Seminary hosts first ever ‘Centergize’ conference; Additional events on the horizon

Luter
Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Ave. Baptist Church in New Orleans, preaches at ‘Centergize’ July 31.

New Orleans Baptist Seminary closed the summer season earlier this month with “Centergize,” a first-of-its-kind midsummer pastor’s conference for the school focused on the book of Ephesians. Centergize offered students the opportunity to earn up to nine academic credits in three courses — all based on Ephesians.

Featured plenary speakers were Chip Henderson, pastor of Pinelake Church in Mississippi, and Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.

Professor of Theology and Islamic Studies Mike Edens, who partnered with Professor of New Testament and Greek Jimmy Dukes on the project, said about 45 people attended each of the plenary sessions in Martin Chapel.

“There were rave reviews for both [Henderson and Luter],” Edens said. “They were totally different, but both biblical preachers preaching to the needs of their congregation. They develop their material for their task in different ways.”

Both Henderson and Luter shared with Centergize participants how they plan and prepare for their preaching, then actually preached a sermon from Ephesians. They also engaged participants in a question-and-answer time.

Henderson shared how he develops his preaching calendar — which he plans a year in advance — then discussed how he reads and exegetes a text, forms outlines and prepares sermons.

“He preaches biblical book series as his primary preaching methodology, though he does some other things,” Edens said. “He laid out the entire process, and it was very helpful to these pastors and staff members.”

Luter, on the other hand, prepares sermons more on a week-by-week basis. Mondays and Tuesdays, he focuses on preparing his sermon for Wednesday night. Thursdays and Fridays, he writes a sermon for Sunday. Sometimes Luter preaches through a book, sometimes he takes a topical approach. Oftentimes, the season of the year, whether it be Christmas, Easter, etc., helps guide his sermon planning. Luter said his basic method for sermon preparation is pray, plan (background study), prepare (write a manuscript) and preach.

Edens said the example of two longtime ministers preparing to preach in vastly different ways demonstrated for attendees the importance of seeking God and developing a personal strategy for sermon development. Both Henderson and Luter, Edens said, are “anointed by God [and are] being used in fabulous ways.”

Academically, Centergize offered three courses: an exegetical course on Ephesians, a preaching through the epistles course on Ephesians, and a doctrine of salvation course that focused on Ephesians.

“We had four students who got nine hours of academic credit that week,” Edens said. “We had three students who got six hours of academic credit, and quite a few others who just took one course.”

Students enrolled in one course were welcomed to attend lectures in other courses, even if they were not registered to receive academic credit.

Edens said the overall participation in Centergize was encouraging. He and Dukes are now in the process of planning Centergize 2015 for the same time period next summer. Next year’s conference will again feature a new testament book, he said.

Upcoming events at NOBTS

Centergize was the first in a string of events and conferences set to take place at New Orleans Baptist Seminary over the next few months. Here are details on events coming up at the seminary:

Multiply Louisiana: Missions & Church Planting Conference. Gather with church planting and missions enthusiasts from around Louisiana Aug. 25–26 for two days of learning, collaboration and encouragement. Cost is $35, but there is no cost for registration for current NOBTS students. For more information, go to louisianabaptists.org/multiply.

Timothy+Barnabas Legacy Conference. This is a one-day conference set for Sept. 4, featuring pastor Johnny Hunt. The conference starts with a chapel service at 11 a.m., then includes lunch and afternoon teaching sessions with Hunt. Overnight lodging is available. Register online and reserve a room at timothybarnabas.org/legacy.

Challenges to Religious Liberty. The Institute for Faith in the Public Square at NOBTS will host “Challenges to Religious Liberty” Sept. 30 from 7 to 9 p.m. on the seminary campus. Dr. Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, will speak on “challenges to the church.” Mathew Staver, director of Liberty University’s Center for Law and Policy and Dean of Liberty’s Law School , will address “challenges in counseling,” and political scientist Carol Swain will speak on “challenges in education.”

XCelerate Disciplemaking Conference. NOBTS will host the ‘XCelerate’ discipleship conference Oct. 16-17, with a focus on discipling children, students, families and adults. Plenary session speakers will include NOBTS President Chuck Kelley, NOBTS faculty members Hal Stewart and Allen Jackson, and author and speaker Steve Parr. Registration without class credit is $30. Academic courses and housing options are available. For more information, visit nobts.edu/publications/xcelerate.

Bible Translation as Missions. The Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, the Haggard Center for New Testament Textual Studies and the Global Missions Center at NOBTS will host a “Bible Translation as Missions” colloquium Oct. 20 on the seminary campus. The event will focus on the nature and status of Bible translation work globally and connect individuals interested in translating the Bible for the purpose of Christian missions. The event will be in HSC 219 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, contact Adam Harwood at aharwood@nobts.edu.