Northwest Leadership Transition Announcement

The Board of Governors of Northwest Seminary and College is pleased to unveil its transition plan for the leadership of Northwest. It is with pleasure that we announce that Ms. Ruth McGillivray will serve as our Interim President.

Ruth joined the staff of Northwest in 2017 as the Director of Competency-Based Education. She has a rich and extensive history in developing CBE programs, having formed such programs in the high-tech and Canadian apprenticeship sectors since the early 1990’s. In 2019, Ruth transitioned her role to become Northwest’s Chief Innovation Officer, and in 2020, she became the Chief Operations Officer. Ruth’s adept skills in the areas of team leadership, administrative management, competency-based education, curricular design, and partner relations will ensure that Northwest’s vision and purpose remain clear and strong in a time of transition.

Ms. McGillivray has a long and warm history with our institution. She recalls Northwest and its people being part of her life from her youngest days. Her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Doug and Mary Harris, were highly invested in the ministry of Northwest and of Faith Baptist Church in Vancouver. Doug, was a former professor at Northwest, and led as President for 15 years. Ruth also worked at Northwest in the 1980’s, leaving to gain broader knowledge and experience she hoped to bring back to non-profit work one day. Ruth spent almost three decades serving in the marketplace, but kept up-to-date with happenings at Northwest. When Kent Anderson invited her to re-join the team and help scale its ground-breaking competency-based theological education (CBTE) programs , Ruth jumped at the chance to return.

Dr. Kent Anderson will officially resign from his presidential duties on February 28, remaining on staff till the end of April to finish out his teaching responsibilities. Ms. McGillivray will begin her role as Interim President on March 1. Part of Ruth’s role will involve leading a Transition Team comprised of Academic Dean, Dr. Howard Andersen (also a previous President of Northwest), Brent Foster, Chief Financial Officer, Dennis Wasyliw, Board Chair, and Colin van de Kur, Vice-Board Chair. This committee will give leadership guidance and ensure the continued vigor of Northwest.

The Board of Governors is confident that under Ruth’s leadership Northwest will experience a smooth transition, both as Dr. Anderson steps away and when a new President steps in.

Ruth has her Master of Arts in Learning and Technology from Royal Roads University. She has been the Conference Director since 2018 for the annual international conference on CBTE, held in partnership with the US-based Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), and leads a CBTE Advocacy Group comprised of leaders from the Association of Theological School, In Trust Resource Center, C-BEN, and four seminaries.

Ruth has been working closely with the leadership of Fellowship Pacific since rejoining Northwest, and attends Village Church South Langley.

Dennis Wasyliw
Chair, Board of Governors
[email protected]

Immerse Graduation 2020

I walk into the room and take my place. The room is void of ambiance. There are no flowers or balloons. There is no stage, no podium, no piano player filling the air with music. In fact, with no graduands, the room is eerily quiet. Six feet away from me sits Kajle Radbourne, Associate Director of Operations. Each of us has one ear bud in and one ear bud out, a necessity for hearing the audio stream and our technical cues. President Kent Anderson sits a few feet further away, all of us wired in to the strength of TWU’s bandwidth to ensure a glitch free ceremony. At 5:45 p.m. Kajle launches the stream, and at 6:00 p.m. we go live. Immerse Grad 2020 is under way.

On Friday, September 18, the 2020 Immerse Class gathered online to celebrate their graduation. Each graduate had been sent a “Grad in a Box.” Each box included their diploma and letters of congratulation, along with a gown, hood, and cap. Also included were party essentials like balloons, banners, chocolate, and gift cards.

Grads were encouraged to gather in their physical distancing bubble, put on their regalia, and celebrate their accomplishment. Our Immerse graduates through Fellowship Pacific gathered in small groups in homes or churches. Our grads with Northview Community Church held an “Under 50 People Gathering” celebration and dessert night. Our lone graduate through the 17:6 Network met with family and friends in California. And all of us were joined together through Zoom.

The graduation ceremony included many wonderful aspects. Graduate Kendra Gerbrandt, now Director of Discipleship for Women at Christ City Church in Vancouver, read Psalm 33. She chose it because God’s creative word, power, wisdom, and eternal knowledge are highlighted in this psalm. She said in an email that the psalm served as a reminder that, “In pastoral ministry we need to set our mind with the right perspective of who our God is, and declare that he is worthy of praise because of who he is, not because of any circumstance (good or bad) that we encounter.”

Graduate Zach Yaciw, Online Director with Village Church in Surrey, provided the student testimony. He spoke of his various ministry opportunities, including leading Freedom Sessions and waking up at 4:30 a.m. for a church plant launch set up. He emphasized how “Immerse has set me up Biblically and practically for a life time of church ministry.”

A special feature of this year’s graduation was the awarding of an Honorary Doctor of Ministry to pastor Harold Bullock. Dr. Bullock served as lead pastor at Hope Church in Fort Worth, Texas for 42 years. His church served as the training ground for church planters and cross-cultural missionaries who have planted more than 130 churches in North America and served in 34 countries. Dr. Bullock partners with Northwest in running degree programs through the 17:6 Network and more recently through the Bullock Institute.

We are grateful to everyone who attended our online graduation and supported our students. We gathered from the Philippines, England, the US, and Canada, and it was truly a grand celebration of what our students have accomplished to the glory of God.


Faith, Family and Friends

Discipling kingdom leaders and serving the Fellowship churches have been Northwest’s mission for over 80 years. Our faith, family, and friends keep us focused on this mission.

Our faith

Our heavenly Father has given us The Great Commission. Matthew 28:19-20 describes how we are to go out and make disciples of all nations. All programs at Northwest prepare students to fulfill this Great Commission.

Our family

God has bought us many students who have become a part of our steadily growing Northwest family. Noel Manucduc is one such family member. He has a strong desire to serve churches and organizations across the globe.

Noel recently completed his Master of Divinity in the Immerse program, specializing in chaplaincy. As a chaplain with Baptist Housing, part of our beloved Fellowship family, we wanted to ask Noel about his experiences in Immerse.

What is it like being a chaplain for Baptist Housing? 

Noel: I have made many lifelong friendships and connections. It is very fulfilling work when I can minister to both residents and colleagues. I have learned to walk alongside each and every person. My biggest surprise was learning that my co-workers also needed my pastoral care! I am privileged to share the love of Christ each day.

What do you wish to share with others about Northwest’s Immerse program?

Noel: It is a blessing to connect with residents and co-workers at two former care homes. I have built strong friendships over the past four years. I have grown and developed critical pathways to be a better pastor and leader since completing the Immerse program. I have a deeper understanding, respect, and empathy about the challenges people from all walks of life experience. I strongly encourage anyone to consider the Immerse program—it will make you a better pastor!

Our friends

We give thanks to our many partners and friends for their unwavering generosity and support. We rely on your constant prayers and financial gifts to encourage and assist Northwest’s students. It is your gifts that provide the necessary financial aid, bursaries, and Immerse scholarships.

Six Ways to Give

  1.  E -Transfers
  2. Online
  3.  Cheques
  4.  Recurring Gifts
  5.  Donating Securities Investments
  6.  Planned and Estate Gifts

Information can be found online at or by contacting Ron Sing at [email protected]

Resources for Pastors

Pastoral ministry covers the range of human thought and experience. Seminary graduates may thoroughly imbibe their pastoral training and still be broadsided by challenges brought to them in their first week in a church. Their seminary education is necessary as the foundation for their ministry – yet the learning never stops.

Questions such as these continually arise: I am preaching in Mark. Does Jesus refer to the “produce of the vine” in Mark to prophesy that after his death and resurrection he will “drink it new” to celebrate his ownership and victory? As people come into my church, people move on. Is numerical growth the measure of a church? Awareness is about inclusiveness. Is my church a safe place for all people? I am not sure I am prepared to knowledgeably address social issues. What can churches do about the effects of contemporary pornography on dating and families? I don’t have a youth pastor. How can we be sure our youth will be trained to become the future leaders of our churches? I understand Northwest has transformed its paradigm for training pastors. Where can I learn more about that?

To provide seminary professors and church leaders of evangelical denominations a forum for research and a resource for lifelong learning, Northwest offers the Northwest Institute for Ministry Education Research (NIMER). The answers to the above questions, and more, can be found at

The website is structured according to the components of a seminary education: Bible and Theology, History and Culture, and Leadership and Ministry Skills. The articles in these sections meet academic requirements and are peer reviewed. The articles in the Resources section cover specific aspects of church life. Less formal discussions are carried on through blogs. Currently professors and pastors are conversing on the NIMER site about the COVID-19 pandemic. We invite you to explore the website and participate: comment or read the Author Guidelines to learn how you can share your expertise with others.

Northwest in the Time of Covid

God is good, even in the time of Covid. Since our inception, Northwest has expressed confidence in the sovereignty of God and in his good purposes. In a time like this, we have the opportunity to prove we truly mean it. This year has challenged us in ways we could not have imagined. This is not news. We all could say the same. Neither is it news that God has proved himself worthy of our trust.

We know that you care about Northwest and are praying with us. Here is a snapshot of our progress in this moment of global pandemic.

It has been more than eight months since our team has been in the same room together. For all this time, we have been operating our ministry remotely via Zoom. We are unable to open our offices due to government regulation and Trinity Western’s Covid policy. This means that we have to offer all our courses either online or through contextual programs like Immerse. While not ideal, and we trust not long term, we have discovered we can still be effective in our work, even though we are all working from home. By God’s grace, we continue to prosper in our mission.

We are deeply grateful for Immerse and our other competency-based programs. When we began to develop these innovations, we could not have imagined a pandemic. But if we could have, we might have built our programs just like this. It has been exciting to watch our students utilize the challenge of doing ministry under Covid as a powerful learning opportunity. Our approach allows students and mentors to customize the ministry experience to the unique challenges of the moment.

I could tell you about Peter, for example. Peter is a youth pastoral student on Vancouver Island that I am mentoring. Peter has had to learn to adapt his entire ministry around a remote leadership strategy. Watching him struggle to discern new and unforeseen approaches to serving his students has been powerful for his own development. Through it all, God has been gracious and Peter has found encouragement.

Where we have really felt the Covid pain is with our Korean programs. While local Korean students are able to continue their studies with us, we have seen a significant reduction in enrolment for these programs due to a clampdown on international student visas. When the airplanes from Seoul stopped flying, we felt the hurt. Recent announcements from the government are encouraging. While student visa opportunities are opening up, the time required to obtain these visas has increased dramatically. It will take a while for us to overcome this problem.

For this reason, we are very grateful for the government support we have been able to receive. We have made good use of the CEWS program which has been a helpful buttress to our budget challenges. Even so, we have had to make some hard choices, delaying program launches, and reducing staff. We are hoping supporters like you will be able to help us so that we can avoid a loss this year. Given that we cannot count on the same level of government support for 2021, we will have further difficult choices to make for the coming year. But as we have often heard, “we are all in this together.” Our challenges are no worse than those felt by so many of our churches and individuals. Through it all, we have been able to trace God’s sovereign hand.

A bright spot this fall has been our ACTS Seminaries partnerships. As Covid hit we began to adjust our budget, bracing for a major hit that never came. Our ACTS students responded well to online learning, such that we are on track to meet budget on that side of our operation. Along with our ACTS and TWU partners, we are grateful that we have been able to continue to operate effectively to the benefit of our students, despite the limitations we must contend with.

Of course, the highlight of the year, so far, has been our Immerse graduation, celebrated online this past September. In this case, the problem offered opportunity. The online opportunity meant that we were able to welcome people from many parts of the world. The uniqueness of the event allowed for a sense of celebration as we all accommodated to a different form. Again, God showed his goodness to us and to our graduates.

Our building project is progressing, despite these challenges. Our work-from-home scenario has given our contractor full range to get to work on our new building. Completion has been delayed till late spring or early summer. However, given the pandemic, we would not be able to occupy the space before then anyway. Again, God is good.

Thank you for your continuing support. Your prayers and financial gifts are valued more now than ever. We are not in despair. We live in the hope of the gospel, and in the goodness of the God who is greater than Covid or anything else the world might bring.

2019 Program Changes Announcement


저희 노스웨스트 신학대학원 한국어 박사학위 프로그램은 지난 3월 ATS로부터 받은 감사와 인증 평가에서 향후 10년간의 재인증을 받았습니다.

프로그램에 대한 평가의 일환으로 시행했던 설문에서 학생들이 제공한 의견에 따라 우리는 프로그램에 몇 가지 변경 사항을 적용하고자 하며, 학생들은 이러한 변경사항에 대해 숙지하시기 바랍니다.

학사 일정 변경: 학생들의 자녀교육을 원활하게 하기 위해 새로운 학사 일정을 도입 할 것이며 금년도 9 월부터 시행될 예정입니다.

가을 학기 (2019 년 9 월 16 일 ~ 2020 년 2 월 28 일)
봄 학기     (2020 년 3 월 16 일 ~ 2020 년 8 월 28 일)

학기 첫날 (9 월 16 일)은 예배, 오리엔테이션, 특별 강연과 점심 식사 등으로 진행 될 것입니다. 새로운 일정이 시작되는 2019년 9월 1일 입학생들부터는 매 년 18 학점이 아닌 15 학점을 이수하게 될 것입니다.

과제물을 완료하기 위해 좀 더 많은 시간을 제공해달라는 학생들의 피드백에 따라 다음과 같이 일정을 수정할 계획입니다.
KDMN 900은 한 학기만 수강하며 3 개월 일정으로 진행될 것입니다.
2020 년 봄 학기부터, 집중 과정은 2 주씩 분리될 것입니다.

이러한 변경된 일정이 학생들의 학습을 향상시키고 연이은 학업으로 인한 스트레스를 감소시키길 바랍니다.

전체 프로그램의 기간:
프로그램 기간이 너무 짧다는 학생들의 지적에 따라 기간은 2 년 반에서 3 년으로 연장할 것입니다.  캐나다 이민국 및 학생 비자의 요구조건을 준수하기 위해서는 프로그램에 최소  3 학점을 추가해야 합니다. 기존의 학생들은 기존 프로그램 (즉, 36 학점)을 기준으로 졸업할 수 있습니다. 이 변경사항은 학생들이 논문이나 프로젝트를 완료하는데 더 많은 시간을 제공할 수 있을 것입니다.

수업료 납부:
현재의 학비는 2019년 9월 1일 날짜로 2% 인상 됩니다. 이는 신입생 및 기존 학생들 모두에게 적용됩니다. 학점당 새로운 수업료는 $545입니다. 학비는 각 학기가 시작되기 전에 납부 되어야 합니다. 학기 첫 날 이후 즉, 2019년 9월 1일 이후에 납부하게 되면 소정의 연체료가 부과됩니다.

학비 납부 연체 수수료:
학기 시작 후 2주까지 학비를 납부하지 않을 경우, 해당 학기 전체 학비의 3%의 연체료, 학기 시작 후 2주후부터 4주까지는 5%의 연체료를 부담해야 합니다.
학기 시작 4주후에도 납부가 되지 않을 경우, 수강은 취소됩니다.
*노스웨스트의 학생들이 재학증명서를 발급받기 위해서는 해당 학기 전체 학비의 1/3을 납부해야 합니다. 그 이후에 나머지 납부 일정이 적용될 것입니다.

납부 방법:
NBS 학생들은 수표, 계좌 이체, 이트랜스퍼 또는 와이어 트랜스퍼(한국의 경우)를 통해 학비 및 기타 수수료를 지불할 수 있습니다.

학비를 현금으로 납부할 경우, NBS는 최대 $2,000까지만 받을 수 있습니다. 이러한 경우는 NBS에 학생 개인 정보 기록이 있는 학생만 해당됩니다. NBS는 어떠한 경우에도 한 학생으로부터 매년 4,000 달러 이상의 현금을 수령하지 않습니다.
추가 설명 : 한 과목의 수업료는 $1,500에서 $2,000 사이이므로 이에 대한 것은 현금으로 납부가 가능합니다. 각 개인이 캐나다에 가져올 수 있는 현금은 그 금액이 제한되어 있습니다.

성적 업그레이드:
성적을  C에서 혹은 F를 받을 경우 성적을 업그레이드 할 수 있도록 2019년 5월부터 성적 업그레이드를 위한 새로운 규정이 시행됩니다. 만일 2019 년 5 월 – 8 월에 C에서  F를 받은 경우, 2019 년 9 월 – 12 월에 추가 학습을 통해 성적을 업그레이드 할 수 있는 기회가 제공됩니다. 이 옵션은 KDMN 900, 945, 946, 950, 951에는 적용되지 않습니다. 이 정책은 2019 년 4 월 30 일 이전의 과목에는 적용되지 않습니다.

우리는 학생들의 요청 사항과 프로그램의 질적 향상을 위해 이러한 변경사항들을 신중하고 현명하게 구현하고자 합니다. 질문이 있으시면 박상우 교수님(Dr. Daniel Park) 이나 Larry Perkins 교수님(Dr. Larry Perkins), 혹은  Phoebe Hwang 과 상의하십시오.

하나님께서 함께 하심으로 프로그램을 잘 마칠 수 있게 되길 기도합니다.


Great News! The ATS Commission on Accrediting has reaffirmed the accreditation of Northwest Baptist Seminary’s Korean Doctor of Ministry program for a period of ten years.

As part of our evaluation of the program and based upon the feedback that many of you provided, we will be implementing some changes to the program. We are listening to your concerns and are making these changes to respond to them. We want you to be informed about these.

  1. New Schedule For Academic Terms:
    In order to assist students with registration of their children in local public schools we are establishing a new schedule for our academic terms. Beginning this September, we will be implementing:

    • Fall Term (September 16, 2019 to February 28, 2020)
    • Spring Term (March 16, 2020 to August 28, 2020)

The first day of term (September 16) will be a time for worship, orientation, and special lecture presentation, as well as lunch together. In the new schedule students beginning the program September 1, 2019 will be taking 15 credits per year, rather than 18 credits.

  1. Timing:
    Student feedback indicated that providing more time between courses and in courses to complete assignments would be helpful. So in response we will have designed the following schedule:

    • KDMN 900 will be taught in one single term, but over a three month schedule.
    • Beginning in the Spring Term 2020, the intensive courses will be separated from each other by a period of two weeks.

We believe that these changes will improve your learning and also reduce some of the stress that various students have reported.

  1. Length of the Program:
    We are lengthening the program to three years from two and half years. Again students have indicated that the time-frame is too compressed. In order to do this in a way that complies with Canada Immigration Services and Student Visas, we have to add 3 credits to the program. This will only affect new students beginning September 1, 2019. Current students will be able to graduate on the basis of the current program (i.e., 36 credits). This change will provide more time for students to complete their dissertations or projects.
  1. Tuition Fees and Fee Payment:
    We will be implementing a modest, 2% increase in tuition fees as of September 1, 2019. This will apply to new and current students. The new tuition per credit hour will be $545. These fees will be due prior to the beginning of each term. Final date for payment without late fee penalty will be the first day of the new term (according to the dates provided in section 1 above).
  1. Late Payment Penalties and De-registration:
    Tuition payment is due in full by the first day of the term. Any student with an outstanding balance by the first day of the term will be charged a Late Payment Fee. Within the first 2 weeks of the term the Late Payment Fee will be calculated at 3% of the student’s total term fees. Between 2 and 4 weeks the Late Payment Fee will be calculated at 5% of the student’s total term fees. After 4 weeks the student will be de-registered from the term.
  1. Tuition and Fee Payment Methods:
    • NBS accepts payment for tuition and other fees by cheque, wire transfer, e-transfer, or international money order.
    • NBS also will accept a single cash payment for tuition payment from a student for up to $2,000. In such cases this payment is linked with the personal information NBS has on record for the students. In no case will NBS accept cash payments totaling more than $4,000 annually from any single student.
  1. Upgrading Courses: It is unfortunate that sometimes students receive C or F grades in some courses. For courses offered in May 2019 we are implementing a new, course upgrade policy. If students receive a C or F grade in courses offered in May – August 2019, then in September – December 2019, we will offer an opportunity to upgrade the grade received through additional work. This option will not apply to KDMN 900, 945, 946, 950, 951. This policy does not apply retroactively to courses failed prior to April 30, 2019.

Changes are always a challenge. We seek to implement them carefully and wisely, in response to student concerns and with a view to improving the quality of your educational experience at Northwest Baptist Seminary. If you have questions, please consult with Dr. Park, Phoebe Hwang, or Dr. Perkins.

We pray for you all regularly and trust God to help you complete your program well.


Daniel Park, Th.D.
KDMN Program Director

Notice of Upcoming ATS site visit

The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) is the accrediting agency for Theological Schools in Canada and the US. Northwest Baptist Seminary holds both an accreditation with ATS for its programs offered through the ACTS consortium and an accreditation independently for our Immerse and Korean-language programming. As part of maintaining this accreditation, Northwest is currently preparing a self-study report in advance of an evaluation visit by the accrediting agency. One of our requirements is to let all our constituents know that this site visit will be happening in early Spring and invite your comments or concerns regarding our qualification for accreditation.

We are open to receiving your comments and concerns. If you have any comments or questions about this process, please let us know by e-mailing [email protected]. Please send any comments prior to the New Year.

Thank you for working with us.

Director’s Desk: Interview with Mark Evans

Mark Evans serves as the Associate Pastor at Fellowship Baptist Church in Edmonton, Alberta. Mark grew up and was raised in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island before moving to Edmonton. He has just recently graduated from the Immerse program, the first Fellowship Prairies student to do so. Mark and his wife Brittany also welcomed their first child, Faith, a few months ago. Northwest’s Director of Development Ron Sing talked with Mark to ask him about his family, his ministry and his Immerse experience.

Ron: Who were some of your mentors that were influential in your faith and in shaping your character?

Mark: A number of people had a profound impact on different aspects of my faith. I am thankful for my Mom and Dad, who laid an amazing foundation of trusting God. Pastor Paul Hawkes at Parksville whet my appetite for expositional preaching. Nigel Wheeler in Lethbridge, Alberta taught me systematic theology. John Bonham in Edmonton, Alberta taught me leadership and discipleship and my three Immerse mentors, Jason Hagen, Phil Webb, and Dr. Kent Anderson all pushed me to wrestle with godly character amongst other things! 

Ron: What areas of your life and ministry where most impacted by  Immerse?

Mark: During Immerse, I had to dig deep and work through some personal issues that I didn’t want to address. Without sharing specifics, I had signed up for a church leadership degree program (Immerse) and the biggest impact was in my family life! Immerse gave me a vision for church ministry, leading my family into God’s blessing first, and then from that place of harmony and health, helping others realize that same future – where Christ reigns over all. 

Ron: What is your ministry now? Do you feel you are more prepared and equipped for your ministries after graduating from Immerse?

Mark: I am currently serving in Edmonton at Fellowship Baptist Church where I was recently elected as Associate Pastor. Immerse absolutely gave me the leadership competencies required in this line of Kingdom service. I am deeply thankful to the many saints who have supported the Immerse program with their generous giving and prayers and the leadership of the Northwest team and Fellowship Pacific. Many thanks to all my mentors, family and friends who have supported and encouraged me these past few years! 

Jay James Perkins 1921-2018

Northwest lost a longtime friend of the seminary when Jay Perkins passed away this past July. He was predeceased by his wife Verna in 2014. Because of his love for Christ and his desire to serve Him, Jay lived an extraordinary life. Northwest, along with many other groups in the Fellowship, was greatly impacted by Jay.  

Jay loved to serve God. 

Jay used his skills in accounting and leadership as he served in the Canadian Army, as an entrepreneur, in Church leadership, in Sunday School and on the mission field with his wife Verna. With Dr. Jack Pickford, Jay established the Baptist Foundation, a non-profit agency for senior housing in BC. As a gifted leader, he served on Northwest’s Board of Governors, as a board member and later as chair. In the 70’s, Jay was the Financial Administrator for Northwest and Executive Director of Baptist Housing Ministries. 

Jay loved his family and friends.

In his later life, Jay started a men’s group at Elim Village in Surrey where he mentored many of the residents. He loved to share his wisdom with his family including his many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. 

Jay loved to help our students.

 Jay established two scholarships at Trinity Western University and recently, the Jay and Verna Perkins Bursary Fund at Northwest Baptist Seminary. This special fund gives financial assistance to our students each year. We are very thankful for Jay and the Perkins family for their love and generosity. 

3rd Annual Immerse Graduation

This fall, Northwest hosted its 3rd Immerse graduation in partnership with Fellowship Pacific. Immerse graduations are a particularly special time because they represent the culmination of not only the graduate’s journey but also the cumulative work of Northwest, Fellowship Pacific and local church mentors. To steal a phrase, it takes a village to raise a leader. At graduation, the village comes together to celebrate. So congratulations to the villages of Garry Firth (Meeting Place), Luis Orjuela (Okanagan Hispanic Baptist Church), Jeffrey Scott (Ladner Baptist Church), Steve Vandop (Departure Bay Baptist Church), and Tommy Wong (Oakridge Baptist Church).

This year’s convocation was particularly special as two students from partner networks also walked the stage. Mark Evans became the first graduate from Fellowship Prairies, completing his training at Fellowship Baptist Church in Edmonton. Lindsay Myers is the 7th graduate through the 17:6 Network in Fort Worth, TX. She completed her studies at Church in the Valley in Alhambra, CA. She is the first 17:6 Network graduate to travel north to come and celebrate the occasion with us.

To date, there have been 22 Immerse graduates from four different partner networks. Nearly all of those graduates are currently serving in the roles or ministries for which they trained.  Northwest now offers Immerse in partnership with 11 different networks and this fall has 60 students enrolled in the program. 109 mentors guide those students who are serving in 34 different churches or ministry contexts.

It does take a village to raise a leader, and we are so thankful to all of those who are partnering in this work. 

President’s Pen (Fall 2018)

I recently had the opportunity to offer some help to another seminary that comes from the mainline wing of the Christian movement. I will admit that I asked myself some hard questions as to how this fit within our mission and what some of my predecessors would have said about my being there. When the weekend was over, the dean of this school came to me and said, “Thank you for reminding us of things that we had forgotten in our institutional memory: Scripture, church, and gospel.”

While I took this as an amazing compliment and a testament to the value of my contribution, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What else is there?” As I think back across the 85-year history of Northwest, I observe that these three things have always defined the direction of our ministry. I am very encouraged to see that they still are. Our whole team remains rock solid in our affirmation of the Bible, the church, and the Christian gospel. May it ever be so.

Of course, we are also becoming known for our particular competency-based focus in theological education. Elsewhere in this newsletter, you will have read about our wildly successful conference. To see a downtown ballroom full of educators there to hear us tell the story about how a seminary can reshape itself to serve its churches, was deeply gratifying. Not only are we making an impact on our own churches, but we are seeing this vision spread.

For example, we are now on the cusp of launching the Immerse program in Colombia. This culminates more than 15 years of work. We believe that what is emerging is going to spread across Latin America for the sake of the church and for the good of the gospel.

This spreading of influence is truly encouraging. We are now in the final stages of forming a partnership, to be known as Symporus. This will be an arms-length company held in partnership with Sioux Falls Seminary and the Pathwright firm out of South Carolina. Together, we are aligning to offer technology and services in support of competency-based theological education across North America and the world. Symporus is going to allow us to serve these opportunities, without distracting us from our core mission here at home.

We are also working on developing a new product line which we intend to call Groundwork. This will provide competency-based theological education to a wider array of people and churches, meeting needs at a more accessible level. Alongside Immerse, Groundwork is going to help us serve lay people, young adults, and people whose calling is something other than vocational pastoral ministry.

In all of this, we are grateful for your support. We are thankful for you and your prayers as well as your financial support. I have little trouble asking you to bless our students with your giving because I have seen the result. There is nothing like seeing people’s gifts and callings blossom through deep, mentored training. All donation income goes directly to students in the form of aid.

To God be the glory.

CBTE 2018 A Success

For two days in November, Northwest played host to the first ever International Conference on Competency-Based Theological Education (CBTE 2018). Thanks to a grant awarded to Northwest by the Association of Theological Schools as part of the Educational Models and Practices Forum, supported by the Lily Endowment, Northwest was able to draw in a broad range of experts from the wider world of competency-based education and from theological education in particular.

In 2011 Northwest became the first seminary in North America to begin experimenting with Competency-Based Theological Education (CBTE), only we didn’t know it at the time. While it took some time to identify the language and relationship to the Competency-Based Education movement occurring elsewhere in higher education, Northwest’s Immerse program has been centred around the values that have become core to the emerging CBTE movement, right from the start. The central values are that students train for ministry by being involved in ministry in the context of the local church, students utilize the learning opportunities their ministry presents at a pace that works for them, students are overseen by mentors in a program that is individually designed, and the program is delivered in partnership between the school, the church, and the denomination. When Northwest began to partner with Fellowship Pacific to outline what would eventually become the Immerse program, we had no idea that this would be the beginning of something completely new and significant in theological education. We just knew we needed to be better at serving our churches.

Jump forward seven years. The ideas behind the Immerse program have been rapidly gaining credence in the broader world of theological education. Northwest, Fellowship Pacific, and their program have garnered significant interest from a wide variety of groups who felt a similar need to serve their ministries better. It was clear that there was a broad-based interest in CBTE throughout North America. When the opportunity arose to pursue a grant that would fund a conference, we knew we had to try to provide something that would shepherd this emerging movement well. 

The landscape has changed since 2011. First of all, Northwest isn’t the only school with an active CBTE program. For a number of years, we have recognized a kindred institution in Sioux Falls Seminary, based out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Their CBTE-based “Kairos” program launched In 2014. Additionally, Grace College and Seminary in Indiana consulted with both Northwest and Sioux Falls when designing their “Deploy” program which launched in January of this year. 

When seeking speakers and topics for the CBTE Conference, Northwest drew from the leaders, experience, and expertise in these schools, as well as our own. In addition, we eagerly welcomed speakers from the Competency-Based Education Network, experts in the field of CBE. We also had the opportunity to expose our conference attendees to the strength of our partnerships with Fellowship Pacific, other network partners, and our students, as representatives from each of these led or participated in breakout sessions and panel discussions. 

The results were as much a success as possible. The 120 conference attendees filled the venue and represented organizations from all over North America and beyond. In total, 70 organizations were represented coming from 5 provinces, 25 states and even Brazil, Guatemala, and Australia. Because one of the values of CBTE is partnership with the ministry organization seeking to train their future leaders, we were excited that only one-third of these organizations were other graduate-level theological institutions. Another twenty-six percent of participating organizations were undergraduate-level schools. Additionally, twenty-nine percent were missional organizations such as churches, denominations, missions or para-church organizations. 

Of the organizations that attended, nearly half indicated they were in the process of developing CBTE programs and nearly a third had just recently heard about CBTE and came to learn more. This suggests to us that, as successful as the first conference was, the groundswell is only just beginning. Something big is happening in theological education and Northwest is at the forefront of it. The excitement at the conference was palpable. It was clear to all those in attendance that this was only the first step towards what is to come. With nearly two-thirds of organizations in attendance being represented by only one conference attendee, we expect that a follow-up conference could easily have double the attendance. 

So what happens next? Throughout the planning and the conference itself, we at Northwest were clear that CBTE was no longer just a Northwest thing. We are now serving the greater Kingdom. At the same time, it is important to us that we remain at the forefront of this wave. Following the conference, Northwest hosted a meeting of those institutions most engaged with CBTE. The aim of this meeting was to organize together to help set the direction for the fledging CBTE movement for the sake of the Kingdom. The result was a commitment to work together in continuing to research, demonstrate, and promote CBTE to both theological education and missional institutions as well as plan to hold more conferences in the future. It was clear that all at the table were as passionate about training leaders in context as we are. Northwest may have been the first out of the blocks, but we are no longer running alone. We are engaging together with other groups, and more are joining the race every day. We feel a responsibility to help however we can and steward this movement for the betterment of the Kingdom.

One way we will do that is through a new venture being undertaken with partners Sioux Falls Seminary and tech company Pathwright. Together with Northwest, these groups will form a new company called Symporus. Powered by the Pathwright technology platform, Symporus will serve schools and missional organizations by providing tech services capable of hosting a CBTE program. Additionally, Symporus will draw on the expertise of both Sioux Falls and Northwest to provide a whole host of CBTE related consulting and services including program design and even customized, credit-bearing degrees. We believe this partnership will enable Northwest to continue to maximize the experience we have gained for the benefit of the Kingdom while allowing us to continue to prioritize our core mission of training leaders for the Fellowship.

As we witnessed over 120 people gather to learn more about CBTE it was clear a lot has changed since 2011. And yet, our heart has not. We are still passionate about training leaders in the best way we can. And we are always grateful to our constituents and partners for not only pushing us to do that better every day but for being fully engaged with us every step of the way. 

Q&A with Association for Biblical Higher Education President

In the lead up to the first International Conference on Competency-Based Theological Education  (CBTE) which Northwest is hosting in November, Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) President Dr. Ralph Enlow has been posting a series of interviews Northwest president Kent Anderson and Director of CBTE Ruth McGillivray.

If you want to learn more about CBTE and the role that Northwest is taking with it, the first two installments of the interview are available on Dr. Enlow’s blog (links below).

Part 1
Part 2

Articles by Northwest Staff Featured by ATS

The pioneering work accomplished in Northwest’s Immerse has given NBS the opportunity to take a leadership role in the emerging field of Competency-Based Theological Education. One such opportunity is hosting the first International Conference in CBTE in November. As interest continues to be generated, articles about CBTE are being written by Northwest staff and featured by other agencies. One such article, written by NBS’ Director of Competency-Based Education Ruth McGillivray was featured in ATS’ online magazine.

The mentor’s dilemma: tips for assessing “soft” competencies in Competency-Based Theological Education (CBTE)

Kyle is a theology professor at a seminary that has recently implemented a competency-based MDiv program. He has a decade of experience teaching traditional, semester-based courses at the post-secondary level, and another decade taking them. But his role in this new program is different. Instead of teaching courses in his specialty area to a new group of students each term, he’s now the academic advisor on a cross-functional mentor team guiding one student through her whole degree. Not only does he also evaluate how well she

articulates understanding and critical thinking on theological concepts, but he also looks at how she applies them in her daily life and work. In addition, he’s responsible to oversee her development in disciplines outside his specialty and assess whether or not she has mastered competencies like humility, faith, hope, and culture.

This presents a dilemma for Kyle, as well as for the ministry and practitioner mentors on his three-person team. Each has an individual sense of what it means to be humble or have hope, but how do they articulate what mastery of humility or hope looks like for assessment purposes? To complicate things further, Kyle oversees two other students in this new program and, in that capacity, is on three different mentor teams. Even if one team reaches consensus on what mastery looks like, he has to navigate the same waters with the other two teams. How does he assess his three students consistently if each team arrives at a different definition?

(read the rest of the article here)

Growing Programs Means Growing Staff

Northwest is growing! The rapid growth of our Immerse and Korean Language programs, and the resulting global opportunities has required Northwest to build its team. We have recognized God’s providence as He has brought several wonderful new people to our ministry team. Many of these new team members have a history with Northwest and Fellowship Pacific and return to us now perfectly suited through education and experience for the next stage of Northwest’s ministry.

Ruth McGillivray brings her
experience in competency-
based training to Immerse

Ruth McGillivray joined us as the Director of Competency-Based Education in September 2017. Ruth is the daughter of one of Northwest’s former presidents, Dr. Doug Harris. Ruth brings over 25 years of experience designing, developing and leading competency-based learning and assessment programs for corporate and trades training. As we continue to develop the Immerse program and paradigm it is obvious that Ruth is providing valuable assistance to Northwest. We are excited to have Ruth on board as we continue to grow our influence as leaders in the field of competency-based theological education and move into other opportunities our expertise allows.

Another new team member is Dr. Elsie Froment. Elsie joined the Northwest team in January 2018 in the role of Director of Research. This is the first such appointment in Northwest’s new Research Faculty category. Along with her Ph.D. in history from Queen’s University, Elsie has Fellowship Baptist roots, having attended Fellowship churches in Mission, Port Coquitlam and Kingston, and earned her first degree as a student of Northwest Baptist Theological College. Elsie previously served as Assistant to the Dean at NBS before moving to Trinity Western University where she served in various roles including Academic Initiatives, Quality Assurance, and Dean of Research. Elsie is providing leadership and direction to the proposed Northwest Institute for Ministry Education Research and serves as the primary liaison for Northwest with the Provincial Government’s Ministry of Advanced Education.

