Thank you for all you do. Your choice to invest your life in raising up the next generation is, in a very real way, an exercise in selflessness. You have chosen to take the words of Jesus in John 12:24 seriously, "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
Working in the "real world" or church world could have brought you more money or prestige but it may not have had as much impact. You have picked the path of delayed gratification. You have chosen to wait to witness your students surpass you and do great things for God instead of the immediate "thrill of the chill" that comes from hands-on ministry in a church setting. The result of you choosing to die to yourself will result in many seeds and much fruit being produced across the nation and around the world.
So thank you.
But along with an encouragement I want to give you a challenge.
Imagine with me that you are pouring out milk into a sponge. Imagine saturating that sponge with the highest quality milk available. If that milk is not squeezed out then that milk will, sooner or later, spoil. And there's few things more disgusting than rotten milk.
In the same way you are pouring the highest quality truth into the hearts, souls and minds of thirsty seminary students. And they are soaking it in like sponges.
But if we don't help them squeeze that truth out in the form of Gospel conversations and discipleship multiplication then they will, like milk-filled sponges, spoil. And there are few things more disgusting than a truth-saturated believer that has gone bad.
And, if you are going to challenge your students to pour themselves out to reach the unreached and disciple the reached then you must be doing the same. As Jesus reminds us in Luke 6:40, "The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher." In other words when your students are fully trained they will be just like you.
So, with this as a backdrop, allow me to ask a series of tough questions:
-Are you actively sharing the Gospel (or are you floating from one Bible bubble to another holy huddles?)
-Are you in proximity to the unreached (because it's hard to reach them if you don't know them!)
-Are you growing deeper in your faith, praying harder for your lost friends and risking more for your Savior than you were five years ago (or have you become somewhat institutionalized?)
-How would your students describe your passion for the Lord and compassion for the lost behind your back?
Please don't take these questions as a sledgehammer to smash you with but a pry bar (in the words of my friend Bill Jack) to open your mind and heart to exciting new possibilities:
...the possibility of seeing your students' theology set ablaze with purpose and passion!
...the possibility of reaching the community around your seminary with the hope of Jesus Christ right now!
...the possibility of adding to the theoretical the very practical training of faith-sharing and disciple-making!
...the possibility of actually participating in a revival right now (instead of just reading about the ones that happened in the distant past!)
For some ideas to get the party started check out our site: gospeladvancing.com. Although it's designed for youth leaders I'm convinced the values listed there are transferable to a church, para-church and, yes, even a seminary.
God has placed you in a tremendous place of impact. The forms you are laying in the hearts and minds of your students right now is where the concrete you are pouring will eventually solidify. May those forms reflect the book of Acts and may that concrete represent a solid foundation to build an awakening on!
Thanks again for your investment in the next generation. My prayers are with you as you seek to do it all, in the words of St Ignatius, "For the greater glory of God and salvation of humanity."
*By the way this letter could also be written to Christian University and Bible College/Institute professors but "Dear Seminary Professor" sounds way cooler than "Dear Bible College, Christian University or Seminary Professors" ;)
And please use the comment section below to share your thoughts about this open letter...good, bad or ugly. All comments are welcome!