Attentiveness: A Seminary - Gordon Conwell

Attentiveness: A Seminary

There was a time when I would talk about a seminary and say that a seminary is basically a faculty and a good library. I have to change that today in light of technology; today I can access a great library from my phone at the beach!

Yet it remains ever true that a seminary is its faculty. The curriculum is secondary because if the wrong person is teaching, say, spiritual formation or introduction to the New Testament, it can be a disaster for the class, and therefore, for the church. On the other hand, a bright and deeply biblical professor can bring life out of a very imperfect curriculum.

No, to repeat, a seminary is all about the faculty. Full stop.

This is why this picture almost brings me to tears. We had less than two days together on a spiritual retreat this past week to prepare for the coming academic year. What do the faculty of a seminary do on a spiritual retreat? We don’t do “business” such as planning courses or talking about curriculum. We met around tables and talked and then listened to each other. And we also prayed a lot.

We talked about people who have had the greatest influence in our lives. We talked about the burdens we bear and then we prayed for each other. We laid hands on our new Provost Dr. Seong Park and prayed God’s blessing on his important ministry. We prayed about a new church planting initiative for New England, that through Gordon-Conwell, people will come to Christ and churches will be started throughout New England.

I was reminded how very bright and thoughtful this faculty is and how deeply spiritual and attentive they are to each other. We grew in our knowledge of one another and therefore in our ability to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).

I believe that when students come to a seminary and they see how faculty love one another and collaborate, and then see how scholarly work emerges from a community of Christian love, well, let’s just say this is both winsome and rare.

It is not that we are all alike. Far from it. We are counselors, Greek language professors, historians, theologians, former missionaries, and much more. We are Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Pentecostal, Adventist Christian, Baptist (Southern and American), and some come from independent churches. We also come from all over the world. Some are from New England, two are from Germany. Two are from Brazil, and three Koreans came to us via Canada (and Kazakhstan), the U.S., and South America. We have one Chinese faculty member, four Black Americans, two Hispanics, one Romanian, and we have a total of seventeen women and twenty-five men—and more when we consider our adjunct faculty. We are on the road to becoming a truly global faculty representing God’s global church.

But here is the real reason for my thanksgiving this week. This faculty has a deep love for Jesus and desire for others to know Jesus. I would trust any one of these faculty to share Jesus with my neighbor or close relative. We are Christian scholars who worship deeply, study carefully and evangelize enthusiastically—sharing openly around our tables time and again our evangelistic concern that the gospel win hearts.

If “evangelical” means anything today, it should still uphold the mission of evangelism: bringing good news in words and works. Being an announcer of good news is a great way of being—of being a seminary professor and a Christian.

“Preach the Word. Be urgent in season and out of season” (II Timothy 4:2).

As I reflect on this, I am reminded of the lyrics of the following song, “Send Me.”


Dr. Scott W. Sunquist, President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, is author of the “Attentiveness” blog. He welcomes comments, responses, and good ideas.


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