What would happen if Biola was more intentional about understanding the work of the Holy Spirit and developing a greater passion to be led by the empowering and life-giving Spirit of God?
This is the question at the heart of the soon-to-be established Center for the Study of the Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit Today — an academic center with a long-stretching name and a wide-reaching mission. Funded by a generous $3 million donation, this 10-year initiative will provide resources for a biblical examination of the person and ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, including research, publications, conferences, events and services for students.
The center, which is set for an official launch in the fall of 2017, is envisioned as a home for biblical scholars who wish to provide greater attention to not just a theology of the Holy Spirit but also the awakening and empowering of the Holy Spirit. It will be a training ground for students and faculty who want a greater infusion of the Spirit’s enablement to be more effective in evangelism, global mission, praying for the sick, bringing deliverance to the oppressed and defeating the power of sin.
In funding the center, the donors, who wished to remain unnamed, noted that Biola has a long tradition of emphasizing the importance of the Word of God, and has long sought to know God through his Word and to obey all that it says, including the Great Commission. The motivation for funding a center at Biola was to balance this with a renewed emphasis on the empowering work of the Holy Spirit, they said.
“Biola wants to learn from the extraordinary ways that the Spirit is working globally and for our students to experience this empowerment to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Clinton E. Arnold, dean of Talbot School of Theology, who has helped to guide the proposal for the center. “We believe that this may indeed be a place where God pours out his Spirit in palpable ways that call us to bolder lives of obedience and service and evangelism.”
The center will function under the oversight of Talbot School of Theology, and will be housed in a remodeled portion of the Talbot East building. It will be led by a director who will be selected with help from a search committee later this spring, at the conclusion of a nationwide search process that began earlier this year, Arnold said.
With so many forces that are not healthy pressing upon Christian colleges and universities today, Biola leaders see the center as a powerful counterweight.
“We would be so bold as to pray and plan that through this project Biola would be a place where God would begin a revival the likes of which we have never seen and the impact of which would be globally felt, advancing the gospel around the world,” the center’s proposal document states.
What the Center Will Do
When it begins operating in the fall of 2017, the Center for the Study of the Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit Today will lead a range of activities and initiatives, including:
Each year, the center will fund two one-week intensive residencies for an internationally influential Christian leader who can educate the Biola community about the Holy Spirit’s current work around the world. This leader will seek to inspire a passion for Holy Spirit-infused ministry on a global scale and the role every Christian plays in the Great Commission.
Faculty Fellows Research Program
Each semester, the center will fund a two-course release for two professors to work collaboratively on a research project of interest that supports and fulfills the center’s purpose.
Biennial International Student Conference on Spirit Empowerment
One of the center’s most far-reaching projects is the launch of an international conference at Biola, which will draw students from around the world to help them be transformed by discovering a new openness to the reality of the Holy Spirit and his transforming power, with the goal of advancing the gospel.
The center will sponsor a biennial symposium open to the Biola University community and the public at large, featuring papers published by the faculty engaged in research.
Spirit Empowerment Vespers
Each month, the center will host evening services for prayer and focus on Holy Spirit empowerment. These evening “vespers” will have as a focus Spirit-led renewal on campus and will bring in guest speakers who will teach and lead our students toward a movement of Spirit renewal, calling students to greater boldness and witness in their lives.
Collaborative Work with Biola Departments
The center will come alongside and enhance the work of existing departments and efforts across the university.