The 2020 Zondervan Greek Award Winner

Bree SnowEach year, Zondervan Academic partners with universities and seminaries across the country to honor students who have worked exceptionally hard in the biblical languages. Given their foundational importance for theology and ministry, Phoenix Seminary is pleased to participate to encourage excellence in the study of Greek.

Today, the faculty is pleased to announce that our third annual winner is Bree Snow. The class did well, but Bree did outstanding work all year and finished the semester with a near perfect score on the final exam.

In honor of her achievement, she will receive a free book from Zondervan and will have her name inscribed on the award plaque displayed in our Biblical Research Center.

Congratulations, Bree!

If you are interested in the biblical languages, Phoenix Seminary offers a number of programs with courses in Hebrew and Greek, including the ThM, MDiv, and MA(BTS).

The Importance of Mentoring and Field Education at Phoenix Seminary

Phoenix Seminary is a nationally-recognized, graduate-level theological seminary located in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona. This centralized metropolitan location provides our students with a wide range of multi-cultural and multi-generational opportunities to gain practical ministry experience.

In a recent survey conducted by the Association of Theological Schools, over 80 percent of graduates who completed field education or an internship said their experience was important or very important to their training. That's one reason that Phoenix Seminary is invested in both internship programs and in our unique church-partnership program, the Ministry Apprenticeship Alliance (MAA). These integrated aspects of our degree programs provide rich opportunities to learn and grow through on-site ministry experience.

Along with this emphasis on field education, we also recognize that personal character and integrity are foundational for success in ministry. Because of that, every student completing a degree program at Phoenix Seminary is paired with a personal mentor. These one-on-one mentoring relationships are established between students and Seminary professors, pastors, or other leaders in the local Christian community to help foster academic and spiritual accountability and growth.

Through these opportunities for personal mentoring and field education, Phoenix Seminary fulfills our motto of Scholarship with a Shepherd's Heart. Learn more about our degree programs or about what makes Phoenix Seminary distinctive.

Text & Canon Institute Launches New Fellowship

The Phoenix Seminary Text & Canon Institute is pleased to announce the launch of a brand new program designed in conjunction with our exciting new ThM degree.

The TCI Fellowship is one-year scholarship and mentoring program for a student in the Phoenix Seminary ThM program who intends to pursue doctoral studies in Old or New Testament textual criticism, canon studies, or ancillary disciplines. The Fellowship comes with up to $10,000 in scholarship funding toward the ThM degree.

Text & Canon Institute Fellowship

TCI Fellows work directly with the directors, Dr. John Meade and Dr. Peter Gurry, to implement the vision of the Text & Canon Institute and may participate with them in research, teaching, and other related duties. Fellows must have a previous Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree and must show a strong proficiency in the biblical languages.

Applications for the program are now open for the Fall of 2019. A description of the benefits, expectations, and requirements may be found on the TCI Fellowship page. Completed applications should be sent directly to the directors.

For more information about the Text & Canon Institute, see the directors' recent interview with the Logos Academic Blog or subscribe to the TCI newsletter.

Chris Newkirk on the Ministry Apprenticeship Alliance

Pastor Chris Newkirk is lead pastor at Whitton Avenue Bible Church in Phoenix, AZ. Below, he tells his story of how he was trained for pastoral ministry and shares his desire to train seminary students for ministry in the context of the local church in partnership with Phoenix Seminary’s Ministry Apprenticeship Alliance, through which a student may earn up to 18 hours of MDiv credit in the local church.

I have a rich spiritual heritage. I had the opportunity to receive excellent theological training for both my Masters and Doctoral studies. I was able to do independent studies under excellent scholars. I was able to overlap my life with professors to help them complete books. My seminary experience could not have been more positive.

But, even more important, the Lord blessed me with a myriad of spiritual mentors through internships and residency programs. I had the chance to learn from mentors like Mark Dever, Gregg Allison, and Steve Childers. Not only that, but my father was a local church pastor for over 42 years and my best friend and older brother has been in vocational ministry for decades. I have been invested in and been given a great trust. I have personally been blessed by men who have lived out the obligation of 2 Timothy 2:2.

Unfortunately, my rich experience with so many mentors makes me an anomaly.

Most ministers receive only a small amount of the personal investment that I have received. Maybe they had a great youth pastor who poured into them. Maybe their Cru mentor really poured into them. Maybe they have had a great experience at seminary. And, while each of these opportunities are a profound gift of God, faithful and healthy ministers need more.

Paul’s ministry model is what each and every minister-in-training needs. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7–8, he describes his ministry among them as he writes, “we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

Paul trained and raised up mature followers of Christ not just by imparting abstract knowledge. His training was not sterile or given in a vacuum. Rather, he was “like a nursing mother.” He affectionately cared for them as his own children. He shared with them not only sound doctrine, he gave away his own life! He invited these Christians into his life and gave himself, in all respects, to them.

