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In the thirty-fifth episode of the “Saturdays at Seven” conversation series, Todd Ream talks with David Emmanuel Goatley, President of Fuller Theological Seminary. Goatley opens by exploring what is theologically at stake when we seek to practice justice and the relationship that practice inherently shares with ecumenism and missions. Ream and Goatley shift to talking about Goatley’s calling to ministry, the importance of God’s efforts to prepare people for the contexts where they are called serve, and the importance of God’s efforts to prepare the contexts to receive the people who are called to serve them. Two of the most important people through whom God worked when preparing Goatley for his calling to ministry were his parents—a father who pastored the same church for almost fifty years and a mother who was served in a host of contexts in the community where they lived including, at the end of her career, being an advocate for childhood well-being. They close their conversation by exploring Goatley’s research concerning flourishing in ministry, thriving congregations, and how those lessons are incorporated into how he and his colleagues at Fuller serve their students.

Todd Ream: Welcome to Saturdays at Seven, Christian Scholar’s Review’s conversation series with thought leaders about the academic vocation and the relationship that vocation shares with the Church. My name is Todd Ream. I have the privilege of serving as the publisher for Christian Scholar’s Review and as the host for Saturdays at Seven. I also have the privilege of serving on the faculty and the administration at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Our guest is David Emmanuel Goatley, President of Fuller Theological Seminary. Thank you for joining us.

David Emmanuel Goatley: It’s my joy to be with you today.

Todd Ream: Would you please begin by describing how you define justice?

David Emmanuel Goatley: I define justice by thinking about enough. I think that justice means that there is enough provision, enough protection and even when there is need of or something that is punitive enough of that. And to talk about enough means that there’s not too much or too little. So it means that none have too much, while others have too little, but we have enough. And again, that goes with whether we’re talking about provision and protection, as well as when there is a need for discipline and accountability. So that’s the way that I understand justice.

Todd Ream: Thank you. In what ways, if any, does justice share a relationship then with Christian mission and perhaps with global ecumenism?

David Emmanuel Goatley: Well, justice, again, if we think about enough or enoughness, when it talks about Christian mission, it has to do with a commitment to being fair, a commitment to not being exploitative. A commitment to not being committed and involved in extraction. It’s a way of being fair and treating people righteously or with right-ness, or to treat people as we would like to be treated. And that means that in terms of Christian mission of respecting the humanity of people appreciating that all of us are fully human, of being able to see each other with eyes of grace so that we are not being judgemental of people and of practices and of cultures. 

Because often, we don’t understand why one responds or reacts in the way that one does. We don’t know the story, the background behind that. I think all of us who are leaders have had experiences, for example, of people projecting onto us what they have experienced painfully by someone else. And they may assume that when we say X, Y, or Z, we mean A, B, and C. 

And we are stunned sometimes. I didn’t mean that way. Why are you offended? Why do you hurt? Why is this being injurious? And it’s because of other experiences that people have had before you showed up. And so part of being just with people is operating without judgment and with enough grace that we’re ready to listen and learn, dialogue so that we don’t have a kind of presumptuousness that we get to speak first and middle and last, and everyone else has the responsibility to— 

I once heard someone say it was, it was that person’s job to lead and feed and everyone else’s job to swallow and follow. That’s not a just way of being in the world. So I think that those are some characteristics of being engaged in Christian mission, in ways that are just, fair, right, and where justice has to do with enoughness.

Todd Ream: Thank you. What opportunities emerge when justice, Christian mission, and global ecumenism share a properly ordered relationship? What glimpses, perhaps, of God’s kingdom can we get this side of eternity when they exist well together?

David Emmanuel Goatley: Well, I think that when they exist well together, we have the opportunity and potential to experience unity for which Jesus prays for His disciples at that time and through subsequent eras. That, that we might be one that we might know unity, and that unity is not necessarily a cultural conformity.

I was in an ecumenical experience and proposed we work on some language. I propose the idea of harmony as a way of thinking. One of my partners was in a part of the world where the musical tradition was not the kind of rich harmonious expression that I knew. So it was more of what everyone was on one note. 

