The conference that changed my life

Communications Staff — January 20, 2010

In the spring of 2003, I stepped onto a charter bus with 30 other college students. Nine hours, lots of laughs and a dinner buffet later, we rolled unto the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

We had missed the first general session of Southern’s Give Me An Answer Collegiate Conference in our travels, so my other college buddies and I settled into couches in the lobby of Southern’s Legacy Center Hotel to make our elective session choices.

The next morning, we arose and made our way to our respective classrooms. For my second elective, my good friend Joe Fuentes and I found ourselves in the front row. The man teaching seemed to be not much older than we were and not even as tall: “Russell D. Moore,” I thought, reading his nametag. “Hmmm… kind of young.”

Fifty minutes later Moore had convinced me that the Man on the Island would die and go to hell without the Gospel and that I needed to go and take it to him. We then made our way over to Alumni Memorial Chapel to hear a man named Albert Mohler present several of the most information-packed, theologically-robust messages I had ever heard.

The other elective sessions, with the late Ron Nash and theologian and historian Tom Nettles, were also compelling, and I returned home with my head hurting and my heart full of things to think about.

Two and a half years and a wedding later, I stepped into a Southern classroom again, this time as a master of divinity student.

Southern’s “Give Me An Answer Collegiate Conference” was the first step for me in deciding to come to this seminary. A return visit for the seminary’s preview weekend, “Scene@Southern,” was an important step in the decision to come to Southern, but it all began with the Collegiate Conference.

As I heard a few of Southern’s professors explain why Jesus is the Only Way and defend biblical doctrines related to that critical issue, I was able to see the seminary’s devotion to biblical truth. And as I began to walk through my master of divinity here, I came to see that the faculty of Southern is committed not just to imparting the knowledge of biblical truth, but to pressing that truth into students’ lives so that it changes them. So that it sinks deep into students, molding them more into the image of Christ, so that they can in turn do the same in local church and missionary contexts.

Southern cannot train men for local church ministry. Only local churches can do that. But Southern is devoted to assisting local churches, partnering with local churches, in training men for ministry. And that they do very, very well. With at least nine professors serving in staff roles in churches, and a number of others in other leadership positions, Southern’s faculty is unique among seminaries in its combination of academic, theological and biblical acumen with practical, pastoral wisdom.

Just two night ago, two friends and I bantered about which class at Southern has been our favorite. As we did this, we quickly had to move to favorites (plural). After about 20 minutes, we shifted to the question “what classes have you not liked?” because the favorite category was so full.

For me, the starting point in all of this was Southern’s Collegiate Conference. This year’s theme is “Does God Still Speak?” If you have any thought of pursuing theological training for ministry, I encourage you to come. If you aren’t planning on seminary, but want to be better equipped to take the Gospel to your college campus or your future co-workers in whatever career field you are preparing for, this conference is for you as well.

Just be warned: it might change your life.

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

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