Andy Miller III
Cover Image for Christian Colleges in the 21st Century with Philip Dearborn

Christian Colleges in the 21st Century with Philip Dearborn

October 12, 2023

What’s the future of Christian Higher Education? How can Bible-believing schools chart a future that is relevant for their mission? On today’s podcast I talk with Dr. Phillip Dearborn, president of the Association of Biblical Higher Education, which is a network of more than 150 schools representing more than 63,000 students. He answers these questions and more on today’s podcast.

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Bill Roberts is a financial advisor, who has been serving the retirement planning and investment needs of individuals, families, non-profits, and churches for 25 years. He is a Certified Financial Planner and accredited investment fiduciary. Bill specializes in working with Salvation Army employees and officers by helping them realize their financial goals.  You can find out more about Bill’s business at


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Thanks too to Phil Laeger for my podcast music. You can find out about Phil's music at


Welcome to the more tis story. Podcast I am so glad that you've come on. Look, we have a great show today, and many people are interested in this topic, and they're thinking about it particularly in this moment. Many people, my audience, are kind of in the broad Pan Wesley and evangelical Wesleyan world. And we're thinking a lot about institutions in the roles, the role that they play in our churches. But it's so important for us to think about

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how those institutions are resourced and also held accountable. So we're gonna talk about that today with our guest. But before I do that, I wanna make sure you know this podcast is brought to you by Wesley Biblical Seminary, where we are developing trusted leaders for faithful churches. And in just the last 3 months we've added 250 students to our course of study program with the global Methodist church that's wild. We are at our high

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highest enrollment in our history, and we are really excited to serve the gold methods. Church, in addition to dozens of other denominations that we've historically served, as we are trying to equip leaders to be able to serve churches and the world. Well, so we do that through our Wesley Institute, which is a lay track that doesn't have any academic accreditation. But we also have our masters, bachelors.

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Doctoral programs, we love for you to check us Secondly, I'm thankful to my friend Bill Roberts, who's a financial planner, who helps people, particularly people who are serving in ministry. Think about their retirement. That's not something we initially cover in Bible college or seminary, but it's an important thing for us to think about, and so you can find out more about the Biblical principles that Bill uses to help people

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reach their financial goals at William H., and you can find a link to him in my show notes, also at Andy Miller. There's several things that are available. One if you excite for my email list. I'm gonna send you a free gift, and that is 5 steps to deeper teaching and preaching. This is a resource that helps pastors and teachers think about how they prepare to be able to serve their audiences and their congregations better

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Andy Miller III: and at the end of August, and depends on when this podcast comes out. I wanna make sure. You know, we have a new resources coming. It's a small group study on heaven, 5 sessions to think deeper and more biblically about the afterlife. And it comes with discussion guides. It's 5 videos. There's bonus content where I talk to other scholars about the this important topic that generally

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Andy Miller III: Christians, evangelical Christians sometimes have a shallow view of heaven, and we want to expand that, to talk about the new heavens and a new earth. And there's a beautiful picture in this study, so you can find out about that Andy Miller, the all right. I am so glad to welcome into Podcast my friend Dr. Philip Dearborn, who serves as the President of the Association of Biblical, higher education, phillip, welcome to the Podcast

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Philip Dearborn: thank you so much, Andy. It's so such a pleasure for me to join you, and have a high respect for you and all of the work that that happens there at Wesley.

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Andy Miller III: Yeah. And you've we've we've just gotten to know you. Recently, as we went through the accreditation process to be institution. And so we got to be pretty close, being your staff over the last few years as we achieved that goal. But you you haven't been with a Bh that long. Well, tell us a little about what you did before arriving at Abe. Sure, absolutely so. So, for all of my professional career.

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Philip Dearborn: I've been involved in in higher education, specifically Biblical, higher education. So, prior to joining Abhi, I was at Lancaster Bible College, in Central Pennsylvania, and had multiple roles starting in the Admissions office recruiting students and then switched over to the academic side and worked in the registrar's office Associate Vice President for academic affairs.

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And then ended my time there as provost the majority of my time of my 26 years probably about 18, was was in either Vp. Of academic affairs, or then then Provost, and so since Scott's call that he had something for me and a broader re leadership role so 3 years ago. The Association for Biblical Higher Education.

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Ralph end low. Long time President was retiring and long story short, joined the team, and having the time of my life leading. Abhg.

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Andy Miller III: yeah, it's exciting. No. I wanna also get one of the piece because you actually commute from Pennsylvania. Still, in that Lancaster to Orlando. But

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Philip Dearborn: I often love to hear how excited you get when you talk about your local church, and every now and then we'll we're there. We're we're thinking about things connected hit, department of education and all sorts of things that we have to kind of talk shop and and do. But I know your eyes light up when you talk about your church, so tell us about your your church and your involvement there absolutely. In in fact, 1 one of the reasons the the Abh board has been fantastic to allow.

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Philip Dearborn: Allow me to continue the commute. And you know, post covid the the world of work has has totally changed. And my job, I'm all over the country visiting our member institutions. So whether I leave from Orlando or I leave from Central Pennsylvania really really doesn't matter. But one of the things that that one of the motivating reasons to kind of stay here.