And, this is what it takes to raise up the next generation of ministers.

We absolutely need seminaries where men and women are formally trained by godly scholars in areas that, frankly, no local church is equipped to teach. We need humble, godly professors like the faculty at Phoenix Seminary who use their unique giftings to train ministers to handle God’s Word faithfully.

And yet, seminaries must not be the sum and substance of a minister’s training. You can’t learn to handle conflict simply from a text book or case study. You can’t learn to grieve with a new widow by reading or hearing about it. What do you do when the member confesses to engaging in an affair? How to handle unfair criticism? How does church discipline play out with a prominent member? These are all questions where concrete, on-the-ground ministry experience can make all the difference. This is why the seminary needs the church and the church needs the seminary. As the seminary nurtures and feeds the student’s heart and mind, the church must do its indispensable part to lead in formation, counsel, and hands-on experience.

It is this indispensability of the local church that has propelled Whitton Avenue Bible Church to participate in Phoenix Seminary’s unique Ministry Apprenticeship Alliance program. Starting this year, we are offering classes to help students learn practical ministry within the context where many of those ministries actually take place.

As part of this program, Whitton Avenue has also started an internship program designed especially with students in mind. As a church, we are committed to partnering with Phoenix Seminary to invest in you. We would love for you to apply to the internship program at Whitton Avenue.

With this partnership, we hope the Lord will bless a new generation of Christian leaders, expanding hearts and minds for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for the good of the local church, and all to the glory of God the Father.

Chris is the Lead Pastor of Whitton Avenue Bible Church in central Phoenix. Prior to serving in Phoenix, Chris has served in churches in Oklahoma City, Louisville, and Washington D.C. over the course of almost 15 years of vocational ministry. He received his Master’s of Divinity from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and his Doctorate of Ministry from the Reformed Theological Seminary of Orlando, Florida. Chris and his wife, Andrea, have two boys.

New Master of Theology Degree at Phoenix Seminary

As an accredited graduate-level theological seminary with its main campus in Arizona, Phoenix Seminary is pleased to announce a brand new, residential Master of Theology (Th.M.) in Biblical Studies beginning in the Fall 2019. The Th.M. in Biblical Studies is an advanced post-graduate degree intended to prepare students with the knowledge and research skills required for in-depth study of the Bible in its original languages. Students will hone their use of Hebrew and Greek as they advance their understanding of biblical theology and engage current trends in biblical studies.

This degree is designed for those with an M.Div. who want additional, focused training in a single subject matter. While pursuing this degree, students will engage with an outstanding faculty in the study of Scripture, be exposed to contemporary theological issues, and learn to think biblically, independently, and constructively. Due to the rigor of study and our intention for small class sizes, the Master of Theology is only available in our traditional campus setting.

Chuck Newkirk on the Ministry Apprenticeship Alliance

Pastor Chuck Newkirk is lead pastor at Church on Mill in Tempe, AZ and was an early adopter of our Ministry Apprenticeship Alliance (MAA) program. Below, he explains the relationship between the traditional seminary education and Phoenix Seminary's MAA, through which a student may earn up to 18 hours of MDiv credit in the local church.

This fall marks the fifth semester of Phoenix Seminary’s innovative MAA. In the span of only two years, dozens of future and existing pastors have found this unique partnership of church and seminary to fill a critical missing link in ministry training. You too may reach the same conclusion by choosing to enroll in the MAA. Allow me to explain.

Personal Experience

Seminary was quite helpful for me personally. Church history provided a deep appreciation for pastors and churches who came before me. Bible background classes painted a beautiful canvas of historical and cultural detail. Greek and Hebrew made even studying the Bible in English more fruitful. In these ways, seminary was helpful, but frankly, it was not enough. My Master of Divinity provided little preparation for the rigor of preaching. Oddly enough, the two things I do the most as a lead pastor of a local church are preaching and overseeing. Unsurprisingly, if I could say only one thing to everyone who sat under my first sermons and followed my initial years of pastoral leadership, I’d just want to say, “I’m sorry!” I knew how to speak to the few in the academy, but I was inept at pastoring the masses in the pew. Phoenix Seminary’s MAA is designed so you will start and remain stronger than me.

God’s Command

One essential component of the pastor’s work is to train future pastors. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:1-2). The Ministry Apprentice Alliance exists to support pastors and churches in their labors to obey these verses. Local churches and pastors must train additional faithful men. This is God’s command; it is his primary strategy for the multiplication of gospel workers for gospel churches. I am thankful Phoenix Seminary’s MAA is a tool to help pastors and their churches obey our Lord.

