Christians should use every conversation as an opportunity to share the gospel, Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said during the seminary’s fall convocation service, Aug. 23.

“Ladies and gentlemen, every conversation we have could be well spent if it ended as an evangelistic conversation,” Patterson said. “There is hardly one that ever comes up that does not lend itself naturally to being an evangelistic conversation.”

Patterson’s exhortation came in a message based on John 3 about being “born again.” He told seminary faculty members and students that they cannot depend on their seminary involvement or leadership positions in the church to guarantee the wellness of their souls. Like Nicodemus, the devout Jewish leader who visited with Jesus in John 3, Southwesterners must be born again if they are to see God’s Kingdom.

It has often been debated why Nicodemus visited Jesus at night, Patterson said. He suggested that Nicodemus, urged by the Spirit, could not wait until morning to speak to Jesus.

Once he was in Christ’s presence, Nicodemus found that the conversation was quickly turned to a discussion of the gospel, Patterson said. As in this passage, Jesus frequently used conversations to share the gospel, a practice exemplified throughout the Gospel of John: In chapter 4, Jesus shared the gospel with the Samaritan woman. In chapter 9, he shared with a man who was born blind.

“And on and on it goes,” Patterson said. “Every time Jesus gets in a conversation, it ends up being an evangelistic conversation.” This reflects Jesus’ mission to seek and to save the lost, he said, noting also that Jesus called his followers to the same mission.

Patterson’s exhortation also reflects the mission of Southwestern Seminary. Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost of the seminary, considered the seminary’s purpose before introducing ten newly-elected faculty members to the convocation audience.

“The educational mission of Southwestern Seminary originates in the Great Commission,” Blaising said. “The Great Commission to make disciples of all nations by teaching them to obey everything that the Lord has commanded us. Faithfulness to Christ and his word are the central principles of our work. And to carry out that task, Southwestern has assembled a faculty who share a common faith in Christ and in the authority of his word. It has been so since the beginning of our institution 100 years ago.”

The newly-elected faculty members signed the seminary’s book of confessional heritage, indicating their agreement to teach in accordance with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. In the College at Southwestern, the elected faculty members were Philip Calvert, assistant professor of history; Harvey Solganick, professor of humanities; and James “Lee” Williams, associate professor of history. Faculty elected to serve in the School of Theology were Robert Caldwell, assistant professor of church history; Scott Preissler, serving as professor of stewardship and as the Bobby L. and Janis Eklund Chair of Stewardship; and Joshua Williams, assistant professor of Old Testament. Chris Shirley, assistant professor of adult ministry, was elected to the School of Educational Ministries. Three others were elected to the School of Church Music: Gary “Joe” Hardin, associate professor for instrumental and jazz studies; Tom Song, associate professor of church music; and David Thye, professor of church music.

Thye was awarded a certificate of installation into the Robert L. Burton Chair of Conducting. John Babler, associate professor of pastoral counseling in the School of Theology, was installed in the Warren C. Hultgren Chair of Ministerial Counseling.

Blaising also introduced three newly-appointed faculty members at the beginning of the convocation chapel: Matt Sanders, assistant professor of Greek in the College at Southwestern; Paul Stutz, assistant professor of administration and church recreation in the School of Educational Ministries; and Dietmar Schulze, assistant professor of missions in the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.

Archives of the Fall 2007 convocation and other chapel messages can be accessed on the Chapel Archives section of Southwestern Seminary’s Web site: