Alumni are a type of genetic mapping for a seminary.
If you want to know what type of seminary Gordon-Conwell is, talk to alumni. Let me list examples about alumni and their work from meetings I have had in the past few months.
- participated in 45 years of international student ministry
- developed an anti-bullying program through martial arts and Bible study
- chaplaincy program for restaurants in a city: caring for and evangelizing owners, chefs, wait staff, etc.
- planting churches in New England
- teaching in colleges, seminaries, universities in Europe, Latin America, and North America (many!)
- working to revitalize churches (many!)
- chaplaincy work for travelers in airports (remarkable ministry to people in liminal spaces!)
- editors, publishers, and writers (many)
- counseling women who have suffered trauma
- faithfully pastoring church and seeking to reach more people for Christ (many)
- years of faithful mission work in dangerous places
I think this is amazing.
What does this say about Gordon-Conwell? One of the overwhelming impressions for me (besides the love of Scripture) is the creativity shown to reach out to others. It is remarkable how creative our alumni are in finding ways to evangelize and disciple people.
When a person graduates with an MDiv, they have done a lot of work and invested a lot of money. And yet, so many of our graduates leave and then raise money for the privilege of reaching out in difficult places. Many initiate new ways of reaching the unreached. Frankly, I often felt small, like I was a man of “little faith” when I heard about the great faith and boldness of our graduates. Truly inspiring.
Outreach (and the related theme of risk taking) was another dominant theme. It seems like most of our graduates understand that the very nature of the Church, the heart of the Christian life, is that of reaching out to others. Outreach is both traditional (as missionaries and evangelists), but also as professors in universities, chaplains in the marketplace, and building bridges from the heart of God to broken hearts in counseling.
A third overwhelming impression from our alumni is their adaptability while staying focused on God’s mission. One alum has served many international churches, but they were on three continents! Another worked with international students, but through three different organizations. A number of alumni moved across the States or the world to serve, staying focused on their calling and God’s mission.
One final thought, and a prayer request. Do we attract these types of people who are risk takers, people of deep faith, and focused on creative outreach for the Kingdom? Or do we shape them to become this type of Christian leader through out educational programs and faculty inspiring the students?
I think it is both, and we should work hard to keep it this way.
On a personal level, I came to Gordon-Conwell with great zeal for God’s mission and was willing to go anywhere in the world, but the education I received enhanced that purpose and gave it direction. My calling, creativity, and zeal was nurtured, not stifled, and for this I am grateful to this day.
The prayer request? Please pray with me:
“Lord Jesus Christ, you who created the universe with its beauty and diversity, help us, following you, to encourage and equip our students to also be creative in reaching the lost, loving the unloved, and binding up the wounds of the oppressed. Guide Gordon-Conwell—from donors to Board members, to staff, faculty, and administration—to grow in zeal for your Word to help our students to reach beyond the comfortable places, into the difficult places, and to plant churches in cities and small towns, in the United States and in unreached regions of the world. We pray that Gordon-Conwell will continue to be part of the answer to Jesus’ prayer that “Thy Kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. ~Amen”
Dr. Scott W. Sunquist, President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, is author of the “Attentiveness” blog. He welcomes comments, responses, and good ideas.