Mission Lab

Southwestern Seminary announces new leadership, faculty for Terry School of Educational Ministries

August 6th, 2019 / By: Katie Coleman | SWBTS / comments

Southwestern Seminary announces new leadership, faculty for Terry School of Educational Ministries

Two new faculty members have been appointed to the Terry School of Educational Ministries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, President Adam W. Greenway announced Monday, July 29. Michael S. Wilder and Chris Shirley will serve as professors of educational ministries. In addition, Wilder will serve as interim dean of the school, effective Aug. 1.

“I am excited and thankful that Michael Wilder and Chris Shirley are joining our faculty at Southwestern Seminary as part of our Terry School of Educational Ministries,” said Greenway. “I have previously served for many years with Dr. Wilder, and I know firsthand his deep love for training leaders for the diverse callings of local church ministry. I have the greatest confidence that under his leadership, our Terry School is going to experience significant growth and expand its Kingdom impact. In addition, welcoming Dr. Shirley ‘home to the Dome’ is the right move with the right man at the right time. I know that he will bring fresh perspectives to a familiar place as he serves the Terry School in both teaching and administrative responsibilities.” 

Wilder comes to Southwestern Seminary with many years of vocational, administrative, and leadership experience. He most recently served as the J.M. Frost Professor of Leadership and Discipleship, and associate vice president for doctoral studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Under Wilder’s leadership, the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) and Doctor of Educational Ministry (D.Ed.Min.) programs have grown by a combined 42 percent. In particular, the D.Ed.Min. program has grown over that time from 78 graduates to an estimated 191, a 145 percent increase. Wilder has also served as the senior pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Floyds Knobs, Ind.

“I am excited about partnering with fellow faculty members and local churches as we seek to fulfill the vision of L.R. Scarborough and J.M. Price in the Terry School of Educational Ministries. We will equip Great Commission ministers who counsel, disciple, lead, and teach with excellence,” Wilder says. “After 30 years of serving the local church, I find myself ever more convinced that ministries marked by healthy discipleship experience greater Kingdom fruitfulness. For this reason, I am committed to equipping the next generation of men and women who will serve in the churches’ discipleship and teaching ministries.”

Prior to his role at Southern Seminary, Wilder served as a youth minister in Georgia for 12 years, pastored a Kentucky church for three years, and taught at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary as an adjunct faculty member for three years.

A Georgia native, Wilder obtained his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Clayton State College and his Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Seminary. He later earned a Ph.D. from Southern Seminary.

“I have worked with Michael Wilder for well over a decade,” says Randy L. Stinson, provost and vice president for academic administration. “He is a great leader and scholar. He understands the future of Christian education and how we can reach the nations with the Gospel through the associate roles in the local church.”

Wilder will succeed Jack Terry, who has served as interim dean since August 2018 and will continue to serve as special assistant to the president. Terry, for whom the Terry School of Educational Ministries is named, joined the Southwestern Seminary faculty in 1969 and served as dean of the School of Religious Education from 1973-1995 and then as vice president for Institutional Advancement from 1995-2005.

“I am looking forward to the coming of Dr. Michael Wilder as the dean of the Terry School of Educational Ministries,” Terry says. “Dr. Wilder brings vast experience in training and developing leadership for educational ministry in local churches. He is committed to the education of men and women who will be training to lead the plethora of multifaceted educational ministries in the local church, area associations, and state conventions.”

“His experience in the local church as an educational minister will serve him well as he takes on the challenge of leading the students in the Terry School of Educational Ministries to become local church educational leaders for the future,” Terry continues. “His local church leadership skills will be an encouragement to the faculty and the students studying for educational ministry.”

“After spending time with Dr. Wilder, you hear his passion and heart for the educational ministry of the local church,” says Kenneth Priest, director of convention relations for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. “As a Master of Arts in Christian Education graduate of Southwestern Seminary, I am excited to learn of his vision for addressing the discipleship ministries of the church by equipping future ministry leaders for Great Commission fulfillment. Dr. Greenway’s hiring of Michael Wilder positions Southwestern to reclaim its position as the leader of SBC institutions in educational ministry. I could not be more pleased with where our seminary is heading.”

For Chris Shirley, who most recently served as associate professor of discipleship at Dallas Baptist University, this appointment is a return to the seminary family, having previously served as an assistant professor here in the areas of discipleship and family ministry. 

“Chris Shirley is a man of integrity, deeply committed to the local church, and a Southwesterner who is administratively gifted in ways that will help the Terry School of Educational Ministries make significant advances,” says Stinson.

Shirley earned both his Master of Arts in Christian Education (1994) and Ph.D. (2002) from Southwestern Seminary. Aside from his teaching roles in higher education, Shirley also has extensive experience in the local church in the areas of education and discipleship, and he served for a time as associate director of camps at Ridgecrest in North Carolina.

“Christian Education is a 2 Timothy 2:2 ministry of the church (‘teaching others to teach others’) with a Great Commission focus (‘teaching them to obey’),” said Shirley. “The disciple-making ministry of the church depends on training disciples who know why they believe what they believe and are trained to teach that knowledge to others. This ministry must survive and thrive, and the Terry School is designed to help make that happen for the sake of Christ and the church.”