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Students in the Adventures in Missions program line up for a flag presentation during the Sunset Vision Workshop.
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‘A voice in the middle of extremes’

Sunset Vision Workshop seeks to instill a 'balanced, interpretive view of Scripture' in future generations.

LUBBOCK, Texas — ‘Preach the Word!”

It’s an oft-heard exhortation at Sunset International Bible Institute, or SIBI. Believers shout it from the pews as preachers and ministry students rise to take the pulpit.

And as Churches of Christ in the U.S. face declining numbers and escalating controversies, young Christians need to hear the simple truth of the Word proclaimed, said Tim Burow.

“… our brotherhood is dividing and looking for answers in the midst of all of this confusion. And, therefore, I think that SIBI needs to maintain its place with a clear ring of scripture’s eternal call for purity in doctrine and behavior.”

“There are all sorts of discussions concerning role confusions and worship styles,” said Burow, who became the institute’s third president last summer, “and our brotherhood is dividing and looking for answers in the midst of all of this confusion. And, therefore, I think that SIBI needs to maintain its place with a clear ring of scripture’s eternal call for purity in doctrine and behavior.”

Burow spoke during the annual Sunset Vision Workshop, which brought about 900 Christians to the West Texas institute, which also serves as the meeting place of the Sunset Church of Christ. 

Among the attendees were 42 participants in Camp Adventure, a workshop for Christian youths coordinated by Adventures in Missions (AIM), a missionary apprenticeship program sponsored by SIBI.

Faculty from the 58-year-old institute and guest speakers urged church members to “preach the Word” to every people in every way — from new technology (the school just launched a mobile app with archived video lessons) to old-school, ‘shoe leather’ evangelism. 

Burow, Sunset’s former dean of international studies, was “taught and baptized by a graduate of Sunset who was taught and baptized by a graduate of Sunset,” he said. “Sunset is in my spiritual genealogy, my DNA.” 

Sunset President Tim Burow, left, presents Bill Yasko with the Gray Eagle award, given to outstanding alumni of the institute.

Sunset President Tim Burow, left, presents Bill Yasko with the Gray Eagle award, given to outstanding alumni of the institute.

At the institute’s core, “SIBI has always been a voice in the middle of extremes,” Burow said, “taking a balanced, interpretive view of God’s word, sharing with people the truth that has been revealed by our heavenly Father with every clear expression of scripture expressed in love and seasoned with grace.”

Sunset’s founder, Cline Paden, launched the institute after returning to the U.S. following years of service as a missionary in locales including Rome, Italy. He named it Latin American Bible School and sought to train Spanish-speaking preachers. The school opened with six students.

Now Sunset trains nearly 3,000 ministry students at 75 sites in 43 nations around the globe, from Brazil to Zimbabwe. Sunset also has 158 satellite schools in the U.S. using its curriculum.

Truitt Adair

Truitt Adair

“I can name a half-dozen schools of preaching that were once strong and vibrant that got old and died,” said Truitt Adair, who served as Sunset’s president for 26 years before moving into the role of chancellor. “We’ve been around since 1962, but as the generations pass on the message, the emphasis, the heart to the next generation, the school stays strong.”

Burow, Adair’s successor, stressed the need to instill “a thorough understanding of the distinctive nature of the first century church” in Sunset’s students. 

“There are many in the church today who have a lessened view of her value,” Burow said. “There are many that criticize her, who wish to tear her down, who would look at her human imperfections and would say, ‘I’m done with it.’

“Our students, our graduates must, must, must love the church — and must love what Scripture says about the church.”

SEE VIDEOS from the 2020 Sunset Vision Workshop at sibi.cc/workshop.

Filed under: Chapel Avenue Church of Christ News Partners Sunset International Bible Institute Sunset Vision Workshop Top Stories

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