Planning for the Future
Dr. R.C. Sproul founded Ligonier Ministries in 1971 as a teaching fellowship designed to flood the culture with knowledgeable and articulate Christians. He always intended this ministry to be about the glory of God above all. Through the work of many pastors, theologians, and teachers, Ligonier has steadfastly served Christian disciples through broadcasting, publishing, conferences, and other unique educational outreaches in North America and around the world.
Ensuring a stable succession to Dr. Sproul’s leadership and vision at Ligonier is important to Dr. Sproul, our board, and the thousands of Christians who want Ligonier to have a strong voice for many years to come. We face a problem though: church history shows that conservative theological denominations and institutions, over time, often disengage from 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 seminaries, theological decline can happen no matter how orthodox the institution’s founding documents are. Truth may resound in a creed, but truth’s abode must be in a person’s soul for it to be handed down from generation to generation.
So what’s the future of Ligonier? We are thankful that Dr. Sproul continues to pour his life into equipping Christians to be thoughtful and articulate in their faith. Yet it is our charter to continue teaching the historic Christian faith to as many people as possible for as long as possible. We are the Lord’s, and we desire to be useful for as long as He ordains. This ministry is a stewardship.
In 2010, we announced that Dr. Sproul had identified specific teachers to help Ligonier Ministries remain true to its founding purpose into the future. These men serve the board and senior leadership of the ministry with a variety of gifts to provide ongoing teaching, counsel, and theological governance. Drs. Sinclair Ferguson, W. Robert Godfrey, and Steven Lawson were in that first group of Teaching Fellows. Dr. Stephen Nichols joined us in 2013 with Drs. Albert Mohler and Derek Thomas following in 2015. Just this spring at our National Conference, we announced with much gratitude a decision that has been discussed for several years, inviting Dr. Burk Parsons to join this band of brothers.
Well known to readers as the editor of Tabletalk magazine, Dr. Parsons has faithfully served under Dr. Sproul in various capacities for almost twenty years. He is copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., and vice president of publishing for Ligonier Ministries. If you have observed the ministry over the past decades, you will have noticed that the momentum for our outreach continues to grow. At the heart of much of our recent outreach growth has been Dr. Parsons. Having recently completed his doctor of ministry at Reformed Theological Seminary, he is a local church pastor first and will continue to make the local church his primary field of ministry. Dr. Parsons is a wise and discerning voice who helps to maintain Ligonier’s theological fidelity and advance Ligonier’s service to the church. Tabletalk magazine, the newly revised Reformation Study Bible, and Reformation Trust Publishing have all been greatly helped by his editorial oversight and theological contributions. You may have seen him speak to us last week about his translation and editing work on the recent release of John Calvin’s A Little Book on the Christian Life. Thoughtful and deliberate in his work, and ever with an eye toward the global church and ordinary means of grace ministry, Dr. Parsons is helping Ligonier link our discipleship resources with churches around the world. These are critical days in which serving the church means looking beyond just North America.
We are grateful for our Teaching Fellows’ willingness to serve the church through Ligonier’s outreach, and we pray that the Lord would sustain and strengthen them as they help to lead this ministry. The guidance and support of our Teaching Fellows strengthens everything we do. I hope it is evident that we prayerfully submit to the wisdom of Scripture when it comes to the task of finding faithful teachers to ensure Ligonier’s biblical and theological fidelity for years to come (2 Tim. 2:2). Please pray for us, asking the Lord to grant wisdom and fruitfulness as Ligonier seeks to serve Christ’s kingdom.