Mar. 7, 2021
Biola faculty continually invest in their communities and churches, locally and internationally, as recently seen at Shepherd of the Hills Church’s Theology Conference, in Woodland Hills. Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology alumnus and Shepherd of the Hills Pastor, Caleb Kaltenbach (‘07), understands the significance of partnering with theology, apologetics and philosophy faculty in order to enrich the teaching ministry of the local church.
“I think that churches don't know how to continually utilize the teaching resources of seminaries. Their misconception is that the seminary gives us our pastors, and that's it!” said Kaltenbach.
But not all Christian faculty or Christian universities and seminaries in North America invest in service beyond their “job.”
“Talbot’s mission is primarily to serve the church and its various biblically-based ministries by preparing students who will serve the church well,” said Dennis Dirks, Dean of Talbot School of Theology. “Faculty themselves are enriched and their course content is enhanced through involvement in church ministries themselves and through participating in church conferences and other opportunities.”
Thus, as a way to showcase how faculty can contribute beyond the academic corridors, since May several Biola faculty have been main speakers at an ongoing Theology Conference hosted by Kaltenbach’s Shepherd of the Hills (Woodland Hills) Church. (www.shepherdwoodlandhills.com).
Seven Biola faculty and their topics were presented at Shepherd of the Hills: John Bloom on Intelligent Design, Don Sunukjian on homiletics and communication, Mickey Klink on the historical reliability of the Gospels, Ashish Naidu on the sovereignty of God, Mark Saucy on eschatological millennial views, Kevin Lewis on the cults, and Timothy Pickavance on Christian ethics. Most sessions have averaged one-hundred or so attendees.
“Sometimes I think that professors and seminaries think that their service to the local church is just to prepare the next generation of pastors,” said Kaltenbach. “Well, that may be their job, but that is not their service.”
The need for faculty to serve in local arenas is all the more accentuated by current economic conditions. As Kaltenbach observes, “many churches can't afford to send pastors to conferences or continuing education classes...what a great chance for the seminary to pick up the ball and assist churches in sending out their faculty to do lessons and seminars.”
For Kaltenbach, Talbot’s training reinforced the interrelatedness of belief and knowledge formation with spiritual formation:
“Talbot helped to form my preaching, increase my love of academics, and forced me to search through personal issues so the Holy Spirit could work more effectively in my life,” he said.
The attitude of that training is being replicated by how a culture of learning and equipping is developing at Shepherd of the Hills Church. For example, they have “Bible Fellowships” (small groups with a deeper study of the Word), “Bible electives” (six week classes on hermeneutics, theology, etc), and four retreats a year for men and women to focus on spiritual formation.
This was the first year that such a Theology Conference was held at Shepherd of the Hills Church. Given how well it was received and the need it helped fulfill, Kaltenbach is already anticipating the good of next year’s conference. According to Kaltenbach, there are many people in churches that feel called to full-time vocational ministry, but don’t know where to start. He believes if more churches partnered with seminaries, people would have a starting contact.
“That's one of the reasons why I used Talbot professors so much for this conference. I wanted our people to know that there is a phenomenal seminary not more than forty-five minutes away, and they stand ready to prepare you for a life of ministry.”
Written by Joseph Gorra, Apologetics. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, at (562) 777-4061 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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