For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. [O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!]
One of the many things that I love about Bethlehem Baptist Church is found in our mission statement: “We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.” I love that we are about making much of God. I also love the emphasis that joy is our desired end. And I love that we exist to spread these glorious truths to all peoples!
Recently, during services on two different weekends, you heard announcements about one of the means we use to accomplish that spreading—the students now enrolled at Bethlehem College and Seminary. We have just started our second year of operation as BCS. The seminary began last Fall and the college degree program began this Fall. We have 43 students enrolled in the seminary and 58 students in the college for a total of 101 students. They come from 18 different states and two countries.
You might be thinking, “That’s great, but why is this important to me or to Bethlehem Baptist Church?”
It’s important because BCS is at work throughout Bethlehem and has a significant impact on the everyday life of the church. The 43 seminary students are working in ministry roles across nearly all the departments of the church. As an integral part of their training as future church leaders, we require that they be involved in ministry roles during their entire time at BCS.
This means that these men are assisting our pastors, ministers, and other leaders with carrying out Bethlehem’s many ministries. They help lead worship, they teach Sunday School and The Bethlehem Institute (TBI) classes, they engage in neighborhood outreach, they provide administrative support for many departments, they assist the elders, and they sometimes preach—here as well as at other churches.
In addition to the students, our BCS faculty and staff are also engaged in serving the church by teaching Sunday School and TBI classes, serving as elders, providing pastoral care for church members, engaging in cross-cultural missions, and contributing to Bethlehem’s theological strength.
So BCS exists to serve the local church with current ministry service, but we also are preparing for the church’s future needs by training and equipping new pastors and teachers and missionaries for the generation to come. In fact, several of our current pastoral staff members are former students from our program.
Not only are we aiming to serve Bethlehem in this way, we also see ourselves as fueling the Treasuring Christ Together vision by the same means of raising up theologically sound leaders for several of our TCT churches. Our alumni of the former TBI Apprenticeship program are serving the greater church as pastors, church planters, seminary professors, and missionaries in the some of the most difficult regions of the world. Our desire to serve the global church is already happening.
The Lord is clearly using the vision for pastoral training and enrichment that pastors John Piper and Tom Steller first brought to Bethlehem over 30 years ago. It has blossomed into a full degree-granting institution this past year now known as Bethlehem College and Seminary.
We stand amazed at what God has already done, first through TBI and now BCS, but we are even more excited about what we believe he will do through BCS in the worldwide church in the future as we continue to train students to hold fast to the Word of God and proclaim the glorious truth of the Gospel to the nations.
If this vision resonates with you, we ask that you come alongside us to help in making this vision a reality. First, we need your prayers. If you would be willing to pray for us, please sign up for our weekly prayer update that is sent out via email every Wednesday. (To sign up on the BCS Web site, bethlehemcollegeandseminary.org, go to the “support us” tab.)
Second, we would love to have you join us at Bethlehem’s Downtown Campus on Sunday, October 3, at 7:00pm, for the Bethlehem College and Seminary Inaugural Convocation—the public dedication of this institution to the Lord. In addition to worship and the formal installation of the chancellor, president, and faculty, Pastor John Piper and Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will be speaking. To have the Bethlehem church family with us for this special time of worship and dedication would be a great encouragement—we would love to have you celebrate this historic event together with us!
Bethlehem College and Seminary