The New Teaching Fellows of Ligonier Ministries
Note: In May 2013, Dr. Stephen J. Nichols joined these men, followed by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas in November 2015 and Dr. Burk Parsons in March 2017.
When I came to work at Ligonier over five years ago, I knew we had a challenge in front of us. The ministry was growing — thriving even. But what would happen when the day came that Dr. Sproul could no longer provide his steady hand on the helm of the ministry he founded in 1971? I soon found out I wasn’t the only one concerned. No one cared more about this question than Ligonier’s founder himself, and I discovered he had already been working on the solution with his acute mind and humble heart.
Succession planning is the formal name for the process an organization uses to determine the next steps when a leader transitions out of a ministry. You never want to manage in a crisis. Wisely, Dr. Sproul and the board of trustees have pushed this discussion forward over the past few years.
But here’s the problem an organization such as Ligonier faces: church history shows us that conservative theological denominations and institutions, over time, tend to loosen in their doctrinal commitments. For various reasons, truth is not passed on and embraced from one generation to the next. The Word of God is gradually replaced by the word of man. Leaders become pragmatic rather than principled. From churches and denominations to colleges and universities, theological declension can happen no matter how orthodox are the institution’s confessional documents. Statements of faith and creeds are vitally important, yet it is required of every generation to embrace the Word of God and the God of the Word. Truth may echo in a creed, but truth’s abode must be in a person’s soul for it to transfer from generation to generation.
So what’s the future for Ligonier? How will we guard the crown jewels of our theological heritage? Dr. Sproul has poured his life into equipping Christians to be thoughtful and articulate in their faith. Therefore it is Ligonier’s sacred charge to continue teaching the historic Christian faith to as many people as possible for as long as possible. We are the Lord’s and desire to be useful for as long as He ordains.
Setting a Course for a Stable, Faithful Ministry
While Dr. Sproul remains healthy and vibrant, we have invited a new generation of teachers to help the ministry remain true to its founding purpose. The board knew it would be impossible to find one man to whom the torch could be passed. The reality is that Dr. Sproul is a unique gift from the Lord. So we looked for men who were trustworthy, able-in-their-field, and wise. It’s my great delight to tell you that at the beginning of 2010, Drs. Robert Godfrey, Sinclair Ferguson, Steven Lawson, and R.C. Sproul Jr. became Teaching Fellows at Ligonier Ministries. These four men will serve as advisors to Dr. Sproul, the board, and senior leadership, and will be active teachers in all the ministries at Ligonier. In addition to serving as a teaching fellow, Dr. Godfrey has joined our board of directors, using his experience as a seminary president to help guide Ligonier. Each of these men maintain their own activities and ministries, but will become more involved in the teaching outreach of Ligonier. They will teach through new broadcasts for Renewing Your Mind, video teaching series, new conference events, Tabletalk articles, educational opportunities through Ligonier Academy, and publishing through Reformation Trust. Additionally, they meet regularly in Orlando with Dr. Sproul and other members of senior management and serve as an advisory counsel to Ligonier’s board of directors.
Each man represents elements of Ligonier’s core outreach. Dr. Godfrey brings a wealth of wisdom in understanding church history and applying it to modern church life. Dr. Ferguson is a world-class biblical exegete, rare in his abilities to present truth winsomely in a thoroughly systematic theology. Dr. Lawson preaches with an uncommon zeal for God’s glory and for the big ideas of Christian theology. Dr. Sproul Jr. joins the ministry knowing the apologetical and theological emphases in the history of Ligonier with a desire to see a new generation of Reformed Christians live more deliberately.
These are exciting days for Ligonier. From the new campus under construction to the new teaching fellows, the course for a stable and faithful ministry is set. I ask you to pray for us often. We are stewards of God’s truth. Pray that God will answer our desire to be true to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by coming alongside the local church to encourage and equip her with trustworthy educational resources for generations to come.
Note: Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr.’s tenure as a teaching fellow concluded at the end of 2016.