President’s September Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Northern is delivering hope through the pandemic. This month, we’ve welcomed new and returning cohorts to the Lisle Center, taught socially-distant classes in person, and live-streamed our courses.  Northern is delivering hope through the pandemic. This months, we’ve welcomed new and returning cohorts to the Lisle Center, taught socially-distant classes in person, and live-streamed our courses. We have one of our largest entering classes ever at Northern. We’ve welcomed 112 new students this year. 

Register now for these upcoming events:

Nijay Gupta Teaches First Cohort at Northern

This month, we’ve welcomed new cohorts to Northern, including faculty member Dr. Nijay Gupta. He writes I am in my twelfth year of full-time teaching, mostly at the seminary level. I have learned a lot in that time. Unfortunately, most of the profs that taught me in seminary did not seem to put a whole lot of thought into a well-rounded pedagogy that seeks to form the whole person. While I value that I learned a ton of information and I received expert instruction in languages and traditional biblical interpretation, by and large, a 3-hour course session consisted almost entirely of lecturing. In no way do I feel that I have arrived as a teacher, but I turned a corner a few years ago towards taking whole-person teaching more seriously. So, I want to offer some of my tips and tricks in hopes of inspiring others, and I invite you to share your own techniques here or on social media. While this blog post focuses on seminary teaching, I think a lot of what I am saying will be relevant to teaching pastors as well.

Read more of Dr. Gupta’s advice for teachers and pastors….

Advanced Pastoral Degree Students Begin at Northern

This fall, Northern welcomes five students to the Advanced Pastoral Degree Program. These students began their journey at Trinity Christian College and are dual-enrolling at Northern Seminary to complete their Master of Divinity degree. One of them is Sharay Thomas.

Sharay Thomas served our country in the United States Navy from 2010 to 2017 – 4 years in active duty, and 2 years as a reservist in Great Lakes, IL. On her first deployment she was one of only forty women on the USS Carney DDG 64.

Read more about Advanced Pastoral Degree Students Begin At Northern


A Book of Hope from Scot McKnight & Laura Barringer

What we’ve learned from recent church scandals

Dr. Scot McKnight’s latest book, A Church Called Tov, had to be written. Recent high-profile church scandals compelled him and co-author Laura Barringer to answer the questions many of us have been asking:  How can Christian leaders act so badly and get by with it for years? What’s wrong with the church? What’s wrong with us?

This soon-to-be-released book addresses revelations of misconduct within evangelical circles, but it is not an exposé. Rather, the authors present a solution to prevent scandals from developing: Create a culture of goodness. McKnight and Barringer write,

“Above all, this is a book of hope—about a better way, a way we’re calling the Circle of Tov (from the Hebrew word for good), and what it takes to form a culture of goodness in our churches that will resist abuses of power, promote healing, and eradicate the toxic fallout that infects so many Christian organizations.”
Unfortunately, American Christianity’s fandom culture enables abuse. “Churches frequently succumb to calling pastors on the basis of star-power and impressive social skills … Give each leader ten years and it won’t matter their personality but how much tov has been generated and nurtured.”

It is within this context that Northern Seminary’s programs are designed to prepare seminarians’ heads and hearts for their callings. “We are not making people into pastors,” McKnight explains. “You are either a pastor or not. It is a gift. We are providing opportunities for people gifted in Christian ministry who say, ‘I want to do this, but I need more than I’ve got.’”

To ensure a culture of goodness within a ministry, every leader needs trusted advisors, not fans. Northern Seminary’s cohort-based programs facilitate community and accountability that continue to prove valuable past graduation. McKnight reflects on the value of these cohorts in the context of tov, “My experience with cohorts is that these are lifetime friends. The first cohort of graduates still keep in touch. These Northern Seminary cohorts become life-sustaining friendships and fellowships… They are in this together.”  For good, we might add.

Northern Seminary encourages you to examine your church’s culture and your role in developing tov within your congregation. A Church Called TOV will be released October 6, 2020 and can be pre-ordered through multiple distributors and bookstores. To explore Northern Seminary programs, visit:

Dr. McKnight is Northern Seminary’s Julius R. Mantey Chair of New Testament.

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Your friend,

William D. Shiell
President, Northern Seminary

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