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Was our engagement in the church, and that's something my parents were missionaries. So I grew up in. In in a Christian context. So so the Church has always been an integral part of my life ever since

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I can even remember but when we are here in in in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this goes back. When Amy and I were first married, 1994 95 timeframe

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started attending a a small church called Lancaster County Bible Church, and we had about maybe 200 or so who were part of that work, and

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Philip Dearborn: over time just just love getting involved in in ministry. And and you know I I'm a I'm a firm believer in the Church. When I read the New Testament. That is God's plan. A. For this age. There is no plan. B,

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Philip Dearborn: and so we we that is where I feel like anything I do is is geared towards enhancing what the Church does. So I get to do that through my work at Abh E? But then also locally, just be involved in the local church, and I've been

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Philip Dearborn: on the elder board chaired the elder board. We're now multi location middle of farm country. And we're 25,000 plus attendees and got God, is it work in amazing ways? And I just for me our baptismal services are every time we attend, every time we watch them.

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Just are. It's so emotional because you hear stories of lives that are being changed by Christ. And you hear men and women who have struggled with addiction. They've struggled with marriages, they've struggled with mental health.

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Philip Dearborn: And you know, in in the, in the old models you'd call us a seeker, sensitive church, or you know, not ashamed to to bring people in where they're at and and give them an opportunity to respond to the good news of Jesus Christ, and to to to see these folks receive Christ, and then be baptized and hear their stories of lives of a life that's been changed is absolutely rewarding.

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So so wherever we go, our involvement, whatever I do professionally, is, is always going to be connected to the church so so high level of passion for for what happens?

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Andy Miller III: Yeah, I love that. And I remember hearing the when you told me you're at Lancaster or Lancaster, and you have been there and and still kept in this role, I thought, oh, well, that must be an interesting church. He's an elder there. And then you said 25,000 people. Oh, my goodness, this is it, Mypa! I've been to been to that region I so obviously expanding. I love that connection to your own vocation, you know one P. Some people might struggle, you might. Oh, this isn't sound very exciting, Andy.

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Philip Dearborn: to be able to have somebody who leads an accrediting body. But why, I mean, why, in our time, does it matter that we even have accrediting bodies to serve institutions? W. What role does it play in our society, or even in the church? Yeah. So so the the whole thing of accreditation is is, you know, when you look at the history of it goes back to peer evaluation

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Philip Dearborn: quality assurance making sure that the promises that an institution when you boil it all the way down to the basic, the promise that an institution makes. What evidence do you have to demonstrate that you're actually delivering on those promises quality assurance. And I. It's interesting because everything that we're a part of from a business perspective businesses are about quality assurance, which is the same thing. The widget that a business makes.

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Philip Dearborn: They have a high level of interest to make sure that it delivers, on the promise that that company has made, that it. That thing will operate according to what they've advertised for it to to do.

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And so so the same thing applies for higher education, and it has higher education, has a rich history of peer evaluation. So within the sector of higher education the the typical accreditation elements are teams from other institutions come in, do an evaluation

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Philip Dearborn: and and that's a critical part of it. But but for a Bh, e the way we frame it is accreditation is one of the services that we provide, recognizing that we have a great platform in this sector of higher education called Biblical higher education.

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Philip Dearborn: To, to to make a difference, and and several years back we really asked. The question is, is, is accreditation or only business? Is that is that the business we're in? Or is there a greater opportunity to influence a movement of God, a spiritual movement of God. And so we've really expanded out. And we can. We can talk about if you want to, but you know, into into leadership development, and really coming alongside institutions and answer the question, Are you flourishing?

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Andy Miller III: Hmm! Actually, this is keys like to be able to think about the way that you help institutions not just to give them a stamp like, you know, we have that stamp. We're thankful for that stamp, and we have other stamps as well. But we're more interested in a relationship that leads us to flourishing to health, so that we can like, I know, as far as this, and I was new to the academic work

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world in academic administration. But I know the things that you all have provided have given us tools

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Andy Miller III: to be able to actually make that real.

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Philip Dearborn: Yeah. And in a lot of ways accreditation is is is backwards looking. It's also forward looking, but if you think about it, the process is designed for an institution to do a self self-study. Here are the standards. How are you meeting those standards, and it tends to be retrospective. This is this is how we demonstrate that we're meeting these standards, and our current cycle is that an institution goes through that, and

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Philip Dearborn: every 10 years a lot changes at an at an institution in 10 years. So what we do on the Association side, so we have a commission side, which is the accreditation service that we provide. And on the association side, we're saying, Okay, in in those gaps of of time

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Philip Dearborn: and forward looking. How do we come alongside and help institutions flourish? And and II I've said this is one of my lines is, if if survival is your goal.

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Philip Dearborn: You're done, you might. You might as well quit. And I really believe there's good Biblical evidence for this, too, that we're not. We're not called to just survive

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Philip Dearborn: because of our relationship, because of who we are in Christ, because of who we're serving, because we're serving the Church, the body of Christ.

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Philip Dearborn: There's a sense of flourishing. That's part of that. There's an expectation that we're flourishing. Well, what does it mean to flourish? And so we're trying to get our hands around that and help our institutions, and it flourishing is one of those

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Philip Dearborn: qualitative.

