Diognetus on the Atonement

He did not hate us nor reject us nor hold a grudge against us, but he was patient. He endured. He himself mercifully took the burden of our sins. He himself gave up his own Son as a ransom for us, the holy for the lawless, the one without wickedness for the wicked, the righteous for the unrighteous, the imperishable for the perishable, the immortal for the mortal.

Letter to Diognetus 9:2

The long and winding road: collected wisdom on maturing in seminary

The long and winding road: collected wisdom on maturing in seminary

3 Lessons from the Mid-Continent Tragedy

Sixty-five years of Baptist education and investment in west Kentucky has come suddenly, abruptly, and grievously to an end. I spent two semesters at Mid-Continent University eight years ago but chose not to pursue my Bachelor’s degree there due to the culture of the institution, which is only now slowly coming to light.

For those of us who know the churches and individuals who gave sacrificially to create Mid-Continent Bible College, this story is a sad one. Even so, we might be able to salvage some of that investment if Baptists will learn the lessons that this tragedy can teach.

1. Organizations easily drift from their mission, and leaders exist to keep this from happening. Mid-Continent began as the West Kentucky Bible Institute. Its mission was singular: to train the gospel ministers serving Baptist churches in west Kentucky. Towards the end of the 20th century, this mission was chucked as the college expanded into a university. The College of the Bible plummeted down the list of priorities. When I was on campus eight years ago, the College of the Bible was only a shadow of what it once had been. Why did the leadership make this change in its mission? I don’t want to speculate here, but to put it bluntly it was an unnecessary change. There was no lack of educational opportunities in west Kentucky for those seeking a secular degree. The major hole in the educational landscape was a program to train gospel ministers, but this mission was not enough for the Mid-Continent leadership.

2. Trustees must hold organizations accountable to their mission. The greatest failure in this story is not the presidencies of David Jester or Robert Imhoff. The failure of the institution belongs to the board of trustees. The Baptist associations of west Kentucky selected board members to safeguard the investment of Baptist churches. Instead they acted as a rubber stamp for the wishes of the administration. Over a decade ago, they should have said, “We are funding this institution to educate our pastors and ministers. Let’s not get distracted from that mission.” Trustees should never just trust the administrators of an institution. If they do so, they abandon their main role, which is to hold the organization accountable.

3. An institution can either train gospel ministers or accept federal funding, but it cannot do both. The move from Bible college to university allowed Mid-Continent to open the door to federal funding. The formula is simple: The more students an institution has then the more federal dollars that flow into that institution. I don’t question the motivations of the leadership here. Whether their motivations were good or bad, the reality remains the same. In pursuit of federal money, Mid-Continent expanded rapidly by adding programs and extension centers, promoting itself as the fastest growing university in Kentucky. As the university grew, the Bible college became a relic of the past. The number of Bible college students dropped just as the investment in and quality of the Bible program dropped. If the driving force of an institution is training gospel ministers, then forget about making money. If the driving force is money, then forget about training gospel ministers. The two do not go together.

As the investigations continue, I am sure that even more lessons can be drawn from the tragic demise of Mid-Continent University. For now, we grieve the fact that the sacrificial investment of west Kentucky Baptists has been squandered, and we grieve with those who have lost their employment. But let’s make sure that we learn the lessons that this tragedy can teach us.

Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul

Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul

Podcast Review: Beyond the To Do List

I listen to a lot of podcasts. I listen to podcasts for two reasons: First, I am in the car a lot and it’s a good way to use the time. Second, it’s an easy way to strengthen myself in areas that I’m weak in. I mainly listen to podcasts on topics beyond my areas of expertise: leadership, productivity, apologetics, even linguistics. Since podcasts have helped me so much, I decided that I would pass along some of the best so that they might help you as well. So, here goes my first podcast review…

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In Beyond the To Do List, host Erik Fisher thinks about productivity in holistic and creative ways. If you have a good work ethic, then you want to get things done. However, if you work in a field that requires creativity or intellectual labor (as opposed to physical labor), then this can be a challenge.

Having grown up around so many people who labor physically, I often feel guilty that my labor is so intangible and intellectual. So, I often compensate for this guilt by overworking in an attempt to counteract the “lazy preacher” stereotype that lives on in rural areas. However, Beyond the To Do List helped me to think more clearly about what it is that I do and how I can organize to get things done efficiently.

Fisher interviews professionals from various fields to talk about everything from handling email to setting goals to health. In fact, it is the variety of Fisher’s guests and topics that make his podcast stand out from others in the productivity field.

Beyond the To Do List is an entertaining way to sharpen your skills as a leader and as a creative. It encourages me to work hard, live life, and go for the next level—to know what my work is and to do it.