IMB taps Lawless for theological ed. post

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--In an effort to get solid theological training to grass-roots leaders and strengthen ties between the International Mission Board and overseas Baptist seminaries, the IMB has appointed a consultant for global theological education.

Chuck Lawless, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., will offer theological guidance to IMB personnel and Baptist partners serving throughout the world.

Lawless begins his new role June 1. He will continue serving full-time in as dean of the Billy Graham School. As a consultant, Lawless will travel overseas about four times a year to meet with missionaries, local believers and seminaries. He also will teach short-term courses at overseas seminaries and during missionary orientation at the International Learning Center in Rockville, Va.

"My first hope is just to learn what the IMB is already doing and to come alongside the efforts that are already taking place and strengthen what's there," Lawless said.

"I will help them look at what's working, what's not working and at how it can be strengthened. We want to help produce churches [overseas] that are grounded in the Word and theologically strong, and they can reach out beyond themselves and reach others."

IMB President Jerry Rankin said Lawless' role is not a unique partnership between the IMB and Southern Seminary, but a way to connect overseas mission opportunities with Baptist seminaries and partners here in the States as well. Lawless will represent the IMB as a liaison to all six SBC seminaries in encouraging their partnership and involvement with overseas seminaries.

"I am excited about the momentum of a Great Commission resurgence in our convention that would see stateside churches and denominational entities claiming more ownership of our mission task and becoming more strategically involved around the world," Rankin said.

"Over the years, we have seen the cutting-edge task of theological education training is not in these Western institutional models of theological education," he said, "but in decentralized theological education for grass-roots leaders in the growing church-planting movements around the world."

The IMB partners with about 140 residential Bible schools and seminaries around the world, which enroll a total of 22,000 students each year. An additional 200,000 students are being trained in non-residential programs of decentralized theological education.

Ron Wilson, IMB associate vice president of leadership and ministries development, sees the new role as a strategic way to locate areas that need theological training and to build relationships.

"I see this role as a great connecting role, connecting with U.S. seminaries to be involved with overseas seminaries and all of it together," Wilson said.

"It's a key time ... to impact the Kingdom."


Reported by Garrett E. Wishall and Shawn Hendricks, writers, respectively, for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the International Mission Board.

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