And so to even talk about harmony was difficult for my colleague to embrace because the context out of which I imagined that was a very different context. So it was inappropriate for me to try to impose my language and my words which shape our worlds. It was inappropriate for me to impose that on my colleague. 

And it was not appropriate for my colleague to impose everybody being on the same note as the only way to think about unity. So we had to do some, some dialogue. We had to do some listening and learning together to try to get to what we meant by unity, because that language has certain assumptions, depending on what one’s life story is, with the worldview, what the context is. 

So I think that we can have a glimpse of either unity or harmony, or beauty, in terms of how we engage with each other. I think it also creates for a kind of generativity, where we’re able to experience together and even create together new ways of experiencing God, experiencing the world, and experiencing others. Because we’re all together. 

I had an experience over three decades ago in another country. And there were a few of us from the United States who had traveled there to learn. And then we lived in a community where our hosts spoke no English. And then we had some interpreters who lived there. And their work as interpreters was usually in a business community, where they could see where people were trying to gain advantage in negotiations.

And that was difficult for our translators because they were believers and so their work to translate for these traveling U.S. folks, who did not know the local language and the local hosts who did not know English, and then to have them. They were so blessed to be able to do translation work for people who are not trying to exploit weaknesses and opportunities. 

But one of the beautiful things, and that’s why I’m getting to beauty, one of the beautiful experiences of that for me was that because we all needed each other to make the experience work, then that created a different kind of bond of community and joy and sometimes hilarity. Because if you don’t speak languages, sometimes things are so funny, if you don’t take yourself seriously.

But it was a beautiful experience and it was a unique experience for me of what it means when people come from very different places, in many ways, linguistically, culturally, vocationally, but we were in a shared space. And we needed each other and we were willing to be vulnerable enough to lean into each other. And then it created something else that we could not have anticipated. 

And I am not often surprised but I was surprised at what I experienced because there was a sense of mission, ecumenism, justice, fairness, rightness, and we all contributed to the whole. And it would not have been the beautiful experience if we all didn’t bring something to it. But we didn’t even know what we were bringing and we didn’t know what was going to happen when it all got mixed up. So I think those kinds of things: unity, harmony, generativity, and beauty, all of that we get to experience, I think it’s a glimpse of the reign of God.

Todd Ream: Yeah, an opportunity to experience something wholly other, and especially when it comes to something wholly other than we might anticipate, adds to the beauty even.

David Emmanuel Goatley: A beauty and it’s a surprise that it doesn’t happen all the time but when it does it changes you. It changes you.

Todd Ream: Thank you. Expanding on that line of thinking then, what other virtues, beyond justice, need to be cultivated in order to facilitate a properly ordered relationship between justice, Christian mission, and ecumenism?

David Emmanuel Goatley: Humility is something that is essential for us. Those of us, particularly who are in the United States, have a temptation to think very highly of ourselves, our experiences, our cultures, our ways of being, and so particularly when we have a disproportionate amount of power, then there’s a temptation to impose our perspective, as being normative universally so that it should be common sense for you to think or walk or move like I do. 

I haven’t interrogated it myself. I don’t even know why I start with my right foot rather than my left, but I’m convinced that I have to start with my right foot, and anybody who doesn’t start with their right foot, there’s something deficient. You just get used to your own people. And you don’t even have to think about it. And then you start presuming that everyone should function like you function. 

But we need an adequate amount of humility because we are handling the things of God. And the emphasis is in two places. As I say that first, we are handling things. And so we know that we have a vulnerability to dropping things or to squeezing things or to, to messing it up. It’s in our hands. All of us know what it is to accidentally break something or intentionally because of our anger or frustration. So we are handling the things of God, which means it’s not our own. 

Then we have to have enough humility to to declare this is what I believe and this is what I think. This is my journey of faith seeking understanding, but I have to acknowledge that I am handling the things of God. Therefore, I need enough humility to know that I don’t have all of the answers and even if God whispers in my ear, there’s a possibility that I’m not understanding what God is saying. So humility is a very important virtue. 

