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?
There are numerous highlights in our perception of Northwest’s leadership preparation/development process during those years.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- Leadership development is the responsibility of the local church
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.