Monthly Archives: October 2013

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.

Changes

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.

You can contact Ron via this form:
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