I think a commitment to community is also a virtue. It’s not just a description of a result, but it’s being committed to the community. There is a Southern African philosophical concept called Ubuntu, U-B-U-N-T-U, and sometimes people describe it as communicating something like I am because we are. That’s a very different orientation than many of us in the United States, who have a different kind of orientation. We put ourselves at the center and put everything else in the peripheral, rather than understanding this, this mutuality and reciprocity that you cannot pull apart.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a blessed memory, once described Ubuntu in a sermon and one of the things he said is that there is no exact English equivalent for Ubuntu. So you have to try to describe it. And he says, you know it when you see it and you miss it when it’s absent. But one of the ways he described Ubuntu was to say that we are bound up together in the bundle of life. 

Yeah, I used earlier the word beauty, but to me, that’s a beautiful imagery of being bound up together in the bundle of life. And those of us who are committed to being disciples of Jesus know that the Scripture teaches us to, to weep with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice. You do that when you’re bound up together and you’re not able to have the kind of an it kind of idea where there’s this, this objectivity between us. 

I can treat you as an object because I don’t see you as a subject. I think that humility and I think a commitment to community, a real effort to practice love, where love is not emotion, but love is action. It’s how we do, it’s how we treat, it’s how we honor. It’s how we exercise appropriate discipline so that we’re not injurious. You don’t, you don’t injure the one you love. And you don’t feel like I have to tell the truth. You know, people often talk about telling the truth in love and that the emphasis is on the truth and love comes up, it shows up lightly and later. So I think that those are some virtues that will serve us well.

Todd Ream: Thank you. Make a transition now to talking about your calling to the ministry. I’ll note real quickly, you earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Louisville. And then an MDiv and PhD across town at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Would you please unpack for us your calling to the ministry and how you experienced it and understand it now?

David Emmanuel Goatley: I was blessed to be born into a Christian home, and so my discipleship formation began in my home. My father was my pastor W. H. Goatley Sr., of blessed memory. He served the First Baptist Church in Eminence, Kentucky for 47 years. 

I listen and I honor, and I recognize the challenges of people talking about burnout and burn up as though it’s normative. But for me, what is normative— now, I know I’m not trying to impose my normative, my normativity as universally normative. It’s my testimony. I have seen and witnessed a long, loving, loyal pastor and people together. 

That’s what he taught all of us who were the congregants as well as his protégés, that you always talk about pastor and people together and you always talk about Church and community together. You don’t separate them out because one does not exist without the other. 

My mother, Lillian Matthews Goatley, also a blessed memory, was a mother and a nurturer and a partner in ministry and a minister in the public sphere in her own right. So there were times where she was in a corporate setting. She did human resources, and then for a while she was a high school educator and then she finished her working life as a child protective services social worker. 

And I remember at the visitation at her funeral, being amazed at all these people who were coming to pay their respects and I didn’t recognize them. And I had to have a friend of mine said, yeah, you and your brother, you’re the only ones who don’t know who your mother is. We knew her as mom, but I mean, there were judges and lawyers and law enforcement and people of all kinds of experiences of life. I’m saying, who are these people? 

And it’s because her part of her work was trying to help bring families together in a way that they could flourish. Sometimes that meant creating separation for a time so that they could bring them back together. So I grew up with ministers who were doing ministry work in the congregation and community. 

Part of that informed and created an environment for me to be able to hear the voice of the Lord calling me to ministry as a vocation. And so part of that journey, I was a church musician, I have had opportunity to serve as an urban missionary, a denominational staffer, a lead pastor in the congregation, and executive in a global mission society. So all of those have been ways that the Lord has led me to live out my vocation as a minister of the Gospel. And for me, each subsequent experience drew strands from the preceding one. 