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Philip Dearborn: How do you actually measure that? All I can say is, when you experience it, you say, Hmm, something is different here. I can't quite put my finger on it. But the experience that I'm having the people I'm interacting with. They're they're just different.

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Philip Dearborn: We're trying to bottle that and help our institutions

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Philip Dearborn: replicate what's happening on our other campuses or other members to kind of

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Philip Dearborn: get into this idea of. okay. just surviving isn't enough.

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Philip Dearborn: We really need to be about flourishing. Okay, so what does that mean for our campus? Yeah, how many institutions do you all serve now? So, Abhi, right now we have 157 institutions throughout North America. That includes 19 that are in Canada.

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Philip Dearborn: 2 that are in Puerto Rico, 2 that are in Alaska, one in Hawaii and then the remaining ones are throughout the Continental United States together. Those institutions are enrolling over 67,000 students, which, if you do the math.

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Philip Dearborn: that's a lot of small schools. But when you actually think about it to think that to day I mean, we're

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right now, when this is being recorded, we're ready to launch into the fall semester right? 67,000 students throughout North America are

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Philip Dearborn: populating. Our campuses are, are are ready to jump in and answer the call that God has placed on their life to me. That's a pretty significant movement, and and we're seeing God at work in in just amazing ways.

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Andy Miller III: Amen. I love it. Now you see your seats unique. Now, I can tell you a lot of what's happening at Wesley Biblical Seminary and the trends we're seeing from the denominations we've historically served, not just denomination. Sometimes there are networks of churches, I mean, in in post United Methodism, even though they're still existing in the in the new Methodism. Maybe I should say there's all sorts of groups that are coming together, the global Methodist church, but also the foundry network.

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Some people are going back to some older denominations that that we love and serve. So I could tell you about that. But you have a unique seat, Philip, because you're looking at these 150 plus

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Philip Dearborn: schools around the country and around the continent. What are some of the trends that you're seeing? Yeah, great, great question. Several trends that I can that I can unpack with you. One of the one of the first ones, and and II kind of call it the guilty by association syndrome.

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Philip Dearborn: the the sector of Biblical or Christian higher education is a subset of a bigger picture of of the higher education system in North America. There are 3,800 900 institutions in North America, of of higher education. That's like the big number. So that would be your state colleges, your your community colleges, your for profits, your not for profits, your religious, your non religious. That's the the big group.

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Well, when you start to bring that down to to to our sector of

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Philip Dearborn: Biblical Christian theological education.

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Philip Dearborn: The numbers are probably in the area of

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Philip Dearborn: 4 to 500 institutions, so so the guilty by association effect is, whatever happens at the broadest sense of all of higher education

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we're connected in. So there's a trickle down effect. So what you see at the National level.

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Philip Dearborn: For example, Us. Department of the Education engagement. You know that that title 9 rules and Regs are being rewritten.

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Philip Dearborn: That's gonna impact all of higher education. So it's not just a sector. So whatever happens to the big universities is gonna happen to us, what happens for enrollment trends across whatever happens at the biggest level is gonna also reflect itself in in our institutions. So I. So so the whatever those trends are.

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Philip Dearborn: we're not immune from that. So another trend that I see is what's referred to as the Enrollment Cliff. We we know very well, we, we track

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Philip Dearborn: the number of students who are in K to 12. So we know the numbers of students who are graduating. That's that's kind of the big pool. Those are the ones that are. I call it the pig and the python. Right there. There. We know who they are. We know what the numbers are. And we know that in the year 2026 across the Continental United States enrollments, high school enrollments th those eligible to enter college.

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Philip Dearborn: The the number drops significantly, and that's in every region in North America.

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Andy Miller III: Let me stop you there because it's so important. People like you're not in higher education. You're not thinking of this, and that's okay. But if you love your institution like wherever you went to school, do you think about this like they are. Every academic administrator needs to be thinking about and is thinking about it. And it's a real, just thinking of this cliff that we're headed to quickly that birth rate dropped. What was it? Oh, what was it, Phil, that Philip, that let us there

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Andy Miller III: less babies generally, people

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Philip Dearborn: causation of why the birth rates have have declined. The reality is they have. And what's what's fascinating is even in post Covid. They're even dropping further. Right? So people are not getting married, and they're not having kids.

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Philip Dearborn: So so this will. This is going to be with us for a significant amount of time. The implications to this are massive.

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We have an overabundance of colleges and universities in North America.

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Philip Dearborn: and the pool is getting smaller. So the implication is schools

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Philip Dearborn: potentially are gonna close. And we're actually starting to see that happen, perhaps for other reasons. But I think this enrollment cliff and 2026. Now, what's interesting? You all in your institution. Serve an older population. Well, pig and the python, it's it's coming right? So so those numbers will will decline. So that's that's a pretty massive trend. That I think everybody needs to be aware of. How do you address that?

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I encourage institutions just like you diversify your A a retirement portfolio. You've got to diversify your student population so that you're offering to to to different generations of students, methodologies, ways online face to face, blended hybrid.

