Monthly Archives: November 2015

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. )

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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.