As the Immerse program continues to gain momentum, Northwest has been seeking ways to extend this approach internationally. Partnering with Fellowship International, Northwest is planning to bring accredited theological and ministry training to national pastors right in their local context.

To that end, we are pleased to announce the appointment of two individuals in roles to actualize the Global Immerse vision.

Rob Brynjolfsen brings global
ministry leadership experience to Global Immerse and Korean
language programs

Rob Brynjolfsen is another Fellowship family member that is finding opportunity to connect his expertise with Northwest’s growing vision. Through a joint appointment with Fellowship International, Rob will bring his years of global ministry leadership experience to serve two roles with Northwest – the Director of Global Immerse and the Associate Director of Korean Language Programming. Rob has had first-hand experience watching Northwest grow, having served on the Northwest Board of Governors. Rob is already busy setting up our first Global Immerse partner in Latin America.

In addition to the Director of Global Immerse, Northwest has also entered into an agreement with Andrés Rincón to fill the role of Associate Director of Global Immerse: Latin America. Andrés will work under Rob’s leadership in facilitating

Fresh off graduating from Immerse,
Andrés Rincón will help launch the
program in Columbia

Global Immerse in his native Columbia. Andrés is a recent grad from the Immerse program and our first graduate outside of North America. Andrés leads a movement of young leaders and ministers. From that group, and other Fellowship International network connections, at least eight students have expressed interest in being part of the first Global Immerse program in Latin America.

So you can see – Northwest is growing! We believe each of these individuals represents a unique part of the growing work that God has entrusted to Northwest. And while we are excited about the growth in vision, opportunities and personnel, we are also challenged by our need for facilities to house our expanding team. Northwest’s offices in the Fosmark Center provide office space for thirteen employees on any given day. We will shortly have eighteen people looking to share office space every week. The growing isn’t finished – but that’s another story!

Kent Anderson, Integrative Preaching

Northwest News: Congratulations on the publication of your new book. What led to you writting this particular book?

Kent: I have been teaching this integrated preaching approach for 25 years and I felt it was time to put it into print. I wanted to produce a full comprehensive statement on this particular approach to preaching and I was given an opportunity to do that.
It goes back to my pastoral days when I started discovering some new thinking around preaching that emphasized things like narrative and the heart instead of the head. I was intrigued by all the things I was reading but felt a sense that it was a bit of a pendulum swing. I knew there was a better way to go about it and embrace some of these new things without having to give up my heritage in expository preaching and handling a text well. This integrative approach seemed to be something that needed to be done. It needed to be written and articulated well and offered to my students and to the world.

Northwest: This is now your fourth book. How does it differ from the other three?

Kent: In some ways, it is just a progression. My last book, called Choosing to Preach, was more of a map of the landscape of preaching as it existed 10 or 12 years ago. The final chapter of that book offered my sense of where things needed to go – which is to integrate all of the various portions of the map. So this is my opportunity to offer a full statement on that particular way of thinking about preaching.

So in Choosing, we focused on these four different possibilities and what I’m suggesting is that we try to integrate all of them.

Northwest: Who did you write this book for?

Kent: It’s obviously written for my students but pastors, leaders – anybody who finds themselves persuasively communicating the word of God to groups of people, whatever that looks like – it could be helpful for them.

Northwest: What do you want readers of the book to walk away with?

Kent: I want them to go away with a couple things. One, a fresh sense of what it actually means to preach. That we’re not the preachers. God is the one who is speaking in the world. He’s making Himself known and His will known. He speaks into the world and we just have the privilege of helping others hear. So I like to think of preaching as leading in listening to God as the one who speaks, while we are the ones who listen, we take a leadership role in that respect. So I’m hoping readers will gain a healthy perspective on what it is to preach.

And then secondly, I’m hoping they will come away with a really solid integrated model. Something they can work with and go to when they are faced with the task of trying to help people hear what God is saying in his word. It is a very practical book. The theology and the theory are at the beginning but then there is an actual methodology being offered.

Korean Language Programs Provide Opportunity

Canada is one of several countries that welcomes international students. However, for the most part these students must take their education in a second language. Northwest has followed a different approach – we offer our Canadian graduate degree programs in the Korean language. Few institutions in Canada do this.

Several reasons have guided this decision. First, we do not want language barriers to restrict deserving, qualified individuals from achieving their personal, educational goals, and thus fulfilling part of God’s plan for them. Second, stewardship of time and other resources are at stake. If individuals have to devote two years to gain proficiency in the  English-language before they are eligible to be admitted to graduate programs, then most individuals lack the resources to do it. As a result they are denied the opportunity to enhance their leadership capacities. Thirdly, our focus in our programs is on developing global Christian leaders. We believe it is important for them to live cross-culturally in order to receive more than a theoretical appreciation for the demands of such leadership. However, if language competence prevents them from learning cross-culturally, then the educational objectives of the program cannot be achieved.

Our students face significant challenges when they decide to participate in our Korean language programs. Relocating themselves and their families creates many stresses. Finding affordable housing in Metropolitan Vancouver as you know is never easy. Learning the transportation system and arranging for things such as health insurance become additional hurdles. And then finding a community in which they can make new friends and develop social relationships is an entirely different need. Fortunately there are numerous Korean faith communities that demonstrate generous hospitality. Culture-shock is real and sometimes the student (or at times their spouse) struggles to acclimatize themselves to Canadian realities.

Learning the culture of Canadian higher education and how it differs from Korean educational practices requires considerable energy. Shifting from an educational culture that tends to honour what respected teachers say and write, to one in which honouring such teachers gets expressed through critical questioning and discussion, represents a huge learning curve. This affects, for example, the way assignments are researched and written, particularly how data gets incorporated. In the Doctor of Ministry program candidates have to prepare significant, well-researched writing projects to complete their degree. You can imagine how difficult it is for individuals not only to do their research but then present it in ways that conform to the expectations of a very different educational culture. When these students finish, their degrees are well-earned and well-deserved. Please pray for them, as they prepare themselves to lead congregations and Christian organizations around the world.

Northwest Continuing to Step Into New Opportunities

If I have learned anything over the last few years, it is that the world of higher education is changing. The classroom paradigms that trained you and I have changed dramatically and nowhere is that more evident than here at Northwest. Our move to establish the Immerse program a number of years ago has put us in the forefront of a movement in “competency-based theological education.” Northwest is now widely acknowledged as the innovative leader among seminaries looking to do a better job at serving their churches and constituencies.

In witness to this, Northwest was given a grant from the Lilly Endowment to offer the first ever International Conference on Competency-Based Theological Education. We will be welcoming leaders from across North America to downtown Vancouver on November 5-6, 2018 for this ground-breaking event. We see this not only as an opportunity to deepen Northwest’s leadership position in the field, but also to advance the Kingdom through leading others to improve the way by which we develop people for ministry.

One of the exciting areas of recent development for Northwest has been in the area of technology. Our educational vision relies upon sophisticated online tools that allow us to extend our reach and empower students and mentors in their context. God has led us to form relationships with some wonderful like-minded partners in this field who are helping us achieve another level in our work.

Just this past week, we spent a week in Colombia, South America where we were able to move to form our first cohort of Colombian students for the Immerse program. This will be our first major initiative outside of North America and it is very exciting to see how the values and practices we have pioneered at home can be powerful for other parts of the world.

Keep praying with us around our desire to purchase and develop property for our home offices. As you know, this has been a major challenge for us, as we are severely squeezed in our current offices. While we are making progress on this item, we still require your prayers. I am hopeful that we will be able to report something very soon.

Thanks again for your interest and your support. Your prayers make these good things possible. We are deeply grateful.

Immerse Students Making a Difference

Connecting With Kids

Christine Beriault (Gibbs) – Children’s Ministry Intern
Emmanuel Baptist Church, Vernon BC.

Mission Hill School is near Emmanuel Baptist and has many multicultural families. The school sends 45-50 children to Emmanuel’s Kidz Klub, an after-school program held each week. Many of the children are from non-churched homes. Christine would love to see even more kids involved in this program. Christine also leads and teaches Sunday School for the children at Emmanuel.

Pray for Christine:

  • Applying her Immerse studies and to her home and ministry
  • That strong relationships with kids and parents are built
  • That Bibles given out to kids would transform their lives for Christ
  • As she leads several camps this summer

Community Connections

Lucas Goltz –
Director of Community Engagement
Central Baptist Church, Victoria BC.

Central Baptist has reached out to George Jay Elementary school for many years.  Currently, Lucas oversees the breakfast and reading clubs which directly help students, many of whom are at risk. An Easter event is being organized for the parents and children at the school in April. This galvanizes the community and develops more connections at George Jay.

Pray for Lucas:

  • That he and his team would have favour with the George Jay Elementary community
  • His involvement with the summer Kids Camp (100 kids and volunteers)
  • That members and leaders in Community Groups are equipped

Building Bridges

Alena Harrison – Women’s Ministries
Village Church, Surrey BC

When Alena is not studying and serving at the church she is building bridges with her colleagues at work. Her Immerse assignments have many co-workers curious about God and joining her at church on Sundays. At Village Church, Alena is training and equipping women for leadership and discipleship. She is also active with female youths and mentoring them.

Pray for Alena:

  • As she devotes time studying in Immerse and applying it during the week
  • For her interactions and conversations with co-workers who are seeking God
  • As she ministers to and leads women at church

If you wish to know about our Immerse program or how to
financially give to support our
students through scholarships or our Student Financial Aid Fund, please talk to us. 

Contact Ron Sing,
Director of Development
c: 1-250-240-3737 or
e: [email protected] 

Fishers of Men – Equipping Youth Leaders in Salmon Arm and Reaching the Next Generation

I had the opportunity to meet up with two of our Immerse students, Nathan Pawluck and Dan Steenson of Salmon Arm. Both Nathan and Dan also serve as Gospel Leaders – Pastoral Apprentices for youth ministries at Shuswap Community Church (SCC). They are both passionate about making a Kingdom impact in the lives of youth in beautiful Salmon Arm.
SCC Youth Ministry reaching out to the youth:
About 200-250 students attend their youth ministry each week and approximately 80-90% of these students come from unchurched homes.

“Over my time in Immerse and serving this ministry, I have had the opportunity to baptize 4 students, disciple 7 and send off two of those boys to Bible school” – Nathan Pawluck

Nathan and Dan actively disciple a group of students each week working through struggles of sin, pain and suffering.
“These are real-life adult problems and our students need help walking through the consequences of sin” – Nathan Pawluck

Vision for SCC Youth:
We exist to help students explore God, develop deep relationships and live out the Gospel.

“Recently, I had the opportunity to baptize a student in my small group and now I am discipling two students who are passionate about following Jesus and living out their faith. ” – Dan Steenson

Leadership Development for SCC:
SCC’s Youth Pastor and Northwest alumnus, Kolby Milton oversees the youth ministry and mentors Nathan and Dan. “ I am thankful for Bob Evans (Pastor at SCC Sicamous campus ) who was my mentor and now I have the same opportunity with Nathan and Dan each week – It keeps me sharp and makes me a better leader, husband and dad.”
Immerse, is designed to propel leaders to make a Kingdom impact now and for generations to come. We are thankful for the prayers and generosity of all our financial supporters who make this program affordable and possible for our students to graduate without incurring debt. Please prayerfully consider giving generously to our Student Sponsorship Fund. A Legacy Gift in your will is another option to give to students like Nathan and Dan.

Please contact Ron Sing,
Director of Development for information.
C: 1-250-240-3737 or
E: [email protected]

Dr. Larry Perkins – New book availible now

Dr. Larry Perkins and Baylor University Press are pleased to announce the publishing of Dr. Perkins’ latest work, The Pastoral Letters: A Handbook on the Greek Text.
This resource is for those interested in digging into the Greek of the pastoral letters (1-2 Timothy and Titus). The editor at BUP asked if he would write for this series and Dr. Perkins welcomed the opportunity. Dr. Perkins comments, “I hope I have brought some new clarity to a few of these important questions.”

This book is, “For a Christian leader who has some knowledge of Koine Greek,” comments Dr. Perkins. He also notes that this book is a handy resource for pastors, students, and teachers on the Greek text of the Pastoral Letters.

Dr. Perkins, “Was struck by the ‘literary’ level of discourse in the letters.” This project was a joy for Dr. Perkins. He discovered insights about God’s grace that enlivened his research. “God’s grace is our teacher and this grace is teaching us ‘that renouncing impiety and worldly desires we should live prudently, uprightly, and piously in this present age.”

I asked Dr. Perkins, now that he finished this book, are there any other projects he was working on. At the moment there are four this year. A commentary on the Greek Translation of Exodus. A journal article on the portrayal of Aaron in Exodus 32 for publication later this year. A chapter in a volume of essays he wrote on Exodus 2:2-10 is to come out this November by the Society of Biblical Literature. In November, he is presenting a paper on at the Society of Biblical Literature meetings in Boston. His topic is the Greek Translator’s intent and interpretation of Exodus 23:21-23.

For those interested in learning more about the topic, Dr. Perkins offers this advice. If you want to become more thoroughly acquainted with the letters and their meanings as intended by the writer, working with the Greek text is vital. “Interaction with the Greek text directly reaps considerable reward. Even if your knowledge of Greek is minimal, with the help of Greek computer tools or other print resources, you can interact with the Greek text and understand more fully what the English translations might be seeking to express.”

If you would like more information on Dr. Perkins’ book, visit:

Board of Governors award recipient -Dr. Gerry Kraft

Dr. Gerald Kraft’s extraordinary service as a member of the Board of Governors of Northwest Baptist Seminary ran from 1980 until 1995. He served as the Chairman of the Board for ten of those years. As a missionary with Outreach Canada, Gerry was in a unique position to give a significant portion of his time to his role as Board Chair. There were times when it was a full-time job for him, especially in the years leading up to the construction and move of the campus to Trinity Western University.

Gerry is a man of God, who loves the Lord with all his heart and mind, and who displays the fruit of the Spirit in the way he leads and relates to others. As Chair of the Board, he went above and beyond, graciously hosting students and events in his home. His colleagues describe him as fair, kind, honest, and intelligent – sensitive to the opinions and needs of others, including faculty, staff, and other board members.

Doug Harris, who was President of the college and seminary during those years says, “Gerry gave positive, reasoned and reasonable direction to the Board during his tenure as Chairman. He worked well with the board members and was responsible to develop and magnify unity and harmony.”

Today we acknowledge that Gerry’s wise and courageous leadership helped make possible the success that Northwest enjoys today. We teach that leadership requires the capacity to see beyond the present to imagine possibilities not evident to everyone at any particular moment. Gerry embodied this approach, leading the Board through a series of difficult decisions that served to establish a financial and structural foundation that has allowed the seminary to flourish.

In recognition of this, the Northwest Baptist Seminary Board of Governors is pleased to present to Dr. Gerald Kraft, its Board of Governors Award, offered in appreciation to select individuals who have offered exceptional service to the mission of the Seminary.

We believe Gerry to be more than worthy of this honour and we thank the Lord for his life and service. May his example encourage others to follow I this spirit.

New Opportunities, New Staff

Serving as President of Northwest is a wonderful thing. I get to lead a dedicated team of staff and faculty as we train leaders in ministry context, develop partners around the world who share our vision for competency-based training, and build innovative technologies that are making possible a deeper and more effective discipleship. To quote a certain other president to the south, there is “so much winning!”
One of those ways we are winning, is with our newly redesigned Doctor of Ministry program through ACTS Seminaries. This innovative program allows our experienced pastors and leaders build a doctoral program around their ministry dream through guided, contextual learning. Through this means we are guiding our seasoned leaders to achieve tangible, new initiatives for the sake of God’s Kingdom. Education at Northwest is more than hypothetical.
Speaking of ACTS, I would love to invite you to join Karen and I, along with a group of ACTS professors and leaders on a trip to the Holy Land this spring. Led by ACTS Executive Director, Guy Saffold, myself, and others, we will walk the streets that Jesus walked. The trip is scheduled for May 3-15 and is reasonably priced at less than $4,000, all inclusive. Let me know if you are interested in details.
Finally, I am pleased to announce the addition of two new members to our team at Northwest. Kajle Radbourne joins us as Assistant Director of Operations. Kajle, an alumnus, brings pastoral experience and a broad skill set to the role. You will already have read his lead article in this newsletter. In addition, Ruth McGillivray re-joins us as Director of Competency-Based Education. She brings decades of experience working with industry, the trades, the tech sector, and government in competency-based training. Her experience is invaluable to us. Some of you may remember her as the daughter of former Northwest President, Doug Harris.
Thanks again for your interest and your support. Pray for us, that we can keep our focus on the things that are important to our Lord. Consider also supporting us as we head toward year-end. Remember that every dollar you give goes directly to students in the form of financial aid.

Immerse Influence Rising Like A Flood

One year ago, we celebrated the first graduate from our Immerse program along with our partners in Fellowship Pacific. Last month, 7 more Immerse graduates crossed the stage. And these graduates are not mere numbers, they are trained and dedicated servants of our King who are already placed and serving full-time as leaders in our churches. We are so excited to see this program take root in our core constituency. Our Fellowship Pacific iteration of the Immerse program is nearing capacity and we have 28 students serving in 21 ministries being served by a group of 50 mentors.
But as proud as we are of our work with our closest partner; the Fellowship Pacific iteration of Immerse represents just the tip of the iceberg. The revolution in theological education that Immerse represents has catapulted our little seminary into a position to influence and serve a much wider group.
By the end of this calendar year, President Anderson will have traveled to graduations in California, Columbia, Montreal and here in the Lower Mainland. Combined, the various Immerse iterations have graduated 16 students – each of these fully equipped for ministry leadership. These 16 represent the first-fruits of what appears to be a bountiful harvest.
As of this Fall, there are now 11 iterations of the Immerse program running and we are working closely with a number of other groups in anticipation of launching with them soon. Additionally, your seminary has had the opportunity to take a leadership role in helping other seminaries, churches, and networks move toward a more effective and efficient way of developing leaders.

7 students graduated from the Antioch Program iteration of Immerse. This iteration is a partnership with the 17:6 network of churches in Texas and California

To help step into this growing opportunity, NBS has applied for and received a grant from ATS to host a conference for innovators in Competency-Based Theological Education. We are also mobilizing members of our team to develop tools and expertise in order to be more intentional in cultivating the consulting relationships that have been developed. Currently, we are consulting with several U.S. based seminaries and a major denomination’s accrediting division to help them realize their vision for integrated content and leadership development. We are working with multiple partners to begin to develop undergrad versions of Immerse as well as an international version that our missionaries can utilize in training national workers to lead indigenous churches. But these opportunities to bear fruit from what we have learned and developed in Immerse transcend schools and denominations. In addition to all of these, we are regularly being contacted by new groups interested in learning from the work that we have been doing. These conversations have led to some very interesting opportunities with a wide range of organizations.

Andrés Rincón will graduate from Immerse in October in Columbia.

We recently helped the Colson Center (founded and named after Chuck Colson) redevelop the program and tech platform they use as part of their Colson Fellows program. The Colson Fellows is a national program that trains mid-career professionals in worldview and cultural studies to help them be more intentional in their professional environments and in the political sphere. We are looking to offer this type of service to many groups involved in adult education and discipleship through partnership with others. This work with Colson Fellows was the first of many we hope to make building on both our technology platform and the Immerse methodology.
While we are excited to move into new areas and have a wider influence, the core of our mission at Northwest is not the breadth of our work, but the depth. With each new partnership we enter, we are encouraged to see how we can assist in helping other organizations accomplish the mission that God has given them.
Northwest Baptist Seminary exists to serve the Church – whether here in B.C., across the continent or across the world. We are both excited and humbled to have these opportunities to enable others to launch into mentor-based, on-the-ground leadership development. But even more so, we are fortunate to have such a strong base of support allowing us to pursue our mission of creating “context-based solutions for ministry applications.” Thank you for supporting your seminary and please pray for us as we continue to press toward where God is calling us in equipping others.

What a wonderful experience we had with the first Antioch Immerse graduation last month. The time we had with the management team was also very encouraging. Your vision and dedication to training the next generation of leaders is inspiring and I’m honored to be part of it.
As you know, I have participated in scores of Masters hooding ceremonies in my 26 years of teaching in multiple graduate degree programs. I have personally hooded hundreds of students earning degrees related to the professional practice of counseling and ministry. In none of those instances did it enter my mind as I placed the hood on a student that they were indeed now ready to actually do what their degree supposedly equipped them to do. To be honest, many of them I hooded with my fingers crossed.
I had the opposite experience hooding the graduates of Antioch Immerse. With each student, I was very confident that the degree matched their readiness to do ministry. And I actually felt that as we were hooding them and thought this is as it should be!
Nathan Lewis, Ed.D.
Professor of Psychology, California Baptist University
Lead Academic Mentor, Antioch Project Immerse

I want to add my appreciation for the quality of the platform, the way you have captured the best ways to facilitate our needs, and now the way you are serving and equipping the Fellows. Your expertise is clear but your servant hearts and actions are the biggest blessings of all.
Many thanks for your ministry to us!
Bill Brown, Ph.D
Head Fellow, Colson Fellows Program

Integrative Preaching – Dr. Kent Anderson

For many years, Dr. Anderson has been developing his Integrative preaching model and has been using it to teach homiletics to his students at ACTS and Northwest Baptist Seminary. Now that model forms the basis of Dr. Anderson’s fourth book, Integrative Preaching.

Integrative Preaching offers a compelling conceptual model of biblical preaching that helps preachers better understand what they are doing when they step into the pulpit. Kenton Anderson, an experienced preacher and professor, explicates the integrative preaching model he has been honing for a lifetime. His fresh, holistic approach aims at whole-person transformation and is well suited for contemporary listeners. The book includes theoretical underpinnings and practical guidance to both instruct students and motivate working preachers. Sample sermons show how the model unfolds in actual sermons.

For more information please visit Baker Publishing Group or Dr. Anderson’s website,

What people are saying about Integrative Preaching:

“Integration is all about bringing things together. In his book Integrative Preaching, Kent Anderson brings together fascinating insights, drawn from years of experience as a preacher and teacher, in crafting a sermon model that is both cross-centered and transformative in nature. This is a book that will be of value to both novice preachers and veteran communicators.”

Michael Duduit, executive editor, Preaching magazine; dean, Clamp Divinity School, Anderson University

“Anderson has found the right balance between proclamation that is bold and proclamation that is appropriately humble. The world lacks both, and in his person as well as his homiletical theory, Anderson models for us a manner of proclamation that is ripe for our current age. The wisdom contained in these pages will not only strengthen those of us who preach, but more importantly make the message of the One we proclaim more accessible and livable.”

Javier A. Viera, dean and professor of pastoral theology, Drew University Theological School

“Kent Anderson reminds preachers of an intentional cross-shaped approach to understanding and implementing integrative preaching–and application. God the Preacher speaks through us as we communicate his Word to others, and Anderson widens the lens of sermon preparation for us, enabling preachers to take in a richer appreciation for this important task.”

Scott M. Gibson, Haddon W. Robinson Professor of Preaching and Ministry, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

“Too many books on preaching force us to choose between unhelpful binaries: head or heart, reason or imagination, theory or practice, divine or human agency. Not so with Integrative Preaching.Kenton Anderson sets us free from these homiletical entrapments. This book informs and inspires. It is theoretical and practical. It presses preachers to engage the mind and touch the heart. It challenges us to grow in the task of preaching and to rest in the divine assurance that God is the real Preacher who promises to be with us as we preach.”

Jared E. Alcántara, associate professor of homiletics, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; author of Learning from a Legend: What Gardner C. Taylor Can Teach Us about Preaching

“In this new resource for preaching, Kent Anderson speaks to those of us who want to give the best of Holy Scripture–and of movemental change now–to our congregations. We are reminded that our learning outcome is formation and true discipleship–preaching is one important means and not the end. Let us all pray for the impact of this powerful new book!”

Graham Singh, executive director, Church Planting Canada; rector, St. Jax Montreal

“Integration brings wholeness to fragmented parts. That’s what Kent Anderson’s new book does for preaching. Most importantly, he connects preaching to God’s great purposes: “God is at work. There is a trajectory to history. The world and all that is within is moving toward God’s eternal purpose. That purpose has culminated in the cross. When we preach, we embrace that purpose. Our proclamation places us within the flow of movement God has propelled.” If that were the only uplifting and renewing truth, it would make this book worthwhile. But he thoughtfully connects each of the multiple parts of sermon preparation and delivery to this ultimate goal. The result is a hope-filled and energizing tutorial for all who seek to refresh and renew their calling to preach more effectively.”

Immerse “Fence Posts”

Unlike course-based educational models where formal instruction is delivered in the context of semester-by-semester attendance in the classroom, context and competency-based educational models require alternative ways for students to take in intentional instruction.

For Immerse, Northwest has developed a system of Workshops and Seminars where students will typically come in to a specified centre and absorb two to three days of intense instruction on a particular topic. The students then return to their ministry contexts and put into practice the instruction they have received. Their mentors interact with them on the material and ensure that the students have indeed grasped the instructional material and are mastering the implementation of what they have learned into their various ministry contexts. We view these instructional opportunities like fence posts – carefully selected for strength, intentionally spaced, and firmly cemented – keeping the fence wire taut.

These times of coming together for seminars and workshops have provided our students the additional benefit of developing friendships and sharing their ministries and lives with one another.

Here are some photos of our Immerse faculty and students as they participate in the Immerse Instructional Seminars and Immerse Exegetical Workshops.

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Northwest Alumni – Kingdom Leaders serving at home and around the world

Charlie Nishi:

Tell us how your ministry leadership has developed over the years?

P1160013a My years at Northwest were instrumental in shaping my service for God’s Kingdom. The Canadian Japanese Mission introduced me to the Christian faith. After my Engineering degree, I led bible studies for the Japanese mission and mentored young adults. The Lord led me to study the Scriptures, so I returned to BC to attend Northwest. The many mentors and friends at Northwest led me to serving with the Fellowship for the past 40+ years.

What elements of your Northwest education and leadership development have you found helpful in your life?

My love and commitment to Christ, the leadership development from Northwest and my training in biblical studies, theology, apologetics and church history have been invaluable for my teaching/preaching ministry at Marpole Baptist Church. Above all, this has been helpful in leading the Baptist Housing board and ministry over the past 30 years.

Thank you for serving faithfully. God has blessed you richly with mentors from Northwest – can you tell us more?

I am grateful for Professor Don Hill, Professor of Theology whose clear teaching of theology and application has been life changing. Dr. Jack Pickford, Dr. Harold Dressler, Dr. Howard Andersen and Dr. John Richards were significant influences and I am thankful for them as well.

Graham Crawford:

You attended Northwest Baptist Theological College several years ago. Was it foundational to your current ministry?

Northwest was foundational to my faith. At Northwest my faith in the Lord was solidified and I was given the training to share my faith with others. I now serve God as a missionary!

You were the youth pastoral intern at Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church years ago. Tell us more.

The leadership team, staff and congregation at Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church were exceptional. Practical ministry experiences gave me confidence and my apprenticeship made me the man I am today! I am thankful I was given the privilege to serve with PFBC.

Where is God directing you to serve now?

I’ve been an SIM missionary for the last 12 years serving in Botswana for the “Flying Mission”.  In March 2015, I met Kathleen, and plan to marry this May. God is directing us to serve the Lord together with SIM in Benin, West Africa as “Project Coordinators” in 2017.

Sea Dogs1

Northwest Alumni serving God at home and around the world – we thank you! We are sincerely thankful to our friends, partners and investors for their faithful support. Please prayerfully consider how you will partner and “Invest with Northwest.”

We have a lot to celebrate

This continues to be a fruitful time for us at Northwest as we pursue our mission of ministry leadership development. I am very excited about the addition of Don Chang to our faculty, our first faculty hire in more than ten years. Our Korean programs are growing quickly and it is important for us to support this work with great people. Don’s credentials, his pastoral experience, his bilingual language skills, and most of all his strong Christian commitment and his heart, will make a tremendous contribution to all of our work here at Northwest.

It has been amazing to see how God has chosen to use us through our work in competency-based education models like Immerse. The Lilly foundation recently gave several million dollars to the Association of Theological Schools to study the future of theological education. It was quickly acknowledged that this kind of educational model is the most hopeful direction for seminaries leading into the future. As Northwest is the only school so far approved to offer this kind of education, and given that we have been doing so successfully for five years, we have been asked to lead a group of seven schools under this grant, to develop a series of recommendations that will change the standards by which seminaries are evaluated for this kind of work. This is a tremendous honour and responsibility. We see this as an opportunity for us to steward the things the Lord has taught us for the good of his Kingdom.

We are also very encouraged to receive the BC Ministry of Advanced Education’s gold standard Educational Quality Assessment seal of approval. This is the highest level of government scrutiny we have ever received and we came out of it with flying colours. Please continue to pray for us as we seek a similar response from the Quebec ministry with relationship to our work with SEMBEQ.

As you will have read elsewhere in this newsletter, we will be holding our first Northwest-specific graduation in more than 15 years on September 23rd. We trust that you will consider joining us. We have a lot to celebrate, including our first group of Immerse graduates from Fellowship Pacific and elsewhere. We are now at the place where our efforts have born actual fruit in the life of our churches and for the good of God’s Kingdom.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers and for your support of this great work that God has given us to do together.

Can Christians use human language to speak about God?

Can Christians use human language to speak about God?

Dr. Archie Spencer seeks to answer this question in his recent book: The Analogy of Faith: The Quest for God’s Speakability. (Available for Kindle and print from Amazon, Chapters, and IVP Press). Paul T. Nimmo from the University of Aberdeen says “This is a rigorous and generative Christian dogmatics of an impressive order and deserves to be widely attended.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Spencer on his book for Northwest News.

What is your book about?

Archie Book coverThe book is about the function of language in theology. In turn, the book is a defence of the normal use of our language to express our theological statements. How we use language is an important idea because today people question the truthfulness of language to express the being of God.

What were some challenges for you when writing this book?

Staying ahead of the flood of literature for the past ten years has been one of the biggest challenges I faced.  The amount of interaction I had with classical Greek and Medieval literature was another major challenge. The last main challenge I faced was the exegetical part of my research. Getting a grasp where Scripture affirms and supports the possibility of language to speak about God was a challenge. Needless to say, there is lots of biblical exegesis to support the book.

Why write this book?

I wrote this book in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The core motive for me was to reaffirm the basic Protestant commitments to theology. Particularly, the principles of Sola scriptura, Sola fide, and Solus Christus.

What are your hopes for this book?

It is difficult to publish with a semi-popular press as an academic writer. So having IVP publish this book is like getting a monkey off my back. A door has opened in front of me to consider writing more populist theology, and there is interest by publishers in this area. I also needed to establish myself and my method and now I can move forward.

Any parting words for aspiring theologians?

Theology is a nose-to-the-grindstone task. So the church needs good pastor/theologians. But pastor/theologians need to be willing to make the time and commitment to become good theologians. My encouragement is: Every pastor a theologian and every theologian a pastor.


New Northwest Faculty – Dr. Dongshin Chang

Many people say they were born and raised in the church. But for Dongshin (Don), this is literally true. He was born in a room of the church which his father pastored for 34 years. The church was built first. Pastoral housing next.  Like many of us, Don attended DVBS in his elementary years and was deeply influenced by it. He accepted Christ in grade nine and was baptized the same year.

What were some of the influences in your life as a young man?

I went to Chung-Ang University, one of the major universities in Korea with about 38,500 students enrolled. After finishing there I felt called to go to seminary to prepare for ministry. In the first year of seminary, two Old Testament courses in particular really piqued my interest. I was surprised and amazed at how powerful good interpretation of the Bible could be.  It was at this time that God kindled my passion for the Word of God and I have devoted my life since then to the study and sharing of the Scriptures.

My seminary years were very eventful. In my first year I married my wife Dukjoo (“DJ”), a very bright and active young lady.  A big bonus is that she turned out to be a great chef! We now have 3 children, Joseph (16), Una (13), and John (12).

During my second year of seminary I had an opportunity to study in Canada for a while.  So I spent a year at Canadian Theological Seminary in Regina, Saskatchewan (now Ambrose University College in Calgary, Alberta) and then returned to Korea to finish my MDiv.

Where did God lead you from there?

With a strong passion for pursuing the Word of God my family and I moved to Langley, B.C. and entered the MA program in Biblical Studies at Trinity Western University. And a few years later I entered a doctoral program at the University of Manchester in England where I graduated in 2015.

What kind of church ministries have you been involved in?

I’ve been involved in all kinds of church activities and mission trips as well as student and young adult leadership. I have worked as pastoral staff (both paid and unpaid) often as a youth pastor or as a worship pastor for more than 16 years. In 2004, my home church, where my father was the lead pastor called me to fill in for my father whose health was deteriorating. I started working as lead pastor and my father passed away the following year. It was a challenging leadership position in a church of over 400 people.

I put my biggest efforts into preaching and into small group discipleship.  I was there for five years and many of those I discipled are still serving and leading in the church.  The church grew to 550 in the time I was there.

I, along with the pastoral team and lay leadership from the church, targeted the community around the church, reaching out to young people in mandatory civil service at the local police station, helped elementary students with a lunch program, reached out to local business leaders, supported the elderly, and provided study carrels for students after school.

What will your work at Northwest be?

I will be teaching mostly Old Testament Studies, especially but not exclusively for Northwest’s Korean programs. While I was completing my doctorate, my family and I went through some stressful times financially and otherwise. I see the opportunity at Northwest as a whole new and exciting chapter of my life, and our lives as a family.

The spiritual situation of Korea and Canada are similar in many ways.  Both countries are affluent and  generally well educated. Secularism is a strong force and the church has many challenges.

NBS FacultyWe welcome you to the faculty of Northwest, Don, and we trust you and your family will know God’s blessing as you begin this new journey. We will support you and encourage you and we are confident you will make a great contribution to God’s kingdom work in this new chapter of your life.


Commencement 2016

A momentous event is on the horizon for Northwest Baptist Seminary.

It has been fourteen years since Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary hosted its own graduation celebration. That is about to change.

On Friday, September 23, Northwest will once again host a Commencement Celebration, our 56th, and we couldn’t be happier.

Since 2002, when NBTC/S hosted its 55th Commencement Celebration, we have been celebrating student commencement with the partner schools of the ACTS Consortium, based on the Trinity Western University campus. We are still proud to be a part of the ground breaking, collaborative, theological educational partnership that is ACTS. Our relationship with ACTS is healthy and our work together is thriving as we seek to provide theological education and training to students from different denominational backgrounds. But the work at Northwest has been growing.

Artboard-2Northwest’s commitment and vision has always been to serve well our primary partners, Fellowship Pacific and the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches across Canada. In these last 4 years, the close partnership between Northwest and Fellowship Pacific has been leveraged in another ground-breaking and collaborative effort to develop Immerse, a program and educational model of context and competency based education that is influential in changing the face of theological education across North America.

What began as a dream and developed into the Immerse program, is now an officially recognized “experimental model” of competency based education by The Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the accrediting agency of Theological schools across North America. We are currently the only school accredited to grant a Master of Divinity degree through this context and competency based model – and our first students are nearing the completion of their program of studies.

While graduating a few Immerse Masters of Divinity students doesn’t seem like a huge splash in today’s academic world, this is indeed a momentous occasion for Northwest. First, graduating students from programs unique to our vision of providing quality and innovative context based ministry solutions is important to our historical identity as a Theological College and Seminary. Second, our Immerse graduates represent the first of what potentially is the next significant wave of advanced theological education – and Northwest is leading the way. Regardless, we are excited to have our school once again graduating students independently.

In all this, we continue to be most grateful for our friends and partners in ministry – our Fellowship Baptist family. We invite you to join us in our celebration of the future of our movement. To God be the Glory!

Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary will host our 56th Commencement Celebration at SouthRidge Fellowship in Langley on Friday evening, September 23rd, 2016.


Northwest Alumnus – Dr. Mike Mawhorter

“Dr. Mike Mawhorter…”  – It draws a smile and a hearty chuckle as I begin my conversation with Mike. Perhaps it is the newness of the title “Doctor,” or the humility of the man behind the title who still seems slightly uncomfortable with his new moniker. But for a man who is used to being called simply Mike, Pastor Mike, Dad, or Grandpa, it does draw attention to his latest achievement. Mike Mawhorter graduated from the Doctor of Ministry program at Northwest Baptist Seminary in April, 2015. At 63 years of age, it is significant as a personal achievement, but also as a reflection of one of the values that characterizes his life.