Pastor to Pastor

The MAA is led by pastors for pastors. We cover topics including preaching, what a local church is and ought to be doing, and how to build weekly worship services that honor God, edify his people, and evangelize the lost. We wrestle with current challenges facing churches and enjoy collaborative conversation regarding faithful paths forward. We pray and hear from present pastoral practitioners. We discuss the formation of a theologically rich philosophy of ministry and require the writing of papers you’ll use far after classes are over as you share your philosophy of ministry with people in your churches. And we do all of this in the context of observation in local churches.

Could you imagine choosing to see a surgeon for a consult on a major operation if you knew the surgeon mastered her medical book work but had never observed, let alone performed, an actual surgery? Of course not! We trust our bodies only to surgeons who know their books and have experience with the scalpel. We ought to trust our souls only to pastors who know the Book and have learned by thoughtful observation and practical experience how to apply the Book to their own hearts and the hearts of their people. By taking classes through Phoenix Seminary's traditional education and through the 18 hours provided by the Ministry Apprenticeship Alliance in a local church, you'll be well-equipped for a lifetime of performing surgery of the soul. You’ll get trained for pastoral work from pastors doing the work.

In partnership with several local churches, Phoenix Seminary is providing the MAA to integrate experiential learning, structured supervision, and disciplined spiritual formation. Think of the experience as a backstage pass to the leadership of a local congregation of Jesus’s sheep. Without the pressure of performing ministerial duties yourself, you’ll gain VIP access to the joys and hardships of pastoral ministry. Picture starting the day reading about eldership, discussing it mid-day with peers from diverse backgrounds, and then ending the day sitting in an actual elders meeting. These types of positive, early experiences in a local church where the Bible is preached and its teachings on the church are obeyed pave the way for longevity in ministry.

Next Step

Are you a future or existing pastor desiring more training? The scholarship of Phoenix Seminary and the experience of a local church are vital to your development in pastoral competency. Academic rigor alone is insufficient for a long, faithful pastorate. But experience unaccompanied by biblical scholarship won’t do either. The two must be wed and are, in fact, married through the MAA. Without reservation, I commend this program to you.

The church I pastor would love to consider you for our internship in which the MAA is approved. Or, even better, perhaps your existing church would allow you to take the MAA classes where I pastor but to do your practical, hands-on work under your present pastor so you can remain in your church? Furthermore, check Phoenix Seminary's website as their just might be a church doing the MAA that’s closer to you than my church in Tempe. Wherever and whenever you choose to get involved, make this timely addition to your pastoral training a high priority.

About Chuck Newkirk

Chuck NewkirkDr. Chuck Newkirk is husband to Jill, father to Abby and Micah, and a member of Church on Mill where he serves as Lead Pastor. He holds degrees from the University of Central Oklahoma, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, and Talbot Seminary. As pastor of a church, an instructor with the Charles Simeon Trust, steering team member for The Gospel Coalition Arizona, an adjunct in the MAA program at Phoenix Seminary, Chuck loves to see God change lives through the Scriptures.

Josh Vincent on the Ministry Apprenticeship Alliance

In this post pastor Josh Vincent explains the value of Phoenix Seminary's new Ministry Apprenticeship Alliance in partnering local churches with the seminary to train students for ministry. The MAA program enables students to learn about ecclesiology, preaching, and pastoral care in the context of a local church where they observe and work with their pastor and experience in real time what they are being trained to do. At the same time they earn up to 18 hours of Master of Divinity credit. Learn more about Trinity Bible Church's internship program.

The local church must raise up pastors for ministry, but by God’s grace, the local church doesn’t need to do it alone. Phoenix Seminary has committed to their motto “Scholarship with a Shepherd's Heart” by coming alongside local churches to assist them in providing topnotch theological education through their innovative creation of the Ministry Apprenticeship Alliance (MAA). In doing so, Phoenix Seminary is assisting churches in achieving their God-given responsibility of raising up and equipping pastors ready to meet the challenges that will confront them with grace and truth.

The Urgent Need

Our city and state face a desperate need for qualified, trained pastors to revitalize dying churches, plant new churches, and shepherd existing churches. The Phoenix metro grew by over half a million people over the last eight years with no pause in sight. At the same time, a 2017 study ranked Phoenix 90th out of the 100 largest U.S. cities in biblical literacy just above Hartford, New York, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. Furthermore, Thom Rainer has stated that between 6,000 and 10,000 churches close in the U.S. each year. We can quickly get overwhelmed feeling the burden of too few harvesters and too many challenges to bring in the ripe harvest that surrounds us. The population continues to increase, churches continue to decrease, and we live amidst a famine of the Word of God. There is a palpable sense that we need qualified, trained pastors as much, if not more, than ever. To turn this problem on its head. The harvest is ripe. Phoenix is the land of opportunity longing for a movement of the Spirit. So, raising up qualified pastors to gather and care for the sheep of God comes with fresh hope. Where will the pastors come from who are equipped to meet challenges like these? They don’t exactly grow on trees or cacti.

