Want to be a Minister Part 2: Seminary Edition

Tags

, ,

You’ve decided that you’re called of God to be a minister.

You’ve come to a decision that God is actually calling you to the Pastorate!

You understand that you need to go to Seminary.

Lord help you… ;)

One thing you need to decide is what you want to look like at the other end of your seminary experience.

Please understand, where you go to Seminary will mark you in some way.  I don’t care what your professors say, they will indoctrinate you.  They can’t help it.  If you go to a seminary with a conservative reputation, you will be more conservative at the end of it. If you pick a seminary with a more progressive reputation, you will come out more progressive at the end of it.

You can’t help but be influenced  by your surroundings.

Secondly, there will probably be some expectation placed upon you by your particular brand of Christianity.  You may be a non-denominational, Bible Church kind of minster. Technically, you can attend any seminary you desire.  There isn’t any rule that says you need to attend a certain seminary.

Now, look at most of the pastors of the “Bible Church” variety in your area.

Where did they go to school?

If I were to do that in my area, then I would see that many of the local Bible Church ministers have graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary.

If I look at the local Baptist Churches, I would see that most of the pastors are graduates of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Many of the Methodist Pastors went to Perkins School of Theology, and many of the Disciples of Christ Pastors have degrees from Bright Divinity School.

Of course, you’ll find some folks who went to my alma mater, George W. Truett Theological Seminary!

You get the picture?

Each of these schools have a reputation. That reputation will follow you throughout your ministry.  Perhaps you decide to attend a seminary that is something other than the one “most” of your brand of Christian ministers chooses.

That says something as well.

You may say it’s about broadening your perspective. Those interviewing you for that future ministry position may see it as someone ashamed of their denomination. And don’t forget, your theology will be influenced by where you attend.

Let me give you my experience as an example.

As mentioned, I went to Truett.  It is a smaller seminary, associated with Baylor University. When I went there, it was graduating it’s very first class. It met in the education space of First Baptist Church of Waco.

You could go a whole semester never having stepped foot upon the main Baylor campus, with the exception of the library.

From my experience, it is a small, fairly conservative, evangelical, thoroughly Texas Baptist seminary.

Many people choose to go to Truett instead of Southwestern. They feel that Truett is more of a “moderate” seminary, and they will use the term. “Moderate” is a term used in Texas to mean “non-fundamentalist.”

Some people will decide that I’m “more liberal” than some of my colleagues. Some people may like that, or not. What they don’t know is that there is only one theological area that I may disagree with my more “conservative” brethren on.  It is the area of women in ministry. I believe that God can call whomever he wants, to do whatever he wants. Including the pastorate.

My more “conservative” brethren, or you say more “fundamentalist” types may say that women aren’t allowed to be pastors.

The crazy thing is that these terms, “Liberal, Conservative, Progressive and Fundamentalist” are used within a cultural context. What it means in one state may be entirely different in another.

In Texas, there aren’t that many differences between the terms “moderate and fundamentalist” from the rest of the world’s view.

You’ll be surprised what people read into your decisions. They will never ask you why you chose to go to seminary A instead of seminary B. But, they will have some sort of opinion as to “what kind of person” graduates from there.

Now you’re there, so now what?

Work your tushy off, that’s what.

If you’re a recent college grad; then you might treat it as an extension for college.  There is a chance that you treated college as an extension of high school.

Let’s not do that.

Seminary is there to teach you how to do a job. That job is to be a minister in your brand of Christianity’s churches.

Yes, you do need to learn how to properly exegete scripture.

No, those years in church did not prepare you for this.

You are going to learn how to actually study the Bible. This will be both a blessing and a curse.

I’m very grateful for my years of intense Bible study. I also have found it difficult to experience purely devotional reading of scripture.  I’ve a lot of baggage when it comes to every single book of the Bible.  There is no such thing as reading scripture with a clean slate and fresh eyes.

Most seminaries have a Spiritual Formation series of courses. Be sure to take everyone, even if you don’t need to. Learn about Lecto Divina, types of Prayers, Christian meditation, Fasting, and other spiritual disciplines. God will use these in your future to help stem the tide of spiritual aridity, when the Bible seems nothing but a text book.

Dive into authors like Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, just to name a few.

Take CPE.

Work at a church (whether they pay your or not).

Your studies will come alive when they are mixed with real life ministry.

And finally, enjoy yourself and your classmates. You are at a special place. More people will be on the same page as you. You are in a place where more people are spiritually minded than you will ever experience again.

Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that your future ministry will be marked by extended experiences of that nature.

Tim

A Friendly Question: Was Jesus a Christian?