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Philip Dearborn: You gotta do it all. But I think that's probably one of the the more significant trends. Another trend is Post Covid

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Philip Dearborn: and II we're not the way I describe it is, the cement is still wet, the cement has been poured. We're post Covid, but I think the industry all industries are trying to figure out. Okay, Post Covid, we adjusted.

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what did we learn? What sticks and what what did we do? That goes away because we were responding to a crisis situation.

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Philip Dearborn: We're starting to see some trends in some research like, like, for example, one of them is some. Some early studies are indicating that we have a generation

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Philip Dearborn: and sorry for this analogy. Again, pig in the python, because it's going to follow them through.

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Philip Dearborn: we have a generation of students who who are starting to indicate a resistance to

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Philip Dearborn: technology slash online education. And here's why their K 12.

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Philip Dearborn: They were in college. Covid hits.

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Philip Dearborn: Everything goes online.

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Philip Dearborn: but they did it in such a way that it wasn't good or valid online instruction. And and nor was there an expectation that there was right? Because we're forced into the situation.

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Philip Dearborn: So this. So so what people are saying is.

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Philip Dearborn: there could be a generation, a gap of students who are, gonna be resistant to online education to hybrid delivery. Now, is this, is this still a a, a, an effect that's gonna go away? Will this be the trend moving forward that we'll we'll have to figure that piece out but it's kind of a a fascinating piece off of that.

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Philip Dearborn: The other trend that comes out of that is, students have a high expectation of flexibility. They want to keep as many options open in in their experience. And whether they wanna come to class one day and then the next day, okay, I can't come face to face, but I wanna be able to zoom in

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Philip Dearborn: live. They have that option or you know what? I'm not going to be able to catch up until later tonight. So I want to view the recording of the class. So there.

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Philip Dearborn: that has become a student expectation. That they have multiple options to engage their education

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Andy Miller III: right? And so we're doing similar things here at Wbs, trying to be prepared to serve that way. It's amazing how people are wanting flexibility. And then that puts pressure on us to ensure. We're evaluating and assessing what people learn, because it's it's hard to ensure that those things are consistently maintained when you're having to change your systems. Nevertheless.

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Andy Miller III: like it's worth it, it's worth it to stay engaged with the students, even when they're in a flexible situation. So like, for instance, I'll I'll teach a preach. I'm teaching a preaching class this semester I've had, you know. Sometimes I'll have a half a dozen students in the room. I'll have another 10 to 15 online who are synced in with us. They're alive with us.

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Andy Miller III: But at the same time there'll be people who watch the class later. And so we ask people to do that within 48 h. Same time, I'm always amazed at the students who are local.

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Andy Miller III: who decide. You know, today, I'm not gonna come to class. But I'm just gonna sink in live, I mean. And and you know, I could be frustrated that because now I'm a over 40 year old person I some old man, and so I'll say, oh, back in my day, you know, I would have never thought to do this. But ha!

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Philip Dearborn: Learning goals, objectives are being met. And so there needs to be some flexibility with, yeah. And it's like we we talked about it being student centric education being su student centric before. But I think that's really taking front stage, and it creates a challenge for faculty. Members, especially those who have taught in the old style of of teaching. And think about it, too, and it's a pretty serious implication as a faculty member. You don't know.

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Philip Dearborn: in any given class session. How many people are gonna be on site? How many people be online? And who? So if you're trying to do learning activities, how do you? How do you plan effectively for it? So it it it offers challenges. But the bottom line is a a major trend, is it's it's we are definitely on the on the student student centric approach to things.

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Andy Miller III: Yeah. And I think it's helpful for people keep in mind. It's amazing, Philip, that there are people who often don't realize how online modalities have evolved.

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Andy Miller III: They might still have in mind, like, if people who are my age when the online education was around it was totally asynchronous, and it was generally something that was pre canned. Not much engagement. Well, it's in. I know most schools that are developing it. Now, really know that there's a value with the individual interaction with the Professor, I think like that's the goal. I mean, if II say, as for us, I mean, are you able to say those type of things like that's still the gold standard, so to speak

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Philip Dearborn: it. Yeah, absolutely it is. I mean, you know, we I remember saying to to my wife, Amy through through Covid and the lockdowns and the 6 feed, and the yeah, we weren't designed this way.

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Philip Dearborn: We weren't designed to live separate. We were designed to live in community. It's a reflection of even how

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a father, son, and Holy Spirit work, and what it means to be created in the image of God. It's it's it's it's it's living in community. And there's something that happens with that. So so none of this replaces that II think it's just a question of

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different means to achieve an end. And the goal of online education isn't to

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Philip Dearborn: train students to

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Philip Dearborn: live online, right? It's it's giving them skill sets so that they can incarnationally engage with the the community in which they are right. That's that's the mean to the end of the education, what? And and I think it's a dangerous assumption to those who are saying, no, everything's got to be face to face. You make a dangerous

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Philip Dearborn: assumption that in a classroom setting you've got 25, and and I've been in a classroom. You've been in a classroom that you're teaching online or face-to-face. You've got 25 people in front of you.

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Philip Dearborn: How do you know learning is happening absolutely with the person in the back row. 3 seats over Yup, just just because they're physically there.