I met with Mike on a damp morning, in his simply designed and uncluttered office. Mike is a career Pastor, ministering at Fellowship Baptist Markham for 10 years, Central Fellowship Prince George for 12 years, and now Ladner Baptist Church for the last 12 years. He has been married to his wife Kathy for 41 years, has 4 children, 3 of whom currently live close by in Ladner, and proudly announces that he has 13.5 grandchildren! I asked what he did for fun. He replied that spending time with the grandchildren, and cycling around Ladner were high on the priority list. He mentioned horseback riding as an enjoyable past time, but one he doesn’t have enough time to pursue anymore. I asked him to give me an interesting fact about Mike Mawhorter that most people don’t know. His response: “When I was younger one of my life goals was to be a cowboy!”

My interest was in one of Mike’s recently completed goals. What motivates a man, later in a successful ministry career, to pursue a Doctor of Ministry degree? Mike began the DMin program in 2008, after completing two prerequisite courses to gain entry into the program. His short answer to my question was to keep growing and learning. I didn’t ask a follow up question, but Mike continued with an animated response: lifelong learning has always been a personal value, most people’s tendency is to find a comfort zone and stay there, and he wanted to be intentional about stretching out of any comfort zone that he might find himself in.
Northwest’s Doctor of Ministry program caught his attention because of its focus on two broad areas of interest: leadership and spiritual formation. His specific focus evolved, eventually narrowing in on understanding organizational culture as it relates to the church.

I asked him to explain further. He continued by stating that most discussions on culture in an organization are focused either on how the culture has changed, or how it needs to change. He then very clearly articulated the questions that directed his research and dissertation – “What if a culture was a gift from God to make you effective at your place of ministry for this time and in this place? Is it possible to understand your culture, not for the purpose of changing it, but to allow you to be more strategic and effective in using the culture you have to effectively focus your ministry efforts?” His research focused his attention on the Ladner congregation, and the specific tool he utilized convinced him that a church’s culture can be a powerful tool as a means of directing effective ministry.

Mike then summarized some significant discoveries he made in the educational journey. He was at first concerned about whether he would be able to handle the level of academics that would be required. “Pleasantly surprised” was his conclusion. Secondly, he enjoyed the engagement of in-class learning, and especially the preparation for the classes and the projects to follow up the class time.

As Mike reflected on how this training has shaped his ministry at Ladner, he drew three positive conclusions. First, it required that he be more sensitive to ministering within the cultural framework of the church. Second, it provided insight in to how to bring about change in a way that doesn’t disrupt who we are. Third, it provided a fresh appreciation of the people who make up God’s church in Ladner.

Mike and grandkids4As we began wrapping up our conversation, I asked, “What are the current challenges facing you as a pastor? What potential are you seeing? What gets you excited?” Mike responded slowly and thoughtfully, making sure that I understood that he needed to choose his words carefully. “My challenge is knowing that we need to address the church facility, and that it will require all of the energy, money and work that goes into a building project. Yet this also excites me. It stretches my faith; it is an opportunity to realize potential that is yet untapped; and it requires God to accomplish.” Perhaps without even knowing it, he answered all three of the diverse questions that I thought I was asking with one answer. As I look back, I couldn’t help but notice the direct correlation between what we had just been speaking of in his dissertation – the sensitivity towards his congregation and not wanting to be offensive, but not wanting to stay comfortable when God is at work either. His learning has obviously shaped his thinking in ministry.

I asked three quick questions to conclude.

What is most important to Mike Mawhorter?

“Being a faithful, growing follower of Jesus for the rest of my life. Being a student. Being a teacher. Giving glory to God.”

What do you want to be known for at the end of your life?

“For modelling what it means to be a godly husband, father, and grandfather. To give people a love for God and His Word by ministering in a way that attracts them to Jesus.”

What would you say is uniquely significant about your life and ministry?

“I’m an early adopter, constantly looking for new and better ways of thinking and doing ministry. I like change and exploring new ways of doing old things. But I want to balance that with a perspective that leading people to change takes time, sensitivity, gentleness and respect.”

I gave Mike the opportunity for the last word. He framed it this way. “For pastors who have thought of pursuing a DMin, you’re going to be living those years anyway. This is an opportunity to push yourself and grow. I would encourage you to take the opportunity to do it!”
Mike has offered to share his dissertation with those who are interested. NBS can help you get in contact with him.

Two books were primary resources in his research: “What is Your Church’s Personality? Discovering and Developing the Ministry Style of Your Church” by Philip Douglas; and “The Character of Organizations: Using Personality Type in Organizational Development” by William Bridges.

Mike and grandkids1

Three Stewardship Secrets for a Generous Life

The Bible has plenty to say about stewardship. There are over 2000 verses about money and possessions in the Bible! In the Gospels about 16 out of 38 parables deal with money. Let’s look at three stewardship truths for a generous and fulfilling life.

#1. God owns it all

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”     James 1:17

We are the stewards and God is the owner. He is not just the owner, He owns it all. This is a biblical principle that is central to the Scriptures.

#2. Every giving and spending decision is a spiritual decision

If God owns it all, every giving or tithing decision is a spiritual decision, and every spending decision is a spiritual decision as well. Everything from buying a car to buying groceries or paying off debt is therefore a spiritual decision.

#3. God wants you to grow spiritually

His master said to him. “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master”.   Matt. 25:21

God is using the money and material possessions he has given us to be a testimony to the world. We are not to be anxious about finances and things that are temporary. We have been called to be salt and light and we also have been called to be servants. Our time, talents and finances can be used powerfully at home and around the globe for the glory of God.

As faithful stewards there is much to thank God for. We look forward to the Lord saying to us “ Well done, good and faithful Servant”.

Thank you for your generosity and your commitment in supporting Northwest each year. Northwest relies upon our faithful and generous supporters to effectively steward God’s resources to make an eternal impact!

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. “ 2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV.

To support Northwest you can directly give online:  Donate now…

Phone Ron at: 250-240-3737 ( or email him via the form below. )

Robust Growth

There have been many Northwest’s over the years. Some of you relate best to our experience as part of ACTS Seminaries. Others remember college life on the campus of Trinity Western. For some, Northwest will always be located on Marine Drive in Vancouver, or perhaps even in Port Coquitlam. Many of our current students experience Northwest through the vehicle of Immerse and do not relate to the idea of a campus. Regardless of your experience, we are all Northwest, united in our interest that the people God has gifted and called might be thoroughly equipped for excellence in ministry both at home and around the world.

To that end, Northwest is experiencing one of the most robust and effective periods in its 80 year history. We have had larger enrolments, but we have probably never had a time when we knew more investment from our churches and more commitment to the cause. The scope of our opportunity now is taking us from coast to coast, deep down into the United States, and across oceans. People have caught the vision for context-based ministry leadership development and it has been game-changing.

This year we will graduate our first Immerse student within Fellowship Pacific. We will also admit our first students in partnership with SEMBEQ. Our partnerships with the 17:6 network and the C2C network are beyond our imagining. God has chosen to use us in ways we had not foreseen, and we are grateful for it.

Northwest has gained a surprising amount of influence. As President I have recently been interviewed for publication by Duke University, The Auburn Institute, and by In Trust, all highly influential in the world of theological education. I have been invited to several consultations in places like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. When people are looking to study innovation in theological education, we seem to catch their attention. Our message about mastery model, in-context education is finding an avid audience.

While these partnerships are exciting, it is also great to celebrate the achievements of our alumni. Elsewhere here you can find our interview with Mike Mawhorter. I am also encouraged by the ministry of alumnus, Barton Priebe, who recently became pastor of Central Baptist Church in Victoria. Barton is a great student of theology and apologetics and recently published, “The Problem with Christianity,: Six Unsettling Questions You Have Asked”, which I would highly recommend. This book offers helpful ways of talking about our faith in the context of a secular environment. Barton’s thoughts were honed, not only in our classrooms, but in years of ministry at Dunbar Heights on the doorstep of the University of British Columbia. I am praying that his book will help many to know how to express their faith in a contrary culture.
We have had many good times in the past, and this is certainly another one. If you have ever supported us or have considered supporting the work of a seminary, now would be an excellent time. We have done our work prudently and without the kind of financial investment that is usually required for this kind of innovation. As always, we require the investment of partners who see the vision and who want to fan it into flame. Thanks to all of you who have given us your trust.

Immerse has gone International

Immerse continues to have a broadening ripple effect in the delivery of context-based ministry leadership development. What began as a vision for developing the next generation of leaders in Fellowship Pacific, has grown to become an expanding network of partnerships for making a kingdom impact across Canada and the US. With 28 churches and 54 mentors touching 34 students in Western Canada last year, NBS found itself entering the Fall 2015 semester with 51 students either returning, fully enrolled, or in various stages of preparation. These students join us from our primary partner, Fellowship Pacific, as well as five External Fellowship Agencies and four Third Party networks expanding our reach across Canada and into California and Texas.
One network in particular is the 17:6 Network: a group of churches in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and California that share our heart for context-based ministry leadership development. Rooted in Hope Church in Fort Worth, Texas, Hope has sent out men and women who have planted over 70 churches and catalyzed roughly 160 additional churches since 1978 (additionally several student ministries have been started and over 70 missionaries have served in over 30 countries). Several of these churches have banded together to create the 17:6 Network – These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also (Acts 17:6, ESV). By pooling their efforts and resources they strive to help “life changing churches multiply throughout the cities of the world.” One way in which they do this is through the Antioch Project.

The Antioch Project was developed as a five year, graduate level training program for rising leaders in their Network. The Antioch Project, like the Immerse program, focuses on training men and women in the context of the church, with hands-on skills and experiences in leadership, mentoring focused on developing the character and heart of students, and strong academic rigor of study.

For many years the 17:6 Network prayed for a way to partner with a seminary to add accreditation to the Antioch Project.  In October, 2013 Dr. Kent Anderson was in conversation with Hope Church’s lead pastor Harold Bullock, having known him from the time he spent attending Bullock’s church while attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the 90’s. Kent mentioned Immerse. In February of 2014, Kent met with Harold Bullock and the 17:6 Network leadership team to discuss the viability of the Antioch Project training program as a match for Immerse. Both programs seek to shape men and women of character who can have long-term impact in the Kingdom. Immerse seemed to be God’s answer to a long-term prayer, allowing them to partner with a seminary who shared a like heart and vision to see the Kingdom advanced through men and women trained in their program.

What captured the attention of the 17:6 Network’s leadership team? I asked Randy Lanthripe and Jessica Sturdevant, two of the 17:6 Network’s leaders, “Why add Immerse? What benefits are you envisioning in your partnership with Northwest?” They responded with these insights. “Immerse strengthens our credibility….the process has enhanced the academic aspects of our program and provided new insights as we aim to faithfully steward our version of Immerse.”
They added this statement. “It is encouraging and inspiring to think about what God could do long-term through this partnership between Northwest Baptist Seminary and the 17:6 Network. Our prayer is that God will use the similar heart and vision of our organizations to see many men and women of character and heart trained to be effective in long-term ministry to the glory of Jesus Christ and the expansion of His Kingdom on earth.”

The 17:6 Network’s Antioch Project Immerse is currently in its first year, with nine students registered in the program. They are anticipating many more in the years to come. Dr. Anderson and I recently visited the California churches that are part of the 17:6 Network, to provide New Student and Mentor Orientation. They are friends, both literally and figuratively. We are excited to work with these partners and friends to see Kingdom impact for God’s glory.

As you can tell, we are excited about Immerse. We have the opportunity to regularly see the positive effect it is having on our students, pastors, churches and ministries in BC. We are humbled to hear the buzz that the Immerse model is creating in the North American academic world and we are excited to explore the possibilities for kingdom impact that Immerse could provide for other like-minded organizations in a collaborative partnership with NBS.

Kingdom Ministries

For Glory Destura, Immerse student and Director of Children’s Ministry at Burnett Fellowship Church in Maple Ridge, building God’s Kingdom is her main focus. Glory signs all her emails with “FTK (For The Kingdom), Glory“. Her love for her Lord and Saviour and her heart for children is a joy to witness. Glory directs the Kingdom Kids service each Sunday and she meets with a handful of young girls for prayer and mentorship each week. She exclaims,  “Exciting things are happening! We launched Kingdom Kids to meet three major goals. They were, BELONG to a Caring Community, BELIEVE in God’s Kingdom, and BUILD Faith by Empowering Parents. My heart is full of gratitude and thankfulness for the amazing work God is doing at Burnett Fellowship and also for the many faithful people who give to support the Immerse Program – Thank you!”

Upon completing the Immerse program Glory will have earned an accredited Masters of Divinity degree while gaining invaluable ministry experience serving at Burnett.

Tom DrinkwaterTom Drinkwater, one of our more recent Immerse students is the Children’s Ministry Director at Central Baptist in Victoria. Tom loves to have FUN and share JESUS with the children and families in Victoria: “I have the great privilege to work on a staff team at Central that is very supportive and it’s great to see the kids getting excited about God, their faith and sharing the Good News.”

Tom is on a life journey to serve Jesus: “The Immerse program is helping to highlight my ministry strengths, as well as tending to areas that need growth. I am on a journey to keep learning, keep improving and serve our Lord as best I can, in the context He has called me and gifted me. Thanks to all who support Immerse! ”

The Ministry of Northwest and Immerse is about building God’s Kingdom through the development of key leaders like Glory and Tom. Thank you to all our faithful partners and donors for their generosity and prayers as we impact our communities and beyond together. To donate, you can do so directly online at or contact me – Ron J. Sing, Director of Development: ron -at- or 250-240-3737.


Opportunity is an interesting phenomenon. It comes and goes. You need to grab it when it is present, because you are never sure when it might come again – or so it seems. The reality is that opportunity presents when people God has prepared meet the moment that God intends. At Northwest, we have that kind of opportunity before us now. I am so encouraged by the multiple means by which we are able to fulfill our mission.

We continue to value our partnership at ACTS Seminaries. Some say that the day for classic education has passed. Those people have probably not been in one of our classrooms. I continue to be energized by the passion and commitment that our students bring.

I am also grateful for the opportunity we now have to extend our context-based model of learning. We are now in full delivery or active development of nine different versions of the Immerse program. Soon we will be able tell you more about the C2C church planting network, SEMBEQ in the province of Quebec, the Antioch Project out of Texas and California, and several others, all of whom have embraced Immerse and who are partnering with us.

I am further pleased to celebrate our return to Korean programs and the offer of our new Global Leadership Doctor of Ministry offered in the Korean language. We have assured that this program carries the Northwest theological ethos, along with a strong commitment to our signature, context-based approach to learning. Many thanks to Larry Perkins for his championing of this exciting piece.

Speaking of Larry, our work is a team affair. It has been wonderful to welcome long-time friend and pastor, Trent Erickson to the team. Howard Andersen continues to bless me in his role as Academic Dean. Ron Sing is really hitting his stride in his role as our Chief Development Officer. Loren Warkentin has been God’s choice servant in making possible the technology upon which our work depends. Archie Spencer has a special opportunity to teach at Regent College this year, which is an encouragement to the quality of his scholarship. Eric Fehr has just begun a PhD program at the University of South Africa (by distance education), which will prepare him to serve us better. Brian Rapske, Dianne Gleave, Nikki Lanigan, Mark Naylor, and Brent Foster all continue to serve our mission with excellence.

To lead this team has been the opportunity of my lifetime. We are here by God’s appointment and for his purpose. It is to his service that we dedicate ourselves.

Northwest’s Newest Member – Trent Erickson

Hi! My name is Trent Erickson and I am the Chief Operating Officer at Northwest Baptist Seminary, a new role implemented to assist the President’s office in managing the operations of Northwest internally, and its growing network of relationships with partners in Canada, the US and abroad.

My wife, Karen, and I live in Abbotsford. We have two boys. Evan is married to Alyssa and has just begun a ministry career in the Fellowship, serving as a pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Maple Ridge. Our other son, Lukas, currently lives with us at home and is preparing to be an elementary school teacher and a husband, getting married in September to his beautiful fiancé, Crystal.

Over 27 years, Karen and I have served in pastoral ministry roles in Victoria (Central Baptist, Youth Pastor), Vernon (Emmanuel Fellowship, Youth and Music), Edmonton (Millwoods Evangelical Free Church, Lead Pastor) and Abbotsford (Immanuel Fellowship Baptist, Senior Associate). I started working at Northwest in January 2015 after completing our ministry at Immanuel earlier in 2014.

One of the questions that I have been asked, and have frequently contemplated, is, “Why the move from the church to the seminary?” It’s a good question, and while I am sure I do not yet have the complete answer, I am encouraged by the one I have – that God is the one who is obviously in control. Just as we have seen His fingerprints in the decisions and direction of our past ministry roles, we are able to see them here as well.

I did not apply for a position at the Seminary for two reasons – first, there wasn’t one to apply for; and second, I am a pastor, and pastors apply for jobs in churches. I did ask for prayer at one of our FEB Pacific board meetings for clarity in God’s direction for the role and placement that He had for me, and God began bringing the understanding of two worlds together. Our Northwest President, Dr. Kent Anderson, was sitting at that table contemplating his unique need for someone to help in furthering the work of Northwest. His question at the time was, “How do I find someone I trust, someone who knows the uniqueness of the Fellowship network, and can quickly learn to understand Immerse and represent Northwest well to potential partners?” After our prayer time, Dr. Anderson caught my eye across the table and whispered, “Trent, I’m hiring. Can I talk to you at the break?”

As I continue to grow my understanding of how a career pastor can contribute to the operation of Northwest, some things are readily obvious. The development of Immerse within the Fellowship, and its potential to spread nationally and internationally through like-minded networks provides an opportunity that must be stewarded well. Having been privileged to be part of the concept and conversation about Immerse almost since its inception, I have experienced its growing pains in the church from the eyes of its potential, its implications in implementation, and its needs in ongoing development.

I also appreciate the importance of our partnerships. Serving in the church, on the Fellowship Board, and now as part of the seminary staff, I am benefiting from the perspective of all three partners in the Immerse concept. It is not a stretch to realize that the identification, development and training of the next generation of pastors, ministry leaders, and effective church leadership is important to the Church, the Fellowship, and the Seminary. In this new role, I am especially learning to appreciate the gifts and passion that our seminary staff and faculty bring to the partnership. I believe it is important that we appreciate each other in our work towards the common goal of real world kingdom and spiritual impact, whether it be through Immerse, or any other partnerships we have, perspectives we bring, or pursuits we engage.

This is an exciting time, and I feel privileged to be part of God’s plan as part of the Northwest team and the broader partners it represents and serves.

Northwest Alumni – Andy and Nancy Steiger

Northwest Baptist Seminary is approaching 80 years of history in partnering students and churches to make a God honoring impact. God has used, and continues to use, faithful men and women in ministry to make His mark on our world today.

I recently had opportunity to interview Northwest Baptist Theological College alumni Andy and Nancy Steiger.

They noted in my interview, and I had heard before, that they were declared “the most unlikely couple” to emerge from Northwest. It would seem that God knew what He was doing bringing the two of them together for partnership in life and ministry. Andy (NBTC 1998-2000) serves as the Pastor of Young Adults at Northview Community Church in Abbotsford, and is the founder and director of Apologetics Canada, while his wife Nancy (Schellenberg – NBTC 96-99) is full time mother, and part time Executive Assistant for Apologetics Canada. They have two children, Tristan (7) and William (5) and live in Abbotsford.

Apologetics Canada has developed a significant identity in the Lower Mainland through its conference ministry over the last four years, bringing together thousands to benefit from the teaching of top apologists from around the world. Apologetics Canada has captivated a younger generation of believers looking for an authentic community where their significant questions and doubts about Christianity and faith can be addressed with reasoned and logically plausible answers. The appeal is apparently broader than just the next generation. While they specifically target young adults and the next generation of leaders, they are drawing in multiple generations of believers from multiple denominations and faith expressions.

Curious about the God-shaping developments and events that are part of any ministry’s growth and effectiveness, I asked, “How did God bring this thing about?” They responded that they both recognized early on that they were missionaries at heart. As they began their life journey together, they envisioned serving God as missionaries to a small people group – “running around naked with the natives” as Andy so eloquently expresses it. God was nudging them in a slightly different direction.

As they were waiting on applications to missions agencies, God began to make Andy aware of a struggling people group and culture within North America – young adults. This next generation is either leaving the church or just leaving the church behind, unsure of what they believe and unsure of the reasonableness of the faith they have been taught. His bent towards missionary service helped him understand that you need two things to be successful in reaching any people group – you need to know their language and their culture. He thought he knew the language and culture of this people group because he was serving them within the church. He began to realize he didn’t, and was therefore drawn to understand more fully this particularly needy group in his own back yard.

In 2009 the Steiger’s young family moved to California to attend Biola University. Andy packed a 2 year master’s degree into a year and a half, graduating with a Masters in Apologetics (with Highest Honors) in 2010. During this time, a vision was birthed for Apologetics Canada. The Steiger’s passion for the work of Apologetics Canada is obvious as you talk with them. They both speak with passion and insight as they describe the core of what they do and how they seek to do it. The name “Apologetics Canada” is strategic. “Apologetics is a term (and discipline) that needs to be redeemed,” says Andy. It comes from a Greek word that means to “give reason” for the hope you have. Andy sees himself as a translator, appreciating the work of theologians and academics pursuing disciplines in high thinking, but seeking to make it possible for the average person to understand and express deep thinking in their own thoughts and words. They faithfully uphold that Christianity is not a tradition of blind faith, but a reasoned faith. Faith is another key word in their vocabulary. It means “trusting what you have good reason to believe is true.” Their vision biblically is from Romans 12, that transforming your mind should result in transforming the way you live; that faith touches your head and your heart; that loving God also means loving people!

Nancy’s passion for the work of Apologetics Canada is evident. I asked how it came about, since Andy was the one going to school and studying. Her response – knowledge has grown from reading, listening, and conversation. More importantly, her motivation to learn was birthed through her desire to engage her son Tristan in conversation equivocal to the depth of the questions she was being asked by him. Her desire to be a great mom for her kids highlights an important question for us all – who is the motivating force behind your desire to grow your knowledge and skill in answering the questions of faith for our day and the next generations?
As we concluded our time together, I asked what insight they might have for what the questions and issues of church and culture in the future might be. Andy responded with two thoughts.
The question that has dominated the Enlightenment period has been “Does God Exist?” The resulting question for our time might just be “Do people exist?” Andy’s recent seminar at the Apologetics Canada Conference, “Zombie Culture,” addressed the evidence and issues that result from a culture that is uncertain of God’s existence and leads to the next logical uncertainty, our own existence.

He also suggested that the church needs to monitor the effects of social media on our culture, especially noting the tendency of people to prefer a virtual community over a real community, their walls being the computer, phone, or tablet screen, keeping them from engaging in community with God, the church, and peers.

ThinkingWhat’s next for Apologetics Canada? The big goal for the immediate future is to take the new “Thinking Series” across Canada and the US. This resource enables pastors and lay ministry leaders to equip their church for thinking deeply and engaging the culture. They are also looking forward to presenting their first Eastern Canada Apologetics Conference in Ontario.

Many resources are available for people to discover on the Apologetics Canada website and While you are there, check out Andy’s new book, “Thinking? Answering Life’s 5 Biggest Questions.”

Discerning a ‘Kairos’ Moment

Paul claims that God always acts at the right time and presents opportunities for Kingdom advancement at crucial moments – “kairos” moments. He talks about “open doors” and the importance of advancing through them.

KDMN Planning Committee

KDMN Planning Committee

At Northwest we believe God is providing us with a “kairos” opportunity to assist key Korean pastoral leaders in Canada, Korea and other parts of the world to develop their capacities as Global Christian Leaders.

On May 1st. Northwest will launch a new Doctor of Ministry program with a focus in Global Christian Leadership for Korean pastoral leaders in our Fellowship, as well as for other Korean Christians throughout the world.

Vancouver is one the primary centres in North America for the Korean diaspora, with over 150 Korean churches, many of which are substantial and growing. When Korean pastors come to Canada, they have great challenges understanding our culture and adapting their leadership to this new reality. This program will develop their capacity to transition cross-culturally.

Many pastoral leaders in Korea lead their congregations to establish mission projects around the world, including Canada. Yet, they have not had opportunity to develop cross-cultural leadership skills or discerned the challenges involved in being global Christian leaders. Significant struggles ensue, despite great passion for the Gospel.

This program will be cross-disciplinary, incorporating the following areas of study:


This new Doctor of Ministry program will enable the students to interact with and be mentored by Christian leaders who have significant global leadership experience, as well as deep commitment to and understanding of the mission of God in this world. Recruitment for the first class has already started.

Dr. Larry Perkins, Northwest Professor of Biblical Studies and President Emeritus, and Dr. Daniel Park, pastor of Global Korean Mission, a Fellowship Baptist Church located in Coquitlam, are co-directing the new program. A petition for accreditation of the program has been submitted to the Association of Theological Schools.

Biblical Interpretation and Spiritual Life

Immerse Instructional Seminars

This past weekend we held two of our Immerse Instructional Seminars, Biblical Interpretation with Dr. Brian Rapske and Theology of the Spiritual Life with Dr. Kent Anderson.
Click on an image to see them all in a viewer.


The combined group

Training Biblical Leaders and Preachers in Their Own Country

It is wonderful to train biblical leaders and preachers in our own country, but it is also fantastic to be able to do so in other more needy parts of the world. That was my privilege this past August, as I traveled to Cali, Colombia to work with the LanIMG_2361gham Partnership as keynote speaker for a conference on the preaching of the prophetic books of Scripture.

Langham is an organization that was begun by John Stott and funded through his book royalties. It continues today as an organization that works to develop biblical preachers in developing countries around the world. This past year they offered more than 100 such seminars and training opportunities globally.

In my case, I was able to work with about 100 pastors and preachers for several days. Their hunger to learn more about the craft of preaching and to better appreciate the interpretation and proclamation of the prophetic texts was a beautiful thing to experience. I was then given the further opportunity to travel farther inland to the city of Armenia where I engaged a large lay leader training event and preached at Shalom Church, where a couple of thousand had gathered to worship.

As a seminary president I have plenty of opportunity to travel, but not often for this kind of purpose. I remember from my earliest days hearing stories about Colombia from furloughing missIMG_2373ionaries. For several decades, our churches in British Colombia have been sending missionaries to Colombia. These missionaries have done a tremendous job and today the El Redil network of churches is one of the most vibrant movements for the Gospel that I know.

Colombia is a great example of the kind of place a seminary like Northwest needs to be engaged. The time for the career foreign missionary is over in a place like this. The national church is strong and their witness is vibrant. Now the time is ripe for seminaries like Northwest to come alongside and work on the development of a great cadre of national pastors and leaders. As long as those opportunities exist, I will be thrilled to participate.

Board of Governors Award – Evan Scales

award-01The Board of Governors Award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the mission of Northwest Baptist Seminary. In recognition of such commitment, the Board of Governors is pleased to present this award to Evan Scales.

Evan served on the Board of Governors for 18 consecutive years, from 1990 through 2007. These were some of the seminary’s most challenging years, during which Northwest concluded its decades-long college level ministry, transitioning to its current form as a primarily graduate level institution. Those who served on the board during this time were required to show a courageous level of focus on the primary mission that the school had served going back to its inception in 1934 – the development of high quality, ministry leaders for the church. While this discussion was painful for Evan, he understood the necessity of this decision. That the seminary currently prospers in this mission is due in large measure to those like Evan who offered steady governance-level leadership at that time.

Evan and Mary ScalesEvan’s unique contribution to the board was in the writing of a new set of by-laws to govern the seminary, with a particular concern to enshrine the relationship of the seminary to its churches. This was a significant task during these days of transition. This kind of work may not have been glamorous or even interesting, yet Evan knew the importance of a firm documentary foundation. The current stability of the seminary bears testament to the durability of Evan’s work.

Along with his service to the board, Evan and his wife Mary, sent several of their own children to study at Northwest. They also were faithful and significant financial contributors. May many follow after their example!

Evan spent his career working for the Pacific Great Eastern Railway, which later became known as BC Rail, and later for the CNR. But it would seem that he put in almost as much effort toward the health of the churches he helped plant and encourage, most notably Dallas-Barnhartvale Baptist Church. It was in his study and teaching of theology that Evan’s passion for the church came together with his passion for the mission of the seminary.

Evan is also known for his work as President of the Fellowship Baptist Interior Association and for his years of service to Sunnybrae Bible Camp where he served as Director for a time.

The work of the church depends upon people who will give graciously and sacrificially of their time, talent, and treasure. Those who can see how graduate-level leadership development is of strategic importance to God’s Kingdom are to be particularly cherished. Evan and Mary Scales are a tremendous example of such. By this award, we express our gratitude to God and to the Scales for their commitment to the Lord, expressed through their service to all of us.

Kalimantan, Indonesia Trip

I was born and raised deep in the jungles of the island of Borneo (now Kalimantan, Indonesia) where I witnessed first-hand the entry of the Gospel and the birth of the Church among a people group called the Dayaks. Years later, after graduation from Prairie Bible Instute and Winnipeg Bible College I returned there with my wife, Becky, and we served alongside that same Dayak church for 16 years.

This past June Northwest granted me a three week window to travel back to Indonesia to revisit the Dayak church. The purpose of the trip was to meet with and encourage the pastors and leaders of the local churches among whom Becky and I had worked back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I have returned with great rejoicing having been immensely blessed and encouraged. Jesus’ church among the Dayaks is alive and growing. I was greatly encouraged to witness their love for the Lord, their faithfulness, their determination to follow Him wholly, their affection for us, and the common bond we have with them in the Lord.

I was joined on the trip by Darrel Davis of Three Hills, Alberta, and my sister and brother-in-law, Henry and Jan Armstrong, of Singapore. All of us had served there together in the past and now were returning to see what God was doing. Everywhere we went we heard stories of God’s amazing work in the lives of many of our brothers and sisters among the Dayaks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This group of Dayak churches celebrated their 60th anniversary this year and the leaders expressed to us several times their thankfulness for the missionaries (my parents among others) who had brought the Gospel to them all those years ago. It was especially encouraging to hear of their understanding of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ had done in them individually and for them as a racial group. It was delightful to hear their expressions of gratitude, first to God and also to the missionaries through whom God had sent them the news of salvation. For me personally this made everything we had experienced worth it.

There are still many challenges that they face and I ask that you increase your prayers for the Dayak church of Kalimantan. They face significant pressures to accommodate to societal and cultural issues that tend toward syncretism – that is the mixing of the Christian faith with their old animistic religious beliefs. Also, their economic conditions have improved so dramatically and suddenly that they face the temptation to confuse the transformative effects of the Gospel with a so called gospel of wealth.

Despite these challenges, it was clearly evident to our little team that God was at work and we were witnessing the ongoing ministry of the Spirit in Christ’s church among the Dayaks.

Right at the beginning of our visit we were also given the opportunity to meet with the provincial governor at his home. When we told him that our reason for requesting an audience with him was so that we could pray for him his entire demenour changed from cautious suspicion to delighted friendliness.

I was very grateful to the Lord that I was able to remember the language and was able to converse, preach, and teach fluently. After 20 years of very little use – my language facility was not a given. Then there was the food! We had to sample all of the local fruit and local dishes that we had missed over the years. That was very enjoyable for us !

OMeeting with the national church leadership and hearing their passion for a vibrant, missionally minded church, and then spending some time with them praying together was one of my top highlights of the trip. They, in turn, mentioned several times how encouraging our visit had been to them. Despite our lengthy absence they still saw us as partners in the Gospel. What an incredible privilege. Thank you, Jesus!


Immerse is Accredited

We are very excited to announce that Northwest Baptist Seminary is now fully accredited by The Association of Theological Schools. Of particular importance is that ATS also accredited our innovative Immerse program.

This is no small thing, given the uniqueness of Immerse. The fully church-based nature of the program means that Immerse exceeds the standards for residency normally expected of seminaries. Granting approval for this kind of learning marks a dramatic step forward in the world of theological education with Northwest at the forefront of this exciting change.

For many years, Northwest has held its accredited status on the basis of two elements: its charter to offer theological degrees granted by provincial legislation back in 1959, and through its partnership in ACTS Seminaries. Now that Northwest is offering programming outside of the ACTS umbrella, it was important to submit Immerse for the examination of ATS.

IMG_2188Immerse offered several challenges to the accreditors. The program is built on a number of principles that are unique. For example, Immerse has no courses, no semesters, and no fixed timetable. Instead it challenges students, working under the direction of a team of mentors, to pursue mastery of a comprehensive set of outcomes. The mentors are free to customize student expectations in order to provide whatever will be the most helpful to the student. Recognizing that schedules and timetables can arbitrarily limit student learning, Immerse allows students to continue working on a subject until they get to a level of appropriate mastery. When they’ve got it they can move on.

Key to the value of Immerse is its rootedness in context. We believe that the best place to learn to lead the church is the church itself. Immerse students go beyond theory to prove their competency through ministry to real people on the ground. The problem was that seminaries have traditionally understood themselves as campus-based, valuing greatly the learning and personal formation that happens best in community strattera and weight loss. Our answer was that we agreed in the importance of community, but that we see the church as the primary community and the best environment for student development. This church-centric approach is more consistent with our long-standing commitment to the church as God’s primary instrument for the spread of his Kingdom.

In the end, the examiners were able to appreciate our position, and indicated their desire to approve the program as an official “experiment” of ATS. This experimental status is actually to our benefit. It does not imply any uncertainty or that their decision is provisional. It does acknowledge that what we are doing is unique and that it does exceed the standards as they are currently written. By framing this as an official experiment, ATS has put this program on a much higher profile. The program will be noticed and observed. As we make progress, others will learn the things that we are learning. As we prove results a few years down the road, ATS will be required to build some of what has been learned into the standards that govern every theological school.

In other words, we are literally changing the face of theological education.

The decision of ATS was not guaranteed. In fact there were a number of other schools whose applications for experiments were not granted. When I thanked ATS Executive Director, Dan Aleshire, he said to me, “Well, you didn’t really give us a choice. You were so well prepared and had covered every angle. We had to say yes to you.” While his response was gratifying for its affirmation, it is also encouraging to realize the kind of impact that we are having.

Immerse is jointly owned and was collaboratively developed with David Horita and the team at Fellowship Pacific. The Northwest mission has always been first and foremost about the mission of our churches and so it was important to build this in concert with those churches. Now, however, the effect of what we built is starting to spread.

Currently we have versions of Immerse available to Fellowship Pacific, Fellowship Prairies, Fellowship International, and Baptist Housing. This latter version takes things beyond the world of pastor and church to the world of chaplaincy. We are also now in serious conversation with several other potential partners, schools, and networks all across Canada and into the United States as well. We will share more information when we are able.

On another front, we would encourage you to pray for our developing relationship with SEMBEQ, our Fellowship Baptist related seminary in the province of Quebec. SEMBEQ has been operating successfully for more than 40 years, training great pastoral leaders through their own church-based system, resulting in a strong network of healthy churches and leaders in this very needy place. SEMBEQ, however, does not have a charter, nor do they have accreditation for their programs. Upon their request, we have been working with SEMBEQ to offer their degrees under our charter on their behalf.

In fact, we have made a formal request to the Ministry of Education seeking their permission. We would encourage you to join us in prayer for this matter – particularly for favor with the Quebec government. Recently, Northwest was the subject of an article in the Montreal newspaper La Presse in which the author seemed to have some distress over this supposed incursion of evangelicals into their province. Of course, the Bible is full of instances where God moved the heart of kings and governors who did not acknowledge his sovereignty. We are praying that he will do it yet again.

As we have sought to be faithful with what God has given us, we have begun to see God enlarge our influence. We are grateful for the opportunity. We are deeply aware that this is all for his glory and for his honour.

Thank you for sharing with us in this important task.

Celebration and Thanksgiving to God

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you – 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18.
Birthdays in our home are a great excuse to eat, laugh and share about our year. Taking time to celebrate how God has blessed us helps us to refocus on God’s goodness and to be thankful for all He has accomplished. In Psalm 97:12, we are commanded: “Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name.”

One of our family birthday traditions is to share a highlight for the year. This year, our daughter was so excited to report her highlight. She was literally bursting to share her good news with us!
Here is my highlight from Northwest’s year and my reason for celebration and for giving thanks to God.

O— Immerse, our church based Ministry Leadership Development program is now fully accredited by ATS and currently  has 35 students involved in churches throughout the Pacific region.  We are blessed and excited to partner with our local churches as we actively extend the love of Jesus to others and impact our communities.