Tags

, , , , , ,

I put a request for blogspiration on Twitter the other day. This was one response that I got back.

This is copied directly from my twitter feed:

@tikesbestfriend Christian? Is faith and devotion enough if one doesn’t apply the label of “Christian” to themself?

I believe the heart of the question is this: What are the minimal requirements for salvation? 

I’m going to break this down into a few different of sections.

First: Was Jesus a Christian, and do we need to accept the label?

Secondly: Can you follow the Gospels and not the rest of the NT?

Finally: Is “faith and devotion enough?”

So, let’s get started!

What Jesus a Christian, and do we need to accept the label?

I think labeling Jesus as a Christian is putting the cart before the horse.

Let’s look at where the term comes from.

One of the first times we see the term, it is found here:

Acts 11:26

New International Version (NIV)

26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

I think that an interesting observation is that it wasn’t a term that the early believers chose for themselves. Others chose the name for them.

It is actually a diminutive term. It means “Little Christ.”  The belief is that it was a pejorative term, used as a “put down” against the early believers.

Also notice that this was in Antioch. This was the practical birthplace of the Gentile Church.  Gentile means, everyone that isn’t Jewish.  The first believers in Jesus as the Messiah were Jewish people, who firmly believed that Jesus was the foretold Jewish Messiah.

In that view, Jesus was supposed to save Israel from the other nations, and set the nation up as the premier among all of the nations.

Yeah, didn’t quite turn out that way…did it?

Point being: No one was choosing to call themselves Christian.

If you look at the Gospel Accounts, you see Jesus referring to himself primarily as “The Son of Man.”  Every now and then he refers to himself as God’s Son. Others often referred to him as Rabbi, Teacher, Anointed One, and of course Christ.

Pro Tip! Christ = Anointed One!

I would agree that Jesus never called himself a Christian. But, I wouldn’t agree that he did it was because he had something against the label. Mainly, I would argue that he did it because 1) it didn’t exist within society at that time, and 2) he chose how to refer to himself based upon how he wanted his message understood.

Now, that is another whole blog post.

So, is it ok for us to be using it today?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, “Yes.”

It is a perfectly good label, in that it attaches the Person to whom they confess to follow…aka, Jesus. The one referred to as Christ throughout the New Testament.

Are there reasons that people decide to not use the label?

You bet there is.  Like any label that has been in use for some 2000 odd years, there has been some baggage attached to it.

In some cases, the term “Christian” has come to carry some very negative connotations along with it.

I might argue that “that” isn’t so very different from the first century as well.  People were trying to spread around horrible rumors using the term back then. If you were labeled a “Christian,” then it meant you were following a dead man. It meant that you were a cannibal, drinking that dead man’s blood and eating his flesh. It meant you were in some sort of semi-Jewish cult. It meant you hated governmental authority, and were an all around bad seed.

I think that for those of us that claim to identify with Jesus, need to do so with some thought.

Do I still use the term Christian?

You bet I do.  It is a historically vibrant word. It speaks to a lineage beyond that of modernity; and connects me with folks back thousands of years.

Do I choose to use terms other than Christian at times?

You bet I do.  I live in Texas, the buckle on the bible belt!  Everyone and their dog claims to be a Christian around me; yet I rarely see anyone trying to actually follow Jesus.  So, I use differing terms when I speak to someone to get a sense of where they are in the religious spectrum.

I go with terms like, “Follower of Jesus , Believer, and Disciple.”  

Can someone be a true follower of Jesus, yet choose to not use the term “Christian” as a term of identity?

Yes, I think they can.  But, I believe they have to be intentional about it.

Next week, I drill into the second part of the question:

So what if someone followed the Gospels but disregarded most of the NT…

Thanks for tuning in!

Tim

So, You Wanna Be A Pastor, Minister, Whatever…

Tags

, , , , , ,

So, you want to be a Minister?

Preaching Wedding

Cool Moments in Ministry

Or, you want to be a Pastor, Children’s Minister, Associate Pastor, Youth Minister, Music Minister, Missions Minister…the titles go on endlessly.

I’m going to assume that you believed that you are Called of God to do so.

I guess we can talk about that later if you want.  But, for the moment let us assume that it’s so.

So, what now?

Understand, I’m coming at this from a particular perspective.  I’m a Southern Baptist/Texas Baptist Pastor.

We’re a little bit different down here. But, not by much.

You’re probably going to need an education.  In particular, it will probably be expected that you have a Seminary Degree.

Can you say, M.Div.?

Of course, there are exceptions. However, if you want to be paid a livable wage; then you’ll probably need the Masters of Divinity.

That means you’ll need a college education.