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Philip Dearborn: Does that? Does that mean that? Oh, yeah. Learn learning is happening. That's a pretty dangerous assumption, especially when you're looking at the back of their computer. And you don't know what is actually up on that computer screen. So so you gotta be, you gotta treat both fairly. And and so I think, yeah.

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Philip Dearborn: ideally, face to face engagement. Absolutely. It's a different world. And and we've prioritized things differently. But I think it's achievable that you live in that tension.

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Andy Miller III: Yeah. And and I, when I say face to face, is the goal. Say, I think like the dynamic, like you and I are talking right now to be able to have moment in it. Yeah. O, ideally if you could be there and shake somebody's hand. But you and I both, though, like you, just described that scenario, somebody's in the back of the classroom. It doesn't necessarily mean that somebody's gonna have a rich community environment when they're they're physically in the same room, able to shake somebody's hand.

00:26:41.420 --> 00:27:05.590
So th. That's something to keep in mind. One thing is interesting, too, cause you've already emphasized. This is that you have, like Biblical higher education. Now, we, because our our history. We've just added an undergraduate program. That was in part why we came to A, BHE. But we've been accredited by another crediting body. That's a a theological

00:27:05.590 --> 00:27:06.490

00:27:06.580 --> 00:27:17.829
Andy Miller III: It's interesting to me, though, as I participated in events there, I'm often on with my colleagues aren't necessarily aren't Christians always, and they'll be. There's a there was a

00:27:18.030 --> 00:27:41.860
Andy Miller III: there's a Buddhist chaplain. There are all kinds of intu interesting things that happen in that group is that has evolved. But you you're pretty specific. I mean it. You're wanting to focus in theologically, and yet you still are a big tent, so to speak. Tell talking about that tension. Yeah, absolutely. And and it's it's it's everything is is everything evolves over time.

00:27:41.860 --> 00:28:03.420
Philip Dearborn: And and I think, we're not immune to that Biblical higher education is not immune. You go back you know. 100 and 50 years ago, 125 years ago, when Bible colleges started. They started in a church context. Why? Because they looked around. And they said, the major universities of the day, we're no longer preparing men and women

00:28:03.450 --> 00:28:22.840
Philip Dearborn: to serve the church. Look at Harvard University's Mission statement, 1636. Look it up. If you're listening to this, and you'll be shocked at what the Mission statement of Harvard University was in 1636. It sounds like a Bible college mission statement. It sounds like a seminary mission statement. Well, the church was saying, nobody's around, nobody's doing it.

00:28:22.900 --> 00:28:30.000
So what the church did was say, we're going to start these Bible Institutes. And and so that happened 125 years ago.

00:28:30.310 --> 00:28:50.120
Philip Dearborn: Well, Bible colleges have have evolved over time and are are serving the Church, and and I think one of the dangerous assumptions that Bible colleges made in the early days was linking together ministry and occupation, and that you are only in ministry. If you are serving in the context of a local church.

00:28:50.170 --> 00:28:58.190
Philip Dearborn: and what it did, I think was alienate the broader body of Christ. Businessmen and women

00:28:58.790 --> 00:29:23.540
Philip Dearborn: people in medicine, law anything that was other than the Church, and said, Well, you're not in ministry. Only if you're serving in the context of the Church, can you be considered in ministry? That's dangerous. When I read the Scriptures, it's very, very clear. That the great Commission is, go and make disciples. It doesn't say using your occupation as a pastor in a church. It just says, Go and make disciples.

00:29:23.540 --> 00:29:45.730
Philip Dearborn: And so what the thing that I've loved and what's happening literally in real time is we're broadening that scope to understand. No, regardless of occupational context. God calls you to go and make disciples. We need a group that are trained to do it in the context of the church and paratro, and we also need it in business and and and fill in the blank.

00:29:45.840 --> 00:30:05.150
Philip Dearborn: So what Abhi is doing is pulling back and saying, How do we serve institutions who are committed to the authority of the Word of God? We firmly believe that the Word of God has something to say about everything that we experience in life, everything. There's nothing that we experience, that the Word of God doesn't speak into.

00:30:05.670 --> 00:30:24.129
Philip Dearborn: Well, there are colleges, there are universities, there are seminaries, there are Bible colleges, there are Biblical universities who are committed to the authority of the Word of God. We want to come alongside those institutions and say, How can we help you flourish? So is it the traditional Bible College Bible Institute?

00:30:24.330 --> 00:30:31.880
Philip Dearborn: Yeah, we have a lot of those who are exclusively focused on training men and women to serve in the context of the local church. Yes.

00:30:32.400 --> 00:30:38.939
Philip Dearborn: seminaries like yours absolutely. But we also have schools like Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.

00:30:38.960 --> 00:30:41.910
Andy Miller III: Yeah, we have schools like Dallas Baptist University.

00:30:41.920 --> 00:30:54.189
Philip Dearborn: who are broader. They are under the what you would call a Christian Liberal Arts institution. Well, how do they fit within Biblical higher education? They're committed to the authority of Word of God. And here's where it plays down

00:30:54.210 --> 00:31:04.380
Philip Dearborn: qualitatively to quantitatively. Those institutions require a core of Bible theology at the undergraduate level. 30 credits.

