To Build a Foundation

Greetings from Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City!

As we prepare for the beginning of Fall semester later this month, we are anticipating extending welcome to one of our strongest incoming classes in several years. This summer has involved participation by several of our staff in events around the Church, including each of the PALCON’s (Pastors and Leaders Conferences), District Assemblies, and our just concluded NTS study trip to Russia with Drs. Chuck and Carla Sunberg.

One of my initial leadership strategies was to recruit a group of intercessors with whom I communicate regularly. I am grateful for these people of prayer who join me in seeking the mind of God for NTS. One of the core prayer requests I have shared with them is “that the Lord would help me to inspire confidence throughout the Church that NTS is a trustworthy and capable partner in the preparation of men and women for ministry.”

One of the intercessors asked me to elaborate on what it would take to inspire this confidence. I would like to share with you my response to my friend and invite you to join us in this prayer. From my experience as a pastor and especially as a district superintendent, I think the idea of our people having confidence in the ministers that NTS prepares actually involves several components. There are, however, a couple of essential ideas that have my special attention.

First, do our graduates know how to lead with pastoral wisdom? Do they know how to take their learning and apply it wisely in the particular context to which the Spirit sends them? This kind of wisdom requires good mentoring; something that we are deepening at NTS. It also requires a kind of patience that is born not simply of the ability to “wait it out” but a patience born of prayer and the deep work of the Spirit as pastors listen to God.

A second key component of this is a question that I heard often from local church board leaders when they were engaged in the work of calling a pastor. The question went something like this: “Will this pastor be willing to really “join us” as a people? Will they take this congregation into their hearts and not just see it as a temporary stop on the way to greater things?” And the question that always pierced my heart most was, “Brother Rowell, do you think we could find someone who would come and really love us?”

These are simple things and they are connected to essential things like evangelism, preaching, discipleship, and pastoral care. I do believe, however, that  the Church has too often been languishing under pastoral leadership that has not always been attentive in these ways.

Our mission at NTS is not simply to deliver content and learning for its own sake. Our mission is to help the women and men whom God is calling to build a sufficient foundation of theological learning, Christian virtue, and pastoral wisdom from which they will be able to conduct a lifetime of faithful and effective ministry. Thank you for joining us in this work with your support and prayers.

The peace of our Lord,

Jeren Rowell
President and Professor of Pastoral Ministry
Nazarene Theological Seminary


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