Another part of that was my first job. I had another degree from University of Louisville in computer technology and my first full-time job was in data communications in a Fortune 500 firm. And I needed that because I always thought I wanted a corporate gig. I needed that. And I did it for a couple of years. 

And I made more money than I could spend. I didn’t make more money than anybody could spend, but I made more than I could spend, and got to fly and stay in hotels and eat in the restaurants. And once you’ve done it a little bit, for me, once you’ve done it a few times, one more restaurant, one more restaurant, one more hotel room. 

But I got to a point where using my skills and education, expertise to contribute to the improving stock performance of my corporation, that’s not what I can do for all of my life. I don’t want to try to convince people to buy stuff that they may or may not need. I don’t want to be a part of that. So I ran that race and I was good at it and it was fine.

And then the Lord created an opportunity for me to use an experience I had from my university experience and this corporate experience, then to use that in an urban mission setting, in a very tough assignment. I felt good and comfortable about applying these, utilizing these tools I had been introduced to. Intellectual tools, these organizational tools, these relational tools, using the tools in that kit, for the sake of the Kingdom. 

Now I ended up losing 66% of my compensation and benefits, but it was worth it because I wasn’t doing it for money. I was doing it for the ministry and the mission of my life. So my call had to do with being formed and nurtured to come to Jesus in a Christian home. It’s learning how to experience the community of a congregation in a faithful congregation, not perfect, but faithful. 

So I hear people talk about being traumatized by churches and church hurt. I acknowledge that testimony. But that doesn’t have to be normative. And so a positive Christian home, loving parents, faithful pastoral and missional leaders, a church that created opportunities for you to learn and serve and grow, and then being able to have intellectual and vocational formation, where I was able then to use tools I’ve been introduced to and taught some proficiency for the sake of the Gospel. And then the Lord has used these callings to expand relationships, expand opportunities of service and to steward these gifts for the Gospel.

Todd Ream: Thank you. On January 21st, 2023, you were installed as the sixth president of Fuller Theological Seminary. What drew you to accept the appointment to Fuller and what dimensions of Fuller’s history do you find most compelling?

David Emmanuel Goatley: Thank you for that question. I came to Fuller from Duke Divinity School. I had one of my students say how did you make that happen? And my response was I didn’t. I was minding my own business. I was behaving myself and I was doing my work and the Lord sent for me because the Lord had something for me to do.

And that is actually and literally how and why I ended up at Fuller because the Lord sent for me, because the Lord had something for me to do. And the Lord had been getting me ready for Fuller, while the Lord was getting Fuller ready for me. 

And that is something that I think is very, very important for Christian leaders to know. We sometimes get in a hurry. We may think that we’re ready for something, but the place where the Lord wants us may not be ready for us or vice versa. And so the Lord sends for you when the Lord has something for you to do. 

I think also a part of the various ways that I’ve had an opportunity to serve and learn and grow, those of us in higher theological education, we’re training people to do that kind of stuff, to be missionaries and to be denominational leaders and to be congregational pastors and to be worship leaders and to be academics and to be global executives. And so all of those kinds of learning experiences have helped to shape my lenses to see opportunities for service. 

The thing at Fuller Theological Seminary that really spoke to me include Fuller’s historic commitment to the world. And that was a part of Charles Fuller’s vision before Fuller as an institution came to equip evangelists to serve the Lord across the country and around the world. And that’s a part of our DNA, a commitment to the world in terms of missions around the world and in terms of nurturing world Christianity. 

A second part of what attracted me to Fuller is we are helping. Our call as an institution is to help, to equip Christian leaders for the work God is calling them to do. And that has been long a part of my identity, whether it was as a pastor in terms of curating experiences of discipleship to help people be formed so that they could serve in the ways the Lord wanted them to serve or whether it’s in a classroom or whether it’s in a global mission society of connecting resources and people and opportunities so that we could help bear good and faithful witness in the world.

So that equipping people for the work that God calls them and doing and Fuller has a School of Mission and Theology and a School of Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy, so we live with the integration of spiritual health and mental health. And that is we can’t bifurcate things. We can’t separate them out. We are, we are integrated beings. And so that is a part of our formation. Fuller’s commitment to the world and Fuller’s commitment to helping to form leaders for what God is calling them to do. 