00:31:04.390 --> 00:31:18.369
Philip Dearborn: So it's not just a name. And there are institutions who say, Oh, yeah, we're committed to the authority of the Word of God. It's in our mission statement, and they don't require students to take one single Bible or theology course. Well, if you're connected with A, BHE,

00:31:18.380 --> 00:31:24.240
Philip Dearborn: you're gonna take a core of 30 credits, 30 units in Biblical and theological studies.

00:31:24.280 --> 00:31:33.680
Philip Dearborn: and I love that because that's that Biblical integration piece that says, Look, we're preparing you to go serve, make disciples, and we're gonna train you to be winsome

00:31:34.290 --> 00:31:58.649
Philip Dearborn: and have a firm knowledge on the Word of God, so that you are living a Biblical worldview in the culture and the society and the people that you interact with regardless of occupational context. I love it. And this is exactly like this is how we impact society. You get 67,000 students who are in this type of system, where they are getting Biblical education and not it's not just

00:31:58.650 --> 00:32:22.520
Andy Miller III: in name. This is like they are taking courses. And then, of course, those courses have to meet certain standards, and we won't get into some of the details that you know you and I cover and and think about like what what our syllabi look like, and those things have to be there. And you know, I we went through the the drama and the beautiful drama, I should say, of making sure we're up to what our peers would expect on that. And you know

00:32:22.520 --> 00:32:46.620
Andy Miller III: there's a commission you mentioned the one side. There's a commission of accreditation that helps to evaluate this at a less. So it's just you lead this kind of the institution that serves that. But it's exciting to think that there are these students who are broadly trained to be able to serve in the world under this umbrella. One thing, I wonder Philip is like

00:32:46.690 --> 00:33:10.769
Andy Miller III: and we. We've worked through it this summer. We have a task force, and we're presenting that to the students here on artificial intelligence. And this is one of the things that we have to work on is to ensure that learning happens that we're not just kicking, you know, punting to chat Gpt, and that we are having standards in place that enable people to not lean onto technology that prevents their learning.

00:33:10.830 --> 00:33:36.760
Philip Dearborn: So I love the question. And I. There are days that I'm so thankful I'm no longer directly in the Academy, because, you know, Chat Gp comes on the scene, and you you've gotta you know you. You're like the the airplane is in flight, and you're playing with the engine. Right? You're you're trying to figure out. How do we address this thing.

00:33:36.760 --> 00:33:49.679
Andy Miller III: The worst thing a college or or seminary can do is write a policy. It says you can't engage artificial intelligence. That is the worst thing you can do. And and that was a lot of reaction was

00:33:49.720 --> 00:34:22.429
Philip Dearborn: and and you know, they have software that can evaluate something turned in to say, what? What are the percent chances? The AI did this and whatever else to me, that's a a race to the bottom. That's a that's a punitive slap on the hand. Don't, don't do this. Look! Students students are gonna do which? I always find kind of fascinating in those situations where faculty say, don't, don't! Don't do this. And yet the faculty members are using Chat Gp to come up with with things so so. And this has always been an issue with technology.

00:34:22.800 --> 00:34:36.309
Philip Dearborn: And I think it's a common reaction you. You have the sector who who say it's evil. good grief, the ball, the the pen ball point. Pen was evil, right? Technology, the Internet's evil.

00:34:37.020 --> 00:34:49.280
Philip Dearborn: Yes, it can be used for evil things. But I think there's tremendous opportunity there. And and AI is literally changing week to week, month to month. I don't think we have our full hand yet on

00:34:49.449 --> 00:34:55.289
Philip Dearborn: how it's going to be used, how it's going to shape theological education. 1 one thing I think

00:34:55.429 --> 00:35:04.800
Philip Dearborn: it will impact is part of how we deliver and and perhaps a movement towards competency based education.

00:35:05.150 --> 00:35:11.749
Philip Dearborn: And that's a competency based. Education comes out out actually out of the votech area

00:35:11.850 --> 00:35:20.050
Andy Miller III: from years ago, which was basically and it makes sense. In the trades you had to demonstrate. Can you change this hire?

00:35:20.060 --> 00:35:35.450
Philip Dearborn: Exactly right? I mean, it's it's pretty basic, either you can or you can't. You're not gonna write a paper about how to change the tire. You're actually gonna have to change a tire. I think that application is is beautiful in education when you marry it with AI

00:35:36.030 --> 00:35:41.969
Philip Dearborn: content, creation, accessing information, etc., etc. Well.

00:35:42.050 --> 00:35:45.050
Philip Dearborn: demonstrate that you're capable to be a pastor.

00:35:45.170 --> 00:35:50.430
Andy Miller III: Love that are you gonna demonstrate that by writing a paper?

00:35:50.640 --> 00:35:54.420
Philip Dearborn: Well, that's that's one aspect of it, absolutely.

00:35:54.500 --> 00:35:56.800
But similar to changing attire.

00:35:57.270 --> 00:36:02.969
Philip Dearborn: Can you demonstrate? How do you demonstrate that you are a humble leader.

