Renewing Christianity in Western Canada
Dr. Howard Andersen graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Science Degree and from Northwest Theological College ('66) with the Bachelor of Divinity degree. Following that he earned the PhD degree from Manchester University. Howard has been on the faculty, and has been the Dean, and President of Northwest Seminary and College, and Academic Director of ACTS. Recently, in September 2022, Howard was awarded Faculty Emeritus status from Northwest Seminary and College.
Wisdom (knowing what to do) is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And, with all your getting, get understanding. – Proverbs 4:7.
It’s been an immense pleasure to work at Northwest during two different decades, one through the 1970’s and then again for just about a decade starting in 2012. Northwest has been the bookends of my working career. I don’t plan to stop thinking and working, but I’m glad for all the new leadership now in place at Northwest.
As alumni from all periods can attest, Northwest’s innovativeness, is what has kept it relevant and meaningful. In the 1930’s, its mission was to be a “defender of the faith” in the face of liberalism. In the 1970’s and following decades, its calling was to advance the training of pastors and lay people, and the building of churches, along with a rising tide of evangelicalism in North America. Northwest’s central mission is still to train pastors for competent ministry. But, as is always the case, times change and everything else with it. This poses challenges and opens opportunities. So, the Immerse Program, the Gap Year Program, and NIMER are Northwest’s latest responses to the environment in which we work. And this all came about because of clear and visionary thinking in Northwest and in the Fellowship and is made possible by technologies that became available only over the last couple of decades, and by the gifting and generosity of Northwest’s benefactors.
Of course, the world goes on changing. In some parts of the past, we have been “behind the eight ball” on cultural issues and on big trends, and our movement has suffered because of it. I wonder if it’s time for a Think Tank, one that can do advanced thinking and applied research about the challenges coming at us, and the opportunities for ministry.
The first four centuries of the Christian era were, without a doubt, the most successful in the entire history of Christianity in the western world. And new research being done about the world of Jesus’ and Paul’s day sheds new light on how those early Christians were able to be so effective. How did they navigate and triumph over such things as overbearing governments and state bureaucracies, the tension between elites and ordinary people, powerful issues of decaying and unhealthy urban environments, issues of abortion, family integrity, women’s rights and status, health and welfare, the poor, sexuality, fertility, immigration, and a lot more. Sound familiar? How to best serve may surprise!
Our own applied research on questions like the following is entirely feasible and very desirable:
- How can churches connect effectively with their communities?
- What process do people go through on the way to conversion?
- What makes churches grow?
- What do successful ministries tell us about how to serve?
- What destroys churches?
- What demographic shifts and population growth can we expect in western Canada over the next few decades?
A Think Tank for advanced thought and applied research on such issues would help churches navigate their environments productively and find ways to serve and grow over the next decades.
A substantial and well administered trust fund to support applied research sabbaticals for pastors, Doctor of Ministry applied research projects, course relief for faculty to serve on specific projects, and to second other individuals with expertise on specific projects, could make all this happen.
If you'd be interested in financially supporting initiatives such as these, I’d love to hear from you! I can be contacted at: [email protected]