Here is just a small sample of what our churches are saying about our Immerse students:

We started with one Immerse student and within a year, brought on a second. The excitement and passion they bring is expanding and strengthening our ministry here at Central Baptist Church. The Immerse program has exceeded our expectations in its effectiveness… As we train and mentor these men, we expect God to do great things as we partner in building His kingdom.
Steve Edelman, Associate Pastor,
Central Baptist Church, Victoria BC.

As an Immerse intern Wesley has brought more effectiveness to our community outreach, strength to our preaching ministry, assistance in the tasks of my role, wisdom to our pastoral team, and another team member to work alongside of.  I cannot express how much help it is to have him on board.
Barton Priebe, Senior Pastor,
Dunbar Heights Baptist Church Vancouver, BC.

We have the privilege of currently having two Immerse students as part of our staff team.  As a church I know we have benefited greatly from the ministry leaders. While our students are mainly involved in youth and kids ministries, I would guess that you could ask just about anyone at Emmanuel, and they would tell you that the blessing to our church extends far beyond a particular program…our whole church has been blessed by our participation in Immerse.
Don Reeve, Lead Pastor,
Emmanuel  Baptist Church, Vernon, BC.

We are grateful for the role Northwest Baptist Seminary has in extending God’s Kingdom and impacting others at home and abroad.

If you wish to know more about how you can support us with your financial gifts please call me: 1-250-240-3737 or email me directly: [email protected]

We thank you for all your support and depend on the generosity of our friends like you who wish to see God’s Kingdom grow and prosper. Here is how you can give to Northwest to help sponsor a student. You can give directly online: Thanks for your investment in the Kingdom of God and for making a difference!

Alumni in Ministry

It is always exciting to hear about alumni who are doing well in the ministries for which they are called. I was amazed to see a picture of Northwest alum, Geordan Rendle on a giant video screen in New York City’s Times Square as he was being announced for this role as president of Youth for Christ International. I congratulated Geordan recently and he spoke very warmly of his time with Northwest.

A former police officer, Geordan brings a tremendous amount of experience to this role. Having spent much of his youth in Colombia, Geordan brings a particular passion for the international side of YFC. I can’t wait to hear what happens as this iconic evangelical ministry responds to Geordan’s creative and energetic leadership. Geordan is only the 7th president of YFC. Billy Graham was the first!

On a different matter, I would like to call you to prayer for a very specific item pop over to this website. I have recently returned from Montreal where our dean, Howard Andersen, and our board chair, Dennis Wasyliw, travelled with me to meet with the leadership of SemBEQ, our Fellowship Baptist seminary in the province of Quebec. The purpose of our visit was to finalize arrangements such that Northwest could assist SemBEQ by granting its degrees under our charter. This will require an “order in council” from the Quebec government cabinet, something which our lawyer believes is possible, but something that will require our prayer.

You may not know that Quebec is one of the most un-evangelized places in the world, with fewer evangelicals per capita than you would find in a country like Japan. Within that environment, our Fellowship has actually done pretty well. We have 89 healthy churches in the region, largely due to the development of a great number of effective leaders through the ministry of SemBEQ. Unfortunately, our friends have had to work without appropriate authority as there is no way by which they will be allowed to continue to grant their own degrees.

We are working to see this negative become a positive. It is exciting to see how we are coming together – east-west, French-English – around a mutual vision for church-based ministry leadership development. We think that this collaboration could result in something even more positive for the Kingdom than what we have so far seen. Please pray with us.

These continue to be exciting times for Northwest as we see increasing numbers of churches and networks get involved in our Immerse program. I can hardly wait to see what God will do through all of us owning together this great work.

Practising Faith in the Home

I don’t anticipate my children will concoct scientific learning labs in the kitchen to reinforce the Bible passage they’ve read for the day. Nor do I expect that one will stack couch cushions to build the walls of Jericho while the other unearths Dad’s trumpet from his ’80s glory days to blow the wall down. As parents, we desire creative ideas for bringing faith into the home; however only the most imaginative thinkers (with similarly gifted children) will have the time or mental energy to do this.

Children need to know that practising faith is often quiet, reflective, and expressive. But parents and mentors need to make it happen.

On Jan. 17/18, 2014, Northwest hosted the Transform Conference, with Awana Canada and FamilyLife Canada joining as title sponsors. Keynote speaker Mark Holmen, of [email protected], shared some distressing statistics.

Although teens say by far the greatest spiritual influencers in their life are their parents,

  • only 27% have experienced either family devotions, prayer or Bible reading within the home,
  • only 28% have talked about faith with their mom,
  • and only 13% with their dad.

Deuteronomy 6:1–25 stresses the importance of remembering the loving commands and provision of the Lord, and impressing them on your children. What does that look like with children? Here are some keep-it-simple strategies.

Read the Bible. Devotionals are great, but they often don’t go beyond morals-based teaching. Reading full Bible passages plants the stories into the child’s mind, allowing children to gain an understanding of the narrative of Scripture, and more importantly, the character, actions, and person of God.

Pray. Prayer should be heartfelt and honest. Teach your children ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. When life is far from simple and we don’t know what to pray for, let your child know the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26). Demonstrate that you can write your prayers, draw your prayers, walk or dance your prayers, and pray through music or poetry.

Give. Teach children about tithes and offerings. My sister-in-law has three piggy banks for each of her children labelled “God,” “Savings” and “Spending.” For every dollar earned, each jar gets its designated percentage. If you’re grocery shopping with young children, buy something for the sole purpose of putting it in the food bank box after checking out. From your example, children will learn generosity and that everything they have comes from God.

Memorize Scripture. For some this is easy; others break out in hives at the thought of it! My eldest son can memorize after simply reading a verse, but with my youngest, we make up actions or put the words to a familiar melody. Even if the words aren’t learned perfectly, the truth of the passage will stay in the child’s heart and mind (Proverbs 22:6). God will bring these words to mind when the child needs a particular truth in his or her life.

There are many simple ideas. Do what makes sense to the children you love, and don’t burden yourself with guilt. Join the parents who attended the conference and have already implemented strategies to bring faith into the home. Be relieved to know as one mother commented, “That it’s okay if faith talks occur while driving in the car instead of when eating at the dinner table.” As a pastor I once spoke with stated, “The one thing you do this week is better than the nothing you did last week.”

Then watch the Spirit work in the life of your family. Whether life presents joys or tribulations, the value of practicing and teaching faith in the home will be felt as you “soar on wings like eagles” (Is. 40:31) or “take refuge in the shadow of his wings” (Ps. 57:1).

And once you start, you may soon find yourself encouraging another family to likewise bring faith into their home.

A version of this article first appeared in the MB Herald.

Northwest Board of Governors Awards

What makes Northwest the special training institution that it is today? Alongside the grace and provision of God – it is the people that God has directed to be involved with the school throughout its 80 year history. Many men and women have faithfully and passionately served the Fellowship and Northwest over the years, and recently two such people were given special recognition.

This past fall Northwest’s current board chair, Dennis Wasyliw, along with the president, Kent Anderson and the dean, Howard Andersen traveled together to make formal presentations of The Board of Governers Award to two longstanding board members. This award states that it is given in recognition of long service to and interest in the work of ministry leadership development through Northwest.

The two recipients of this award were Anne Thompson and David Fairbrother.

David Fairbrother

David FairbrotherDavid knew his calling to ministry early in life and went on to develop a long list of achievements in his service to God and to the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in British Columbia. Over a period of more than 40 years, David’s life and ministry has been unassuming and quiet, faithful and diligent, assertive and effective in his service of the Gospel. During those years he pastored a number of BC churches including Central Baptist in Prince George, Richmond Baptist in Richmond, and Emmanuel Baptist in Vernon. David also served with distinction as President of the Fellowship, giving effective leadership to the entire movement of churches in this region.

David’s direct service to Northwest was also substantive. A distinguished graduate of the school, he served several terms on the Board of Governors beginning in the late 1970’s through to the late 1990’s.

David’s work was also indispensable in the construction of the Northwest building on the Trinity Western University campus. He had a remarkable gift for fundraising and put this to good use on the Interim Capital Fundraising Committee of the Board of Governors, and also as the Director of Development for the college and seminary. This fruitful effort allowed for the accumulation of the capital necessary for the construction of the building. Since the building was sold, the funds David raised now provide the greater portion of the Northwest endowment funds. Those endowments provide substantially for the ongoing ministry of the seminary and its service to students and churches.

David is also known for his love of wife and family. In the last several years especially, Dave and Virginia have spent countless hours with their children and grandchildren in all kinds of family gatherings. They have spent time on excursions and walks, allowing opportunity to admire God’s great handiwork displayed in creation. Even during these latter years, David has displayed a keen interest and ongoing service to the work of our seminary and our Fellowship.

We are grateful to David for his lifetime of labour for the Lord through which the work of the seminary has been able to flourish. By this commendation, we affirm the ongoing blessing of his service to Northwest Baptist Seminary and to the churches that we together serve. We are thankful to God for his dedication and commitment, trusting that his example might inspire others to the same.

Anne Thompson

Anne ThompsonAnne joined the Northwest Board in 1977. This was an exciting, but challenging time for Northwest. The new seminary division was only two-three years old, enrolment challenges were critical, and leadership changes were occurring. Anne was a wonderful proponent for the Preschool training program that Northwest pioneered. She also had a strong commitment to developing well-trained pastoral leaders.

With only a few years of sabbatical, Anne served as a member of the Northwest Board from 1977 – 2007, often contributing to the board executive committee, and specifically as chairperson from 2000 to 2007.

No matter what challenges Northwest faced, Anne encouraged the leaders, praying faithfully for the staff, students and faculty. Anne expressed her heart-commitments with practical actions and in the case of Northwest this included generous gifts of her wisdom, time and professional skill, as well as significant financial support for Northwest’s ministry.

She knew what leadership required, being a teacher and filling various administrative roles in various elementary schools. She was passionate about developing effective ministry leaders who could galvanize congregations around robust Christian vision. She also insisted upon excellence within the board and within the various educational programs.

As chair Anne led the board to connect with In Trust and through their board mentoring programs she oversaw significant internal board development, which in turn gave great strength to Northwest institutionally. She understood the relationship between a strong board and a vital Seminary.

Anne’s contribution to the Northwest board spanned 30 years. By this commendation, we affirm the blessing of her service on behalf of Northwest Baptist Seminary, a service which continues to bear rich fruit today in the Seminary’s life and ministry. We are thankful to God for her faithful, wise leadership.

Professionally Anne taught and served as principal for many years within the Vancouver School system at Queen Mary Elementary, Carnarvon Elementary and Vancouver Hebrew Academy, a Jewish elementary school.

She and her husband Ken serve as volunteer leaders within Oakridge Fellowship Baptist Church. Through their leadership they have developed and overseen many different aspects of that church’s life and ministry in the community.


Theology Boot Camps for Christian Growth

As summertime approaches, many people look forward to camping, fishing trips, and hiking excursions. These retreats into the great outdoors can be enjoyable if you have the proper equipment and training. A simple overnight camping trip can turn into a nightmare if you forget the tent (or the coffee for some). Likewise, if your ‘theological gear’ is a little rusty, or you would rather stay indoors, consider coming to an Instructional Seminar. Northwest Baptist Seminary and Fellowship Pacific offer four instructional seminars per year. Each seminar includes two-days of learning, practical teaching, and group interaction. “You get to hear from the best on certain topics” remarks Glory Destura from Burnett Fellowship. Another benefit is the level “of interaction with students and the presenters,” says Wes Parker from Dunbar Heights.

Going on a canoe trip around Bowron Lake is more physically challenging than sitting in class, but don’t let the lack of a physical challenge fool you. These seminars are challenges for the mind and spirit. They are like theological boot camps for Christian growth. Chris Goodall from Sardis Fellowship is “impressed with the depth of knowledge that each of the professors has shown while teaching us. They listen, correct, encourage, and expand on our attempts at answering questions. I have never been made to feel inadequate no matter how long it takes for the light to go on.” Prepare yourself for a journey into the theology of the Trinity (often spoken of, but rarely explored). Embark on an expedition into the world of prophetic literature. Journey to ancient Israel and learn from their wisdom literature.

To register for an upcoming instructional seminar, go to Each seminar is $95 or $295 for a four seminar package. Twelve seminars on various topics are offered on a three-year cycle. The next 4 seminars are listed in the poster below.

Learning theology and its application are significant pieces of gear for the journey of life. “Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives,” says J.I. Packer. He aptly notes, “disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction, and no understanding of what surrounds you” (from the book Knowing God). So take your ‘gear’ (flashlight optional) and embark on a two-day theological boot camp and prepare yourself for ministry and personal growth. You will undoubtedly leave a changed person.


Interview with an Immerse Student

Two and a half years ago Northwest began a unique way to develop our most promising leaders for the future of our Fellowship, our local churches and for His glory. Currently, we have almost 30 students in Immerse! I had the opportunity to catch up with one of them – Paul Park from Coquitlam, BC. Here is what I discovered…

Tell me a little about yourself…

Paul ParkI was born and raised in a Christian family and my father has been in ministry since before I was born. So, I got to see what ministry looks like from a young age, and I was determined that I would never make that choice. But here I am, in the Immerse program and apprenticing at South Delta Baptist Church to become a pastor! God led me in His typically amazing way and brought me to embrace my calling… or His calling. Before I entered the Immerse program, I was an English teacher teaching both high school students and adults. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching, but now I am embarking on a career path that may be even more rewarding that I ever imagined.

You are one of our current Immerse students and being mentored by several people –  what does that mean to you?

I am currently being mentored by Colin van der Kuur, Larry Perkins, Paul Johnson and Jeremy Johnson. I went through a similar multi-dimensional apprenticeship when I was at UBC in the Bachelor of Education program. While I was out at practicum, I worked alongside three mentors who helped me hone my skills as an English teacher. This experience in Immerse feels very similar. I am extremely thankful for the mentors that I have because they all contribute so much in helping me learn to do ministry with excellence. Ministry itself is so multi-dimensional, so it completely makes sense to have multiple mentors. Each mentor brings something different to the table, and this leads to a more wholesome experience.

You and your local church started a new church with the Tsawwassen First Nations about five and half years ago. That’s exciting! Tell me more about this.

The Korean church (GKMC) where I am originally from began helping people in need on the TFN Reservation about six years ago. We were using the old church building on the reserve that was built in 1904 to distribute food from the South Delta Food Bank. When we saw that the church was no longer being used to house worship services, and that there was a community that needed to hear the gospel, we began to pray for something to happen on the TFN reserve. God graciously led us to plant a Sunday evening service five and a half years ago, and I feel like we’re still in the progress of planting a church.

Currently you are the Pastor Apprentice at South Delta Baptist and involved in our Immerse program. How does this partnership work? Tell me about your current role and duties?

I am grateful to be at South Delta Baptist Church as a Pastor Apprentice. Pastor Paul Johnson and Pastor Jeremy Johnson are my mentors for the Immerse program, so SDBC’s involvement in this partnership with NBS to train me as a ministry leader is quite significant. I currently help with the hospitality part of the church and I teach ESL/Bible Study to the Korean community at South Delta. I also continue to serve as a pastor for the church in Tsawwassen First Nations.

Thank you for your financial support for students like Paul. If you would like more information on giving to Northwest or about Immerse, please contact me:  Ron Sing, Director of Development at: 250-240-3737. You can also give directly online to support our students >> click here.

2014 Transform Children’s and Parent’s Conference

Photos from the recent Children’s Conference held at Northview Church in Abbotsford.

New (and not so new) faces at Northwest

Howard AndersenDr. Howard Andersen has been hired to be the new Northwest Academic Dean. He describes this hire as being “the two bookends to my career.” Dr. Andersen began his academic career in 1969 as the Assistant Dean to Dr. Pickford who was then Dean of Northwest Baptist Theological College. The next 10 years saw Dr. Andersen replace Dr. Pickford in the role of Dean and then in 1976 be appointed the first president of both the college and the new seminary division. Howard is also no stranger to ACTS Seminaries as he has served in the past as the Academic Dean for Canadian Baptist Seminary and has taught at ACTS many times as an adjunct professor. He summarized his view of ACTS Seminaries as a consortium of seminaries as “great people, great programs and a great idea”!

Howard comes to us with a wealth of experience both in and out of the academic world. He has years of involvement in the business world, having run his own consulting company and years of teaching in various disciplines.

He is married to Anne and they have 3 adult children and 6 grandchildren. He is quite delighted that all of his grandchildren live nearby.

Howard has a keen interest in the training and preparation of pastors. He says, “I got my start in Christian ministry from my pastor at Mission Baptist Church – pastor E.V. Apps. It shows what pastors can do with their young people”. When asked about Immerse Howard’s response was, “For quite a few decades churches and denominations have been looking for a better way to train pastors. …It is talked about everywhere that there needs to be a more “in-situ” way of doing it. … I do have a lot of interest and excitement about the Immerse program.”

One of the things that excites him is the anticipation of working with “great people at Northwest” – people whom he has known for many-many years.

Well, we are excited too, so welcome Dr. Howard Andersen to this new role at Northwest.

We welcomed a Northwest alumnus on staff this summer. Eric Fehr, NBTC BRE grad of 1996 and ACTS Seminaries MTS grad of 2009 has joined us as the Executive Assistant to the Dean where he will be filling the role in the Immerse program that Mark Carroll recently left.

Eric’s roots in the Fellowship began back at Sunnybrae Bible Camp where, in 1986, under the ministry of Bill Clem, he came to put his personal trust in Christ. Eric described how he had grown up in a non-Christian home but that in the year following his own conversion experience his brother and both his father and mother also came to know the Lord Jesus. For the first 10 or so years of his Christian life his family attended Cedar Grove Baptist Church but then in 2006 he and his wife joined Brunette Fellowship where he has had opportunity to participate both in music as well as in an eldership capacity.

Eric married Jill in 2005 and they now have a 4 year old daughter, Evangelina. Commenting on how marriage and family have affected him Eric talked about how he felt that Jill has brought a significant degree of stability to his life and that in his role as a dad he has developed a greater appreciation for the depth of his Heavenly Father’s love and grace.

We are delighted to have Eric on board and believe that God brought him to us at this exciting time in the life and ministry of Northwest.

So, welcome Eric and do pray for him as he comes up to speed on all of his new responsibilities.


It is a wonderful thing to observe how God leads. When Mark Carroll told me he was leaving Northwest my feelings were mixed. On one hand, I was thrilled to see Mark step up to lead one of our great churches. After all, that is why we are doing this work. On the other hand, I knew that he would leave a giant hole in our ministry. Very quickly, however, the Lord led us to the two people that he had in mind for us.

Eric Fehr is a Northwest alumnus with a wealth of experience in administration and human resource management. We are very pleased that he was available to handle the day to day assignments of the Dean’s office. I am also truly pleased to welcome back, Dr. Howard Andersen to the position of Academic Dean. Howard will fill this role part time. Together Howard and Eric offer a powerful team that will allow us to move forward on several fronts.

It is particularly encouraging to me that we now have three presidents on the team. I benefit greatly in my filling of the current role by the presence of Larry Perkins who served as president from 2000-2010, and also by Howard’s participation on the team. Howard was President of Northwest in the late 1970s when I began as an undergraduate. These two men have been mentors to me for most of my life. Now to be working together in this manner it is a tremendous blessing. I think it speaks to the consistency of vision and mission that we have tried to encourage here at Northwest.

I also have some further good news to report regarding our application for ATS accreditation for Northwest and for Immerse. We have just recently been informed by the Association of Theological Schools that our application for Candidate Status has been approved. This is the second of three major steps in the process, so we have just one left to go. We have always held our accreditation through our ACTS partnership, but for Northwest to be accredited in its own right is very significant. Of course, for ATS to approve the innovations of the Immerse program is ground-breaking. We will be working hard on the final stage of the process which we hope to complete by the spring of next year.

It is encouraging to see how positively ATS has been looking at these innovations. “Most schools are looking to make their programs easier,” they said to us. “You are actually trying to make the program more challenging!” I think they are correct in that assessment. This past May I was asked to present what we are doing to a meeting of seminary presidents and deans from across Canada. Now, ATS has asked me to present the program to a group of seminary presidents from across North America in San Antonio this January. People are noticing what we are doing. Our influence is spreading.

Speaking of Immerse, we recently completed our first formal assessment process for potential new students and churches in the program. Eleven men and women, selected by their churches came together for two days of intense testing and evaluation. The assessment was done by a team of fifteen faculty, pastors, and Fellowship staff. In the end, ten students were approved for admission into the program. We now have twenty people and churches engaged in this process, and we are still only just getting started. Imagine the impact this will have on our churches down the road.

Clearly, the Lord does lead and we are excited to be in the stream of what he is doing through church-based ministry leadership development. Thanks for all the ways you serve with us in this mission.

From Immerse to total Imersion

Mark & Stephanie Carroll have left Northwest to take up a new position as lead pastor couple at Whitehorse Baptist Church. Just before they left I caught up with Mark for an interview.

Tell me about your personal and spiritual journey:

Mark_and_Steph_CarrollI think the best summary of my spiritual journey would be running, then submitting, then running, then submitting, and on and on. It’s happened over and over again in my life where I would know what God was asking, but I would run away, then he’d correct me and I’d submit again. Eventually I realized that the “running” part isn’t very good and I needed to do more of the “submitting.” I’ve sensed a call to ministry in my life since I was young, whether it was academic, or pastoral, or whatever else. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to flee in fear of that call because of the sacrifices it requires—I’ve seen lots of pastors get hurt, and I didn’t want to put myself in the position to feel the same hurt. But I’ve realized through failure that running away is worse than submitting to God’s call, and ultimately his call leads directly to my joy.

Tell me a little about your family:

My family is amazing. My wife, Stephanie and I have been married for 11 years now. Theo is 7, Gavin just turned 5 and Amelia is going to be 2 in a month. So our house is busy, exciting, loud, noisy – all of those. I’m learning about the differences between girls and boys: My daughter, for example, loves shoes. She will go to the store, and go to the shoe section and she will start pulling shoes off the rack – trying to get them on her feet. She’ll get mad when she has to leave the shoe section because she has found all these beautiful shoes for herself. It’s so weird! Who taught her that?

You recently completed your master’s degree here at Northwest/ACTS. Tell me a little about your education and what brought you to Northwest.

The background story is that after high school I went to Simon Fraser University, again, as part of my running away. I knew I should be pursuing ministry, but decided instead to do a degree in science because it would open doors for me. But at Simon Fraser I realized that just “wanting to do it” didn’t make me try hard and it ultimately wasn’t where I was supposed to be. God brought me something good through my time there—it’s where Steph and I met—but it became clear pretty quickly that I was in the wrong place, so I left.

For about five years I spent time working in the food industry, working up to a management position, but the call wouldn’t go away, and eventually I decided to listen. I finished my BA at Prairie Bible College, and immediately knew that God was calling me into graduate-level education, but, again, I ran. This time I came up with excuses and rationalizations and ended up in pastoral ministry because I figured that God would like that just as much. Again, though, it became clear pretty quickly that I wasn’t following his direction, even though he did some amazing things in that time in spite of my disobedience.

Eventually I wised up and decided to pursue my MTS at Northwest. I’ve been a ‘Fellowship’ guy my whole life and love to be part of Fellowship Pacific, so coming to Northwest was a pretty natural decision. I did the MTS because I wanted to keep my options open for PhD work. I figured that I’d do my MTS, then move onto PhD, then get a job as a professor so that I could just be an academic and not worry about getting involved in people’s lives. Of course, that’s not an accurate picture of the job, but it’s what I was telling myself. Of course my plan wasn’t the way God had planned, so I worked on my degree for a couple of years until the scholarships and savings ran out, then started working in retail full-time to try to find some way to finish the degree. And that’s when Kent approached me and asked me to come and work at Northwest. I only finished my degree because of the opportunity provided to me in this job.

So much of your time at Northwest you have been deeply involved with Immerse. Tell me a little about that experience. What have you personally learned through the process? What does Immerse mean to you?

The experience of being involved with the designing of Immerse is like nothing I have ever done in my life, ever! I’ve had to play the role of middleman, negotiator, peace-maker, and sometimes even conflict-maker. It was such a unique opportunity to be able to have one foot in the ministry world through the ministry centre and one foot in the academy, but it was great because I realized that we all want the same thing. At the end of the day our mission is the same: we all want healthy churches; we want people to come to know Jesus; we want followers of Jesus trained as disciples; and ultimately we want that to grow and grow. Fellowship Pacific’s mission statement talks about leveraging our collective strengths to see a God-honouring impact in our region, and I feel like that’s what we did with Immerse. That God-honouring impact is more of a reality today than it’s ever been, and I think the process of designing Immerse has played into that.

What have I personally learned? I’ve learned the benefit of what Patrick Lencioni calls “productive ideological conflict.” When you’re all focused on the same mission, disagreement and conflict can be productive because they help you do that mission even better. And the mission that Jesus calls us to is worth conflicting about. A lot has been put on the line in creating this program—relationships have been tested, and friendships have been tried—but the program that’s come out the other side is unique and truly has the potential to transform our region with the gospel.

This is great news for me because I know that this movement that I know and love and these churches that I know and love will be effective well into the future because they’ll be well-led, and my kids and their kids will see the benefit of what we’ve accomplished with God’s help over these past few months.

How did taking a pastoral position come about?

I’ve known ever since I started working on my degree that God was preparing me for something when I was done. I wasn’t sure what that was, and I kept asking God to show me, but his answer was consistently, “no, because you’re going to be a bonehead and try to make it happen yourself, so you’re going to see one step at a time.” As I neared the completion of the program, two opportunities were presenting themselves: to continue into academia or to go back to vocational pastoral ministry. So I investigated both equally—I think I investigated every PhD program in North America and probably most of them in Europe, too—but I didn’t find one that seemed to fit my research interests and my skills. It felt like God was closing the door to the academy, but at the same time he was opening the door into pastoral ministry. And so I took a few tentative steps toward that route, and the doors kept opening, so I kept walking.

I knew from past experience that my next step in vocational ministry was into the role of lead pastor—that was what God had equipped me for and called me to. And I knew that I wanted to go to a place where I could conceive of staying for the rest of my life if that was what God called me to. I had a number of conversations about a number of different places, but none of them seemed to be “the thing.” Then one day, I think at a Fellowship Pacific staff meeting, somebody mentioned Whitehorse Baptist, and I had one of those moments where I knew God was saying, “That’s you!” Why? I’ve never been there! But the more we looked into it, the more God was arranging things to work out for us to go there. In fact, I said to Steph one time, “You know, God could use a 2×4 here and be more subtle.” That’s what I need because I don’t get “subtle” very well. It’s not that the road has been easy—every step along the way has been hard—but we’re settled in our sense of call, and we’ve never regretted it. We’ve never had a moment where we’ve said, “Oh, why did we do this? Now we’re in trouble.” Not once. It’s pretty amazing what happens when you let God work and just get out of the way.

What excites and what scares you about this new venture?

What excites me is the potential that I see in the city of Whitehorse. Young families like us are seeking out Whitehorse for its quality of life, and many of them are Christians who want to be on mission but there hasn’t been a place for them to connect. So I know of people who have been starting their own small groups, using video sermons from Village Church [where Mark previously attended] and the community group discussion questions—that’s how motivated they are! So right now there’s a whole group of people who want to get on mission for Jesus, but they need to be mobilized.

At the same time, many of the people moving to Whitehorse are moving there because they want a fresh start—a new beginning. To be able to step into that environment and to tell people that the thing they’re looking for, the fresh start they crave, is found exclusively in Jesus, that’s pretty exciting. There are 26,000 people Whitehorse, but the church attendance on Sunday morning shows me that thousands of those people will spend eternity apart from Jesus if we don’t tell them about him. That’s a massive opportunity for the gospel. I don’t know what God’s going to do, but if it’s anything like what I sense in my spirit then I think it’s going to be something incredible—I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do.

What scares me on the flip side is that I know how badly I can screw up that opportunity, especially if I start thinking that it’s all about me or the church. If God starts to work and I think it’s because I did something clever or special, that’s not going to go well. I’m also terrified by the significance of the call to preach the Word of God because I know how many ways my sin can get in the way of that. So this is a situation where I absolutely have to rely on God’s strength and God’s action.

How do you feel that your experience here at Northwest and especially your role in Immerse might influence your ministry there in the local church?

I feel like everything I’ve been doing in the past few years has been preparing me specifically for the task of pastoral ministry. Thinking about Immerse especially, I’ve basically had the opportunity to sit down with a lot of very wise, very experienced people and ask them what makes a good pastor so that we could build it into Immerse. I’ve learned so much through those conversations—more than I could learn through my own investigation—and now I feel like I have a blueprint for pastoral ministry effectiveness that I can use to develop my own skill base, whether it’s in preaching, leading, counseling, or whatever else.

I think this opportunity will influence my ministry primarily because I’ve learned that the number one task of a pastor is to lead the church to accomplish her mission. As a pastor, I don’t have to come up with the most clever plan, I don’t need to have all the skills, and I don’t have to single-handedly make mission come about. Instead, we, together as a community, accomplish the mission. This is pretty subtle, but it’s changed a lot in the way that I see the role of the pastor. I also have every intention of bringing an Immerse student onto the team at Whitehorse Baptist—hopefully soon—because I think it’s a great program and I’d love the opportunity to mentor someone through it and see them develop.

Speak also to the outcomes that are outlined in Immerse. How do you see those impacting even your ministry?

Having those outcomes is incredibly helpful. On the one hand, I’m encouraged when I read some of them because I see areas where God has gifted me and I’m grateful for them. On the other hand, some of them focus on areas where I’m not very skilled—at least not yet—and I’m grateful for the opportunity to develop them. The outcomes give me a clear path toward that improvement—they describe what it would look like for me to say that I’ve really understood the outcome, and they give a clear pathway to guide me down the path to greater mastery. I’ll probably even do a bunch of the assignments, even though I’m not going to get grades for them, because they’ll help me work out what these things look like in the specific context of Whitehorse Baptist and among the people there.


God Owns it All, Really!

It’s true. I have bought a lot of things over the years. Some things were small items but I have made a number of significant purchases like the wedding ring for my beautiful wife, Natalie. Other shiny things worth mentioning include golf clubs, tools, kitchen gadgets, cars, iPhones and other electronic devices.

You may likely have a similar list. You may have thought that what you bought belonged to you and to you alone. However, in reality, God really owns it all.

Does God really own it all?

What about the home you live in, the car/truck you drive to church, the clothes you wear each day, the funds in your chequing/savings account and in your RRSP?

Yes, God owns it all, indeed.

We are simply stewards for all that God has richly blessed us with. God also owns every  asset we have – including our bank accounts and our retirement savings. God is the owner.  We are the stewards.

This key biblical perspective of God’s ownership and our stewardship has profound eternal impact for the good of the Kingdom. By definition, a steward is someone who manages the possessions of the owner, on his behalf. If 100 per cent of my possessions and resources including my bank account belong to God, and I am God’s steward, it impacts every decision I make.

Throughout the bible, it is clear that God is the owner of everything.

“The earth is The Lords, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”  Psalm 24:1
“The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares The Lord  Almighty. “  Haggai 2:18

As a steward of God, we need to seek His wisdom: “Lord,  how can I further your Kingdom with the money and possessions you have entrusted to me?”

At Northwest, we are truly thankful for our many generous supporters who give to the work of equipping men and women for ministry leadership. We will be honoured if you would prayerfully consider becoming one of our Student Sponsorship Partners  and giving to our Scholarship Fund which directly support our students. These students are our future Ministry Leaders.

We are grateful that God is using our Ministry Leadership Development at Northwest to enable the Gospel to be proclaimed and communities around the world impacted for Jesus. For online giving or to invest in our Student Scholarship Fund:  >> click here.

We would be happy to share more about our new Immerse Church Based Ministry Leadership program – a unique collaboration between the Fellowship Pacific and Northwest Baptist Seminary to develop the next generation of Ministry Leaders. For more info call:  250-240-3737.

I would love to hear your comments or questions. Drop me a line or or go for coffee with me. Thanks to God for all our faithful supporters and prayers. God bless.

We Love Our Alumni!

We love our alumni. Most schools do. It is deeply encouraging to learn ways by which those who have studied with us have gone on to apply their education in fruitful ways. I thought I would mention three of our alumni from across the years, who have come to our attention in particular ways these past months…

I just finished reading Rubbing Shoulders in Yemen, a travel memoir written by Peter Twele. Peter and I were Northwest students together in the late 1970s and early 80s. Peter went on from Northwest to work with Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Canada Institute of Linguistics. This book describes his experiences, 30 years ago when he was carrying out socio-linguistic research in the back-country of Yemen. Reading his stories, I found myself impressed with Peter’s courage, his tenacity, and his evident love for the people God had called him to serve. To this day, Peter has a desire to build bridges of understanding between the West and the Middle East. You can find the book on

I was thrilled to hear about another former Northwest student, Melanie Humphreys, who was recently appointed president of The King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta. Melanie went on from Northwest to study and serve on staff at Trinity Western. She also held positions at Lithuania Christian College and Wheaton College in Illinois. Bill Diepeveen, chair of King’s Board of Governors said Dr. Humphreys “understands and is excited by King’s vision and mission and has been providing transformational leadership in similar Christian university college environments for years. We are confident she is the strategic and visionary leader and gifted community builder to take us into the next phase of King’s promising future.” King’s serves close to 700 students in Alberta and beyond. We at Northwest are proud to see one of our own have this opportunity to make a difference at this level in Western Canada.

On a different theme, I was saddened to note the death of Northwest alumnus John Affleck. John graduated with a B.Th. in 1983. Along with his wife, Marlene (also an alumnus), John served as a missionary in Pakistan for many years. He also served the poor and disadvantaged in his work with the Union Gospel Mission. At Northwest we are proud of John and of his service to our Lord. He has exemplified everything we have tried to teach and pass along to our students. May many rise up to follow his example.

We are in the business of producing men and women who will have this kind of impact for the glory of our God and for the good of his kingdom. With more than 3,000 such people out there serving, we know that these stories are only representative of the many great things that God is doing through our alumni.


Board of Governors Award given to Janet Anderson

The Board of Governors of Northwest Baptist Seminary is pleased to present its first Board of Governors Award to Janet Anderson.

Janet Anderson from PSJanet, it has been said, “was a woman’s woman.” From the time she started her career in nursing until she went home to be with her Lord, Janet never did things in half measures. Her desire to see people come to Christ as well as her conviction that women and men should be treated equal provided the motivation that drove her in the many things that she did. She did these things wholeheartedly and with conviction.

Janet’s life was filled with a variety of experiences. She was a businesswoman, operating a catering business and a gift shop. She received a Master of Christian Studies degree from Regent College and in her last years had begun to work on a Doctor of Ministry degree. Convinced of the importance of lay theology, Janet worked closely with Dr. Paul Stevens in the advancement of “marketplace chaplaincy” as well as assisting in the Vancouver International Airport Chaplaincy program. Janet served as a camp counsellor and program director at Camp Qwanoes for many years. Hundreds of young campers, who knew her as “Thumper,” were exposed to the gospel through her energetic ministry. Later on she expressed this passion by serving for years on the Camp Qwanoes Board of Directors. Throughout her life she was an active and hospitable member of Dunbar Heights Baptist Church.

Of particular interest to Northwest Baptist Seminary was her many years of service on the Northwest Board of Governors, beginning in 1986. She served a number of terms on the board over a span of 20 years. She also served on the Fellowship Pacific Board, serving the larger vision of our Fellowship of Churches. Additionally, Janet served Northwest and its students as the first director of the ACTS Seminaries Chaplaincy program, training and advising many people toward significant careers as hospital, military, and marketplace chaplains.

Long time friend and current Northwest board member, Julia Denis, says, “Janet was a Lydia. Like Lydia the Lord had opened her heart and she served with excellence. She contributed much and we honour her generous gifts of leadership, wisdom, and creative vision.”

Sadly for us, Janet is no longer with us, having gone to be with her Lord on October 14, 2012. Just prior to her death, Northwest Chairman of the Board, Larry Nelson, and President, Kent Anderson were able to be with Janet to pray with her, to thank her for her service and to inform her of her receipt of this award. “I am overwhelmed,” she said repeatedly. “If any of the things I have done have been of use to the Lord, I am grateful.” By this commendation, we are affirming that her life and service has, in fact, been of great use to us and to her Lord. She will be missed.