The Church’s Role in Producing Pastors

Listen closely—seminaries don’t produce pastors. I know that might sound controversial on a seminary blog and especially coming from a pastor who went to seminary. So, let me be clear. I believe seminaries are both crucial and insufficient for producing pastors and missionaries. I say seminaries are crucial because few churches, if any, can afford the time and resources necessary to employ trained experts gifted by the Holy Spirit to teach Greek and Hebrew, systematic theology, church history, etc., while also shepherding the flock entrusted to them. But make no mistake—it’s the job of local churches to raise up men for ministry.

My conviction on this has been shaped both by God’s Word and my own personal experiences. My call to ministry is all too common. I graduated from college with a sense of calling to pastoral ministry and with a conviction that I needed other qualified pastors both to train and test me for ministry to see whether they sensed that an internal calling fit my personality and gifts. That seemed to be the biblical model. Paul passed the mantel of authority to elders in Acts 20 and instructed Timothy and Titus to hand off the mantel of leadership to elders who already displayed the character and gifts necessary for serving as an overseer in the house of God.

I asked the pastor of the local church in which I grew up if he would be willing to help me work through my desire to pastor. I will never forget what he said: “I’m not really into that kind of thing.” Two thoughts shot through my mind. First, where would I go to figure out whether I should be a pastor, and second, that if I ever pastored a church, I would most certainly be “into that kind of thing,” i.e., training and testing pastors for ministry. I later found a pastoral internship that changed my life by teaching me about what the Bible had to say about church leadership and government, preaching, and pastoral care. Afterwards, I attended seminary and received training in the biblical languages, systematic theology, and church history, before becoming a pastor.

I entered ministry locked and loaded with a great library but quickly realized that pastoral decisions don’t always afford you the time to research answers or seek numerous counselors. Instead, my ministry experiences have developed a kind of ministry muscle memory that kick into effect when difficult issues arise. Much of leadership is more caught than taught. Seminary taught me the deeper things of God, his Word, and his people by imparting skills and instruction in the areas mentioned above; training in the local church then shaped me further in profound ways as I watched godly men serve and apply God’s Word to real people facing real challenges in real time.

The Seminary’s Role in Producing Pastors

We can all point to extraordinary examples of God’s special grace to self-taught men like Charles Spurgeon or Martin Lloyd Jones. But, I’m a normal pastor as are most pastors. As a normal pastor, I face extraordinary challenges both practically and theologically each day. Even more so given the Internet’s proliferation of spiritual information, good and bad. That’s why I say seminaries are crucial, crucial for almost every pastor to be ready for the challenges they will face. Seminaries are crucial because the opportunities for fruitfulness are immense for those trained, equipped, and skilled at applying God’s Christ-exalting Word to every sphere of life. When seminaries work alongside local churches, as Phoenix Seminary has with us, God can equip more pastors who combine a deeper understanding of who God is with how that ought to play out in the practical everyday life of the church. More theologians will love the church to the glory of God. When healthy seminaries lock arms with healthy churches, God can do great things. God will do great things.

How You Can Be Involved

So, let me encourage you to consider three things. First, consider sending future pastors to Phoenix Seminary to be trained for ministry in the context of a local church while developing a robust theology. Second, consider financially supporting those preparing for pastoral ministry in your congregation so that they can receive this kind of training. Third, if you are a pastor, consider locking arms with another like-minded-church who already has an MAA program at their campus. Those students can take classes at another church, while committing over a hundred hours of service in the context of your local church. You may also want to consider how God might be calling you to lock arms with Phoenix Seminary, as my church and others have, to train pastors how to make disciples in your tradition.

Let’s not waste time. Let’s equip more pastors who love Christ’s Church. Let’s pray that the Spirit uses them to bring about a fresh revival of the hearts of God’s people to the end that more people glorify God and enjoy him forever!

About Josh Vincent

Josh VincentJosh Vincent is married to Cari and they have three lively sons. He earned his MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently working on a DMin with Phoenix Seminary. In addition to leading The Gospel Coalition Arizona and serving on the board of Hope for Addictions, he is the senior pastor at Trinity Bible Church where he is thrilled to be part of bringing about greater health and fruitfulness, experiencing the growing love of this body, and the palpable sense that our best days are coming.