By Alex Sibley, SWBTS Communications
On Wednesday, Oct. 21, trustees voted to approve the establishment of a new School of Preaching at Southwestern Seminary. As the seventh of Southwestern’s academic schools, the School of Preaching will be dedicated to training students in the art of text-driven preaching. David Allen, who currently serves as dean of the School of Theology, was elected as the founding dean of the School of Preaching, and both of these trustee actions will be effective Aug. 1, 2016.
Lash Banks, chairman of the board of trustees, says, “Our Scriptures proclaim, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news….’ With the founding of the School of Preaching, Southwestern Seminary proclaims an identifying commitment to train called, capable and courageous preachers to bring the good news of the ancient text to the darkened heart of the modern world.”
Citing Southwestern’s motto of “Preach the Word, Reach the World,” Steven Smith, vice president for student services and communications, notes that Southwestern is now the only Southern Baptist seminary that has a separate missions and preaching school. “So it really isn’t a slogan,” Smith says. “It’s our identity and our heartbeat.”
The concept of text-driven preaching will be integral to the new school. Allen defines text-driven preaching as expository preaching “in its purest form,” where the structure, substance and spirit of the text drive the structure, substance and spirit of the sermon. This means “preaching the Word of God as inspired by the Spirit of God.”
The school’s seven-member faculty will comprise such preachers as Barry McCarty, chief parliamentarian for the SBC; Vern Charette, who specializes in evangelistic preaching; and Steven Smith, whose published works include Dying to Preach: Embracing the Cross in the Pulpit and Recapturing the Voice of God: Shaping Sermons Like Scripture. The faculty has 217 years of combined preaching experience, and each brings a unique dynamic to the table, from linguistics and rhetoric to history and evangelistic preaching.
Also, all seven faculty have preaching experience in local churches. Allen, who has served in multiple senior and interim pastorates, says this creates “such a dynamic that when we stand in the classroom to talk about preaching, we are not dealing with this from an ivory tower; we are people coming from the angle of practical experience, and that makes a world of difference in the teaching of preaching.”
All preaching courses at Southwestern will be taught through the School of Preaching. Degrees available through the school include the Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Ministry, and Master of Theology. In addition, the school will also offer the certificate of preaching that will supplement the Master of Divinity programs of the School of Theology and Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
Concerning the significance of the School of Preaching in the context of the SBC, Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost at Southwestern, says, “We’re coming into the life of the convention at a time when the conservative reformation has accomplished its task, but the next stage is to bring out the meaning of that in the preaching in churches. We have the battle for the inerrant Bible being taught in the seminaries, but now is the issue of preaching the Word. It has to be preached, and this is the place to [learn how to] do it.”