Reflections on 10 Years of Leadership Development

For the last ten years, Lyle Schrag has served on the Northwest faculty and as Director of the Fellowship Center for Leadership Development. Lyle is concluding his full-time service with Northwest, but will continue to be involved with us in a number of ways, including serving as an Immerse faculty mentor. Northwest President, Kent Anderson recently sat down with Lyle to share the following conversation.

Northwest Baptist Seminary FacultyKent: One thing a lot of people won’t know about you is that you continue to serve with the US Coast Guard. What have you learned from your experience that is helpful for thinking about ministry leadership?

Lyle: The Coast Guard is very much like the church in that most of the people involve themselves voluntarily. I recognize the necessity for an organization’s leaders to have tight boundaries around its work with volunteers. There needs to be a distinct set of parameters, different from what you might find when working with professional staff. I have seen a good convergence here in the area of governance and church boards. It is a good idea to describe distinct job descriptions for every position in the church including volunteers so everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and who they are accountable to and how it relates to the mission of the church. For example, what are the required times, the duration of the commitment, is any training required? All of those elements are reinforced in the Coast Guard.

Kent: You have had a big impact helping our churches develop better patterns of governance. What is one thing you would say to churches that might help them in this area?

Lyle: The key discovery is that governance is a critical spiritual ministry. Many churches don’t view governance as spiritual, but more a management concern. But I would say that the church board is the primary spiritual community of the church.

Kent: So governance could be pastoral.

Lyle: It is. The quality of fellowship within the congregation is defined by the quality of fellowship within the leadership. If the board cannot approach their relationship together as a spiritual community it is difficult to assume that the rest of the congregation is experiencing what their board is not experiencing. On the other hand if a church board is able to approach their relationship together as if they are defining what it means to be a spiritual community and approach their work that way, it begins to resound itself out to the rest of the body. I have found that many students and pastors, understand their role as the primary leader of their church, while viewing the board as a competitor to their dreams. They don’t realize that the key spiritual and pastoral relationship in the church is between the pastor and the board chairperson. This is where a lot of the health issues fall apart.

Kent: You spend a lot of time working on student care and it really shows. Students love the impact you’ve had on their lives. What gives you hope for the church as you think about the students who are aspiring to leadership these days?

Lyle: One is their maturity. A lot of the students we have here are experienced and they come out of a working area already with a real sense of focus. They’re doing this because they believe that God is calling them to ministry. I am seeing that sense of calling and momentum more and more. The second thing I see is a growing affection for the church. I’ve been here ten years and I would say that the first five years I was seeing the attitude of “I love Jesus, but I hate the church.” That’s shifting and I’m seeing now a number of students determining adamantly to love and serve within the church. I kind of despaired a couple of years ago hearing students talk about doing ministry in any other area but the church, but now they’re saying, “I want to impact the church.”

Kent: You mentioned 10 years. Are there a couple of highlights?

Lyle: Working with the students and being here 10 years means I’ve had a chance to see God work with them and through them over time. I have been able to leverage my experience into their lives, continuing that relationship as they move on and continue in ministry. That has been pretty profound. Alumni contact me consistently so that I feel that I’ve not only made an initial investment but I can continue the relationship with them. The same thing happens with churches. I think particularly of the Best Practices for Church Boards seminars, and through them, the relationship with pastors, similar to the relationship I have with students and alumni. I contact them and pray for them regularly and let them know that I am thinking about them and praying for them. Of course, the teaching opportunity has been great as well. I really thrive in that environment.

Kent: What is something hopeful that you are trusting the Lord for in the future?

Lyle: I would use the word “satisfying” more than “hopeful.” The satisfaction I’m taking now is being able to leverage my experience and skill. I’m doing transitional pastoring, preaching and consulting with churches, having the opportunity of mentoring a new generation of leadership. It’s not a future I’m creating for myself, but a future I’m creating for others.


Sowing Seeds for His Kingdom

“You give them something to eat” Luke 9:13

Jesus loves us and takes care of all our needs, both spiritual and physical. He also shows us that if we honour Him with our gifts, He is able to multiply it and use it for good. In Luke 9, the feeding the five thousand we see how Jesus wants us to live. It all begins when He says to His disciples: “ You give them something to eat “.

I love all Asian food. So when we were invited to a large Chinese banquet recently, we agreed to attend. My daughter, naturally asked me questions, including: “ What are they REALLY going to serve there, Dad? “. Over the course of several hours, 180 hungry people talked and ate. Plates of food kept coming and filling our tables. 180 plates of food, 180 pairs of chopsticks, and endless pots of tea later. We came away happy, full and content.

Food for everyone.

The feeding of the five thousand men (plus women and children) shows the unlimited resources of our Lord Jesus. And like our Chinese banquet for 180, the five thousand plus hungry people were well fed.

Take some time to read Luke 9: 10-17.

What can we learn from Jesus?

First, Jesus loves and cares for us and is more than able to supply our current needs. After all, the five thousand ate and there were plenty of leftovers. Twelve full baskets to be exact! Christ is more than sufficient and His provisions overflow.

Secondly, I believe our Lord is reminding us to trust him more with all our resources. Our resources are really His resources. There are times that he may allow us to give five loaves and two fish. At other times, he has blessed us richly and we have baskets of extras to give to others. As Jesus grabs a hold of your heart, allow Him to surprise you with what He can do with your gifts. How amazing that this little boy was willing to give up his lunch for Jesus. With the 5 loaves and 2 fish being multiplied to feed the five thousand hungry men, it must have been quite something to see!

How do you see your gifts being multiplied for Jesus?

How is The Lord directing your loaves and fishes to further His Kingdom?

Want to Give to Northwest? “The Student Sponsorship Fund“ for student scholarships financially supports our students in our Immerse (Church Based Training) program. Call me at (250) 240-3737 or fill out the form below for more informaton. For online giving to invest in our Student Scholarship Fund:  >> click here.

It’s simple and easy to be a Monthly Financial Partner. Call Dianne at Northwest to start today (604) 888-7592!

Many thanks to all our financial partners and sponsors for their consistent and generous gifts to our ministry. Your generosity and prayers enables us to accomplish our mission: “To thoroughly equip and prepare future Pastoral Ministry Leaders for all our Fellowship churches and to impact our communities for His glory”.

“A generous person will prosper. Whoever refreshes others, will be refreshed.” (Proverb 11:25 NIV.)

I would love to hear your comments or questions.


Interview with Larry Nelson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALarry Nelson has served Northwest for the past five years in the capacity of chair of the Board of Governors. Larry is stepping down from that role this year and Northwest News along with the faculty and staff would like to thank him for his service. We took this opportunity to chat with Larry about his involvement with Northwest:

How did you first get connected with Northwest? Could you describe a little of your history with us?

My familiarity with Northwest goes back to when the school was still in Port Coquitlam and my oldest brother started school there. Eventually both of my older brothers (one 12 years older and one 8 years older than I) graduated from Northwest and so when I completed high school it was natural for me to consider Northwest. At the time the school offered a one-one year program and I enrolled in that.

In later years, when I had my own accounting practice, and a couple of years before Northwest moved to the Trinity Western University Campus, my accounting firm did all the financial accounting and financial management for Northwest. I did that until the school moved here to the TWU campus and so I also did all the accounting for the construction costs for the Northwest building. Then, five years ago I was invited to come onto the Northwest board as the board chair. I have served in that capacity for the past 5 years.

Looking back over your many experiences both in the corporate world as well as in the church, how do you feel God uniquely prepared you for this role?

Over the past number of years I have served on over 10 boards and on at least six of those I have served as the board chair. So I came to the Northwest board with considerable previous board experience. Over the years I have been very interested in what comprises good board governance and good board practices and so I have read extensively and attended a number of workshops on the subject. Currently I do board governance consulting for non profit organizations. So, all of that has given me a good background in preparing to serve as chair the Northwest board.

What are you passionate about?

Well, I am passionate about Northwest. I am also passionate about good governance and I am passionate about training great pastors and leaders for the local church.

What do you believe has been your most significant contribution to Northwest and to the Board over the years you have served there?

One of the reasons I was encouraged to come on to the Northwest board was to transition the board into the policy governance model that it now uses. I had previous experience transitioning three other boards into that model and so that is what we have done with the Northwest board as well. I think that governance model has, and will continue to serve Northwest very well. As a result I think one of my most significant contributions was ensuring that Northwest was well governed and that the board clearly understood its governance role.

When Dr. Perkins retired as president of Northwest, one of the other interesting things I did was to chair the search committee for the new president.

What would you identify as being some highlights of your time on the Board?

Several things come to mind. Board retreats were always great experiences for me. It was also a privilege to honour Dr. Perkins on his retirement. I thought we did a great job of that. Then hiring our new president, Dr. Anderson, and seeing him transition into his role so well has been a significant highlight for me.

What excites you about Northwest’s future?

I think the new Immerse program really positions the school well for the future. It is leading edge. It is a creative and unique approach in training pastors. I am encouraged because I think Immerse actually follows the model of how other professions train their leaders; the medical profession, the legal profession, the accounting profession. It is all about making sure that those new professionals have great practical experience that is combined with the theoretical.

Another thing that excites me is that I think you have a great president in Dr. Anderson and I think Northwest also has an excellent board that will govern the school well going forward.

What concerns might you have that you can share with us?

The current challenge in front of all seminaries is just how to deliver what needs to be done in a manner that is effective, affordable and attractive to students. This will be an on-going challenge for Northwest. How do we ensure that our denominational needs are met in terms of well-trained, godly leaders for the future? I am concerned about our aging donor base. I am also concerned about a denominational school in an era where denominational loyalty is waning. So those would be some of my concerns.

As you ponder the role of an institution like Northwest in the preparation of leaders for the church is there anything unique or particular about Northwest’s sense of mission?

I think we are clearly focused on equipping our Fellowship Baptist churches in Western Canada with a particular emphasis on ensuring that our churches have well-prepared pastors to lead them in their ministries.

What are some of the lessons that you personally have learned about leadership development?

What I have observed is that leadership is a unique gift. Effective leadership is a combination of being born with some natural leadership attributes which are then built upon and developed in a training environment like that provided by Northwest… where people with these natural leadership abilities are equipped with leadership tools and solid theological training so that they are going to be effective in ministry. So I think that leadership can be both taught and learned as well as just having some great DNA to make one a great leader. One way leadership is developed is through students interacting with the faculty and seeing how godly leaders live their lives professionally and personally. I believe this is something that Northwest has done well.

How do you think the Board’s understanding of leadership development has been expanded?

I think the Immerse program is the key answer to that. The board has had to really wrap its head around what it takes to develop leaders and has had to be bold and creative and risk takers in terms of initiating something that is truly unique in North America. What Immerse is attempting to do has not been done before within an accredited seminary context. I think it is a bold move and has been an excellent example of great collaboration between a denominational school and the denominational leadership and the local church. This concept has really challenged the board – and expanded the board’s thinking – and I am really pleased to see what has been accomplished. This has been a new road for all of us.

What sage advice would you have for all of us at Northwest as we move forward?

I just think that the board needs to continue to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. The board; the staff; our supporters; all need to uphold the seminary in prayer. As a school Northwest needs to be constantly aware of utilizing the latest technology, the latest means to deliver its services in an effective way. I think Northwest has to constantly keep in mind that it is a servant of the denomination and so the task of the board is to keep asking how are we serving our FEB Pacific and Western Canada denominational needs most effectively. We also need to keep an eye on the future and the possibility of serving the needs of the denomination nationally.

One of the observations and accusations against seminaries in the past has been that they have very little relevance to where people are on the ground. I think the Immerse program really addresses that. I think having a good cross mix of professions and gifting on the board of governors helps keep the school in the real world. I think the fact that our faculty are active in our churches is good. I am really pleased that our current president is constantly watching and aware of what other schools are doing and keeping on top of what the needs are in seminary education. So I think looking forward we are ahead of the curve in addressing that very specific issue. Our churches want leaders who can lead. So it’s not just what the pastor might know but how he takes what he knows and effectively uses and delivers it to lead the local congregation. Northwest has been bold in trying to address that issue.

I know you are a busy man with many irons in the fire. What are some other Kingdom ventures in which you are currently involved?

I am really excited about what I do now. I’m involved in an executive search firm that focuses on placing senior leaders in faith-based organizations in Canada. This is quite unique within Canada and I take huge pleasure in moving people from success in their current careers to great significance in a faith based not for profit organization. I have never been so busy in the various careers that I have held in the past but I have also never felt that the work that I’ve done as more rewarding!

How can we pray for you?

Pray that I would be able to find and place the right leaders for these key charitable organizations. I have the privilege of being a mentor to a number of younger leaders. Pray that I would be a godly mentor, that I would be an excellent example and that I would finish well!

I am sure there were also challenges that you and the board had to wrestle with. Are there any significant ones that you could share with us? Could you describe for us how such struggles have shaped Northwest’s understanding of and commitment to its mission?

Seminaries in North America have had huge challenges. Seminary attendance nationally is down dramatically – probably 35% from what it was 6 or 7 years ago. It is also an on-going challenge to operate within the ACTS consortium and to satisfy the needs of all the partners there.

Then there is always the great challenge to discern the best methods for training pastors and church leaders – specifically developing lead pastors who will embody great leadership skills. The challenge is also how to do that effectively and affordably. Those I think are significant challenges that the board has had to continually deal with.

Webinars for Church Board Chairs

Board Matters:

Online Webinars for Church Board Chairs

Where does a church board chair find resources to develop his or her leadership abilities in fulfilling this important role? Dr. Larry Perkins is offering a series of three webinars January – March 2013 that will give you significant help in understanding your role and offering practical wisdom to facilitate your service.

The three webinars will be held on January 31, February 28, and March 28, 2013 from 6:30 – 7:30pm (PST).  Each webinar will address a key aspect of the governance world in which a church board chair serves and leads. You can register for these three seminars (they are a package) by going to, completing the registration and payment.

The focus of these webinars is on the work of the church board chair. The first considers governance within a congregational reality;  the second reviews the constituencies, work domains, and core principles and practices which church board chairs need to understand; and the third investigates the chair’s role as leader of the strategic ministry leadership team within a congregation.

Space is limited to ten participants. The cost for all three webinars is $45. This must be paid to complete registration. You might be advised as board chair to invite your lead pastor to join with you as you participate. There is no additional fee for this.

At  you will find information about Dr. Perkins, many resources to help you as church board chair, and a description of the technical requirements your computer must have in order to participate, using Adobe Connect. You are also required to use a head microphone because the built-in microphones pick up too much background noise.






Immerse – Church-Based Leadership Training

feb_staff_buildingWatching the Olympics was a frustrating experience for my family. Half-way through the games, my son stopped watching any tv coverage because watching Canada’s Olympic team’s performance or lack thereof became too painful. While other countries had former Olympic stars come out of retirement and dominate – ours fell or did not recover properly from injury. Other countries had young rising stars exceed expectations – ours didn’t shine as brightly. Even incredible efforts like the women’s soccer team and decathlete Damian Warner left us longing for so much more. Our athletes seemed to be out-matched, out-funded and conspired against to win at a world stage.

I have these similar feelings as I think about our churches trying to win the spiritual battle within our province. I believe the theological reality that through Christ’s victory we have already won and that the power of the gospel is more than sufficient to change the world. However, from a human perspective there are times or have been times in the history of Fellowship Pacific that our spiritual and cultural adversaries seem to have the strength of the American Dream Team, or the Jamaican relay team and we are the Canadian teams who try hard, do our best but end up short.

We believe that people entering a relationship with Jesus Christ and growing in the image of Jesus are activities rewarded with streets paved with Gold. We believe that the most important victory is seeing people step from death to life and grow into the image of Christ. I believe that as we pray for the spiritual transformation of our province, we must accompany God’s work by doing our best by equipping the next generation of leaders to win through better funding, training and support.

It is with this desire, burden and hope that Fellowship Pacific Church Reproduction has partnered with Northwest Baptist Seminary to design a new program to equip our best to be the best for the sake of Christ.

What Does the Best Look Like?

Planting churches is a significant kingdom investment. In general, a plant will cost at least $250K over the first three years. This financial burden is shared by denominations, core groups and planter families. If a plant is not successful, there are the additional costs of broken dreams, failures and disappointments that can occur.

Because of these costs, those responsible for planting have studied extensively the qualities of an effective church planter. Attributes that many successful planters have in common include: visionary leadership, relating to the unchurched, communication, resilience, enterprising and a spouse who is supportive.

As I reflect on the qualities necessary for planters who can bring the spiritual transformation we long for, I realize that we need to add to the current theological models of training. Seminary has equipped pastors and planters with the skills of theological reflection, exegesis and spiritual leadership principles. But the fact is, unchurched people don’t care how well a graduate is able to exegete, write papers and grasp leadership principles that are taught well in a class room. They want friendship, they need to hear the gospel communicated in a clear compelling way and they want to be inspired. These skills can only be refined through practical experience.

Church planting and pastoral ministry is the combination of skill and knowledge. We don’t place our lives in the hands of surgeons who have only been taught in the classroom. We don’t certify electricians who have memorized the building code, but haven’t demonstrated the ability to work safely. We don’t want our sports teams to be filled with men and women who are stat freaks, know the rules, can quote history, but don’t have the skills and training to win. Neither can we place our future in the hands of pastors who have learned truths of ministry, but haven’t been required to prove competency in the skills of leadership.

In partnership with Northwest Baptist Seminary, we are boldly redefining the outcomes of successful Seminary training.

The Purpose of Immerse

I am excited that the Immerse program will allow the Fellowship Pacific to train future leaders in theology, knowledge and the skill that is necessary for effective ministry.

I have been on the ground floor in the design of this program to ensure that the outcomes that we require from graduates are exactly what we need to have podium level planters and churches. These outcomes will require our future pastors to live on mission to reach people, disciple into the image of Christ and develop leaders who will do the same.

As students are trained by a mentoring team representing the disciplines of academics, local church ministry and professional experience, they will be challenged in the crucial areas of ministry.

Church planters who graduate from Immerse will be effective church planters. This doesn’t mean that every church plant will go on to success, however, every planter who graduates will demonstrate that they have impacted people for Christ and have developed a track record of discipleship. If these things don’t happen, they don’t graduate, and the instructors and mentors haven’t done their job properly.

Even more specifically, the church planter track will guide future planters through the stages of planting including casting a vision, developing a core, creating a strategy, and discerning the community. By the time that a planter has completed the Immerse program, they will have a track record of leading people to Christ, building a core group and having a growing momentum ready to launch.

The Future

I believe that the Immerse program will strategically allow us to launch church plants in three ways.

Churches strategically multiplying – Many churches embrace a desire to plant a church but in reality realize that they do not have the resources (core group, finances and leadership) to generously give to a plant. I have talked to churches who have had plants as part of their vision for years without ever coming to a place of enacting on it. Immerse will give a healthy church an opportunity to mentor a planter who will be guided to reach people, cast vision and grow a core group. The church will still need to be generous, however, the process will be more gradual and if the planter is successful, many of the people who will join the future plant, will be people who have been reached over the four years of training.

South Delta Baptist Church has a vision of planting multiple churches. Billy Clem has come to the church to join the Immerse program and to be trained to be the next church planter that emerges from South Delta.

Training planters in their plants – Dustin Laird is the planter at Parkland. He has a good track record in ministry and was identified with qualities at the church planting assessment centre. However, by joining Immerse, we have the opportunity to press more strategically in Dustin’s life and guide him and shape him for greater effectiveness.

Planting churches with multiplication in their DNA – Chris McKenzie is joining Lindsay Anderson at the Willoughby/Clayton Heights plant that is just starting. Chris adds experience from leading a multi-cultural church in Taiwan that will benefit the plant. During the process, Chris will learn the rigours of planting, assist the plant to grow and allow this brand new plant to participate in a new church through Chris’s leadership as he moves towards graduation.

The Partnership

As we pray and plan to develop the next generation of leaders that will bring tremendous victory we will need to partner together to make it happen. As Northwest Baptist Seminary and the Fellowship Pacific Ministry Centre have worked diligently to design a program we will only be successful with your support as well.

  • We need church pastors who are willing to invest in future ministry leaders in a mentoring role.
  • We need churches that dream of multiplying and starting other churches to reach the lost with the gospel Learn More.
  • We need supporters willing to financially invest in the training of these future leaders.

I believe working together we can build upon the faithfulness and strengths our churches currently have and begin dreaming and working for more.


Interview with Doug Harris

Reflections of a former Northwest President

Reflecting back on your involvement with Northwest over the years, what are some highlights for you in terms of Northwest’s role in the preparation/development of leaders for the Fellowship?

Doug and Mary HarrisMy relationship with Northwest has covered a span of sixty years. It began when my new bride and I returned from our honeymoon in September of 1952 and continues to this day.

There are numerous highlights in our perception of Northwest’s leadership preparation/development process during those years.

  1. In the early years College ministry teams were sent far and wide across western Canada, providing music and preaching ministries to our churches and developmental opportunities for our students.
  2. Over the years Northwest has provided senior and associate pastors for new and existing Fellowship churches (formerly called “Regular Baptist Churches”). Western Baptist Bible College, the Calgary-based pastoral training school out of which Northwest arose, was started by Rev. Morley Hall because of the deep and desperate need to provide competent, committed Baptist pastors for the new Baptist churches springing up in Western Canada. At one stage of Northwest’s history over fifty percent of Fellowship Baptist Churches in Western Canada were pastored by Northwest grads.
  3. Northwest has made a significant impact in foreign missions and parachurch ministries over the years. It has provided mission teams, short and long term missionaries and mission leaders for Fellowship Missions and for the missionary cause as a whole.
  4. In the near past, Northwest provided a ministry of top quality chorales and quartets which, with accompanying faculty, provided first class inspiration and teaching throughout Western Canada to Fellowship and non-Fellowship churches.
  5. Participation in the Associated Canadian Theological Schools and Northwest’s move to the campus of Trinity Western University were key steps in the leadership preparation/development process. ACTS was unique in that its participating seminaries were controlled by their specific denominations. Practical theology was to become the unique mission of ACTS. The goal of the consortium was to train competent effective pastors and Christian workers within the framework of sound doctrine and academic credibility.
  6. One of Northwest’s key contributions to its leadership preparation/development process has been its ongoing care for and help to its grads after their entrance into ministry. It has been an ongoing resource where grads were welcomed to return to the “nest” and receive sympathetic and understanding care, nurture and practical instruction.

As you reflect on the challenges in the process of discerning and developing leaders are there some valuable principles you have observed/learned that are crucial for us to keep in mind today?

  1. Leadership development is the responsibility of the local church
  2. The role of the College or Seminary is to provide a venue where local churches can cooperate in providing elements in the leadership training process that cannot be adequately provided by a single local church. Local churches are responsible to train local church leaders. Churches need to delegate the more specialized aspects of leadership training by creating institutions that will enable them to do cooperatively what they cannot do individually.
  3. Ministry training institutions should exist to serve the Lord and serve local churches. It is not the other way around. They should be owned and operated by the cooperating churches. Northwest was born through two sponsoring denominations. It owes its continued existence to them. As long as its services are needed by the churches, it has a continuing role and should be generously supported. When its churches no longer require the kind of services it provides, it will be time to phase out what exists and develop a more effective leadership development process.
  4. In order to fulfil its leadership development mandate, Northwest must do far more than simply provide credible theological and practical education. It must be a center for spiritual life and development. This means that the agape principle must become the paramount priority in terms of attitudes and relationships. Students must see faculty, administrators and staff continually modeling this principle in every aspect of their relationship with God, students, each other, churches, other consortium members and other theological educators whoever and wherever they may be.

Looking ahead, what do you see? What excites you and what concerns you? What do you pray when you pray for the Fellowship?

  1. What excites me?

a. I am excited about the ministry of our new President, Kent Anderson. He links the values of the past to the challenges and complexities of the future. Building on the outstanding ministry of his predecessor, Dr. Perkins, he is positioned to lead Northwest to higher heights of ministry effectiveness and deeper depths of spiritual devotion than it or its students have ever known.

b. I am excited about the relationship I see between Northwest and its sponsoring denominations in BC and on the Prairies. It appears that church and denominational leaders are working hand-in-hand and heart-with-heart in leading our churches in fulfilling their respective roles in the fulfilling of our Lord’s Great Commission.

c. I am excited about calibre of students I see in our Seminary and coming from it. The bar of pastoral competency is set much higher today than ever before. Students that I meet seem to manifest potential for extremely significant ministry in the days ahead.

  1. What concerns me?

a. I am concerned that everyone who has anything to do with Northwest will remain true to the faith once for all delivered to the saints. It really does matter what we believe. The Convention of Regular Baptists of BC (now our Pacific Fellowship) was formed in 1927 over the issue of truth. It put together a sound and credible doctrinal statement that deals with important issues of faith and practice. Our doctrinal statement is the foundation upon which the ministry of our churches and seminary is built. Any variance or compromise on those key doctrines which have marked us and supported us in years gone by will eventually set in motion a process of deterioration and decay that will mean that neither our seminary nor our churches will be in the future what we have been in the past or are today.

b. I am concerned the Northwest will experience and be known for its true and genuine godliness and spirituality. According to 1 Corinthians 13 the agape principle is the paramount priority of the Christian life. If we maintain cognitive doctrinal orthodoxy and fail in the understanding and manifestation of the agape principle, we will sell our birthright for a mess of pottage.

c. I am concerned that the motto “by prayer” will not simply be another cute Christian cliché, but will be a powerful reality in the lives of faculty, administrators, staff, students, Board members and denominational leaders. May God help us all to actually practice what we profess when we identify with the Apostle Paul when he admonished us to pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication”. If this ceases to be a reality, our power will evaporate and our ministry and institution will disintegrate.

  1. How do I pray when I think of Northwest?

a. I praise Him for the things that excite me.

b. I pray over the things that concern me.

Finally, how can we pray for you and Mary?

Please pray that we will fight a good fight, finish well and keep the faith.


Sowing Seeds for His Kingdom

In 2 Corinthians 9 Paul encourages giving and generosity:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.2 Corinthians 9:6

Gardening is part of my heritage. My grandfather built a successful greenhouse business growing tomatoes and cucumbers. My Dad was an avid gardener as well. He turned our backyard into an oasis of tomatoes, beans, and yes, zucchinis too! My Dad understood the concept of sowing and reaping. Food was plentiful and there was lots of it!

A few summers ago, my family started a small garden and we had great results. This year, however, was a different story. Our May felt like January so we chose to take a break from planting one. Now, we settle for tomatoes from Costco or our local markets.

Here are some facts:

1.) Without a generous sowing you will never experience a generous harvest.

2.) A successful farmer does not reap the exact amount that he sows. His harvest generally produces proportionately more.

So it is with Christian giving navigate to this web-site. When we give generously we receive far more in return in proportion to the amount of the gift we have given.

As everything belongs to God ultimately, when we give our time, talents, and money, God promises to “increase the fruit of your righteousness” (verse 10).

Currently, we are sowing the seeds of our new “Immerse” Church Based Training Program in order to bring new ministry leaders for kingdom work. This innovative program will develop Christ centered ministry leaders for our Fellowship Churches in BC, Alberta and the Yukon. We are sowing generously so that we may also reap generously.

Your gifts to Northwest are indeed sowing the seeds for an eternal impact. Thank you for choosing to make a Kingdom difference with your financial gifts to this ministry.

Share in the Work

Share in the Work of ‘Church-Based’ Ministry Leadership Development

Northwest has a big vision for the future of its ministry. While we are not a large seminary, we have a large sense of what God can do through us as we pioneer innovative ways of pursuing ministry leadership development in partnership with our churches. We are all about developing Christ-centred ministry leaders in the church, for the church, and in partnership with the church.

In our vision, Northwest is preparing significant numbers of students who are committed to their Bible and who know their theology, having forged these commitments in the context of real-time, ground-level ministry in the church under the close scrutiny of seasoned and caring pastoral and academic mentors. We see Northwest, in the fore-front of a new wave of integrated learning structures that ensure we have leaders who not only know their stuff, but who can live it out in relationship with actual people.

To see this vision through, we rely upon our friends. We appreciate that not everyone can join our faculty or staff. We also understand that the passion for this ministry does not exist only among our employees. Many of you are looking for ways by which you can participate meaningfully in this work of Church Based Ministry Leadership Development.

Compelling Reasons to Participate

There are several reasons a person might feel compelled to get involved…

If you are an Alumnus and God has used Northwest to shape you personally, you will want to give back so that Northwest can continue to work to shape the next generation of leaders like yourself.

If you love the Fellowship and you are committed to the work of this particular group of churches, you will want to join us as we own the responsibility for the next generation of leaders for our movement.
Perhaps you are an innovator, and you value creativity. You, then, might want to seed the next great direction in ministry leadership development – our Church-Based Training Program.

It may be that you simply love the gospel and you want to see it preached. If so, you will want to support those whom God is calling to give their lives to this great work.

Opportunities for Involvement

In the desire to develop new teams of people who are willing to get behind this compelling vision, we have identified a number of levels at which you could participate.

If you have received this newsletter, you are a part of The Northwest Network. Members of the Network are alumni and others who have reason to be interested in the work that we are doing.

Many of you have gone beyond simple interest, to participate in some significant way. We call this group The Friends of Northwest. These “Friends” are anyone who has recently given to Northwest, volunteered for Northwest, or demonstrated potential as one who might show commitment to the ministry of the Seminary. We look forward to welcoming our “Friends” to a series of free “Friends of Northwest Barbeques” to be held later in this year.

Some of our “Friends” will want to become Student Sponsorship Partners. These Partners are donors who commit to give on a monthly or annual basis due to their interest in supporting a particular student. For example, if we can find ten people who would give $50 per month, we could completely cover the academic costs of one student in the Church-Based Training program.

We trust that some of you will want to take this to another level, becoming members of The President’s Circle. This Circle is a group of patrons who have given significantly to the ministry of Northwest, demonstrated either through a recent large gift, or a committed pattern of giving, or who have shown significant commitment to the ministry of Northwest as a volunteer, advocate, or student mentor. Members of the President’s Circle will receive a complementary invitation to an annual President’s Circle dinner, and will receive regular e-mail communications from the President, through which they will receive current news items, significant invitations to prayer, and the opportunity to advise the President on questions of significance.

In addition, we will be developing a group of Northwest Advocates, who will serve as volunteer “cheerleaders” for the ministry of the Seminary. Made up largely of alumni, board members, and enthusiastic donors, Advocates will work to support the Development Team within their church and geographic region, identifying and encouraging potential supporters for our ministry.

Finally, some of our Friends will want to become Legacy Partners. These partners are distinguished patrons who have shown an exemplary level of commitment as a Friend of Northwest and/or a member of the President’s Circle, either through making Northwest a part of their estate, by giving a significant financial gift toward some special purpose, or by giving extraordinary service to the work of Northwest over a significant period of time.

Gaining Benefit from your Involvement

People that get involved in this ministry find it extremely beneficial on a personal level. One donor and former board member recently told us that, “being involved with Northwest was one of the most meaningful experiences of his life.” When you consider that this comment came from a former high-ranking business executive in a major Canadian corporation, you can appreciate the significance of what he had to say.

Of course, the primary benefit of participation has more to do with the ministry impact on our students and upon those that they will serve. There are, for example, a number of ways that a financial gift can be of help.

$400    – provides financial aid for one course for a student.
$1,000 – provides the development cost for one church-based training course.
$1,250 – provides financial aid for one full-time student for a full semester.
$2,500 – provides for a faculty member to teach in an international mission site.

These are just some of the possible incentives. Donors with a specific interest should speak to Director of Development, Ron Sing, or to our President, Kent Anderson, about other such possibilities – for example funding the Information Technology needs of the Seminary for a year, or paying the costs involved in holding a faculty-taught seminar within a local church.

Significant Work Requires Significant Involvement

This is significant work – of such consequence that some of us have given our lives to it. Please let us know of any interest that you have.

Romans 10:13-15 reminds us that the gospel can’t be heard if there is no one there to preach it, and there will be no one there if no one has been sent. We consider training to be the critical part in sending. We would encourage you to join us as we seek to raise up significant numbers of highly qualified, ministry and pastoral leaders, for the good of our churches, for the good of God’s Kingdom, and for the good of God’s glory.

Thank you for supporting Northwest and our ministry. To make a donation please call our office directly at 604-888-7592 or Toll Free 1-888-402-3477.

Please send your cheques to

Northwest Baptist Seminary
7600 Glover Road
Langley,  BC, V2Y 1Y1,

Please make your cheque  payable to Northwest Baptist Seminary.

For  online giving please visit our “How to Donate to Northwest” page on this website.

Bequests and Other Gifts

An Investment in Christ-Centred Leadership Development

Spring is almost here! My family can’t wait for sunny days and the promise of hot summer temperatures ahead!  For us, it also means spring cleaning around the house and garden. It is also a great time to do some “financial spring cleaning”. This is an ideal opportunity to review all your investments, update your will and ensure your estate plans are current to reflect your wishes.
A Biblical Perspective
In 1 Chronicles 29, King David leaves his wealth to a trustee to ensure the temple could be built after his death. This is a clear example of “planned giving or deferred giving”.  David bequeaths his entire wealth so that his son Solomon, could build the temple. To guarantee David’s plans and to carry out his wishes, he gave his gifts to Jehiel the Gershonite ( 1 Chronicles 29:8 ). Jehiel became the trustee of the gifts to complete the construction of the temple.
Estate Planning
Estate planning and the preparation of a legal will and/or a charitable bequest, is an opportunity to honour God with our gifts. This enables us to give back a portion of the financial growth He has showered us with during our lifetimes.
Types of Bequests
Cash Bequest:  Northwest receives a specific dollar amount from your estate.
Bequest of Property: Northwest receives specific assets (real estate, securities, or other tangible property – art or antiques etc)
Retirement Plan Bequests:  Northwest is designated as a beneficiary of the remainder of your RRSP/RRIF. This is simple to set up. First talk to your plan administrator and complete a “change of beneficiary “ form.
Tax Planning
Many people pay more tax in the year of death than in any other year during their lifetime. Complete estate planning should always include tax planning. Charitable giving upon death is an excellent way to reduce your tax liability.
In addition to your annual gift to Northwest Baptist Seminary, have you considered leaving a gift to Northwest in your will?
Thank you for your involvement in this ministry. It is through the your generous support and your financial gifts that allow us to pursue our ministry in Christ-Centered Leadership Development.
If you would like to discuss how to become a Legacy partner with Northwest please contact Ron Sing, Director of Development.  Direct: 250-821-3777 or toll free : 1-888-402-3477.

Visit Northwest’s web-page on “How to Donate to Northwest”.

This article is for general information only and does not replace consulting with your professional financial and/or legal advisors about your own situation.  

“Aspects of Islam”

Aspects of Islam by Ron Geaves. London: Darton, Longman and Todd. 2005

Sectarian divisions for any religion tend to occur down the fault lines of the strongest convictions.  Ron Geaves sheds light on fundamental faith issues within Islam by exploring significant religious disagreements that exist between committed Muslims. This is a scholarly work that carefully avoids ideological judgment of Islam and instead compares and contrasts the internal struggles of those topics crucial to the world of Islam.  He portrays Islam as a faith that strives to establish faithfulness, consensus and stability amidst the diversity and challenge of forces both external and internal to the religion.

Geaves begins by providing an enlightening critique of both the rhetoric against Islam as well as those “rosy” affirmative pictures commonly found in the western media and moves on to describe with notable sensitivity the current diversity of faith and practice within the world’s second largest religion.  The fundamental tenet in Islam of the uniqueness and unity of God is explored to reveal two distinct interpretations.  While reforming sects, such as the Wahhabis, emphasize the transcendence of God, other elements, e.g. the more mystical Sufi movement, find its fulfillment in an immanent concept of “oneness” through which the follower becomes one with God.

The author next examines the tensions between the law of God in Islam, Shari’a, and cultural or contextual legal systems.  The following chapter considers the concept of brotherhood, Umma, which provides a monolithic image to the outsider while harboring deep divisions. These divisions are explored in greater detail through the contrasting Sunni view of “manifest success” revealing God’s favor versus the Shi’a doctrine of a remnant remaining faithful in suffering.  The figure of the prophet of Islam is looked at through the eyes of those Muslims who see him as the greatest prophet, albeit human, and those who have attributed almost divine characteristics to him. A holistic view of Jihad is then presented that includes both a personal, internal struggle and a political, external effort that are part of the universal war between God and Satan. It is the military expression of the latter, such as the revolution in Iran, as well as the imposition of Shari’a law to defend Islam against the infiltration of western values that gains the attention of outsiders. He concludes with an examination of the attempt of Muslim women to achieve liberation through the application of Islamic teaching rather than western feminism.

