Slade Simons is not a professor or a pastor. He's not a minister or a missionary. He's never served on a church staff or felt a call to full-time vocational ministry. He's a layman in the world of personal finance.
But he knows the value of solid theological education, like what is provided in his hometown by the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College.
I am not a student, and I was not a student. My wife never attended, and I'm not on the Board. Having said all that, I'm really an admirer of NOBTS and Leavell College. No one would ever accuse me of being an academic, but I do like to learn. And I find myself wanting to be around people who have a knowledge about Scripture and what a walk with Christ is like. Some of those people are professors and some are students. But I gravitate toward them.
As a boy, Slade didn't attend a Baptist church and admits that he had no real relationship with Christ until a friend in college shared Jesus in a way he couldn't ignore. Eventually, he gave his life to Christ and, over time, has grown in his walk of faith. After getting married, he and his wife began attending New Orleans' First Baptist Church. There, he began to foster relationships with NOBTS students and professors. He began to connect the dots between Southern Baptists and their seminaries.
It's necessary for Bible believers to have a knowledge of what the Scriptures teach. It's more than just Bible stories. I knew Bible stories as a kid, but I'd never owned a Bible or studied the Bible. Over time, I've learned how important it is to be taught by someone who is very sound in their doctrine and their knowledge of the Scriptures. What schools like NOBTS and Leavell College do is as important today as any time in history. They are teaching the people who will teach the Scriptures.
Slade's appreciation for NOBTS and its sister seminaries grew during his recent time as chair of First Baptist's pastor search committee. While Dr. David Crosby had served the congregation with excellence for more than two decades, his retirement meant change for the congregation. And over the course of 27 months, Slade and his committee filtered candidates through what the Bible says about pastors. They also leaned into resources and relationships provided by friends at NOBTS.
In the end, the church called NOBTS graduate Chad Gilbert as their new pastor in January of this year. Slade believes Chad represents God's man for First Baptist in this season. And he looks forward to seeing how God uses his church to reach his city in the coming days.
If ministry is your thing, if that's your calling, then New Orleans is your candy store. We have so much brokenness, but we also have so much culture. This is such a fantastic laboratory for ministry. You can have a huge impact for the gospel.
Slade wonders how congregations could ever find solid leaders like Chad Gilbert without the education and ministries seminaries provide. He can't imagine a healthy church without the work done by healthy seminaries, which is why he encourages individuals to financially support the ongoing mission of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College.
I think there are three pillars to Christian education: knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Knowledge is knowing what the Bible says. Understanding is knowing what it means. And wisdom is knowing how to apply it. You can have all of the knowledge and all of the understanding; but if you don't know how to apply it, you're not going to bear much fruit. The seminary is the one institution that really delivers all three of those.
And when I think of NOBTS and Leavell College, what comes to mind are stewardship and good investments. Everyone wants a return, and everyone has limited capital. So, you have to be judicious about how you invest it. I know there are a lot of competing interests. But I would say that the seminary is foundational.
At New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College, we are committed to training solid, Christ-focused leaders for churches. We want people like Slade Simons to have confidence in the men and women who walk out of our doors into kingdom ministry. But we cannot fulfill this mission without the help of donors like you. So, please, prayerfully consider how you can generously give to NOBTS and Leavell College today.
And thank you in advance for your gifts and for your ongoing prayers on our behalf. We appreciate it more than we could ever say.
P.S.— How will you support the ongoing mission and ministry of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College?