Conversation: Byron Klaus
Byron Klaus, D.Min. (Fuller Theological Seminary), has served as president of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary since 1999, following 20 years on the faculty and administration at Vanguard University of Southern California. Previous to serving at Vanguard, he ministered at local churches in California, Texas and Illinois. Klaus also serves as professor of intercultural leadership studies at AGTS. He spoke recently with Managing Editor Ken Horn.
tpe: How has AGTS grown recently?
KLAUS: My predecessor, Dr. Del Tarr, completed the transition to our new facility in 1997. In the last number of years, weÕve had the highest enrollment in our history. WeÕve had the biggest graduating classes. WeÕve added a Doctor of Ministry degree. WeÕre in the process of being approved to offer a Doctor of Missiology program. In 2005 we began a partnership with James River Assembly (Ozark, Mo.) focused on expository preaching.
In 2006 we plan to increase our emphasis on missions with the Hogan Chair (named in honor of former Assemblies of God World Missions Executive Director J. Philip Hogan). We emphasize preaching and missions, which are historically what our Fellowship is about, and we are growing in our ability to serve the larger community.
tpe: What are the seminaryÕs goals?
KLAUS: We want to equip servant leaders with passion, skill and knowledge to evangelize the world and revitalize the church in the power of the Spirit. We do that by being deeply committed to the church. We are not interested in becoming an institution of higher learning that is separate from the church.
tpe: Who should consider coming to AGTS?
KLAUS: By its very nature, a seminary produces leaders for the church, people who will be in full-time vocational ministry. But AGTS also offers a theological base for service in other areas: social work, counseling, and law. We need to recapture the public marketplace with people who can think with a Christian worldview.
tpe: Describe the spiritual atmosphere at AGTS.
KLAUS: We mean business with God. We believe in the power of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, prophetic words, praying for the sick — this is part of everyday life at AGTS. If you go into our classes, you will find revival is breaking out. Our students experience hours of prayer and reconciliation.
The dynamic of the Spirit and rigorous study are not mutually exclusive. We believe they belong together in the same breath, and that is what weÕre trying to do.
tpe: Do you encounter people who believe Pentecostals are anti-intellectual and that perhaps AGTS is not a first-rate seminary?
KLAUS: I run into that viewpoint less and less. There is a greater willingness in the larger educational community to allow Pentecostals to be at the table. IÕm on some major committees in the seminary accrediting association and I am a welcome player. I have found, in fact, that the largest seminaries and the presidents of the largest seminaries are the people who have been most gracious.
tpe: What is your vision for the seminary?
KLAUS: I want AGTS to produce missionaries and pastors and church planters who are passionate about the gospel, who have a spirit of sacrifice and who will go to places where the Spirit is bidding us come but people are scared to go.
When people walk into this building, I pray they sense that they are in a place that God has chosen for this period of time to create a new order of Pentecostal leader. I believe we are doing that. I believe that God is going to give us grace to see that happen in a broader and more effective way.
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.