For each of these areas of tension within Islam, Geaves examines the historical roots for the dichotomy of thought and delves into the underlying faith assumptions that perpetuate the diverse practices and thinking current in the world of Islam. Although the author’s secular bias is revealed at times, such as the attempt to “get at the real Muhammad,” p. 144, and in assuming cultural sources for faith positions (e.g., the speculation that the Christian veneration of Christ may have influenced pious Muslims in attributing divine attributes to Muhammad, p. 163), he is exceptionally sensitive to the danger of allowing his assumptions shape the views he wishes to portray and the theological descriptions provided would most likely satisfy their proponents.

Although not an easy read for those unfamiliar with Islam, there are three features that keep the themes clear for the reader and enhance its value as a reference text on Islam:  Each chapter begins with a clear synopsis of the content, each chapter ends with a conclusion that summarizes the points made, and a glossary with helpful definitions of Islamic religious terms is provided.  This well researched and erudite book is highly recommended for those who wish to understand the tensions and struggles within Islam that often find their expression through conflict with western systems and ideals.

Inauguration of the Northwest Centre for Biblical and Theological Literacy

Douglas Moo, Ph. D.

Northwest is excited to announce the inauguration of the new Centre for Biblical and Theological Literacy.

The Centre endeavours to enable people to understand and apply scriptural truth (i.e. wisdom) for salvation and shalom individually and collectively in Canadian society. It is an agency of Northwest Baptist Seminary, striving to “give Scripture its voice” within the church, but also within Canadian society. Dr. Larry Perkins, professor of biblical studies and past president of Northwest Baptist Seminary, directs the Centre.

The inauguration was a two-day event held here on the TWU campus and featured Dr. Douglas Moo as the guest speaker. Dr. Moo is the Blanchard Professor of New Testament, Wheaton Graduate School.  He is also the Chair of the Committee on Bible Translation for the NIV 2011.

Go to the CBTL website for more information and view the videos of the event.

Thursday, November 3

  • 10:00 to 10:45 am – ACTS Chapel Address
  • 12:30 to 1:45 am – ACTS Faculty Reception: (RSVP required)
  • 2:00 to 4:00 pm – Symposium
    Paul’s Universalizing Hermeneutic in Romans : Dr. Douglas Moo
    Respondents:  Dr. Brian Rapske and Dr. Archie Spencer
  • 7:00 to 8:30 pm  –  Public Presentation
    The Bible in English: Translating for the World: Dr. Douglas Moo

Friday, November 4

  • 1:00 to 3:00 pm  –  Symposium
    What I have learned as a Bible Translator : Dr. Douglas Moo
    Respondents: Dr. Mike Walrod and Dr. Larry Perkins

{filelink=5} the event poster.  You can also:

Download a CBTL image file that you can insert into a presentation or bulletin insert (once the file opens in your browser save it to your computer)

Download a CBTL PowerPoint File


Why People Don’t Believe

Why People Don’t Believe: Confronting Seven Challenges to Christian Faith, Baker books, 2011

By Paul Chamberlain, Director of ACTS Seminaries’ Institute of Christian Apologetics (and guest author on this site. Ed.).

Headliner: Those who desire the eradication of Christianity should think carefully about what they wish for.  The beneficial impact of Christianity upon the world is nothing short of breath taking.

Is religion dangerous?  Should it, along with Christianity, be eradicated in order to ensure the very survival of the human race?  A number of influential thinkers today believe so and this is the challenge Dr. Paul Chamberlain, director of the Institute of Christian Apologetics at ACTS seminaries, addresses in his newly released book, Why People Don’t Believe: Confronting Seven Challenges to Christian Faith, (Baker Books, 2011).

Everyone has heard of the 9/11 attacks, suicide bombings around the world done in the name of religion, and acts of violence done against abortion clinics or providers.  Certain critics of religion, commonly dubbed The New Atheists, have been disturbed by these events and have capitalized on them to develop a passionate case against religion complete with arguments and supporting data.  Their contention is that religion, in its very nature, is the problem.  It allegedly breeds violence, is irrational and anti-scientific, it teaches a dreadful morality, and encourages intolerance.  To make matters worse, thanks to advances in technology in the past fifty years, especially in the art of war, our religious “neighbours” are now armed with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.  As far as American atheist Sam Harris, a key proponent of this line of reasoning is concerned, anyone who is not afraid of the potential harm this represents, simply has not given the matter due attention.  Words like “God” and “Allah” must go the way of “Apollo” and “Baal” lest they destroy us all.

This case has been carried to a very concerned public throughout western culture by means of best-selling books and a host of other media, and it has molded people’s thinking about religion and faith.  Books by British evolutionist Richard Dawkins, Harris, journalist Christopher Hitchens, philosopher Daniel Dennett, and others have sold widely and, due to their authors’ personal standings from past works, many have come to see religion not as the solution to humanity’s problems but as the problem itself.

Many Christians are simply shocked and bewildered when they hear these allegations laid out in sufficient detail, and plenty have had their confidence shaken by what they hear.   Chamberlain became convinced this will be the mother of all apologetic issues for the next decade and, thus, thus felt compelled to research deeply into the issue, target the key questions and challenges, and respond.

This book does three things.  First, it sets out the challenges raised against religious faith, particularly Christianity, in an honest and compelling fashion .  Secondly, it provides responses to each of the main challenges issued by the new critics of religion, and thirdly, it goes the next exciting step and examines the many good and humane contributions Christianity has made to the world throughout the past 2,000 years.  Chamberlain’s contention is that not only is Christianity, properly understood, free of the main allegations leveled against religion by its twenty-first century critics, but it is the source of great good in the world.  In fact, the impact of Christianity for good upon human civilization is nothing short of breath-taking and unless readers have previously inquired into this question, he predicts they will be surprised and deeply encouraged by what they read.  Many of the good things in our world that we, in the west, simply take for granted and could hardly imagine the world without, exist as a direct result of Christian dedication and sacrifice.  He has come to see this as an integral part of replying to the charge that Christianity is a dangerous force for evil and we would be better off without it.

In the end, Chamberlain draws seven conclusions:

1) Both religious and irreligious people commit many acts of violence.

2) When they occur the vast majority of religious people around the world are outraged by them whether they are committed in the name of religion or not.

3) These acts are often driven by deep political and cultural motivations which would remain whether or not religion played a part.

4) Religion is sometimes turned into a tool to help recruit soldiers to fight these political and cultural battles.

5) While this is a horrific abuse of religion, virtually any ideal, including secular ones such as liberty, equality, nationalism and patriotism can and have been abused.

6) Humans will always divide into communities resulting in divisions and binary oppositions which lie at the heart of human conflict.  Some of these divisions are religious in nature (e.g., Protestant vs. Catholic, Shiite vs. Sunni) but most are not (e.g., Tutsi vs. Hutu, Conservative vs. Liberal) and would remain even if religion were eradicated.

7) Christianity, understood as following the teachings of Jesus, is not only free of the main allegations leveled against religion by its twenty-first century critics, but it is the source of great good in the world.  If we demand it be eradicated, we may not know what we are asking for.

This book is intended to operate as a public response to the challenges to religious faith mentioned above and also as a guide for concerned Christians seeking to interact with their friends and neighbors who harbor deep suspicions toward their faith.  Our hope is that not only will those who make the case against religion be given the chance to rethink their position, but also that Christians who read these pages will see how they could engage others around them who launch these charges against their faith.

Does Love Win or God Win? – A Review of “Love Wins”

Rob Bell. Love Wins. A Book about Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. New York: HarperOne, 2011. 202 pages.

Rob Bell, founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, raises and seeks to answer some tough questions about God’s intention and desire for all of his human creatures and earthly creation. As his title discloses, Bell proposes that because God desires all human beings to be saved, that this desire must in some way be realized. If it does not happen within history, then in some way it must happen beyond history, otherwise God is not the all-powerful, sovereign being that orthodox theology claims. The result is that theoretically all human beings eventually will participate in God’s restored earth.

On pages 102-111 he describes four perspectives that Christians have held through history about the destiny of unbelievers. Some believe we have one life in which to choose Jesus and if we do not, we spend eternity in hell. Or as Bell says, "God in the end doesn’t get what God wants" (103). But in Bell’s view God "doesn’t give up until everything that was lost is found. This God simply doesn’t give up. Ever" (101). He speculates about a second perspective in which people who choose evil eventually extinguish the image of God within themselves and "given enough time, some people could eventually move into a new state, one in which they were in essence ‘formerly human’ or ‘posthuman’ or even ‘ex-human’" (105-106). Bell does not give this perspective much attention. And then he mentions a third position that holds there are two destinations, but "insist(s) that there must be some kind of ‘second chance’ for those who don’t believe in Jesus in this lifetime" (106). And lastly, he mentions a view in which "there will be endless opportunities in an endless amount of time for people to say yes to God. As long as it takes, in other words" (106-107). If there is enough time, surely everyone will "turn to God and find themselves in the joy and peace of God’s presence" (107).1

Bell then cites biblical texts (e.g. Matthew 19; Acts 3; Colossians 1) which talk about God "renewing all things" or "restoring everything" or "reconciling all things." He follows this with reference to past theologians such as Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Eusebius who affirmed the idea that "love wins." And then he reminds us that Jerome, Basil and Augustine noted that most or many people "believed in the ultimate reconciliation of all people to God" (108). He concludes by asserting that "at the center (sic.) of the Christian tradition since the first church have been a number who insist that history is not tragic, hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God" (109). He insists that "serious, orthodox followers of Jesus have answered these questions in a number of different ways" (109). And also he asserts that "some [Gospel] stories are better than others" (110), particularly the one which is "everybody enjoys God’s good world" (111). Finally then he says that "whatever objections a person might have to this story, and there are many, one has to admit that it is fitting, proper, and Christian to long for it….To shun, censor, or ostracize someone for holding this belief is to fail to extend grace to each other in a discussion that has had plenty of room for varied perspectives for hundreds of years now" (111).2

It seems then, from the title of his book and from the perspective he develops, Bell desires to be accepted as "orthodox," even though he believes and proclaims the story that says everybody will end up enjoying God’s good world. His brief comments on the last two chapters of Revelation (112-114) underscore his perspective when he asks "How could someone choose another way with a universe of love and joy and peace right in front of them – all of it theirs if they would simply leave behind the old ways and receive the new life of the new city in the new world?" He affirms that people do make that choice. But then he observes that the gates of the city in the new world are "never shut" and interprets this to mean that "if the gates are never shut, then people are free to come and go" (115). "Keeping the gates open" for him seems to be a metaphor for God’s openness to reconciliation. Bell wants to keep the options open, i.e. "leave plenty of room for all kinds of those possibilities" (116). We cannot be dogmatic on these issues according to Bell because "no one has been to and then returned with hard, empirical evidence" (116), although here he may be overlooking the unique situation of Jesus, the only one who has seen the Father, as John says, and can "declare him" (John 1:18) and the only one who has experienced resurrection from the dead.

Similarly with respect to the spiritual destiny of those involved in other religions Bell interprets John 14:6 as Jesus’ declaration that "he, and he alone, is saving everybody. And then he leaves the door way, way open, creating all sorts of possibilities. He is as narrow as himself and as wide as the universe" (155). Apart from his lack of clarity as to what this means and how this spiritual inclusivity works, Bell wants to interpret Jesus and his teaching in some rather unusual ways. While affirming baptism and communion (or eucharist), he says that these rituals are true for us, because they are true for everybody. They unite us, because they unite everybody. These are signs, glimpses, and tastes of what is true for all people in all places at all times – we simply name the mystery present in all the world, the gospel already announced to every creature under heaven (157).

Again, I find Bell’s communication here rather opaque. How are these things true for "all people in all places at all times" if there is no conscious understanding of, acceptance of and participation in the very truth they represent? In what ways has the Gospel been announced to every creature under heaven such that they are now participating in the things expressed by baptism and communion? Sure "people come to Jesus in all sorts of ways" (158), but do they do this without knowing him personally, or without knowing his name (159)?

Bell’s last major chapter is entitled "The Good News is Better Than That." Building his ideas from the Parable of the Two Sons in Luke 15, he excoriates a "goat gospel" which describes God as "a cruel mean, vicious tormentor" (174), comparing him to an abusive parent. According to Bell this Gospel means that the God who consigns sinners to hell becomes "somebody totally different the moment you die" (174). Rather Bell argues for a Gospel that tells us that God in his very essence is love. "God has no desire to inflict pain or agony on anyone" (177). It is our refusal of God’s love "which creates what we call hell" (177). He argues that "Jesus invites us into that relationship, the one at the center (sic) of the universe" (178), which is not the same, according to Bell, as "getting into heaven." So according to Bell "Life has never been about just ‘getting in.’ It’s about thriving in God’s good world" (179). For Bell God’s "forgiveness is unilateral. God isn’t waiting for us to get it together, to clean up, shape up, get up – God has already done it" (189). This is true, but the Gospel also talks about our need for repentance and the appropriation of God’s gift of forgiveness. God has done what only God can do; but as Jesus says, we do need to "repent and believe the good news" (Mark 1:15). Is it true as Bell says that "everyone is already at the party,.." (190)? Is this what Jesus meant in Luke 15?

In my opinion, Bell’s exegesis of key biblical texts fails to convince, his interpretation of terms (e.g. the word "age") incomplete, and his use of biblical data to support his viewpoint very selective.

First, let’s consider some texts that he interprets in support of his thesis that "love wins site web." Bell builds several of his chapters around the interpretation of stories about Jesus’ interactions with people or parables that he relates. In his second chapter "Here is the New There" Bell focuses upon the question of the rich man in Matthew 19:16 "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" (26). Bell notes that Jesus, only in Matthew’s account, responds by saying "if you want to enter life,3 keep the commandments." He notes that in this interchange important words such as "eternal life," "treasure," "heaven" were used, but they "weren’t used in the ways that many Christians use them" (29). We might say, of course not! Jesus was talking to a Jewish person somewhere in Galilee in the early first century before his death and resurrection. We have to understand these words first in that setting before we discern how the Gospel writer, composing his account of Jesus’ ministry, understood them from within a post-resurrection, Christian framework, while remaining true to the essence of Jesus’ message. This approach does not mean that the Christian framework distorts Jesus’ teaching, but it does mean that we have to negotiate carefully the meaning of Jesus’ language in its pre- and post-resurrection setting. Further, Bell ignores that Jesus’ response to the rich man ultimately is "follow me" (19:21; Mark 10:21; Lk. 18:22). The man’s "treasure in heaven" would be not due only to his obedience to the Ten Commandments, but rather primarily to his acceptance of Jesus as authoritative teacher and his willingness to obey him. The specific things Jesus asks him to do are not the most important point, but rather it is Jesus’ insistence that he recognize who he is and follow him. Jesus has not, as Bell proposes, blown "a perfectly good ‘evangelistic’ opportunity" (29). Jesus in fact is expressing the good news if the rich man will hear it. Following Jesus, the only "Good One", i.e. God himself, is the key to "entering life," the kind of life that lasts eternally.

Another text that Bell refers to several times is the story about the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16. He affirms that Jesus taught the concept of hell, agreeing that human evil has to be defined in violent, over-the-top, hyperbolic language (73). He talks about "the surreal nature of the stories [Jesus] tells" (74). Now Bell urges his readers to understand the meaning of this story in terms of "whatever the meaning was for Jesus’ first listeners" (75). In the immediate context Jesus has criticized the Pharisees for justifying themselves before people, but ignoring the reality that God is one who "knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight" (Luke 16:15). According to Bell Jesus was warning the religious leaders about the serious consequences "for ignoring the Lazaruses outside their gates. To reject those Lazaruses was to reject God" (76). Bell concludes that this is a "brilliant, surreal, poignant, subversive loaded story" (76). True, but what does it mean? After several pages of comments Bell concludes that Jesus is affirming "there are all kinds of hells, because there are all kinds of ways to resist and reject all that is good and true and beautiful and human now, in this life, and so we can only assume we can do the same in the next" (79). "There is hell now, and there is hell later, and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously" (79).

Undoubtedly, Jesus emphasized the reality of human accountability and divine judgment, particularly in reference to the rejection of him and his mission. There would be a resurrection of one who would return to tell the tale, namely Jesus himself, but even so not all would respond in belief and submission. So behaviour in this life has consequences beyond the grave – this surely is a significant part of Jesus’ message to the religious leaders through this story. Did the rich man regard his human life as ‘hell’? We have no evidence in the story that this was the case. If any character in the story experienced human existence in this way, it was Lazarus, even though he had faith in God. These dimensions of the story are not reflected in Bell’s analysis, but they do contribute to our understanding of the relationship between human behaviour in this age and the nature of our existence in the life to come. The use of the expression "great chasm" (16:26) describes the inability of people in the age to come to move from one destination to another, i.e. from the place of agony and torture in Hades to "the side of Abraham" (16:22). In this story Jesus holds out no hope of changed destiny in the age to come. This perspective clashes with Bell’s more restricted reading that Jesus "talked about hell to very religious people to warn them about the consequences of straying from their God-given calling and identity to show the world God’s love" (82). While such people may have considered themselves chosen, in fact their refusal to accept God’s covenant-reforming action represented in Jesus demonstrates that their father is the devil (John 8:44). Strong language but it indicates that even Jewish religious leaders in Jesus’ view had no privileged status with God outside of a relationship with Jesus, even if they claimed to have Abraham as their father. In this regard Bell’s claim that "people believing the right or wrong things isn’t his [Jesus’] point" (82) is insufficient to describe Jesus’ concern. The only way such people could be transformed into "generous, loving people through whom God could show the world what God’s love looks like in flesh and blood" (83) is by responding to Jesus himself, not just carrying on in their normal religious practices.

Bell uses Jesus’ words about Sodom and Gomorrah to argue that "there is still hope" for these cities that experienced such devastating divine judgment. Jesus said that "it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for you" (84). But is Jesus offering hope for those who died in the judgment described in Genesis 19? Is this what Ezekiel prophesied in Ezekiel 16 when he talked about the restoration of these cities?4 So here again we encounter the broader issues of hermeneutics. In Matthew 10 Jesus condemns the residents of Capernaum for refusing to acknowledge his Messianic status and mission. By rejecting him they are doing something more sinister than the sinful actions of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus used the classic device of irony to indicate that if they thought God’s judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah was justified, as horrific as it was, this is nothing compared to God’s response to their rejection of his Messiah Jesus. Sodom and Gomorrah will experience God’s final judgment, but the people of Capernaum who reject the Messiah will experience it even more severely.

On page 87 Bell lists an impressive number of OT texts that speak of God’s promise to restore Israel. He interprets these to demonstrate that God’s goal is not judgment, but correction and reconciliation. What God does for Israel, he will do for all. Again, however, has Bell got it right? Such promises of restoration may be fulfilled in terms of the opportunity offered to Israel in the Messiah, both in his first and second comings. Paul seems to relate these kinds of promises to God’s actions as a result of the Messiah (Romans 11:25-32) and anticipates opportunity for Israel to respond and be forgiven at some future point before God concludes "this age." We have no warrant from these texts to consider these events happening in the "age to come."

Bell attempts to use Paul’s action of handing a person over to Satan for the purpose of spiritual recovery as another piece of evidence that in the end "love wins." How confident is Paul that when he orders churches to turn "over to Satan for the destruction of the sinful nature" (90, quoting 1 Corinthians 5:5, with reference to 1 Timothy 1:20) that good will result from this? In other words "Paul is convinced, that wrongdoers will become right doers" (91). We do have one case where that result occurs (at least this is how many commentators understand Paul’s reference in 2 Corinthians 2:6-8). However, although Paul may have this intent in mind for all such cases, he cannot predict that in fact this will always be the outcome. If the Alexander of 1 Timothy 1:20 is the same Alexander mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:14, Paul indicates that God will hold him accountable for his opposition to the Gospel. Again the texts do not seem to bear the weight of Bell’s desired exegetical outcome.

In his seventh chapter entitled "The Good News is Better Than That" Bell derives some principles from his interpretation of the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:12-32, one of the longest and most developed stories Jesus tells. Bell’s goal in this chapter is to establish a viable story of the Gospel. The point of this story, according to Bell, is that "people get what they don’t deserve" (168). Within this one story he identifies three different stories, one told by each brother and one by the father. The difference between the story the father tells and those recounted by the brothers is "the difference between heaven and hell" (169). Somehow "in this story, heaven and hell are within each other, intertwined, interwoven, bumping up against each other" (170). He claims that the older brother is "at the party" but refusing to participate. Because the older son refuses "to trust God’s retelling" of his story, he is experiencing hell (170). Bell concludes that the key message of the father figure in the story is that "we are all going to be fine. Of all of the conceptions of the divine, of all of the language Jesus could put on the lips of the God character in this story he tells, that’s what he has the father say" (172). However, as Bell himself says, the older brother refuses to accept the story his father is telling. We have no sense in the story that he changes his mind and as a result he does not participate in the party, even though it is happening within his father’s house.

How should we respond to such an interpretation of this parable? The insight that three different stories are being recounted in this parable is helpful. The father does function as the God character. But whom do the sons represent? The context of Luke 14-15 involves Jesus’ interactions with Jewish religious leaders, as he responds to their questions and criticisms. In particular Jesus has addressed the question of who will in fact "eat bread in the kingdom" and thus experience "the resurrection of the just." The religious leaders are critical of Jesus’ acceptance of tax-collectors and sinners into his Messianic movement (15:2-3). He tells the parable of the Great Banquet (14:15-24), concluding that "not one of those men invited will taste my banquet" (14:24). He makes it very personal. The nature of discipleship and its personal costs becomes the focus in 14:25-33, with concluding comments about the worthlessness of salt that no longer possesses the properties of salt (14:34-35). "It is thrown away!"

Then in Luke 15 the Pharisees articulate their complaint: "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them" (15:2). Three parables follow, each focusing upon the fierce determination to find a lost coin, sheep and son and the great rejoicing that happens when the lost is found. So these three parables are a critique of the Pharisees’ evaluation of Jesus’ interaction with sinners and tax-collectors. In the parable of the two sons, Jesus compares the Pharisees and their attitude with that of the older son. They in fact become critics of God in criticizing Jesus, whose invitation is the expression of God’s love for lost people. Their refusal to accept Jesus and his mission means that they snub God and will not participate in the great Messianic banquet, despite their sense of self-assured chosen-ness. I do not think Bell builds his exegesis from Luke’s explicit gospel context.

Bell then moves into a more speculative question. He invites his readers to consider whether a Gospel that portrays God as on the one hand loving and inviting and on the other judging and tormenting is the true Gospel. He puts it this way: "Does God become somebody totally different the moment you die?" (174). He claims that this kind of Gospel means that "many people, especially Christians…don’t love God" (174). Rather for Bell the Gospel story is that "God has no desire to inflict pain or agony on anyone" (177). It is our refusal of God’s love that "moves us away from it…and that will, by very definition, be an increasingly unloving, hellish reality" (177). Bell seems to be arguing that people create their own hell because of what they believe. The essence of the Gospel is God’s invitation into a relationship, not entrance into heaven. No one needs to be rescued from God because He is the rescuer (182).

While this speculation may be helpful, does it in fact relate to or derive from the story of the father and the two sons that Jesus has told? We noted that the primary issue Jesus addressed was the criticism by the Pharisees of his social interaction with sinners and tax-collectors, actions they deemed inconsistent with someone claiming to be Messiah. In the character of the father Jesus affirms God’s merciful inclusion of sinners and tax-collectors in his new kingdom action, if they repent and seek God by accepting Jesus’ claims. The oldest son, who represents the Jewish religious leaders, also receives the same invitation based upon the same terms. However, if they refuse the father’s invitation, it is unclear what their future situation will be, because Jesus did not address that in this parable, despite Bell’s speculation.

What generally did Jesus teach about those who refuse to accept God’s will in Jesus? The earlier story in Luke 14 about the person who hosts a banquet focuses upon the theme of invitation and rejection. Jesus stated clearly that "none of those men invited shall taste my banquet" (14:26). So we have an idea about the destiny of the older son, if he persists in rejecting the overtures of his father – he will have no place in the banquet. Now whether we hold the father responsible for this or the older son is perhaps a moot point. The father has set the rules for participating in the party and the older son has refused to accept them. God is rescuer, but he will not change the rules under which rescue is available. The older son could be rescued, but he refuses the invitation.

Secondly, Bell’s analysis of the meaning of specific terms leaves several questions unanswered. Bell argues that this term zōē aiōnios (translated as "eternal life" in the NIV) does not mean "eternal" in the sense of forever, but rather "life in the age to come" in contrast to the current age of space-time history. In Matthew 19 Jesus did not define what life in the age to come would be like or exactly where it would be. Bell argues that the normal Jewish perception of life in the age to come is a continuation of life as it is on the earth, but experienced under God’s righteous rule. This may be, but we read in some Second Temple Jewish documents other visions of what life in the age to come would entail. Some consider the messianic age to be an interim phase between this age and the age to come. Others portray the messianic age to be identified with the age to come. Although the means by which "this age" is destroyed and the transformation of the earth for the "age to come" occurs is not always discussed, a common expectation in Judaism was that it would be annihilation by fire.5 In other words there were various eschatological beliefs in Judaism during Jesus’ day. We cannot tell just from the phrase zōē aiōnios exactly what ideas the rich man held about this future period. Jesus goes on to add some clarification in the passage and elsewhere. We should not assume that Jesus merely adopted Jewish terminology or beliefs without modifying them.  Jesus, for example, does not affirm explicitly where this future life will occur. Bell says that Jewish people in the first century "did not talk about a future life somewhere else, because they anticipated a coming day when the world would be restored, renewed, and redeemed and there would be peace on earth" (40).

Bell insists that the rich man in Matthew 16 or Mark 10 "isn’t asking about how to go to heaven when he dies. This wasn’t a concern for the man or Jesus" (30).  Rather, he wants to be involved in God’s new day, the age to come. Now Bell is correct that the term "heaven" is not used for instance in Mark 10:19. However, as you read through Jesus’ comments and interactions with his disciples following his encounter with the rich man and his failure to respond positively, the disciples seem to understand the man’s concern in precisely those terms. They ask Jesus "who then can be saved" (Mark 10:25) if the rich can’t? Jesus assures them that in the "renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne….everyone who has left houses…for my sake…will inherit eternal life6" (vs.28-30). Note that Jesus used the same phrase as the rich man and refers by this to a future time when the Son of Man is victorious, and seems to understand this as "salvation." While this may not exactly be equivalent to our term heaven, it certainly points to a context very different from this current life and a context which usually is identified with the second coming of Jesus, after which all things are renewed.

Further there is the expression "unto the ages of the ages" used in the New Testament in 1 Peter 4:11 (cf. 1 Peter 5:11; 1 Timothy 1:17; Ephesians 3:21; perhaps Romans 16:27; Hebrews 13:21). Usually this expression occurs as a descriptor of God’s glory or power, emphasizing that these attributes are his possession "unto the ages of the ages." It would seem that this language, building upon the eternality of God’s existence, is expressing clearly the concept of eternity. It is not true that a concept of continuous existence, whether one calls this "eternity" or characterizes it as "eternal", is absent from the New Testament. Jesus promised in Matthew 25:31-46 that his followers will "inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world" (v.34) and this later is characterized as going away "into life eternal" (eis zōēn aiōnion). This is set in the context of end of the world, divine judgment. The use of the phrase "eternal life" in Matthew 25:46 should be understood in a way that is consistent with its occurrence in Matthew 18:16. If Jesus was at all consistent in his use of language, then "eternal life" in Matthew 18:16 cannot refer merely to transformed life in this era.

One strategy that Bell uses to avoid such conclusions is to argue that "Jesus blurs the lines, inviting the rich man, and us, into the merging of heaven and earth, the future and present, here and now" (59). However, as I have sought to argue, Jesus did not do this, at least with respect to the expression zōē aiōnios.

So what was this "life" that Jesus promised this man if he responded and followed him? Bell is correct is saying that Jesus offered the man the possibility of "possessing" eternal life now and beginning to enjoy its blessings to some degree in this age, but fully in the age to come. However, even in John’s Gospel Jesus was not teaching a fully realized eschatology. One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to experience life with God in the present. However, this cannot compare with what believers will yet experience, as Paul articulates in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.

Another phrase that Bell comments upon occurs in Matthew 25:46, usually translated as "eternal punishment" or "punishment without ending" (eis kolasin aiōnion) (91-92). Building upon his treatment of the term aiōnion Bell suggests that this refers to "a period of pruning" or "a time of trimming," but does not stipulate something that is without end. However, if he argues this sense for its use in v.46, then he must also argue for a similar sense in v.41 where Jesus defines the destiny of "those on the left" of the Messiah’s throne as "the eternal fire (eis to pur to aiōnion) prepared for the devil and his angels." Is this fire similarly only for a period of time? Some consider Jesus’ comments here to reflect the sentiments in Daniel 12:2-3 (cf. John 5:29).

Bell asks whose version of the story, i.e. Gospel, we will believe and share, and he has asked the right question. However, his version of the Gospel story, I believe, unfortunately is deficient. I would rather seek to grasp and believe the whole of Jesus’ teaching and ground my life in that Gospel.

At the end of the day Bell wants to keep the word ‘hell’ but primarily to refer "to the big, wide, terrible evil that comes from the secrets hidden deep within our hearts all the way to the massive, society-wide collapse and chaos that comes when we fail to live in God’s world God’s way" (93). It is an eschatologically realized hell, not one that threatens a person with a destiny in the age to come that is truly horrific and to be avoided at all costs because of sinful rejection of Jesus in this earthly, human context.

The third issue where Bell’s perspective is deficient, in my view, occurs in his selective use of biblical data to support his position. He admits that he has not written a biblical or systematic theological treatment of these issues. However, to raise so many serious and challenging questions, but then not to attempt seriously to respond to them using the whole of the biblical resources available borders on the irresponsible. For example, I do not believe I once read about the concept of God’s righteousness, i.e. his faithful adherence to his covenant arrangements, in his book. Yet, as we know from key Old Testament texts such as Exodus 34:7-7, God in these covenant arrangements defines his response to those who are obedient adherents and those who act wickedly. The guilty he will not hold guiltless. Jesus in his teaching constantly warns Jews that refusal to accept him and his teaching will bring divine judgment, not only in this age but also in the age to come. What did Jesus mean when he said that "the Son of Man would be ashamed" of those who in this age are ashamed of him, "whenever he comes in the glory of his father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38). Shame surely carries connotations of judgment and lack of acceptance. In John’s Gospel (3:18) the writer affirms that "the person who has not put faith in the name of the only begotten Son of God" already (ēdē) stands condemned or judged. Jesus’ words will be used to judge those who set aside his teachings (John 12:47-50), because his words are zōē aiōnios (eternal life). Jesus provides no suggestion that the judgment that will come will be limited or overturned in the age to come.

Bell on page 107 describes a church tradition that "God will ultimately restore everything and everybody" and he used texts such as Matthew 19:28 ("the renewal of all things"), Acts 3:21 ("the time for the restoring of all things") and Colossians 1:20 ("reconcile all things to himself") to support this contention. Bell then concludes that "restoration brings God glory; eternal torment doesn’t. Reconciliation brings God glory; endless anguish doesn’t. Renewal and return cause God’s greatness to shine through the universe; never-ending punishment doesn’t" (108). Those are dogmatic assertions. But are they true and is this the conclusion that Jesus, Peter and Paul wanted Christian disciples to reach based upon these expressions? For example, Jesus achieved glory by triumphing over Satan through the cross and resurrection, preparing for his ultimate judgment (Revelation 19-20). Throughout the Old Testament God’s glory emerges through the destruction of his enemies (cf. Exodus 15). While we may struggle to accept that idea today, it is embedded deeply in Scripture. When human beings identify themselves with Satan’s kingdom, they also become the focus of God’s powerful judgment. As Peter notes (1 Peter 3:10-11; 5:5-7) God resists the proud and his face is against those who do evil. He judges the living and the dead. Restoration and reconciliation are God’s desire, but the New Testament is consistent in its message that human participation in these divine movements are dependent upon our repentance of sin and acceptance of Jesus as Son of God and Saviour.

In the end "God wins," but God is not only characterized as love, but as truth, justice, and light. One of his names is "Jealous" and he will not tolerate sinful opposition. God’s desire is that all of humanity might be rescued, but this desire does not negate his commitment to justice, as Paul indicates clearly in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-8. Unless Bell excises such texts from the canon, we have to consider that God’s justice is not contrary to his love, as if he is a schizophrenic deity. Rather the perfection of God enables him to integrate his love and justice with complete integrity. Although Bell understands sin to be a terrible thing, in the end I do not think he is willing to perceive sin as God perceives it and thus does not consider that a human, sinful life deserves eternal punishment according to God’s standard of justice. Further the logic of his preferred position on these matters requires him to also abandon the concept of security in God’s promises. If evil people at some point in the age to come may be wooed by the wonder of God’s love into the heavenly city, then it must also be possible for those present in the heavenly city also to rebel against that love and find themselves in hell, just as Satan rebelled and was cast out of heaven. In the end then it is God who does win, but he wins in ways totally consistent with his justice, truth, love, and power.

Larry Perkins, Ph.D.
Professor in Biblical Studies
Northwest Baptist Seminary
April 19, 2011

See also Dr. Perkins’ article in Internet Moments on Rob Bell’s use of the NT Greek word "kolasis, kolazein" – Punishment.

  • 1Bell does not consider the question of whether evil spirits and even Satan himself might eventually be rehabilitated.
  • 2Concepts such as purgatory, saying mass for the dead, etc. are some of the ways that these ideas gain expression in some segments of contemporary Christianity.
  • 3It is interesting that Bell on pages 180-182 will argue that the Gospel is not about entering, but participating, seeming to forget what Jesus has said here about “entering life.”
  • 4In the case of Ezekiel’s prophecy (16:53-58) the point seems to be the humiliation of Jerusalem for its sinful condition. Yahweh “restores the fortunes of Sodom…and the fortunes of Samaria” (53) “in order that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all that you have done" (54). There is no hint that this restoration of Sodom or Samaria will occur in the age to come or represents their positive response to God’s kindness.
  • 5E. Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, Volume II, revised and edited by  G. Vermes, F. Millar and M. Black (Edinburgh: T & T Clark Ltd., 1979), 536-539.
  • 6Mark’s Gospel says “in the coming age eternal life.”

NBS – ACTS Graduation 2011

On Saturday, April 16, Northwest and ACTS Seminaries witnessed 58 men and women walk forward and receive their diplomas/degrees of graduation.  We wish to extend our congratulations to each of our graduates.  May you go forward in God’s grace and strength and serve Him well with the tools you have acquired or honed while with us here at Northwest / ACTS.  May God bless you richly in the days and years ahead and make you a blessing to many for His Kingdom’s sake.

In case you missed it, here is a video of the graduation

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The Arenas of Christian Life

In the process of establishing the community of the “underground” German Confessing Church seminary, Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of both the nature and the spirit required to enjoy the divine reality of fellowship. As for the spirit, there was a call for humility: He who loves his dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial … God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious…[1]

Given the nature of western Christian expression, those words sound prophetic. Each year new models of Church life are added to a growing list: house church, missional church, emergent church, mosaic community, satellite church, mega church, meta church … With each addition to the list, there is a subtle subtext: this is the way Christians were intended to meet … this way, and no other.

In balance to that, Bonhoeffer wrote: Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by His call, by His forgiveness, and His promise. We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what He does give us daily.[2]

From that call for a spirit of humility, Bonhoeffer was then able to define the direction, order and balance expected of community. The directions embraced a fairly wide bandwidth: Let him who cannot be alone beware of community …  Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.[3]

The “zen-like” nature of those warnings only serve as a challenge for a Christian to provide equal attention and care to all of what I would call “the Arenas of Christian life” or, better yet, the circles that define Christian interaction and fellowship.