00:36:03.670 --> 00:36:21.239
Philip Dearborn: Do you have life example that can demonstrate the fact that you approach leadership from a from from a position of humility, boy, now you're getting to the heart of what it means to be a leader. How can you demonstrate the fact that you can effectively communicate the Word of God.

00:36:21.290 --> 00:36:29.290
Philip Dearborn: Not just write papers about it, or the styles of preaching, or whatever else but show us. Yeah, yeah. But you can do it.

00:36:29.650 --> 00:36:41.460
Philip Dearborn: So. So I think I think AI is kind of pushing us in that direction. There's a great guy, Seth Godin. I don't know if you know that name or not. He does a a daily blog.

00:36:42.080 --> 00:36:46.410
Philip Dearborn: Love it! He he has a great Ted talk

00:36:46.620 --> 00:36:56.370
that he did several years ago on education, where he just he just pops the balloon of education and says, how we approach education is wrong.

00:36:56.410 --> 00:37:05.739
Philip Dearborn: It's a result of the modernist era. And it is. And he said, basically, coming out of of of manufacturing, we set up education

00:37:06.070 --> 00:37:30.609
Philip Dearborn: to be a a factory. We we line up the seats. We line up the students alphabetically. We we, we do tests A, BCD, and and it's built to, hey, if if somebody fails out of that. Don't worry. There's the next person. And it's just this factory of education. And he's huge on competency, based education. To say.

00:37:30.930 --> 00:37:32.239
Philip Dearborn: who cares about

00:37:32.430 --> 00:37:37.389
Philip Dearborn: the credential? Who cares about? Did you get an A or B or C, or D,

00:37:38.320 --> 00:37:46.669
Philip Dearborn: can you do it? Demonstrate that you are effective at this? And I think it's just a healthy way to view education.

00:37:47.090 --> 00:38:14.300
Andy Miller III: Yeah, it's interesting. You know, we we hear it regularly and particularly on the seminary level, that kinda it's almost a euphemism to say like, well, I didn't teach this to me in seminary, right? And and certainly that's gonna be a case part of what we do in seminary education has helped. People know how to think, and that's a that's kind of behind a lot of Christian liberal arts. Education in general. Nevertheless, there. I always listen carefully

00:38:14.300 --> 00:38:42.370
Andy Miller III: when I hear that, because it represents that something might could have happened. I almost use that. I've been in the South now for 15 years might could have happened. Sorry. It's a possibility that we could be in a position to be able to say, you know, that question arises because we haven't adequately looked at what we're doing in the educational process, that we might need to reevaluate how we help people

00:38:42.400 --> 00:39:05.570
Philip Dearborn: do the work that we are facilitating for educational environment. It's it's the beauty of of you know, the theoretical and the practical coming together, the theological and the practical. And that's been a tenet of higher education is, it's not about content. It it it unfortunately is sometimes turned into that. It's really about critical thinking.

00:39:05.570 --> 00:39:13.999
Philip Dearborn: How do you? How do you critically think through information? It's not about the transmission of information. There has to be some level of transmission.

00:39:14.000 --> 00:39:36.179
Philip Dearborn: but that's a means to the greater end of being able to understand how to think critically through something. And and that's always been the focus of of of higher education. And then you establish that. Why? So that from the practical level you're able to function right? You know, we we don't need seminary graduates who

00:39:36.860 --> 00:39:42.830
Philip Dearborn: know the Word of God from beginning to end, every theological

00:39:43.060 --> 00:39:48.710
Philip Dearborn: framework and and and and know it in in 50 different languages. And

00:39:48.930 --> 00:40:15.070
Philip Dearborn: and then they are in a church context, and they have a a couple in front of them who are struggling with their marriage, and they have no clue how to relate to them. Well, all of that is knowledge, so that they can then engage this couple, meeting them where they're at, to help them know how to better, how to be a better husband how to be a better wife and that that's that marriage together that we've we've we've separated apart.

00:40:15.540 --> 00:40:20.349
Philip Dearborn: that I love what you all are doing to kind of force those things back together again.

00:40:20.430 --> 00:40:46.199
Andy Miller III: Yeah, in in my own teaching, on my preaching class, what I make the move from for every student to see the distinction between 2 different seats. There's the seat where people are exiting script Scripture, where they learn to work with the text, and and that I think of as kind of a hard seat, like a wooden seat that they have in a library, and they're doing that sort of work. But then there's a second seat, and that is a kind of like the cozy seat, the kind of lazy boy

00:40:46.200 --> 00:40:53.870
where you're thinking creatively about how to say something. So there's getting something to say in the one seat in the second seat is

00:40:53.870 --> 00:41:11.550
Andy Miller III: learning how to say it. There's a a whole different discipline unless we're able to come to a place of thinking about how we actually facilitate this function. We're gonna be in big trouble. And I appreciate that about even the role of an accrediting body, helping us

00:41:11.550 --> 00:41:24.040
Andy Miller III: think about how we deliver things and and providing resources. So what can people expect like, you know, when they see an Aba abh g institution like, what? What does that mean? Just give us like, have your elevator pitch on that?

