I like talking with my student. I like talking about this balance. I am thankful to God to be able to think about and praise Him for totally saving me––all of me. I pray my balanced sanctification and obedience to Him will bring Him the glory He deserves.

An Invitation to Study Christian Education and Leadership at Southeastern

If you had asked me fifteen years ago, I would have said that education courses make me go to sleep faster than a hamster swimming in a bucket of Thorazine. But that was fifteen years ago, and I hadn’t yet met Ken Coley, Larry Purcell, Gary Bredfeldt, Jim Porowski, and Greg Lawson who are professors of Education and Leadership at Southeastern. In fact, it was an encounter with Ken Coley that first made me aware of the need for me to pay as much attention to the “delivery mechanism” in my courses as I did the content of those courses.

For those prospective students whose calling in life includes some aspect of teaching, allow me to invite you to study with our education faculty. You will have the opportunity to take courses with:

Gary J. Bredfeldt (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is Professor of Leadership, Education, and Discipleship. He is the author of Great Leader, Great Teacher: Recovering the Biblical Vision for Leadership (Moody), co-author with Harry Shields of Caring for Souls: Counseling Under the Authority of Scripture (Moody), and co-author with Larry Richards of Creative Bible Teaching (Moody). Dr. Bredfeldt has served five churches as senior pastor, executive pastor, minister of education and youth pastor, and is known as an expert in both leadership and education and as a fine classroom instructor to boot.

Ken Coley (Ed.D., University of Maryland) is Professor of Christian Education and Director of Ed.D. Studies, and the author of The Helmsman: Leading with Courage and Wisdom and Navigating the Storms: Leading Christian Schools with Character and Conviction. He served as principal of Montrose Christian School in Rockville, MD for 15 years before coming to Southeastern in 1996. Dr. Coley is a prince of a man, one of the nation’s experts in Christian high school education, and a leading author on educational leadership. Dr. Coley is also known for sporting a fine mustache (rumor has it that Burt Reynolds called and told him to “back off”).

Greg Lawson (Ed.D., University of North Texas; J.D., Cambell University School of Law) is Professor of Christian Education and the author of Frank C. Laubach: Man of Faith (Baptist Literacy Missions Center at Baylor) and several articles in the Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible and the Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education (Baker Academic). He has served as a Navy chaplain, interim pastor and pastor to numerous churches, and was an attorney in Pennsylvania. Dr. Lawson wins the award for the Renaissance man within the education department, having served as he has in jurisprudence, chaplaincy, the pastorate, and the academy.

Jim Porowski (Psy.D., George Fox University) is Professor of Child and Family Development and co-author with Paul Carlisle of Strength For The Journey: Biblical Perspective on Discouragement and Depression (LifeWay). He is a licensed psychologist and the Director of Family Life Resources, a counseling center in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dr. Porowski is known as an expert in child and family development and an expert in issues found at the intersection of education and psychology.

Larry Purcell (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Leadership and Discipleship, Associate Dean of Ministry Studies, and Interim Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program. He has published articles in Christian Education Journal and contributed a chapter to Management Essentials for Christian Ministries (B&H). Dr. Purcell is one of the most amiable and gracious men one will ever meet. He is quick to laugh and easy to befriend, which is perhaps why some folks are surprised to learn that for years he was a sniper in the United States Marine Corps.

Southeastern features a number of degrees designed to equip graduate and post-graduate students for service in and for the church.

The Master of Arts in Christian Education (M.A.C.E.) is designed to equip students for service in Christian education and related ministries in the church or a church-related organization. Students take courses leadership, team ministry, and discipleship as part of this program. The M.A. in Christian Education and Biblical Counseling weds the above-mentioned education courses with courses in biblical counseling to give students the proper tools for education and counseling ministries in the church. The Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership is part of “The LEAD Program,” which focuses on the development of knowledge and competencies in three basic ministry results areas: Leadership, Education, and Discipleship.

The M.Div. with Ministry Leadership builds upon the requirements of the Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership and the M.A.C.E. to provide the student with the opportunity to focus the degree in a particular area of ministry. This degree also follows the structure and principles of the LEAD program.

The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) occurs in a “modified residency” model which allows students to keep their current positions in ministry and attend classes with a cohort of educators who meet with professors during intensives on campus scheduled throughout the year. The purpose of the program is to strengthen one’s leadership in the field and to expand knowledge and skills for future opportunities in leadership, teaching at the college or graduate school level, or curriculum development.

The Doctor of Ministry with Christian Leadership also follows the cohort model wherein each student moves through the coursework and fieldwork with other students in this track and under the supervision of a mentor in Christian Leadership. The D.Min. at Southeastern is designed to wed continuing field ministry with intensive seminars to further equip ministers of the gospel.

The Ph.D. in Applied Theology with a concentration in Christian Leadership is another “modified residency” program available to Christian leaders, scholars, and educators serving in leadership roles in churches, denominational entities, Christian organizations, and Christian colleges and universities. The purpose of this program is to prepare scholar-leader-teachers for such roles by way of a research-based, terminal degree designed to develop core competencies in theological integration, research, leadership, and educational practice.

We invite you to study with our Christian Education and Leadership faculty in the M.A., M.Div., Ed.D., D.Min., or Ph.D. programs of Southeastern. For more info visit our website ( or and check out the Admissions and Academics links.