During my term as the Pastor of the Bethany Baptist Church in Richmond, British Columbia, our congregation underwent a significant period of transition and growth which included a building program, a move, and in Biblical terms, a season where the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.[4] Among all of the challenges posed by that season, the most significant was the transition from being the “big-little church” to becoming the “little-big” church. Such a transition demands careful attention. [5]

In order to guide the church through the transition, I found it necessary to paint graphic pictures to help orient the congregation to the “new feelings” required by our growing dynamics. In order to do this, I needed to describe the context in which Christians are intended to gather together. I termed this concept “The Arenas of Christian life” or the “Circles of Fellowship” depicting it as five circles, each with a name:

Celebration: the largest conceivable group of people … a mass of humanity gathered together for a single purpose. Here, the title of “arena” fits well to describe a faceless mass of people gathered together in a stadium. It’s a familiar biblical image. The Bible speaks of us, in this life, being “surrounded by a cloud of witnesses”[6] and in the reality of heaven being numbered with “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands”[7] all gathered with one purpose: “to worship the Lamb .. the one who sits on the throne.” In our Church context, this circle of Celebration was to describe the expectations we were to bring to our worship, and view the worship as training for our ultimate heavenly occupation. Because of the nature of Celebration, it was not necessary for everyone to know everyone else by name because only one Name really mattered.

Congregation: a “church-within-the-church”, a “manageable” group of people .. typically more than 15 in number and, in some cases as many as 50. I used this to describe a group of people who gathered together primarily for the purpose of service. Whether it was a choir or a mission’s group or a Sunday school class, the group gathered around a specific task or mission. While they could expect to develop a sense of personal relationship and belonging, the defining purpose of such a group was to accomplish a particular task. If there was to be a Biblical illustration of this, the 72 disciples appointed by Jesus to go out “two by two to every town and place where he was to go”[8] could serve as such a group united by a missional purpose.[9]

Community: the small-group, local home fellowship, a familiar group of people .. typically more than 8 but less than 15 who would meet with regularity. While the conventional image of such a group was that it gathered for Bible Study, the interaction was intended for more personal support and care. Names matter in such a group, and spiritual growth the object of attention. The community of the 12 disciples with Jesus could serve as a picture of such a small group.

Cell: the intentional fellowship with those who are “closer than a brother,” [10] an accountability group, typically no more than 2 or 3 people with whom a bond of trust allows a depth of interaction, confession, and care. The exclusive boundary of such a situation allows for more intimate conversation.  The interaction of Jesus with the three: Peter, James and John[11] could serve as an example.

Communion: the direct relationship that a believer cultivates and enjoys with God in private devotion, and spiritual discipline. Typically. that’s done alone! This circle touches the core of a believer’s heart and serves as the primary resource for life to be lived in all the rest of the circles.

None of the circles exist in exclusive isolation. The picture that we used showed a sense of interaction and flow between each and all. The idea was that to have a healthy fellowship, each member of a church would earnestly, and equally, cultivate and value participation and relationships at each level.


Group Type Quick Definition Example Advantages: Needs Met
Celebration Large, encompassing mass gathering,

One purpose – to worship

Typically: innumerable

the Myriads, the heavenly host, worshipping God.

Sunday Morning worship

Corporate worship, augmenting and elevating a shared voice of praise
Congregation A church-within-the-church:

Primary purpose – to serve

Mission oriented

Typically: 15 and up

the 72 Disciples

Sunday School class,

Worship team, choir, Board of Deacons, Mission team

Corporate service: augmenting and strengthening the impact of service
Community A localized group of care

Primary purpose – to support and care – and to know each other by name

Typically: 8-15

the 12 Apostles

Home Growth Groups, House Bible studies

A sense of belonging, ability to serve one another with individual impact
Cell A private circle of accountability, the special few who have earned the right to care in confidence

Typically: 1,2 or 3

John, the beloved Apostle; Peter

Marriage, close friendship,

A sense of knowing, an environment of honesty and accountability
Communion A personal encounter with God, the one-on-one relationship of devotion and spiritual life, typified by a meaningful quiet time, devotional life Jesus [Matthew 14:23]

Personal devotional time

Cultivating an authentic relationship with God


As the conditions in the church changed, it was important to focus on how each of the five arenas would be found in the Church experience.  Even more, how each of the five would be expressed and valued. This was especially important during a time of turbulence when the nature of “doing church” began to change, and we entered unfamiliar territory.

Keeping these five circles in focus helped address two particularly troublesome temptations:

Limiting the “Church” to one exclusive definition: As models of ministry compete, I’ve noticed a tendency by some to promote their  experience of fellowship at the expense of others. The assumptions vary: a small church is better than a large church, a home fellowship is more authentic than a church that meets in a building, a mega church is more exciting than a small church. It is possible to violate the spirit of community with the sort of spiritual hubris described by Bonhoeffer:  God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the visionary proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself  .. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure ..  he becomes an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.[12]

Misplacing expectations from one circle to another: While each circle provides an environment for multiple experiences, each has an primary purpose that defines appropriate behavior and expectation. It proved to be quite helpful for people to see the picture of the arenas and circles in order to recalibrate their expressions and expectations. A few examples: Occasionally I would encounter a person who would leave a worship service, disappointed that God hadn’t really spoken to Him. Pressing the issue further, I would discover that they had expected the worship service to provide their personal devotional needs. Occasionally they would “meet God” in a worship service, but it was more an act of serendipity than intention. Cultivating a personal devotional life allowed them to find the sort of spiritual balance that renewed their experience of worship.

Another example: It’s easy to imagine what happens when a person walks into a classroom of a 50-person Sunday school and announces that their marriage has just ended. It happens often, in various ways. At best, a few people may sympathize and pray with the person. But the class goes on, and the person is left to wonder if anyone really cares. Again, the best expressions deserve an appropriate arena, which only enhances the need for “community of care” rather than a “congregation of service.”

Learning these lessons helped our church navigate through the turbulence of change. It helped provide a  plan for us to go beyond building a Church building – to create meaningful Arenas. And it helped people get down to the real business of fellowship and consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.[13]

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Harper and Row, 1954  page 27

[2] Life Together, page 28.

[3] Life Together, page 77

[4] Acts 4:47 [a wonderful phrase that could easily outline the Book of Acts: Acts 2:41, 4:4, 5:14; 6:7; 11:24, cf. 14:1, 16:5, 17:4, 18:8

[5] There is a whole discipline of study given to growth and transition issues. Notable studies include: Gary MacIntosh [One Size Doesn’t Fit All, Taking Your Church to the Next Level], Alice Mann [The In-Between Church, Raising the Roof]

[6] Hebrews 12:1

[7] Revelation 5:11

[8] Luke 10:1

[9] I had to observe some caution in applying Biblical illustrations to the model, realizing that I was drawing principles from descriptions which is based on much softer ground than specific precepts given by command. The one command that did define the effort was that we “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” [Hebrews 10:25]

[10] Proverbs 18:24

[11] Matthew 17:1

[12] Life Together, p. 27-28

[13] Hebrews 10:25

Theologies of Leadership – are they new forms of clericalism?

During the Reformation the assumed, privileged position of clergy came under serious challenge. More radical elements claimed to have eliminated the need for any specific clergy group within their formulation of church. In the early part of the 20th century we heard renewed calls for a “theology of the laity,” which continues to have significant impact in Protestant and Catholic circles. Slogans such as “every member a minister” became rallying cries that promoted further reformation so that “lay-people” in the church might enjoy their full position as part of Christ’s body. Within Evangelical circles a sense of congratulation emerged in the progress made to empower the laity.

In the last twenty-five years the issue of leadership, at least within North American Evangelical churches, has also become dominant. Seminaries seek to develop effective “ministry leaders.” The cry is for “visionary leaders” who can propel congregations to new heights of missional endeavor. Pastors’ shelves or computer memory drives are chock-full of books, papers, and digitized essays, videos, blogs and reports to help them become the leaders they were called to be. In many ways I applaud this focus.

But accompanying this engagement with the essence, competence, and theology of leadership is a serious question – if only some within the church are leaders, what does this say about the rest of us? Is this emphasis upon leadership in ministry and the general belief that only a few are called to exercise such leadership perpetuating clericalism, but under a new guise? Did Jesus intend only a few in his Kingdom to be leaders or was one of his radical changes the opportunity and requirement for every disciple to be both leader and follower, rather than a few being leaders and the rest followers? In my reading about ministry leadership and interactions with denominational, seminary and church leaders, I sense that the prevailing perspective is the first and not the second, i.e. only a few disciples are called to be leaders. It is their vision that dominates, after all they are the visionary leaders!  The incorporation of CEO models of pastoral leadership, particularly in larger churches, as important and useful as this may be, nevertheless also contributes to this perspective.  We all “know” that successful entrepreneurs and business leaders are a select group. This thinking spills over into the way average Christians tend to view the local church organization. Spiritual leaders are few. Only some are called to be spiritual leaders or ministers.

The New Testament offers a different understanding. Pentecost demonstrated that the presence of God’s Spirit among his people enabled each one to evangelize, to proclaim the Good News, and make disciples. Paul’s use of the body metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12 demonstrates that every believer, gifted and empowered by the Spirit, contributes to the well-being of the whole body. Similarly his statement in Ephesians  4:12-16 puts emphasis upon the work of restoring “the holy ones” to do the work of ministry so that “the whole body generates the growth of the whole body” (v.16) as they live connected with Jesus Christ. The concept of mutual submission expressed in Ephesians 5:21 leans in the same direction. And then there is Peter’s concept of the new temple constructed from living stones and each one together forms a priestly community, “a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices well-pleasing to God through Jesus Messiah” (2:5). Further he asserts that God gifts believers to speak and serve to his glory. Other elements could be referenced, but these may suffice to indicate a general perspective.

These same texts, however, indicate that God provisions his people with gifts so that the whole body can be effective in its service. Some of these gifts include people who can be entrusted with responsibilities to care for, teach, and guide the local expression of the faith community. However, as Jesus himself stated, such roles are essentially serving or “slaving” roles (Mark 10:43-45). Kingdom greatness is centred in humility and available to every believer (Matthew 18:1-8). Parenting serves as a primary metaphor for how “leadership” functions in a local church.

One of the significant benefits that the Theology of Work movement can bring to the understanding of the church today is a renewed sense that every member of the body is indeed called in Christ to exercise Kingdom leadership in their place, i.e. to be a Kingdom agent. This may be through the role of parent, spouse, employee, employer, student, etc.  However, we have to recapture the Kingdom perspective that leadership is not about power, but rather is about serving and thereby demonstrating God’s proper kingship in family, vocation, church, and society. Every believer exercises influence in his or her sphere of relationships towards the accomplishment of God’s will on earth. This is Kingdom leadership – something that the Holy Spirit empowers every believer to accomplish. People who fill functional roles of organizational leadership within a congregation do important spiritual work, but they have to remember that their work serves to enable all believers in the body to be the Kingdom leaders God has called them in Christ and empowered them by his Spirit to be.

Calendar for Church Websites

Have you been looking for a good calendar plugin for your WordPress based church website?  I regularly review lists of calendar offerings and am usually disappointed with what I find. Today I reviewed some more plugins and was delighted with one that looked like it would do what a church website would need.  The plugin is CGM Event Calendar by Ryan Farrell.  The beauty of this plugin is that it is designed to use the new WordPress Custom Post Types.

Here are some of its very cool functions:

  • Completely flexible setting of event dates, recurring dates etc.
  • Events can be assigned categories.  This allows events of a certain grouping can be listed together.
  • The calendar of events can be viewed in a monthly, weekly and print format.
  • The calendar is flexible and expands to accommodate more or less events.

You can view a screen shot of a test that I did of the calendar.

Northwest News Interviews Larry Perkins

Larry Perkins

Larry, you have served as the editor of Northwest News for the past 10 years and in those years you have interviewed a variety of individuals for this publication.  Now it is my privilege to turn the tables and interview you.

  1. Before you began teaching at Northwest back in 1978 how did God use the experiences in your growing up years to prepare you for your many roles here at Northwest and within the Fellowship.  Would you reflect on your early years a little?
    (View Larry’s response)
  2. Looking back to when you were a young scholar just entering the teaching ranks here at Northwest I’m sure you had dreams of what you would like to be and do for the sake of Christ’s kingdom – have you fulfilled those dreams?  How have those dreams matured over the years?
    (View Larry’s response)
  3. Thank you very much! Looking forward, I understand that after a sabbatical you will be returning to Northwest and ACTS Seminaries as a 1/2 time faculty member.  What are the things you would still like to accomplish?  What personal dreams would you yet like to realize?
    (View Larry’s response)
  4. OK! Thank you! The next question I’d like to ask relates to the seminary and the ongoing ministry of the seminary.  As Northwest moves forward in the days ahead, what are some of the things that you are praying that Northwest will accomplish for God’s kingdom?
    (View Larry’s response)
  5. That’s encouraging! As Academic Dean (both at Northwest and ACTS Seminaries) and more recently as President, your life has been often times a flurry of meetings.  Will you miss those?
    (View Larry’s response)
  6. On a more personal note, I have seen you mostly in your public role as president, New Testament Professor and even as my boss.  I (and probably our readers) would like to know a little more about Larry Perkins the person.  Would you reflect on your personal journey as a follower of Jesus, as a Christian man, a husband, dad, grandpa and colleague?
    (View Larry’s response)
  7. Thank you. That’s very encouraging. Yours has been the 6th presidency here at Northwest.  As president you have followed in a significant line-up of personalities within the Fellowship and within evangelical circles.  Would you reflect on the leadership legacy that you have received, have been a part of and are now passing on?
    (View Larry’s response)
  8. Over your years here at Northwest you have taught many different courses, met many different students and worked along side of many different colleagues. As you reflect on these varied experiences are there some landmark life lessons or insights that stand out to you that you could share for our benefit and encouragement?
    (View Larry’s response)
  9. That certainly been my privilege in working with you over these past years.  I understand you will be taking a Sabbatical in January.  Do you have any projects that you will be working on?  What are you hoping to accomplish during your sabbatical?
    (View Larry’s response)
  10. That’s great! Larry, you’ve done many interviews in the past for Northwest News.  You’ve always ended the interview by asking, “How can we pray for you?”  I’d like to turn the tables and ask you the same question!
    (View Larry’s response)

Thank you, Larry, thank you for the privilege of working with you – with Northwest News. It’s been a great privilege. Thank you for this time of interview as well.

You are welcome!

Identifying Critical Issues

It’s taken me a while, but I just finished composing the report from our latest Best Practices for Church Boards workshop held in November. It’s the product of an extensive process, adding reflections from interviews with participants to the compiled comments from the evaluation forms. It’s worth the effort. I always learn something from the effort, and the discoveries certainly help improve the workshop.

As I reflect on this Fall, one discovery stands out above all the others. One of the greatest challenges faced by many boards is the ability to identify the critical issue that deserves their shared attention. During the registration process, churches are asked to identify their key issue prior to the workshop. The expectation is that the lessons learned in the workshop will allow the leaders to gain some immediate and relevant progress with their issue in their working session.

While some churches are able to focus on a shared issue quickly, many stumble in finding their target. In the first working session, the Facilitators present the church boards with the issue that accompanied their registration. The question is then raised: Would you agree that this is the Key Issue that deserves your most conscientious attention?

There are a few boards that respond quickly. They’ve prayerfully discussed the whole range of issues before them and have agreed on the priority and importance of the one Key Issue as it relates to their mission.  That said, off they go.

More often than not, boards will pause as they look at their “key issue” with a degree of uncertainty.  It’s that moment of hesitation that has caught my attention. It illustrates a common challenge for church boards: the ability – or inability –  to identify the critical issue that deserves their shared attention.

TJ Addington, author of High Impact Church Boards, addressed the same issue in his blog this last Fall [ – October, 16, 2010.] One of the reasons why it’s a struggle is that leaders are tempted to become “enmeshed” in issues that are defined by personal agendas. He writes: One of the hallmarks of good emotional intelligence is that we are able to empathize with others without getting enmeshed in their issues. This does not mean that we do not care, provide counsel, pray and support. It does mean that we don’t allow the issues of others to become “our” issues.

It is possible for a Board to be consumed by issues that are more a matter of personal agendas than a shared mandate of mission.

George Bullard recently identified another reason that Boards struggle. Their attention tends to be so focused on past conflicts that it’s hard to identify the issue that will embrace the new thing God is seeking to do in and through him. In his learning article, Transforming Reactionary Church Boards [November 3, 2010,] he wrote: When congregations are getting over a conflict, a less than excellent relationship with a senior or solo pastor who has now moved on, or an empowering vision that has diminished, policies and procedures to create more control are often put into place. Typically these changes are focused on correcting what was perceived as wrong or missing in the past … In other words, [Reactive Boards] move forward into the future by protecting yourself from what went wrong in the past … always looking for where you were rather than where you are going.

Whatever the reason, board leaders struggle with the ongoing frustration in knowing how to identify good targets to discuss. There is a need to recapture the heart of leadership that is capable of moving ministry toward a preferred future with discernment and intention.

One of the main responsibilities of a board, in particular – a board chair and a lead pastor, is to ensure that the most important issues receive the most significant attention. So, what steps could help solve this dilemma?

Any study on discernment, especially the type of spiritual discernment required for a healthy ministry requires a number of ingredients, not the least of which is time and prayerful attention. In his comments on The Art of Thinking Grey, TJ Addington writes: some people think it a skill to make quick decisions and they pride themselves in their ability to do so. The truth is that slow decisions that have had significant input from a variety of sources are usually far better than rapid ones. Embracing the task and setting aside precious time is an absolute necessity.

The second step is a matter of perspective. Stepping aside from personal agendas, a discerning leader always asks important questions. In their book Discerning Your Congregation’s Future: A Strategic and Spiritual Approach, Roy Oswald and Robert Friedrich describe four simple questions that discerning leaders ask throughout the congregation in order to gain a perspective: 1 losartan hctz. If our congregation did not continue to ______, I would lose interest in remaining a member; 2. The things that concern me most about our congregation are _______,; 3. If our congregation would ______, I know I would call my friends and tell them what wonderful things they are missing; 4. If, with a stroke of a pen, I could change one thing at our congregation, I would ______.

Questions like that lead to discovery. They take us outside of ourselves and reveal viewpoints and opportunities that would otherwise lie hidden. They expose a variety of concerns that can suggest issues that God wants addressed.

As wise leaders reflect on those answers, the next step is to sort through the issues in order to find THE ISSUE, the one that matters most. And then, with a shared focus, that issue needs to be framed for discussion. Two of the instruments that we recommend for Time Stewardship as a Best Board Practice are forms for a Decision Profile and a Discussion Briefing. Both are one page summaries that present the necessary information to help a board focus on an issue.

In each case, the issue is stated at the very beginning in clear and concise language. Added to the statement is an explanation of its importance, how it relates to the strategic value of the church and its mission. The rest of the outline in each form flows from that point whether it’s relevant questions that will stimulate a meaningful discussion or optional recommendations that will provide a healthy solution. But, the best part, and the hardest part, is to define the issue and put it into context. It’s a skill that takes work and makes a difference.

In the article Transforming Reactionary Church Boards, George Bullard put it well when he said it is easier to state a solution than it is to deliver one. It’s one thing to suggest steps, it’s quite another to put them into practice. However, that shouldn’t stop us from working toward a solution, and as I seek to improve the Best Practices for Church Boards workshop, that’s my next improvement: to develop an aid – and an exercise – that would get the ball rolling. As a note, if you have a helpful suggestion to make, I welcome your comment.

In His Service

In a few days I will be completing my responsibilities as Northwest’s President. Two years ago as I began to plan for this transition, it seemed a long way ahead. Now it is here and God’s grace has enriched the experience. Thank you for the good wishes you have shared recently and for your prayerful support of Northwest’s vision and ministry during my tenure. Whatever God has accomplished through Northwest in these years, your stewardship has been part of it.

In these past few months God has given constant assurance that Northwest’s future is rich with promise. Just this week we received news of a third grant to support the “Theology of Work and Marketplace Ministry” initiatives that we have pursued these past two years. Earlier this Fall we finally were able to implement online, graduate level cross-cultural leadership training for FEBInternational ministry leaders around the world. 10-12 twelve of these leaders are engaged in the first course under the direction of Mark Naylor. And then major plans are being developed for the initiation of a church-based, ministry leadership training process in Fall 2011. This will be a significant development, requiring new financial and educational resources.

Dr. Spencer is leading our preparations for our fourth conference on Baptist Identify and Theology, which we are now calling “ReSourcing the Church Conference”. It will be offered February 25-26, 2011. Dr. Jim Belcher, author of Deep Church. A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional, will be our keynote speaker. As well, our next conference supporting Children’s Ministry will be offered in November 2011.

Dr. Kent Anderson, Northwest’s new president, begins his new role January 1 and already is engaging his responsibilities, excited about the new opportunities God is opening for Northwest’s ministry. Please be in prayer for him as 2011 will make very heavy demands upon his energies.

May God’s blessing rest upon you as you continue to serve Him with expectancy and deep gratitude.


Larry Perkins, Ph.D.


ACTS Appreciation Chapel for Dr. Larry Perkins

On December 7, we honored our out-going Northwest Baptist Seminary President, Larry Perkins with a special chapel service at ACTS Seminaries. The service included reflective comments from Dr. Perkins’ longtime friend and colleague, Bill Badke. A highlight was Larry’s brief reflections on his service and particularly upon the significant contribution of his wife, Judy.

A video of the service is available for you to view here.

ACTS Appreciation Chapel for Dr. Larry Perkins










Northwest Board Appoints New President

Dr. Kent and Karen Anderson appointed next president of Northwest Baptist Seminary

Dr. Kenton Anderson accepted the Northwest Baptist Seminary Board’s offer to become its eighth President, effective January 1, 2011.  The Board’s decision and Dr. Anderson’s acceptance culminate an 18 month process of succession planning and searching.

Dr. Larry Perkins is retiring from the role of president, a position he has held since 2000.  He will be continuing at Northwest in a teaching capacity.

Dr. Kenton Anderson (Kent) holds a Ph.D. with a major in preaching from Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, along with a Bachelor’s degree from Northwest Baptist Theological College and two Master’s degrees from Northwest Baptist Seminary. In 1994 he graduated from Northwest Baptist Seminary /ACTS Seminaries with a Master of Divinity and went on to complete his doctoral degree in 1996. His doctoral dissertation project showed how preaching models have closely followed trends in culture. Kent’s project for that was to develop a new integrative model for preaching. Since then, Kent has published three books on the subject, Preaching with Conviction (Kregel 2001), Preaching with Integrity (Kregel 2003), and Choosing to Preach (Zondervan 2006). Kent’s professional website is where he blogs on preaching and culture and provides a significant resource for preachers. He also has served as a contributing editor at and is a past president of the Evangelical Homiletics Society. Kent also contributes courses in spiritual formation in various Northwest/ACTS Seminaries programs. Along with his academic and literary accomplishments Kent also has direct pastoral experience having served for 11 years in local churches in both British Columbia and Alberta. He has also taught and preached in hundreds of churches and ministry centres across North America and the world.

Kent joined the faculty of Northwest and ACTS Seminaries in 1996 and became Dean of Northwest Baptist Seminary in 2001. He is also the director of the Centre for Ministry Excellence at Trinity Western University.

Kent has been married to his wife, Karen, for more than 27 years. Kent and Karen have three adult children. He loves reading, playing golf and hockey, and making music on his guitar.

As he envisions his leadership in this new role, Kent comments:

“I am humbled by the trust I have been given. Previous occupants of this position — Howard Anderson, Doug Harris, and, of course, Larry Perkins, have all been significant and valued personal mentors to me. The thought that I am now following in their train is a daunting, and yet motivating prospect. I believe that Northwest can be a powerful tool by which we raise up significant numbers of well-prepared leaders for the ministries that God has called us to within the Fellowship Baptist movement and beyond.”

“As a graduate of Northwest and former Fellowship Baptist pastor, myself, I appreciate the way my Northwest experiences have shaped me and made it possible for me to fulfill the calling that God has given me. I want to make the same thing possible for many others.”

“Without altering our sense of mission, our future at Northwest will engage fresh innovative methods in direct collaboration with our churches and our Fellowship. I believe that the best training happens in the context for which people are being trained. You can expect, then, that we will be working very closely with our churches, our pastors, and our denominational leadership. Our goal will be to achieve a significant new stage of development in our mutual mandate to equip Spirit-filled people, who are gifted and called for the various ministries and mission of the church.”


Larry Perkins, Ph.D.

President, Northwest Baptist Seminary

November 1, 2010

John Brand on Expository Preaching

Rev. John Brand runs a website, Encouraging Expository Excellence out of Edinburgh, Scotland. In a recent email conversation, John offered these responses to some interesting questions about expository preaching.

1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?
I am utterly and increasingly convinced it has to be the heartbeat and central focus. There are many hallmarks of a true church and many things churches should be doing but none more vital and strategic than the faithful preaching of the Word of God. If the Word of God is not at the heart of its activities then it is no longer a church and simply a religious organisation.

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
I was born into a Manse, the son and grandson of missionary preachers, and I think to start with it was almost a natural thing to do – to try my hand at preaching. My father’s church – who were not, it has to said, the most spiritually discerning of folk – gave me opportunity in my mid-teens and I was encouraged to persevere as well as sensing a growing burden and joy in my own spirit for this great work.

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?
To be honest, it takes me longer now than when I started out more than 30 years ago and in the Lords goodness I think that is partly because I take the responsibility much more seriously now than at any other time in my life. I guess these day it takes me anywhere between 12 and 15 hours on average.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it?
I wish I had realised the importance of this in my early days of preaching because I have come to realise how vital this issue is for effective communication. There is a tendency, especially when you are younger, to try and cram too much into one sermon and generally speaking, not only can most folk not cope with that but it can so easily blur the God-intended focus of the passage. In some way I find this the hardest and often most time-consuming aspect of preparation and yet you can’t move forward until you have identified it. For me, I just try writing out ‘the big idea’ again and again and again; restating it until I feel I am doing justice to the Scripture I am working.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?
Firstly, it is vital that we are truly ourselves in the pulpit and not try to be somebody or something we are not. Affected tones of voice and imitation of others is for the stage and not the pulpit. Sincerity and integrity are key. Two other vital ingredients for me are earnestness and passion. We live in a day and age of all too often lifeless, take-it-or-leave-it preaching and it’s inconsistent with the message we preach or the one in whose name we claim to speak.

6. What notes, if any, do you use?
These days, my notes are much fuller than they used to be, though I have gone through different stages in my ministry. It varies too depending on the nature of the sermon. A more closely reasoned exposition, working through the logic of a passage, for example, will demand more notes than a study in one of the parables. For me, it’s not so much the quantity of the notes but the familiarity with the text and notes and though my notes are fuller I probably refer to them less than I used to.

7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?
I have already referred to things like affectation. We must also studiously avoid disclosing confidences, even by allusion. We must avoid ‘showing off’ the work done in preparation. Perhaps the greatest sin to avoid is saying any less or any more than the text we are preaching says.

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)
In recent years this has been a special challenge for me, now as a Bible College Principal and before that heading up a Mission agency, rather than in church-based pastoral ministry. It’s really a case of identifying and protecting priorities. I have had to ring fence time slots and tell my colleagues that I am unavailable except in emergencies.

9. What, in your opinion, are the top 5 books on preaching that have been most helpful to you as a preacher, with perhaps a few words by way of comment about them?
-Bryan Chapell’s Christ Centered Preaching is, in my opinion, simply the best there is
-Ramesh Richard’s Preaching Expository Sermons really helped me work on and teach the importance of structure with his very helpful model of the human body
-Arturo Azurdia’s Spirit Empowered Preaching provides the perfect balance between hard work on the part of the exegete and preacher and the empowering of God’s Spirit
-Michael Fabarez’s Preaching that Changes Lives is the most helpful book on application that I have found
-John Piper’s The Supremacy of God in Preaching keeps reigniting my passion for preaching and keeps my sights fixed on God

10. Which preachers, living or dead, have had the greatest influence on your own ministry?
During my student days I read many of Spurgeon’s sermons and through Lloyd-Jones sermons on Romans and Ephesians and, albeit largely unconsciously, imbibed a commitment to systematic, verse by verse exposition, though not at the same level of detail as the Doctor! Sinclair Ferguson taught and modelled homiletics as well as systematic theology and made a monumental impact on my life and, humanly speaking, I owe him a unique debt. The inspired passion of men like Steven Lawson and John Piper are also a great example.

10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?
This has always been a joyful privilege and responsibility for me. In my first pastorate I gather a group of 3 men and we met on a monthly basis to encourage one another and I gave them regular opportunities to cut their preaching teeth and try and help them. I am and have been involved in several preachers workshops, seminars and conferences. One of my greatest joys in this area has been an annual workshop in Sudan where I have seen 50 church leaders grow in their confidence in and ability to handle the word of God. I teach homiletics at the College where I serve and also blog on preaching at www.encouraging where, among other things, I hold a ‘sermon clinic’.

11. What advice would you give to a young man who is wondering whether God is calling him into a preaching ministry, firstly in terms of recognising the genuineness of a call and secondly in acting on it?
Be obedient! Of course, we must take seriously the immense responsibility of such a charge, but if someone senses that God is leading them in this direction – perhaps because as they hear others preach they have a godly sense of ‘I could do that’ – pray that others will prompt you and give you opportunity and look to mature, experienced spiritual leaders to confirm – or otherwise – the gift of a preacher in you.

12. Is good expository preaching something that is ‘caught’ or ‘taught’; where is the balance between the two?
I have no doubts that it is both. There must, of course, be the divine gifting in the first place, but preaching is both an art and a science and skills can be sharpened and honed. One of the neglected responsibilities laid on preachers is to model good preaching to others.

13. What is the secret of perseverance in a preaching ministry?
A constant re-submission to the call of God on your life and an awareness of the fact that there is no greater or more important task on the planet!

14. What is the secret of freshness in a preaching ministry?
Keep close to God and to his Word. The more I read Scripture, the more I want to preach Scripture as I gain new insights. I am more enthusiastic today about preaching than I was over 35 years ago when I started out.

Alpha and Omega – How well does a pastor need to know the Bible?

The Bible comes to us in three languages — Hebrew, Aramaic and Hellenistic Greek. Yet,  most people, including pastoral leaders, explore the scriptures through translation. Traditionally people in the congregation have considered the pastor as equipped to investigate thoroughly the biblical message and communicate it truthfully and persuasively. The pastor opens windows into the text to let people discern its meaning, sometimes with painful starkness and impact. But what competence does a pastor need in order to do that with excellence?

Historically Bible colleges and seminaries have included the study of Greek and sometimes Hebrew within programs that equip people for pastoral leadership. Within Northwest we have a strong tradition of teaching the biblical languages. I think this is rooted in our strong commitment to the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of Scripture. What eventually happens if pastoral leaders no longer have competence to interact directly with the Greek and Hebrew Bible?

The argument can be made that good preaching does not depend upon skill in reading the Greek or Hebrew Bibles, and this is true. However, the study of the Greek and Hebrew portions of the Bible is not so much concerned with acquiring language skills, as it is with the more significant question of discerning the Spirit’s voice in scripture. The preaching might be persuasive, but is the message true? When a person engages the Greek Bible, for example, he or she is not just encountering words, but must wrestle with an entirely different way of thinking and expression. The cultural distance between the 21st Century preacher and the biblical text must be admitted and addressed.  The larger questions of meaning, the intent of the human author, and the means chosen to share his ideas become more immediate. But when a person is presenting the eternal words of scripture as God’s authoritative Word, can he or she be content to depend only on the pre-digested message expressed in a translation, as good as it may be. Commentaries help, but to grasp their arguments often requires some language and exegetical competence.

Trends in pastoral training come and go. I have seen a number in my 32 years of seminary experience. Whether it was counselling, church growth, or more latterly leadership development, each pushes its way into the pastoral curriculum, bartering for space with the existing subjects. Pressure is on to shorten the time required for developing pastoral leaders and this requires academic leaders to determine carefully what subjects deserve space in a limited curriculum. And then there is student pressure to ease the requirements or to focus the curriculum on more applied subjects, things that have immediate pay-off. Given the costs of pastoral education and the time restraints that emerging leaders frequently experience, perhaps the space in the curriculum devoted to acquiring capacity to work directly with the Greek and Hebrew Bible might be put to better use?

Can the study of Greek or Hebrew biblical interpretation survive in such a context? If it doesn’t, what does it mean for the proclamation of the Gospel and the discipling of God’s people in the next fifty years? If pastors of the future lack the competence to engage the Scriptures in their Greek and Hebrew forms, will the churches be stronger for it? I doubt it. Providing this kind of education and competence development for new pastoral leaders requires specific investments in people and programs. The immediate returns are not dramatic, but the long term implications for the health of the church will be critical.  These same kinds of arguments compel us also to invest significantly in developing ministry leaders with deep, theological competence.

This article has also been published in the October issue of Northwest News.

Fall 2010 New Student Orientation

This week is orientation week here at Northwest / ACTS Seminaries.

At the New Student Orientation day on Wednesday we had 75 men and women participate. It was a great day of seeing new faces, helping new students find their bearings, enjoying again the story of ACTS Seminaries and sensing among these new students a refreshing inquisitiveness, anticipation and energy. As the various faculty and staff made their presentations to these new students I was reminded again of what an amazing Kingdom enterprise we are part of here at ACTS – five evangelical denominations collaborating to provide current and future leaders with tools that will equip them to be better prepared for the various ministries to which God has called them. I think this year is shaping up to be an exciting adventure.  Here are a few more photos from orientation day.

Laurel Archer with her Student Volunteers

Worshiping together for the first time

Dr. Wendell Phillips, the ACTS Registrar and Ms. Laurel Archer, the ACTS Student Program Advisor leading the students through orientation

Dr. Lyle Schrag introducing the new students to Northwest faculty and staff

Enjoying a BBQ together in beautiful, end of summer, BC weather

Decade of Service

In the sixty-five years following Northwest’s re-establishment after World War II, Northwest has had six presidents.  This is a remarkable story of committed, stable leadership. A decade of service in this role is about the average. I believe it is time for a new leader who can bring fresh vision and vitality to Northwest’s mission.

Almost a decade has passed since the Board of Northwest invited me to serve first as interim president (January 2000) and then to fill the role of president. Some of you know that on July 31, 2011 I will be completing my involvement with Northwest as President. The next few months will be busy, working with the successor the Board will be appointing.

The Board has been working on a succession plan for about a year and the Search Committee will be bringing a recommendation to the Board’s October 2010 meeting. Should the Board accept the recommendation, then the new president will begin serving January 1, 2011 losartan potassium.  The Board has graciously granted me a sabbatical that will run from January to July 2011. I believe the Board has this process well in hand and the transition of leadership will proceed well. As opportunity allows, I hope to continue contributing to Northwest in a part-time teaching role for the next few years.

So this Fall semester will be a time of transition. I would ask that you pray specifically:

1. that the Board will know the mind of God in their decision in October;

2. that I will be able to finish well, leaving Northwest in a strong position;

3. that Northwest faculty and staff will work through the transition well;

4. that our students and alumni will view the transition process as a model of Christian leadership;

5. that our financial donors will continue to support the mission of Northwest and the new President;

6. that Northwest’s mission will be carried forward even more effectively because of this change.

Over the past year my prayer has been that God would enable me to finish well. You know too many Christian leaders whose leadership roles have ended in failure. So I do covet your prayers in these next months and look forward to God’s special grace and blessing upon the Northwest family in this time of transition.

In particular it is important that your investment in Northwest remain strong. A leader is important in an institution, but the institution is far bigger and more significant than any one person. I believe this is true of Northwest and the critical nature of its leadership development role in the Kingdom.

Basic Assumptions

It seems as if this has been the month of déjà vu. In four weeks, I’ve had the same conversation with five different pastors. The names may differ, but the complaint is consistent: I can’t seem to get people to volunteer to serve. That one sentence has unfolded into a litany of complaint:

I have to work almost as hard to recruit someone to serve as I do to lead someone to Christ … Forget trying to get someone to agree to be a leader, I can’t even find someone to cut the Church lawn or sit with the babies in the nursery … It’s becoming almost impossible for me to do what I have to do as a Pastor since everything else undone around here ends up on my desk… It doesn’t take a genius to realize that something has gone wrong.

When we first initiated the Fellowship Centre for Leadership Development seven years ago, my focus was centered on Leadership Development as a way to refine leaders who were rising to the challenge of ministry and eager for training.  It’s such an obvious target, and explains why so much effort is invested in developing training products for emerging leaders. But, hearing the complaints over the years, and especially over the last month, has caused me to expand my thinking. My initial fixation on training leaders was as if I were staring at the end of a conveyor belt and wondering why there was only a trickle being produced without realizing that the belt hadn’t been well connected at the beginning … to begin with.

