In this issue, we shine our Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Lyle Pointer (’71), NTS Professor of Evangelism, Frank and Gladys Cooper Memorial Chair of Evangelism. Dr. Pointer began teaching at NTS in 2000. He and his wife, Paula (who is a Marriage and Family Therapist), recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. They have 2 daughters who graduated this year with Master’s Degrees: Lana in Speech Pathology and Brooke in Theology. The NTS Connection staff recently interviewed Dr. Pointer.Aside from teaching, what keeps you busy these days?
“I pastor (part-time) Blue Springs Church of the Nazarene, a multi-generational congregation with a heart for evangelism.
“Also, I try to golf. My efforts endanger a board member’s life who lives beside hole 18. While he is still alive at the moment, I must admit to property damage.”
As the Professor of Evangelism here at NTS, you are known to have a passion and a heart for the lost. How does this passion translate to your ministry and classroom contexts?
“When I received encouragement to pastor a local congregation while teaching evangelism, I entered two wonderful worlds. I live and work alongside a people making up the Church who desire to reach the unreached. Their willingness to release me to use my gifts and to work inside my passion as a personal evangelist, while pastoring and teaching, remains a blessing. My bi-vocational ministry allows me to remain evangelistically active. At the same time the practice of ministry keeps me real and relevant in the classroom. I can tell the stories of receptivity and resistance to God’s grace. I get first-hand experience in the rigors of ministry. I know the joy of celebrating the spiritual successes of God’s people. My students live those times and experiences with me.”What do you believe is the importance and opportunity of the Evangelism scholarships offered at NTS?
“Scholarships in general help students who do not have financial resources. Many of our students come from their undergraduate education with significant indebtedness; scholarships ease some of the financial stressors surrounding graduate studies (Editor’s note: You may read more about the donors and recipients of NTS Scholarships in the corresponding printed issue of the NTS Connection beginning on page 6).We have several emphases within the Master of Divinity Degree Program; what would you say is the strength and purpose of the Evangelism Emphasis?
“Evangelism scholarships attract students to an emphasis in evangelism. These scholarships are another way of drawing attention to God’s anticipation and expectation that the Church will offer salvation to all. When approximately 20% of Nazarene churches take in no new members by profession of faith in a year’s time, we need to evaluate the programs and passions of congregations and their leadership. Evangelism as a Seminary concentration prepares future ministers to think theologically and contextually about reaching lost people.”
“We teach students to think theologically—for a purpose. One aspect of God’s mission in the world certainly includes the initial steps of spiritual formation or evangelism. The evangelism emphasis assures a student is able to think about how to implement theological concepts in a variety of contexts. Students learn how to engage unredeemed people in conversation, how to help unsaved people see the Holy Spirit’s influence in their lives, and how to lead open people to make a spiritual decision in response to God’s grace.”When you hear that NTS is committed to “equip students for service” what does this mean for you?
“Our task is to produce ministers and leaders who are people of sterling character, sound consideration and successful competencies. NTS should be viewed as the Church preparing servants committed to the Lord Jesus and His people—presently and potentially.”As an NTS alum, who is now an NTS Professor, how have things changed since you were a student here (particularly in regard to Evangelism’s teaching and training)?
“The Seminary’s resources are much greater now than in the past. Faculty and staff have changed. More women are studying with us. We have strengthened the practical preparation for ministry. We provide more access to graduate level study through online courses and in-service training. More importantly than past changes are the future ones we must make in order to be relevant to society, our local congregations, a changing denomination, and a different God-called student constituency.”
Are there any other thoughts that you have about the importance of the Evangelism Program here at NTS?
“Evangelism is much broader and more encompassing than some people think. We teach apologetics. We encourage compassion and justice. We understand that faith-shaping and faith-sharing are undeniably united. Evangelism and ecclesiology are also interwoven in Scripture and in practice. We embrace God’s grace that pursues sinners even while they are sinning. At the same time, we call people into a loving relationship with God which we call holiness.”