And then the third thing is we enjoy at Fuller, what I describe as our valuing, the vibrant variety of God. Fuller regular rank faculty, we have a plurality. In our student body, we have a plurality. And in our staff, we have a plurality. In Fuller, we have somewhere between 80 and 90 denominations and then in the second biggest group, identifies as non denominational. So who knows what exponential number that is of ways of engaging.

So we have these students from around the world. 25% of our students are born outside the United States. We have this robust experience of people who are from different places, and they’ve experienced God in different ways, and we’re all here together seeking to live in more fully to this vibrant variety of God that is present in creation, that is present in salvation, and that is present in the consummation when God completes what God began and tribe and tongue in the presence of God.

And we have a glimpse of that. Now, it’s not perfect. You know, when you have all of that variety, you see. You know, you got a lot of dancers on that floor, and sometimes people step on somebody’s toes or bump into somebody, but we’re all trying to dance to that music and we’re trying to be a little better today than we were yesterday.

So those are three of the critical dynamics that we’re already at Fuller. And that’s, that’s where my heart beats for the kind of forming leaders a commitment to the whole world. My inaugural address was entitled “The World is Our Village.” Then valuing the vibrant variety of God.

That’s the intersection where I live. I see that as a way of describing the intersection of where Fuller lives. And the Lord sent for me because the Lord had something for me to do in a place that was ready for the gifts that I have to offer.

Todd Ream: Fuller’s original campus is in Pasadena, California, but Fuller now has campuses in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as Houston, Texas. As a result of advances in digital learning platforms, Fuller’s also invested in ways to serve students beyond those three campuses. Where, if anywhere, is Fuller exploring how to serve even wider groups of students?

David Emmanuel Goatley: Great question. I’ll answer that in two ways. 

One is we are being very intentional to strengthen the operational excellence and our online program management. Fuller, in terms of schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, ATS, we were the first theological school accredited by their body with an all online degree. And that was like 20 years ago. I think it was 2003. That was anticipating where the world was going. 

Before that, we had regional campuses, multiple places in California, Washington state, Arizona, Texas. I learned about something in Washington, D.C., something in Atlanta, Georgia. So it was a way of taking the Fuller experience closer to where people were. And then now digital realities allow us to do that. So that is one thing that we’re working on. You can always get better and focus on continuous improvement. That is one way we’re trying to expand. 

We do have physical presence in three of the top five population centers in the United States. And so one of the things that we’re imagining is in what ways might we be able to perhaps be incarnate in all five of the top five so that would be in the metro New York area and in Chicagoland. I don’t want anybody to be spooked by saying, oh, Fuller’s getting ready to open two more physical campuses. 

I’m not naming that because that is an older way of thinking about engaging in communities between digitization and hybrid opportunities and periodic experiences of learning. But I would say to expand our reach, to improve our scalability, and our accessibility, and our affordability with technology, that’s number one. 

But as I enjoy saying to people, incarnation is really a thing. And you don’t want to discount what it means to actually be present with each other. The things that happen when we are in physical proximity, when two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name physically, it does mean something.

So we’re working on improving our operational excellence in our online program management and exploring how we shore up our work in the three cities we are in. And imagine might the Lord be calling us to engage more intentionally and effectively in these other top population centers and to be able to contribute to the formation of effective Christian leaders in the five most populous cities in the United States, that is a way of serving the Lord, in positive and constructive ways where there are people of influence and concentration and how those disciples can grow and serve and multiply.

Todd Ream: Yeah, as our time, unfortunately, runs short, want to ask you about your current research. And in particular, I read that you’re focusing on flourishing in ministry and what constitutes and defines thriving congregations. Would you please say a little bit about where your research is, in terms of those concepts and how you define flourishing in ministry and thriving congregations?

