FROM THE SEMINARIES: MBTS offers pastors recorded sermons; SWBTS hosts online music conferences

Midwestern Seminary offers pastors recorded sermon resources during pandemic

By John L. Inman, III

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) -- In light of the numerous challenges facing pastors during the coronavirus crisis, Midwestern Seminary is offering a variety of recorded sermons, preached in recent semesters by the school's faculty and staff, for overloaded pastors to use.

The sermons include a variety of speakers including President Jason Allen, and faculty members H.B. Charles, Jr., Jared C. Wilson, Owen Strachan and Jason DeRouchie among others. The sermons, which can be accessed at www.mbts.edu/sermons, are available to stream or download.

Allen said as he thought of pastors, who are being overloaded with new, stressful demands being placed on them because of this unprecedented crisis, it caused him to think of ways MBTS could serve them. One of the ways was through the incredible resource of gifted preachers and solid messages regularly preached by Midwestern's faculty and staff.

Allen said Midwestern Seminary has been blessed by God with a "stellar faculty and incredible resources across the board" and offering these resources "is a small but strategic step for us to assist pastors in this hour of need."

Having served in ministry for more than 20 years, with 10 of those as pastor or interim pastor at various Southern Baptist churches, Allen said he understands the unique situation local pastors are facing.

"I know all the challenges and opportunities associated with pastoring a local church," he explained. "During this season, when pastors are having to juggle a host of responsibilities and manufacture a host of adaptations in light of the coronavirus, my heart goes out to them."

He added that these pastors are also carrying the very real pastoral weight of church members who are often sick, know others that are sick with COVID-19, or who, just in general, are fearful of the virus.

"By offering these sermons, perhaps we can offer encouragement, alleviate some of the stress they're enduring, and offer them an oasis of hope and rest during this incredibly trying season," he said.

Ioan Veres, pastoral assistant at Eagle Heights Baptist Church in Kansas City and an MBTS student and staff member, is one such pastor dealing with the stresses of shepherding his people through the crisis.

The inability to meet together physically for worship and Bible study as well as reduced offerings are some of the ways his church has been affected.

"As pastors," Veres said, "we are not immune to anxiety and stress. However, in these troubled and uncertain times, we know that God reigns supreme over His universe, and His reign will never end."

Veres added that he sees the benefit the sermons can provide for pastors who might be overburdened and in need of pulpit supply; however, due to the restrictions and disruptions of the coronavirus, they cannot find the help they need.

"I believe the resources offered by Midwestern serve as an instrumental support for pastors and ministers," Veres said. "These excellent sermons represent a Christ-centered, God-glorifying means by which Midwestern Seminary can minister to our churches and edify our families."

The resources provided by Midwestern, he continued, "can be successfully used in case pastors need to take a Sunday off, for small group Bible studies, for youth groups or for our families."

Allen said the institution is intentional about "serving churches large and small.

"This thought process definitely animated us during this particular initiative, as we began asking ourselves all the different ways we can stand in the gap for pastors and churches during this season of disruption."

For more information or to ask questions about accessing the sermons, contact Midwestern Seminary's Audio/Visual team at av@mbts.edu.

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Myers at SWBTS: Musical beauty 'contains a summons' to glorify God

By Alex Sibley

FORTH WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Christians must resist the cultural temptation to see musical expression and practices as beyond Christian discipleship and must see that the beauty of music "contains a summons" to glorify God, author Ken Myers said in keynote talks for The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's School of Church Music and Worship April 17.

Throughout the month of April, the School of Church Music and Worship has hosted scholarly presentations online through its "Artistic Theologian" website. In addition to paper presentations by faculty and students, these webinars featured two presentations by Myers, host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal and author of such works as "All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture." Myers spoke on two topics: "Musical Discipleship in the Face of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism" and "Encountering the Really Real in Musical Beauty."

Myers' webinar was held as the school also launched new resources, including a revised website and a new issue of its academic journal. As explained in a campus-wide email, the website "has expanded to include resources that aid worship pastors and music ministers understand and implement local church worship that is biblically faithful, musically excellent, and ministry focused." These resources include both scholarly lectures and articles as well as worship service orders, Scripture readings, prayers, songs, and more for local churches. To learn more, visit ArtisticTheologian.com.

During the webinar, Myers said, "The nature and the consumption of music today is generally assumed to be an expression of something that's deeply personal, instinctive and beyond thoughtful discipline, and Christians typically believe about music the same sorts of things that their neighbors believe."

Noting the harmful effects this can have on worship, as well as discipleship overall, Myers said that Christians "can't avoid addressing the ways in which the practices of music form our hearts, form our affections."

"Disordered musical practices make us love things that we shouldn't while depriving us of opportunities for delight in the best that music can be," he said. "The unique nature of music enables it to shape our affections and dispositions with an unparalleled power. And as a result of that, philosophers and theologians and teachers long believed that the shaping of musical taste was a significant part -- in fact, a foundational part -- of moral formation."

"But for a host of reasons," Myers continued, "the mid-20th century witnessed a remarkable abandonment of that concern. So musical affections, musical preferences, are now typically regarded to be self-authenticating, and any effort to shape taste is regarded as woefully elitist."

Myers exhorted Christians not to allow themselves to be overly influenced by the culture, but to see how their faith encompasses all of life.

"The church's work of discipleship should challenge all of the ways in which the surrounding culture deters us from living a full and rich and loving and fulfilling life that we're created to live," Myers said. "And I believe that's what a recognition of Christ's lordship implies. Avoiding conformity to the world doesn't mean that our lives are less human or less culturally rich. On the contrary, the transformation of our understanding of God and of His creation enables us to live much more fully human lives, lives that are in tune with the harmony of God's good creation."

In his second presentation, Myers addressed how the beauty of music "contains a summons."

"It awakens awe in us," he said. "It elevates us above that which is base. It fills our hearts with a longing for the eternal beauty of God."

The beauty of music -- as well as the beauty of love, truth, and goodness -- are all a sign of the glory of God, he said.

"That's why I think the church has almost always tried to make everything in its life beautiful -- its buildings, its music, its furnishings, the clothes worn by its clergy, the flowers and the ways its altars are decorated. All of these things in their beauty are a shadow of the glory of God," he said.

Myers exhorted Christians to keep beauty in their lives to remind them of God's glory.

"And we need to respond and honor God's glory, to worship Him," he said, "so that we can take proper delight in who He is and in all of the things He has made."

To view Myers' and other webinar presentations, as well as a schedule for upcoming sessions, visit ArtisticTheologian.com/events.

John L. Inman, III is a Ph.D. student and special contributor to the office of institutional editor at Midwestern Seminary. Alex Sibley is associate director of news and information at SWBTS. Katie Coleman writes for SWBTS.
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