SBTS chapel live blog: ‘Memphis, Miami, Milan, and Mumbai: Ministry Somewhere, Anywhere, Everywhere’

Communications Staff — February 3, 2009

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, recognized the seminary faculty and staff who have helped restore the institution following snow and ice storms that left it without power for four days.

Mohler recognized students new to Southern Seminary.

Mark McClellan, professor of Christian theology and missions at Boyce College, has been named dean of the faculty of Oklahoma Baptist University, Mohler said.

Installment of professors in endowed chairs

Two professors were installed in endowed chairs in Southern’s School of Leadership and Church Ministry:

  • Jesse T. Atkinson was installed as the J.M. Frost Assistant Professor of Leadership and Church Ministry.
  • Hal K. Pettegrew was installed as the Gaines S. Dobbins Professor of Leadership and Church Ministry.

Convocation message

Preacher: R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Mohler preached from Acts 1:1-8. He noted the seminary’s theme for the school year, ‘The Year of Living Dangerously’ and said his message this morning bears out that theme.

The bridge from Luke to Acts is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Acts is the story of the emerging church: The church emerging into the Gospel, the truth and the fullness of power in the Holy Spirit.

Acts details the emergence of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is built on the resurrection of that Christ. Acts also speaks of the emergence of the kingdom of God.

Wait: Christ’s first post-resurrection imperative to His disciples

The disciples were told to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. But they had the promise that this wait would end in not many days. The disciples want to know if this is the time when Christ would establish His kingdom. Christ told the disciples to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit and told them that they would be His witnesses.

Jesus told His disciples that their role would not be co-regents of an earthly kingdom. Instead, they would be His witnesses. The word, witnesses, appears more than 30 times in the book of Acts. Jesus was telling His disciples that their central role would be to serve as His witnesses.

Witnesses here, there and everywhere

The disciples were to be the witnesses of Christ’s life, death and resurrection:

  • In Jerusalem
  • In all Judea and Samaria
  • To the end of the earth.

There must be a going to before there can be a gathering from.

The word witness can be a weak word. It can be a word we equate with someone subpoenaed to a court, dragged into a witness stand and forced to weakly tell what he knows of an event. But this is not is meant when Jesus speaks of being a witness.

The disciples are witnesses to the gospel, God’s plan from before the ages to save people from every tribe and tongue and nation. The gospel is the message of salvation. It is only natural that the disciples would want to share this message that has changed their lives.

There are some who will be called to serve in Jerusalem for a lifetime. There are others who will be called to Samaria for a lifetime. But there are many who will serve as witnesses to the gospel in many places throughout their lifetime

Memphis, Miami, Milan and Mumbai

Jerusalem and Samaria are far removed from us. But I would ask you to think about Memphis, Miami, Milan and Mumbai.

These are all unique ministry contexts:


Memphis is highly-churched. Memphis is like Jerusalem. There is a need for graduates of this institution to go to churches in Memphis. There is a need for graduates of this institution to go and build great missionary churches. To give people a vision for taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.

The greatest threat to the missionary endeavor of the Southern Baptist Convention is not that there will be a great enough commitment of young people to go. The greatest threat to the missionary endeavor of the SBC is that there will not be enough young people to send.

We need pastors who will lead their people to send.


Miami represents post-modern, multi-ethnic America.

Miami isn’t Memphis with a beach. It is Buenos Aires in North America. Is it the international capital for Latin entertainment. Hispanics form 68% of the population of Miami.

As Miami is now, so also much of America soon will be.

We need a generation of students who will become pastors and church planters and faithful expositors in a place (Miami) that doesn’t look like home.


Milan is now the largest metropolitan area in Italy.

Milan has a rich tradition in church history. But Milan has now become a near perfect symbol of post-Christian Europe. The situation in Europe is one of re-taking the gospel to a continent that once broadly embraced it. And there are many unique challenges in taking the gospel to such a place.

We need a generation ready to go to Milan. A generation bold enough to say, we are going to show what Christianity really looks like. We need a generation that is bold enough to point to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only foundation for hope and salvation.


Mumbai is the center of India’s cultural life. There are 16 official languages in Mumbai, including Hindi and English. The nation of India is 2.3% Christian, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Mumbai represents the cutting edge of population growth in the modern world. The future of the world, in terms of population, is represented by Mumbai more than Memphis, Miami or Milan.

We need a generation ready for Mumbai.

Anywhere, somewhere, everywhere

Acts 1:8 does not need updating. There, we receive a mandate to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel.

The goal of this institution is to produce a core of ministers of the gospel are willing to go anywhere. We definitely want a generation of ministers who will go somewhere. And if we do this, eventually we will have a group who will take the gospel everywhere.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

Apply now for summer or fall studies

Classes begin in June & Aug.