David Emmanuel Goatley: More than descriptions of what flourishing and ministry and thriving in congregations looks like, as a finished product, my research is teaching me more and more that it really has to do with practices rather than a product. So, in some of my research that really came from, I was working on some missiological, global missiological, work when I was with the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Society. And I was focusing on where we had partnerships for over 50 years. So that’s the data I was working on. 

And while working on that, I discovered what I describe as a formula for flourishing. And what that formula holds is, if you take very, very seriously your context of service and your capacity for leading and let that yield your content of ministry, you have a higher probability of flourishing in your lifetime and beyond. So the idea is capacity plus context yields content. 

And none of those are constant. All of its variable. So your context continues to evolve. Let’s just make reference to coming through the pandemic, the COVID pandemic. Anybody who thought they were in a fixed context should be satisfied that contexts evolve, emerge, they change. And even the capacities of a lot of people, the capacities that they had prior to the count to the pandemic, many people developed new capacities of how to serve and lead and learn and function during the pandemic. 

And so the content of ministry that people had before, there has been some change even in the content, but the idea is that flourishing ministry will not— there will be less probability that your ministry will flourish, the more you assume that you can drag and drop something modularly. So if I take a look at what you’re doing at Indiana Wesleyan, and I say, oh, look what that’s happening there. I can just drag it and drop it here and it should flourish. That’s, you know you don’t, I don’t think you grow palm trees in Vermont. I don’t think, I don’t think that’s going to flourish. There’s a lot going on. 

So that is a part of what I have been learning. And I learned it by focusing on global partners, where the formative years of those partnerships where the content was shaped because of the context and the capacity of the leaders and, and what was shaped sometimes 100 years ago, has continued. Because that’s what developed in that ministry. 

Now, exactly how it plays out, obviously evolves and emerges. We did international immersion in part in Jamaica, where the Baptist work in Jamaica can be traced back to the 1780s and the work of George Liele. And still, many years later, there are Jamaican Baptists who are part of that lineage. Now, the contemporary expression is different, but the DNA. And so what was it about Liele’s work that there are elements of that work in the 1780s that continues in the 21st century? And so that is an example of that.

So that’s what I’m working on and refining and continuing to do research projects and continuing to listen. So that we can learn about how you take these developing and evolving capacities in these, these variables of context and then keep being fresh on the content. So that’s a part of what I’m discovering.

And thriving congregations a part of what the work I think is showing is that congregations, if congregations will understand, again, context is very important for me, their context in terms of the assets— I’m an asset-based leader— what’s the asset mapping that you need to do and the needs assessment in your congregation and your community? Sometimes there could be half a dozen congregations in a half a dozen blocks and they replicate a lot of stuff, rather than complimenting each other and collaborating, they just replicate. So what, what, what is your context? 

And then what are some of the clear theological and spiritual resources that are authentic to your expression, that you can weave those threads into your ministry? I was doing a project with a colleague of mine, Edgardo Colón-Emeric, who is the Dean of the Duke University Divinity School, and he has a beautiful way of talking. He’s Puerto Rican. And he has a beautiful way of talking about bringing together siesta and fiesta. That you need to have time intentionally for rest or Sabbath and then opportunities for celebration and joy. 

Now that plays out differently than somebody who is in a Latino, Latina, Latinx experience, but there are elements of it that you can learn from no matter where you are. And you know, some of us in the United States we’re very good— there was an R&B song years ago that started out and said, “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day and when it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May.” So the song is “My Girl,” but I know people who can find a cloud on a sunny day. 

And there’s some folks in the United States, even believers and Christian leaders, it doesn’t matter that 95% of things are going well, we’ll focus on that 5%. That’s a deficit. And my father used to teach his protégés in, when you’re a pastoral leader, don’t let a handful of people hijack your ministry. And you can get so preoccupied with the loud voices, the complaining voices.