Over the years, my attention has been shifting towards a view of Leadership Creation as a pre-requisite for Leadership Development. And for that, my attention has shifted from leadership as the expression of a high-performance individual … a leader, to leadership as the manifestation of a community that inspires initiative and discovers leaders who emerge from an active body of followers. It’s a theme that’s led me to view Church at large as the culture where leaders are birthed as well as developed. It’s a journey that has taken me past several critical boundaries, past the definition of Leadership Development to Leadership Creation … and on that journey past the definition of the word Leader to a greater appreciation of the words Servant, Disciple, and follower of Christ.

Along the way, I’ve encountered several noteworthy guideposts. The first was the result of research on Leadership in the New Testament and the Early Church. In a wonderfully comprehensive study on what Leadership meant in the early church by Ken Giles, Patterns of Ministry Among the First Christians1 a few comments captured my attention:

“All the apostolic churches were developing institutions2 for the most part, the origins of the first churches lie in the synagogues, so common throughout Palestine and the Mediterranean world. The patterns of interaction and forms of leadership in the early churches bear some relation to these Jewish antecedents3 … thus a group of Christians meeting in a home as part of an extended family is our starting point for understanding leaders and leadership in the earliest churches4.

From this picture of the Church as an engaged household, Giles turns the focus of leadership away from roles and titles to something much more organic: In fact, Luke [in Acts] consistently implies that leaders arose to meet specific needs on a quite pragmatic basis. Initially the twelve apostles provide leadership to the whole community, but when a special need arises, discussion and prayer leads to the appointment of seven “almoners” [Acts. 6:1-6] …In Paul’s earliest epistles he addresses certain people whom he recognizes as leaders, but gives them no title [I Thess. 5: 12-13; I Cor. 16L15-18.} At the same time, he insists that when the believers assemble for worship they should all minister to one another: no sub-group or person should take preeminence [I cor. 12:4-7; Rom. 12:3-8.]5In the apostolic age, church life was dynamic and fluid. Leaders emerged to meet needs and as the Holy Spirit initiated6. …

With the passage of time the church grew as an institution and more structured forms of social interactions developed, resulting in leadership defined by office and title. This may explain the shift of focus from leader creation to leadership development.

But, I can’t help but sense in the earliest forms of the Church there existed a deeper sense that expectation to serve was spread out over an entire congregation. This expectation seems to be based on an assumption that a spirit of service was logically related to a commitment of discipleship and an obvious consequence of what it meant to be a follower of Christ. If my suspicions are correct, this assumption did not think so much of “leadership” as it did of obedience and availability and service that might end up leading others.

Musing on this history, I encountered a second guidepost in an interview recorded in Leadership Journal with Terry Fullem, the pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Darien, Connecticut.7 As one of the congregations at the center of renewal in the Anglican fellowship, Terry described a profound moment that redefined the essence of ministry.

In simple terms, he described the consequences of instituting two basic assumptions of the congregation. Both assumptions were based on a  person’s relationship with Jesus Christ. The church will be strong only to the degree that people are committed to Christ. So, in pursuing this goal, we make an interesting assumption: we assume a person does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ unless he is prepared to say he does. The simple fact of being in church in not enough. We don’t argue with people; don’t sit in judgment on their salvation; but neither do we take for granted that they have committed their lives to Christ unless they say so. Thus, those who haven’t professed faith in Christ are graciously and generously treated as seekers.

The second assumption was the one that captured my imagination: In the case of believers – and this will seem like the exact opposite – we assume commitment rather than non-commitment!

I love that simple phrase. It has such a New Testament sound to it: we assume commitment rather than non-commitment. What a contrast to the operating principle at work in our churches where everything, especially those things related to leadership requires a high level of recruitment, and produces a low level of response.

Terry Fullem continued with an illustration of this principled assumption: We have a number of clergy and lay leadership conferences here every year drawing people from all over the world. And we house them in the homes of the parish. For many years, I used to go to the congregation and say, “A conference is coming up, and we need 200 beds; please sign up.” We always got what we needed, but it was a hassle.

Then one day, I realized all that wasn’t necessary. I went before the congregation one Sunday and said, “You have heard me ask for beds for the last time. From now on, we will assume that if you have an extra bed in your house, of course you would let someone use it (we assume commitment rather than non-commitment) Because everything you have belongs to the Lord and you’ve consecrated your life and home to his service, naturally you would make it available to his service losartan online. So, we have made up a bed bank for the parish, and we’ll assume yours are available. IF, for some reason, you cannot host a guest, please let us know – otherwise we will assume commitment rather than noncommitment!

What a refreshing thought. Recently, I’ve had a chance to observe a church that operates under the same principle. Lists are posted with names attached for services to be performed. There’s no obvious sense of coercion or pleading, guilt-ridden appeals. In fact, it’s just the opposite. As lists are posted ,gracious announcements are made that if people are unable to fulfill their assignment, they are welcomed to either make arrangements for a substitute – or request help in finding a replacement. No harm, no foul. And, people take it seriously as a matter of honor. They don’t have to search for a way to “make a difference” with their lives.

Terry Fullem continued his example making the point that such an assumption, when made with sincerity and conviction, becomes the prevailing attitude in a congregation. It produces and propels people who follow God’s call in humble obedience. He concluded with a word of conviction: So many clergy pitch the level of their ministry to the least committed members of the congregation, being careful not to offend them. That’s not what we’re called to do (boldface – mine)

I’ve had a chance to observe several congregations who operate according to that assumption. It’s no surprise that they have little problem identifying and engaging leaders.

As I reflect on the conversations of the past month, I wonder if we haven’t made things harder than God intended them to be. I wonder if we, as leaders, may have become our own worst enemies based on false assumptions. And, I wonder what might happen if we changed the rules and shifted our focus.

I shared these thoughts with one of the pastors. His response was revealing. When people become members at my church, I ask them to state their commitment of time, treasure, and talent to the cause of Christ and the fellowship of our church. I suppose it’s time for us to mean what we say … As a result, he took a risk and with the support of his board did the same thing as Terry Fullem. He posted a few lists, told the congregation that he was going to honor their relationship with Christ by assuming commitment rather than noncommitment. To his surprise, the response was “thanks, we can do this…”

I’m eager to find out what more that will mean … not just for that church, but for so many more.


  • 1Giles, Ken. Patterns of Ministry Among the First Christians, Victoria, Australia, Collins-Dove Publishing, 1989
  • 2Ibid., p. 10
  • 3Ibid., p. 13
  • 4Ibid., p. 14
  • 5Ibid., p. 8
  • 6Ibid., p. 8
  • 7The View From Above, Leadership Journal.

2010- 06-12 Board Summary

The June meeting of the Northwest board marks the beginning of a new year of ministry by these volunteer leaders on behalf of our Seminary and our churches. We extend our thanks to Colin McKenzie for his excellent service during these past three years. Robert Murdock and Dwight Geiger (FEBPacific President’s representative) are initiating their work with our board. We look forward to their contribution.

Part of the work during this first meeting relates to the appointment of board members to specific responsibilities. Larry Nelson continues as chair and Dennis Wasyliw as vice-chair, as well as secretary.

Two major discussions occupied the board’s attention. The board is aware of the discussions occurring in our Fellowship regarding the relationship between the National office and the Regions. Without presupposing the outcome of these discussions, the board did affirm their desire for Northwest to take a more active role in contributing to ministry leadership development nationally. This is well within the scope of our mission and ends policy.

The second discussion concerned our preferred future for the ACTS Consortium and our involvement with it. The board acknowledged the value of this collaborative relationship. However, it also is aware of discussions occurring among the seminary members and Trinity Western University regarding various issues whose resolution probably will re-shape the nature of our collaboration. The board appointed an adhoc committee to work with the President during the next four months and recommend to the October meeting of the board Northwest’s preferred direction for ACTS. One of the key questions to be answered is how ACTS needs to be configured so that Northwest can continue to accomplish its mission well through its involvement in  ACTS. Such discussions are necessary from time to time because theological education, our churches, our families of churches, and our culture constantly are changing.

The board continues to move forward in its process for selecting and appointing a new president for Northwest in 2011.

The board reviewed the Northwest financial picture and were thankful for its good situation. The President also reported on various new leadership training initiatives that were in the works.

Larry Perkins, Ph.D.


Ministry Leaders Entering the Harvest

Summer is soon upon us and I wanted to drop a note to keep you connected with Northwest. Graduation occurred six weeks ago and about 80 men and women received diplomas and degrees through the ministry of Northwest and its partners in the Associated Canadian Theological Schools. Praise God for these new ministry leaders entering “the harvest.”

Jeff Kuhn, Grace Baptist, Hope, Apr 2010

While I am so thankful for the potential each graduate holds for Kingdom advancement, I also realize it’s not enough! No matter how many people we train (and it’s over 3,000 now), it’s never enough! Christ’s church grows, its leaders mature, and new opportunities constantly emerge. The appetite for effective leaders in the Kingdom is insatiable. As Jesus declared, “the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few.” 80 is few, 800 is few, 8,000 is few. Until Jesus returns, no matter how many ministry leaders we prepare for the harvest, it is too few. God’s plans for harvest always outstrip our ability to fill the need.

On one level this constant demand for new labourers could make one depressed. We never achieve our quota! God always wants more. But from another perspective, this constant requirement for more labourers indicates the Kingdom’s advancement and aggressive engagement with Satan’s domain. What is more amazing is that God chooses to use human agents in the harvest. Jesus is winning. The ranks of people in his Kingdom are swelling. The harvest is very plentiful.

Jesus puts the equipping of labourers at the very forefront of Kingdom priorities. Sometimes people think that seminary work is not “frontline” work in the Kingdom. I beg to differ. Perhaps the most challenging Kingdom work being done today is equipping effective ministry leaders. This is absolutely frontline stuff. The spiritual warfare that people experience in the context of their ministry preparation can be truly fearsome. When God is at work in people’s lives through the Seminary, Satan is never happy.

If you want to give Satan a bad day, then equip a Kingdom leader! If you want to put Satan’s agenda in total disarray, then invest in producing effective ministry leaders! It’s demanding work and the equipping of a ministry leader never really ends — it just gets more focused as the Spirit refines His work.

Thank you for your continued prayers and financial help. As we begin these summer months, please remember to pray and as God’s provides, make an investment in leadership development. Judy and I will be investing in leader development in Indonesia at the end of June, teaching the book of Romans to pastoral leaders. I have also initiated a new website ( to provide resources for church board chairs.

May God bless you wonderfully in this summer season.

Blessings in “the harvest,”

Larry Perkins, Ph.D.


Graduation 2010

The Northwest Graduating Class together with all ACTS Seminaries faculty

Significant Interactions in Pakistan

About two times a year I travel to Pakistan to work on the Sindhi Bible translation.  Currently we are preparing a Sindhi New Testament for the Hindu people of the Sindh along with a review of the New Testament that was translated for a Muslim audience.  A few vignettes taken from my most recent trip in February, 2010 are given below.  They help to illuminate the process of Bible translation, provide examples of the significant discussions that occur as the translation team members interact with each other, and reveal the spiritual hunger that is evident among the Sindhi people.

Clarifying the translation

While the first translation of the common Sindhi version of the New Testament is excellent for the most part, there are occasions when the translation has failed to communicate the intended meaning of the original and require correction. These miscommunications become obvious through the interactions with the translation team.  I often ask them to explain a passage to me, and their response sometimes reveals unintended meanings.

A good illustration of this is Jn 4:23 where Jesus says to the Samaritan woman: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (ESV).  The first translation of “in Spirit and Truth” in Sindhi was quite literal, similar to the ESV.  Unfortunately, the natural meaning of this phrase in Sindhi is that true worshipers will worship with “enthusiasm / commitment and with a true (righteous) heart.”  However, the point of the passage is not to discuss the character of the worshipers, but their connection to the truth and reality of who God is.  True worshipers are those who have a spiritual orientation towards God and worship according to the truth and reality of the nature of God. That is, they will live according to his truth.  In order to communicate the right meaning in Sindhi, we translated it as “following the way of the Holy Spirit and truth (or reality).”

Spiritual Hunger

During my trip, I went to the Sindology Institute in Hyderabad to do some research for my PhD thesis.  During my time there, I had a number of invitations for significant conversations that reveal the spiritual openness and hunger of the people of the Sindh.  While riding the bus (free for anyone heading to the university), I sat beside a man who worked at the university who asked me, “What spiritual benefit is there in Christianity?” I explained that the benefit lies in the person of Christ who brings us into a familial relationship with God; we become God’s children.  In Islam the essential relationship is that of master to a servant / slave.

He further asked what constituted “spirituality” and I explained that it was found in relationships, those immeasurable aspects of life that give significance and meaning to our existence.  He gave me his view concerning the universe and how it is a creation that God provided so that people could know about him.  I agreed and took it even farther, explaining that God is an artist; creation reveals his character. I pointed out God’s comment on his work in Genesis 1, “it is good,” and the significance of “separating the light from the darkness” as an expression of God’s goodness in which there is no flaw.

This raised the question of the authenticity of Scripture.  Since his work is in computer science, he gave the example of Windows 3.1 being superceded by Windows 95, then Windows 97, etc.  He suggested that the Bible has been superceded by the Qu’ran in the same way.  I pointed out that this would only be true if God has changed in his essential nature, or if people have changed in their essential need.  If not, then the truth that God spoke in the past is true for us today as well.  The purpose of the Bible is to bring us into a relationship with God, and is as helpful to us today in that task as it was when it was written.

Significant Conversations

The Hindu Sindhi helper on our team talked about his (now deceased) Guru who encouraged people to come and follow his teaching without leaving their own religious duties.  I responded by observing that this is not permissible for those of us who are Christians because of the exclusiveness of Jesus’ claims.  Jesus is the one with whom we have made a covenant and he does not allow his followers to have religious “mistresses”.  He nodded his head and said,  “yes, that is true.”  What we have been studying in the gospels has made that obvious to him.

When translating the difficult play on words used in Jn 3:3;4 – “born again” which also means “from above” – our Hindu helper was disturbed by Nicodemus’ incredulous reply about entering his mother’s womb.  This started a discussion about reincarnation and the lack of the concept within Christianity and Islam.  The message of the gospel speaks clearly to our hope in Jesus as the way to the father, not through an eternal cycle of birth and death.  This message of Jesus as the Savior of the world comes through loud and clear in the Gospels. All are called to respond to this good news, which calls us to faith (see Jn 20:31), on a personal level, not just on the level of comparative religions.

You can read more about the Sindhi people and Bible translation here…

The Board … The Prime Spiritual Community

I found myself amused, two weeks ago, by an article entitled “Good to Great to Godly.”1 After almost a decade of enjoying the influence of Jim Collin’s classic study on successful organizations, Good to Great, I was attracted by the clever turn of phrase. In the subtitle to the article, Mike Bonem2 exposed a bit of the problem that Church leaders have with organizational behavior: “corporate wisdom means ‘getting the right people on the bus,’ but spiritual leadership requires something more…”

For many in Church Leadership, it’s a familiar problem. On one hand you hear phrases like: “we’re a church, not a business … we can’t operate like the corporate world … we are not professionals.” On the other hand, many congregations suffer from a lack of discipline in their conduct and clarity in their operations. Ultimately, it’s not an either/or situation, a choice made between being either spiritual or functional. The challenge is for church leaders to be both great in their stewardship of tasks and Godly in their management of ministry.

Over the last five years, a lot of care has been invested to training Church Boards to observe Best Practices in their work. While attention is given to the dynamics of Church Board leadership … appropriate structures, understanding roles and relationships … one of the central principles that guide the training goes beyond the good management of ministry and into the realm of the Godly: The Church Board is the prime spiritual community of the church.

While that phrase may appear simple, the implications are many. One of the more relevant implications is that the manners, the accepted behavior of the Church Board members, sets the standard of spiritual and ethical behavior for the entire church. If those who serve do so in an ethical, honorable, and decent fashion that could be a very good thing. But, unfortunately that isn’t always the norm.


Ever since we began to drill deeper into Church Board practices with the Best Practices workshop, and expand our discoveries with Church Consultations, I’ve discovered that it’s … how should I put this … possible to find some bad manners at play.

Over the last year, I’ve enjoyed the work of T.J. Addington, the author of the book High Impact Church Boards: Developing Healthy, Intentional and Empowered Leaders for Your Church. As a former pastor, board chair, and church consultant [with the Evangelical Free Church], T.J. has seen it all. I was intrigued that at least twice in the last year, he was bold enough to post his ‘bad manners’ discoveries on his website:3 Two of his postings: 15 Unfortunate things Boards do… and  Dumb things Church Boards do …

The lists include issues that are all too familiar: cave to loud voices … don’t require accountability … don’t make decisions, or stick with decisions … allow a church boss to hold informal veto power … lack transparency … don’t police problem members … don’t police themselves … fail to clarify what is critical for the congregation … allow elephants into the room …

It probably wouldn’t be too hard to add to the list. In an informal survey, I asked a number of denominational leaders, regional directors in British Columbia, to describe some of the leadership issues that had demanded their intervention and attention. It was interesting that very few had to do with theological issues. Instead, the issues were of an ethical and behavioral nature. They were issues where decisions were made on the basis of expediency and convenience at the expense of relationships, where ends justified means.

In pursuing the comments, I asked the regional directors to describe what sort of corrective measures they had observed. At first, their response was that bad behavior tended to be tolerated in churches until it became a critical issue. At that point, church leaders were forced to respond to the problem as it erupted, hoping that their ability to think clearly and pray fervently would carry them through. It is an approach that sometimes works, particularly if there are a few mature, wizened, experienced and well-trained leaders involved. But, more often than not, the reactive nature of responding to a crisis had enough flaws to create what one leader described as “vocational headaches and personal heartaches.”


A better solution? The conventional response is to develop a professional code of ethics. Virtually every profession has a written code of ethics to guarantee moral performance in the service, and there are robust examples of such standards set for ministry. In 1948, at the very beginning of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the team gathered in Modesto, California. In his book, Just As I Am, Billy Graham described the event: I called the team together to discuss the problem [of the scornful caricature attached to traveling evangelists, epitomized by the novel Elmer Gantry.] … I asked them to go to their rooms for an hour and list all the problems they could think of that evangelists and evangelism encountered. When they returned, the lists were remarkably similar, and we soon made a series of resolutions that would guide us in our future work. The result became known as the Modesto Manifesto, and it addressed four key issues: Money, Sexual Temptation, Local Churches, and Publicity. In later years, Cliff Barrows reflected on the Manifesto: In reality, it did not mark a radical departure for us; we had always held these principles. It did, however, settle in our hearts and minds, once and for all, the determination that integrity would be the hallmark of our lives and our ministries. And, as Marshall Shelly, editor of Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal admits: Countless churches and ministries, including Leadership, have benefited from this model of living integrity set by the Graham team.

Having a code of ethics is helpful. In many cases, such a code is required by Insurance companies that provide liability coverage for ministers. Joe Trull, the editor of Christian Ethics Today and professor of Christian Ethics at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has written a handbook with James Carter for that very purpose.4 In the book, there is a collection of Ministerial Codes of Conduct from a wide variety of denominational ministries, including Baptists. As they do, they raise a very good question: Is a ministerial code of ethics a help or a hindrance?

Their first response is that Conservative pastors [clerics] may fear that a denominational hierarchy will use the code as a club to keep disloyal ministers in line and out of significant churches. Ministers of every stripe are nervous about a document that could threaten their pastoral autonomy?5

When I related this to the group of denominational leaders, they agreed that this was a fair assessment, ministerial reluctance. But, the suggestion was made that there were two additional questions that needed to be addressed. The first was that there was a more comprehensive need to set a standard for Church leadership at large and broaden the focus beyond the pastor. While the impact of a pastor’s behavior in church life is profound, so is that of a church board. In his book Transforming Church Boards into Spiritual Communities6, Charles Olsen writes of the board that it has tremendous power to affect a congregation negatively if it is severely conflicted, internally dysfunctional, or bogged down in a sticky mire of minutiae7. In essence, a Ministerial Code of Ethics should embrace all who serve in ministry.

The second question that was suggested, however, struck me as something a bit more basic and significant. In the broad sense, codes can only tell people how to act. That’s the nature of ethics, to describe acceptable conduct. But, Church ministry and leadership is drawn from a deeper well. We are accountable for behavior not because of practical expectations listed in an external code – but because of an authentic commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  As Joe Trull puts it, Ethical conduct based on Theological convictions is the very soil in which ministers work.

In essence, a code can provide helpful guidance, even a standard for measurement. But, for a Church Board to go from Good to Great to Godly, each member must come to the Board as a disciple of Jesus Christ, a new creature8 setting aside the old, eagerly to embrace the new in order to conduct a ministry of reconciliation worthy of an Ambassador of Jesus Christ.


It’s been my experience that a sizeable number of Board leaders view their work as common business, only to be surprised by the discovery that it is an opportunity to take spiritual growth and maturity to a whole new level.

Everyone I know is familiar with the phrase WWJD, What would Jesus do? That’s probably the simplest ministerial code of ethics that you can find. I wonder what adjustment might be made if church leaders adopted that code for their conduct. But that’s ethical conduct, and I would suggest something more. Something like: WWJWMTB/HDJWUTGT? I realize that it wouldn’t fit on a bracelet, but the question does pose a deeper challenge: What would Jesus want me to become … How does Jesus want us to grow together? Those are the sort of questions that expose a board member and a board to another dimension of life … and behavior.

If the diagnosis that Charles Olsen made (that a board has tremendous power to affect a congregation negatively) is true, then it’s worth hearing his second diagnosis: a revitalized board owns tremendous potential for good … the level of commitment in a congregation will not rise above that of the “set apart” leaders. The sense of community and care for one another will not rise above that of the consistory [ie. church board] The stewardship practices will not rise above those of the council. The prayer life will not rise above that of the board. The capacity to reflect biblically and theologically will not rise above that of the board. The willingness to take a prophetic position will not rise above that of the board. The hope and excitement for the future of the church will not rise above that of the board…9

So, there is an earnest need in the works. We need to set our standards high and set our records towards a noble and righteous effort. But, the urgency of this appeal goes deeper, into the internal life of individual board members … and into the shared life of the board as a whole … to grow up Godly.

PS: For further reflections on this topic: Dr. David Horita and Dr. Lyle Schrag will address this and similar issues through the Ministry Training Workshops at the annual Convention of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in British Columbia and Yukon, April 23. Three workshops addressing Ethical Leadership:

  • The Sacrificial Nature of Spiritual Leadership – Dr. Lyle Schrag
  • Ethical Realities – Beyond Theoretical Integrity – Dr. David Horita
  • Corporate Integrity in the Church – Dr. David Horita

Participants are welcomed to attend!


  • 1Mike Bonem, “Good to Great to Godly.” Christianity Today International/Leadership Journal, April 5, 2010.
  • 2Mike Bonem has a MBA from Harvard, and is the executive pastor of the West University Baptist Church in Houston.
  • 3
  • 4Joe Trull and James Carter, Ministerial Ethics: Moral Formation for Church Leaders, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.
  • 5Ministerial Ethics, p. 187.
  • 6Charles Olsen, Transforming Church Boards into Spiritual Communities: Alban Institute, 1995.
  • 7Transforming Church Boards into Spiritual Communities, p. 9
  • 8I Corinthians 5:17
  • 9Transforming Church Boards Into Spiritual Communities, p. 9

Working with Bias — Decision-making In Church Board Meetings

In the midst of every important decision a church board engages lurks a myriad of biases that batter the process like turbulent winds. Every board member brings these biases into the room, including the chair and lead pastor. Biases are human realities, but some can be beneficial, while others have potential for serious harm. How then does a church board chair help the board control or balance out its biases or assumptions? Read the blog here and discover some ways a board chair can help a board work with its biases.

Equip Today – Impact Tomorrow

What a headline – “Canadian Seminary Enrolments drop by 15 – 20% in five years!” It’s true. In 2005 the total reported enrolment in Canadian Protestant Seminaries was 5751, but in 2009 this has decreased to 4860. The numbers have stabilized in the last year or two.

What does this mean? In the next few years the leadership deficit in our churches will become more serious. Our aging population means that more leaders will be retiring, but there will be fewer younger leaders to replace them. This can only mean that the competition among churches to locate exceptional ministry leaders will increase.

What a challenge!

But the story in Northwest is different. A modest surge in growth is occurring. In Spring 2009 we enrolled 44 students; in Spring 2010 64 students enrolled. We believe this change is due to the innovative work our Northwest team is doing, in collaboration with our Fellowship leadership, to make ministry training more affordable, more accessible, and more responsive to real leadership needs.

Please pray with us for God’s wisdom as we collaborate with our Fellowship leadership and selected lead pastors to consider developing a second path for training pastors. While the outlines of such a process are not yet clear, we recognize the need to engage and involve lead pastors more deeply, consistently and intentionally in identifying and developing candidates being called by God to pastoral ministry. This would parallel the successful work we have done in collaboration with your youth pastors to implement an alternative way to equip new youth pastors. This year we will be graduating another three youth pastors through this system. We believe the same can be done for other kinds of pastoral leaders.

An important forum discussing this second path will be held with selected lead pastors just prior to our April Fellowship Convention.

Thank you for your encouragement, prayers and support in these recent months. Change continues to be our primary challenge. Please pray that God will give us wisdom and Spirit-based courage to know how best to lead Northwest in such times.


Larry Perkins, Ph.D.


2010-03-16 Board Summary

The Northwest Baptist Seminary Board of Governors met Friday evening and Saturday, March 12 -13, 2010. On Friday, Northwest hosted its third “State of the Seminary” evening for the Board, faculty and staff with spouses, as well as special guests. The theme for the evening was “Equip Today — Impact Tomorrow.”  We were encouraged by increased enrolment, effective alumni, good leadership and sound fiscal management. Yet, we also recognize that much work remains if our mission and vision is to be fulfilled. I believe the conclusion of this year’s work marks 70 years of ministry for Northwest.

Several significant issues were the focus of the Board’s attention. They continue their work in searching for and selecting a new President. Dr. Perkins’ term ends July 31, 2011. The Joint-Audit Committee recommended to the Board that the Auditor’s report be approved, which the Board did. It was a clean audit, showing a surplus in operations for 2009. This represents the fifth year of operations with a balanced budget. Northwest’s investments have recovered fully from the 2008 financial downturn.  The Board reappointed Loewen Kruse as auditors for 2010.  As well the Board approved Northwest’s 2010 budget.

The Board acknowledged the receipt of funds from an estate gift and authorized the President to spend some of those funds to improve Northwest’s educational technology and develop a more effective marketing and grant-writing capacity.

In order to ensure stable academic leadership during the period of presidential transition, the Board appointed Dr. Kent Anderson to another two year term as Northwest’s Dean (May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2012).

The President in his reports to the Board during the past year has highlighted the startling decrease in enrolment among Canadian Seminaries over the last five years. Remarkably, due to our efforts in the Fellowship to collaborate and the initiatives that Northwest has taken to respond to the leadership challenges within our Fellowship, Northwest’s enrolment has shown an increase for this same period. This past year 41 Fellowship people benefited from the Seminary’s formal leadership development programs and many more received assistance through workshops and other informal learning experiences. The President has also kept the Board informed about the challenges that the Associated Canadian Theological Schools, the Consortium, is facing. The Board authorized its Governance committee to recommend to the next Board meeting a process for thinking creatively regarding Northwest’s future.  Our current strategic plan is serving us well, but we need to be governing into the future.

The Board reviewed several policies, including the Ends Policy and made minor changes.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, June 12, 2010. Seminary graduation will take place on Sunday, April 25 at Northview Community Church, Abbotsford (the service starts at 4:30pm). Northwest has thirteen graduates and ACTS in total will be graduating around eighty students.  We congratulate especially several Fellowship people in their graduation:  Estera Boldut (Master of Counseling), Andrew Eby (Master of Arts in Christian Studies), Jeffrey Kuhn (Master of Divinity), Jonathan Michael (Master of Arts in Christian Studies), Jeff Thomas (Master of Theological Studies).

If you have questions about any of these matters, please connect with me at [email protected]


Larry Perkins, Ph.D.


The Flywheel of Leadership

Since his book Good to Great was published in 2001, the application of Jim Collin’s study on organizational success has extended beyond the business world. Through his research on companies that have excelled in their mission, a number of distinct dynamics emerged. The remarkable by-product of the study was how relevant those dynamics are to the health of Church.

I know that it may seem tiresome to keep returning to the same source for several years. I’ve used Good to Great as a reference in the Leadership Connections before. But, over the last few months I’ve found another of Jim Collin’s dynamics to be a helpful illustration as I’ve been consulting with Churches who are struggling to find a way to create traction for their Leadership Development efforts.

The dynamic is that of “The Flywheel.”1 Beginning with a quote from Igor Stravinsky that “Revolution means turning the wheel,” Collins paints a vivid picture of a:

huge and heavy flywheel – a massive disk mounted horizontally on an axle … Imagine that your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and long as possible. Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first. You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete on entire turn. You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster … a second rotation … Keep pushing in a consistent direction … three turns … four … it builds momentum … eleven … twelve … moving faster with each turn … twenty … fifty … a hundred.

Then, at some point – breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in … hurling the flywheel forward … its own weight working for you. You’re pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but the flywheel goes faster and faster … each turn of the flywheel builds upon the work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort … the huge heavy disk flies forward, with almost unstoppable momentum. … What was the one big push that caused this thing to go so fast? … was it the first push, the second, the hundredth? No! It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction.

The conclusion: “Good to great comes about by a cumulative process – step by step, action by action, decision by decision, turn by turn of the flywheel – that adds up to sustained and spectacular results.”

As I carry that image to heart, it has helped me understand the forces and spiritual physics at work in healthy churches – especially those related to Leadership Development. During the first year as the Director of the Fellowship Centre for Leadership Development, I had a chance to finally map out a process of leadership development. Having been a pastor for 25 years, I had a general awareness of the process, but, like most pastors, didn’t have the time to reflect deeply into the dynamics. As a result, the path I cut for new leaders was generally effective, but still rather fuzzy. Having the chance to look deeply into the matter allowed me not only to clarify the process but also identify “handles” that would turn Leadership Development into a flywheel of momentum in the church.

The process that I mapped was one simply expressed in the Bible. Ephesians 4 “to prepare God’s people [and by that, I have to believe it to be all of God’s people] for works of service”2 … and that the expression of their service is a natural outcome of having “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”3[iii] Viewing it through Ephesians, Leadership Development isn’t a niche activity for just a select few. It’s the destiny of every mature believer. In essence, that thought led to a definition that a Biblical Leader is one who: is aware of their God-given personality, reliant upon their God-given resources, willingly accepting their God-given mission, to influence a group of God-chosen people, toward God’s purposes. With that definition at heart, the process that I mapped ran through each of the time honored “steps” toward spiritual maturity recognized by even the earliest Churches: conversion, spiritual disciplines, spiritual formation, and vocational formation.4

That said (and forgive the repetition) I have this imaginative picture in my mind of the process as a Flywheel with handles readily available to start the spin. It’s my experience that healthy churches keep spinning the wheel every time they celebrate a baptism, or new membership, or add new leaders. Making a “big deal” of the progress people make in their spiritual growth becomes a repetitive message that sets the congregation “humming.”

However, I have also experienced a struggle in these healthy churches to equate this momentum toward spiritual growth with leadership development. People know that they are growing in their faith and engaging in a life of service and ministry but somehow don’t see it as journey toward leadership. It’s as if the term “leadership” is assigned to only a small, elite cadre of mystically “called” people (think “priesthood”).

As I’ve pondered the problem with a couple of pastors, the image of the Flywheel returns to mind. Looking at it carefully, it’s missing a very large and important handle. Oh, the handles of baptism and membership and leadership recognition are quite fine, and spinning them consistently once, twice, fifty and a hundred times helps. But the one handle that makes for a “breakthrough” is the one that is specifically known for Leadership Discovery.

I know it sounds like an advertisement, but this image came to mind after talking with a pastor who had used the “Heart for Ministry” materials we had produced five years ago. The first time, four people joined him in the study in response to his challenge for them to “take their service to another level.” Together, they studied through the 12 sessions, defining what leadership is, describing their understanding of what it means to be “called” by God, discovering their gifts and leadership styles, and ultimately writing up their “life purpose” as a declaration of their next step toward a mature ministry.

There was something about the experience that captured their attention, but even more created a sense of curiosity in others. The pastor decided to do it again, this time with a few more people. At this stage, I’m not sure how many times the course has been offered, but it has become an annual event and appears to have become a flywheel of momentum in the church as people are purposefully and intentionally taking on “leadership” at higher levels. I suppose that it’s no mistake that the pastor has now been asking about the Ministry Assessment Process. He’s got a few people no longer curious about what God has got in store for their future. They are now making a move. And, in the terms of the Flywheel – that’s a Breakthrough.


  • 1Jim Collins, Good to Great, HarperCollins: 2001, p. 164.
  • 2Ephesians 4:12
  • 3Ephesians 4:13
  • 4Certainly a repetition of a theme that has become my “mantra,” drawn from the study of the early church by Robert Webber, Journey to Jesus

Carrying the Torch in Castlegar

On January 24th, I had the privilege of carrying the Olympic Torch in Castlegar, BC.  Like many of the other 12000 torch bearers across this country, I was selected for this honour because of my involvement in the community.

However, as I carried the torch high, for my 300 meters of fame at 8:12am on a Sunday morning, I realized this honour did not belong to me alone.  This was made very clear to me even before my torch was lit.  As I was waiting for the flame, a mom with two boys at her side saw me, and said, “look it’s Pastor Colin from High Power Soccer Camp.”  They quickly ran to my side, and snapped a few pictures and I let them hold the torch.

Any recognition I received in Castlegar, is really only an extension of the mission of Kinnaird Park Community Church like this.  KPCC encouraged my involvement as a coach in minor soccer as part of their outreach ministry.  The community recognizes the ministries of Kinnaird Park like High Power Soccer Camp and the children’s programs they run as important contributions to the area.  Finally, Kinnaird Park has welcomed and supported many community groups and organizations by providing space in their facility.

After I was shuttled back to the local Rec Center, the community celebration began as the torch lit the cauldron in Castlegar.  I was unable to stay, because I joined another form of community celebration.  In my torch bearer outfit, I spoke at Kinnaird Park about how God has called us as a Region, local churches and as individuals to be light to the world.  I really do believe that when we are a city on a hill that shares and shows the love of Jesus that we make an eternal difference and people will glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

God’s Provision

God’s done it again – totally exceeded my expectations! I can affirm Paul’s claim in Philippians 4:19 that “my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Our goal for the operational and bursary fund this year totaled $99,000 and as of December 31, 2009, God has blessed us with $102,500. Given the dismal financial situation that we experienced during the first half of 2009 in the world economy, this result is surely God’s special provision. Thank you for your part in this.

God is the master of surprise. It’s probably connected with his delight in mystery – letting us in on his plans just when we need to know. His promises and His subsequent supply provide us with ample reason to walk confidently with Him. I have enough experience in my role as President to know that new, unexpected challenges will emerge in the next twelve months that will require me to trust God for the solutions. Since God faithfully has led and provided in each past year, I have no doubt He will supply what is needed in 2010.

So January 1 starts us on another lap of faithful living. What a challenge – to live 365 days for God, prayerfully, passionately trusting and serving Him, and then to model this transparently and authentically before colleagues, students, and supporters. Your prayers will be a significant help, enabling me to provide faithful leadership as President of Northwest.

I have two prayer concerns that I would share with you:

1. that we will see the Holy Spirit work powerfully in the lives of many men and women, leading them to accept God’s call to ministry and the rigorous training that this will require;

2. that God will continue to bless the efforts we are making to work collaboratively with our churches and our denominational leaders to identify, encourage, and equip effective ministry leaders.

Financially, our targets for our operational and bursary funds in 2010 will be $97,000. In April 2010 we anticipate graduating, together with the seminaries in ACTS, about 65 newly-equipped ministry leaders. Your partnership in this task of leadership development remains a critical component.

May God bless you in this New Year.  May his grace “fill your sails” every day.

Canadians don’t talk about religion

By embracing dialogue rather than proclamation as an approach to engage people with our faith, are we selling out to cultural pressures?  By choosing the route of Significant Conversations because it is more comfortable and natural for us in our pluralist society, does this mean we are neglecting our call to proclaim the gospel?  Are we in danger of “watering down the gospel” by presenting it as only one of many beliefs? This article explores the reasons why dialogue represents an appropriate contextualization of evangelism that fits with our cultural “language” and mood, rather than an inappropriate capitulation to societal pressures.

>>View the entire article here