LifeWay responds about Centrifuge

I received the following letter, dated March 14, from Mark Marshall, who has responsibilities that include overseeing the work of Centrifuge for LifeWay. I am very grateful for his gracious letter. His gentle spirit and open acknowledgment of areas that need to be strengthened combine for an example of how Christian brothers should discuss matters of importance like this, even when we may not see exactly eye-to-eye. His words should have a calming effect on those who are extremely exercised over the material and on those who are extremely exercised that concerns have been raised about the material. As a pastor I find his letter refreshing and encouraging. Upon receiving it, I prayed for Mr. Marshall regarding the work that is before him. Let me encourage you to pray for him, as well.

March 14, 2006

Dear Dr. Ascol and the readers of Founder’s Ministry blog:

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the comments that have been posted about the Centrifuge camps, specifically the 2006 Bible Study Leader Guide. As many of us at LifeWay reread “Thrill Ride,” we agree with our critics that it not as theologically strong as it could be. As a result, we will intensify the upcoming 12-day training program for summer staffers to ensure that the doctrines of sin, God’s holiness, and the necessity of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection are central to our teaching. In addition, we’ll take a harder look at curriculum development for Centrifuge for the years ahead.

At the same time, it may prove helpful to provide a little context for the Leader Guide and how it is used at Centrifuge, a summer camp for youth in grades 7-12. The Bible study is designed to present the foundational truths about Jesus Christ to young people from a broad spectrum of religious backgrounds – including the unchurched. Additional study tracks, worship, and individual consultation help us go deeper into the Biblical truths about the Person and work of Christ. The Leader Guide is part of a much larger whole.

We share with each of you a deep desire for Christ to be glorified in the changed lives of young people. And at Centrifuge, many lives are changed forever. Over the last three years, Centrifuge has recorded 18,862 decisions for Christ, including 2,869 professions of faith; 1,399 calls to Christian vocation; and nearly 14,600 rededications and other decisions. We thank God for the work He has done in the hearts of young people at Centrifuge.

Humbly in His service,

Mark Marshall

Director, Training and Events, LifeWay Church Resources

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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