00:41:24.040 --> 00:41:48.409
Philip Dearborn: Yeah. So so so an abhee institution is gonna be so our mission statement, that that that we have is advancing Biblical higher education for kingdom impact. So we're gonna look for institutions that align with that like our job, is to to help institutions accomplish that, to to do what? To graduate students who are able to have a kingdom, impact and kingdom in the sense of God's kingdom.

00:41:48.700 --> 00:42:01.170
And and you know, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, regardless of occupational context, etc., etc. So what does an abhee institution look like? They. They've got a very clear mission that aligns with that mission.

00:42:01.200 --> 00:42:04.370
That they are are about training men and women.

00:42:04.420 --> 00:42:10.089
Philip Dearborn: From a Biblical, the authority of the Word of God, from a Biblical theological framework.

00:42:10.120 --> 00:42:14.060
To to to go and make disciples. We're not about them.

00:42:14.700 --> 00:42:19.299
Philip Dearborn: Getting great jobs.

00:42:19.490 --> 00:42:25.580
Getting famous. having a good income.

00:42:25.810 --> 00:42:32.129
Philip Dearborn: While that may happen to some of our graduates at our institutions. The focus is on

00:42:32.170 --> 00:42:58.350
Philip Dearborn: Re, and it really is around the church building church leaders, whether that's lay leaders or leaders who are pastors, teachers, you know those, those those sorts of things. So that's what they hold in common. I would say. They also hold in common and and have a very strong commitment to the authority of the Word of God, that is, that is absolutely huge. And again, going back to what I said before the the Word of God has something to say about everything. We don't just give it lip service.

00:42:58.350 --> 00:43:04.070
Philip Dearborn: So you know the the, the, the faculty and staff are committed.

00:43:04.190 --> 00:43:25.169
Philip Dearborn: To the institution, the institution statement of faith. They have a a firm understanding of it. And the vast majority of students, I'd say at our institutions are Christ followers. There are a couple of our institutions that that have a broader perspective and enrolling students, and they view their mission statement from an evangelistic perspective.

00:43:25.250 --> 00:43:35.140
Philip Dearborn: And and it's not the majority of schools. But you know one of our schools reaches some of our Alaskan

00:43:35.840 --> 00:43:53.789
Philip Dearborn: You know villages that may have 60 people in it, right? And they have a very evangelistic approach. in Alaska a lot of the the villages. There's a lot of abuse that happens. Alcohol substance, abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, those kinds of things.

00:43:53.790 --> 00:44:11.800
So they're they see themselves as a ministry they're bringing in these students and and and proclaiming Christ through their educational process. So those are some of the markers of a A, of our of our institutions. I love it. Our largest is southeastern in Lakeland, Florida, 10,000 students. Our smallest is Saint Phoddeus,

00:44:11.840 --> 00:44:18.250
Philip Dearborn: seminary in Northern California, with 1215 students. So it's it's it's it's quite.

00:44:18.250 --> 00:44:42.430
Philip Dearborn: quite a diverse. But they love Jesus. They love the church. They love the gospel. I love it, and and I'll just say for people, maybe parents who are looking at institutions. There also is like a financial component board governance component student services side, like all those things are like, make it so. This is just like we want you to think about seminary as a institution that's developing trusted leaders for faithful churches. That's in part

00:44:42.430 --> 00:45:09.029
Andy Miller III: the task that Abh e fulfills by helping institutions be able to say that with confidence, alright, Philip, as I always ask, is that my podcast. Is called more to story. I'm curious. Is there more to the story of Philip is normally told. Like, I know, you have me, you're starting your own podcast. But there's something that you like to do, some hobby or something that you don't talk about regularly. Yeah. So I mean, II love. I love fishing. My! I mentioned my parents were missionaries, and

00:45:09.030 --> 00:45:12.680
but so I was born in France, spent 7 years there, but

00:45:12.850 --> 00:45:22.310
Philip Dearborn: they came to the States, the Philadelphia area. So I'm a Philly guy, really. And so city guy. And so we live here in Central Pennsylvania. And we're

00:45:23.080 --> 00:45:32.569
quarter of a mile away from the Susquehanna River. So one of the relationships that I built here in the local community. With my buddy, Mike. He basically taught me how to fish.

00:45:32.570 --> 00:45:44.220
Philip Dearborn: So it's a it's a hobby that I absolutely love. And we're we're out as as many times as I possibly can. And for me it's just I just I just love being out on a river

00:45:44.220 --> 00:46:06.459
Philip Dearborn: island so that tells you fish

00:46:06.530 --> 00:46:29.879
Philip Dearborn: and now it's catch and release right so, and it's bass almost exclusively every once in a while and get a catfish. But those things are slimy and ugly. So we we go for the we go for the bass, but for me it's it's it's part of, you know, spiritual disciplines, too, of just getting out and enjoying God's creation. And it's just

00:46:30.090 --> 00:46:53.220
Philip Dearborn: it's amazing to me you live in a community forever. When you get out onto the river and actually see the area, it looks totally different. So it's a prospective thing, too. So I absolutely enjoy so thanks, for I love it. Yeah, thanks for sharing that. Well, thanks so much, Philip, for coming on. We appreciate your time, and the ministry of Abh. Chief Voits meant to Wesley Bill Seminary, but also for the Church and for the world. So thanks for coming on today's podcast absolutely.

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