I pastored a church, First Baptist Church in Campbellsville, Kentucky. It’s a small town in rural Kentucky and I don’t know who this guy was but it was before I was going and he said, I hear you are going to pastor in the country and I wasn’t sure where this was going so, I said, tentatively, yes. He said, let me, I wanna give you some advice. He said, I grew up in the country. And you need to remember that the empty wagon makes the most noise and he shook my hand and then he went away. 

Todd Ream: Thank you. For our last question, I want to ask you about these markers that we’re talking about in terms of congregations and ministry and Fuller’s mission. What markers do you employ when seeking to understand how well Fuller is fulfilling its commitment to equip men and women for the ministries of the Church?

David Emmanuel Goatley: Well, one of the things that our psychologists and therapists have to do and I’m learning more about it, is they really focus on competencies. They’re really clear on competencies and has to do in part with accreditation and licensures. You have to demonstrate that you can do something. 

A lot of people in higher theological education like to talk about learning outcomes. You know, what have you learned? What can you write? But I think we’re continuing, we’re challenged to ask the question, what can you do for the sake of the Gospel? So those are, those are some markers that I believe we need to get better at, everybody in theological education. 

Now, there are some who are moving better into competency based learning and competency based education. And of course you can go too far that way. You need to be able to think and reflect and analyze and synthesize and you need to be able to deliver. You know, Sunday comes every week at the same time if you’re preaching, right? And if you’re a pastoral leader, I mean, you got to learn how to manage processes and programs and people and problems and do pastoral care. And then you get to preach and teach. So that is one piece. 

But I think one of the things that we have to keep on doing also is to listen to and learn from our alumni, who are serving in some of the most amazing places and doing outstanding things. One of our colleagues I talked to recently was doing a conference in another continent. And afterwards, he met one of our master’s students who does everything online. And then he was coming and telling him about this transformational work that he’s doing on another continent and how he’s taking those tools that he got from his Fuller experience and putting them to work.

I think we have to continue to do a good job of listening and learning to those who are actually doing the work. And here, this is what has helped me and something else would’ve helped me even more. Now, there are a lot of people who complain and say, the seminary didn’t teach me this. Well, seminary is not supposed to teach you everything that you might face, but it is supposed to get you in shape so that you can play the game for the full four quarters if you and, and not run outta steam too fast. Introduce you to a set of tools so that you have competency with these tools in the kit.

So I think that those are a couple of things of continuing to listen and learn from our alumni about this is what is helping me serve well, that may be something that we could strengthen, and from my psychologists and therapists reminding us that people have to be able to do something other than think deeply and communicate creatively. They have to deliver and do. And that’s what the Lord is calling us for.

Todd Ream: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you very much. Our guest has been David Emmanuel Goatley, President of Fuller Theological Seminary. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights and wisdom with us.

David Emmanuel Goatley: A joy to be with you today. I’m grateful for the invitation and the opportunity.

Todd Ream: Thank you for joining us for Saturdays at Seven, Christian Scholar’s Review’s conversation series with thought leaders about the academic vocation and the relationship that vocation shares with the Church. We invite you to join us again next week for Saturdays at Seven.

Todd C. Ream

Indiana Wesleyan University
Todd C. Ream is Honors Professor of Humanities and Executive Director of Faculty Research and Scholarship at Indiana Wesleyan University, Senior Fellow for Public Engagement for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Senior Fellow for Programming for the Lumen Research Institute, and Publisher for Christian Scholar’s Review.  He is the author and editor of numerous books including (with Jerry Pattengale) The Anxious Middle: Planning for the Future of the Christian College (Baylor University Press, September 15, 2023).

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  • Helpful parlance. “Enough” — a simple hook for “justice.” “Rightness.” Not sure I followed the resolution of “harmony” in different musical traditions, though the issue helped illustrate his pt. Nice update on Fuller’s branch campuses and online. I know Charlotte campus of Gordon under Tim Laniak (and Bob Cooley) was also an early adopter of an online seminary. Tim next built Bible Journey (great online asset) before recently going to Our Daily Bread. “Thriving” and “flourishing” has more to do “w practices rather than products.” I wonder how he weathered the “church growth” era.