Don’t worry, just about anything will work. You see, Seminary is structured to accept and train people from any higher educational background. But, you need some sort of BA/BS degree to get in.  Good news is, you can have a degree in whatever you want!  Bad news, it is a gate you have to pass through to get there.

Please understand, seminaries are one of the traditional “professional” schools out there. Just like Law School and Medical School, it is supposed to teach you to do a job.

That job is of course, to minister in a church.

Sure, there are other flavors of what ministry looks like. Seminaries have adapted through the years to offer courses for these flavors of ministries….such as Missions, Chaplaincy, Communication, Counseling, etc.

But, the core mission is still there. To prepare ministers for ministry in the local church.

Whether or not seminary actually does that is up for debate.

For me, I received a lot of biblical training. I can draft up an exegesis with the best of them!

However, Seminary didn’t teach me how to pastor a church.  It didn’t teach me how to sit with a family while they are hearing the words that their child is dead.  Seminary didn’t teach me how to deal with small church volunteers that think they run the place.  Seminary didn’t teach me how to be responsible for everything, but have power over nothing. It didn’t teach me how to stay connected with the Lord; that was just an expectation.

I will give them this, they did warn against the aridity of the soul. It’s that dryness that comes when your spirituality becomes professionalized.  They just didn’t give me any thing to hold onto when the desert wind blew across my soul.

Be ready to become a student of Lifelong Learning.  You’ll need it.  There is a lot you’re not going to learn until you actually get on the job.

Welcome to the Ministry.

More to come…

Tim

If You’re Not Called

Tags

, , , ,

I’ve heard it many times before. “If you’re not called, then don’t do it.”

There have been other variations of it through the years. It’s also been said this way, “If you can do anything else, then do it.”

What are they talking about?

Ministry in a church.

There’s something to it. I actually agree with the statement. I would qualify it a little bit.

You have to understand, just because you’re called to something doesn’t mean that you will actually want to do it.

The poster child for this is Jonah.

Just because you’re called to something doesn’t mean you’ll be successful, popular, or esteemed.

Take a look at the life of Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea…or even the Apostles of Jesus.

You might end up being killed, both figuratively and literally, based upon your calling.

For me, I can’t do anything else.

God won’t let me do anything else.

Are there times when I want to do something else?

You bet.

Are there times when I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Yep, that too.

That’s why it’s a calling.

That’s why it’s a vocation, and not an occupation.

Even if I was being paid for something else, my central calling would be the same. I would still function out of the core of my calling.

I can do nothing else.

Tim

7 Years Blogging on WP.Com?

I’m a bad blogger. Meaning, I don’t post consistently. I don’t have a narrowed niche topic that I speak into.

Instead, I randomly post based upon what I’m feeling at the time.

Look what I found in my blog dashboard from July 7th!

 

7yrbloganniv

Aparantly, I’ve been doing it for 7 years on the WordPress platform!

Who knew?!

Sometimes the only thing that matters is showing up.  I think I’ll continue to show up here (at random and various times) to put my thoughts on the digital paper.

Tim

LFM Twitter Community

Tags

, ,

Tikes Tweet Feed copy

I have two twitter accounts. Both are personal in nature, but are different in some interesting ways.,

One is connected to this blog. It is one that my “real life” friends have the most access to. These are probably the same people that have access to my facebook account as well.

It is also the most “Christian” of my twitter accounts. I followed my Christian mentors, favorite authors, news sites, faith related blogs, etc.

What I see is this: People speaking into the space “at” those who may be following them.  They are spamming “resources” (blog posts), inspirational quotes, bible verses, and etc. Every now and then I see a picture.

What I don’t see is Community.

My second twitter account is anonymous and hobby related.  Most of my “real life” friends don’t have access to it.  I follow some of my favorite related bloggers, news sites, and “famous” people.  I’ve also followed some others that I’ve found related to the hobby.

What I see is this: Some people are speaking into the space “at” those who might be following their feed. There are some people putting “resources” out there as blog posts.  But, more than that…I see Community.

I see people talking to each other, not simply “at” them. I see people sharing. I see people using Twitter as a means to connect in other areas as well.

I see Community.  I experience Community.

I’m going to pair down who I’m following on Twitter. It’s time to start interacting more. I can’t seriously expect to interact with hundreds of people.

In this case, less is more.

I wonder how many of us in the “Christian” space are just speaking at people, and not fostering Community?

I’m not talking only about Twitter, but in the space around where I sit, eat, breathe and have my being.

We think that “effective communication” is “me getting my point across.”

Maybe effective communication is the kind that leads to a community being effectively lived together.

Maybe?

Or, am I just talking at you?

Tim

Never Alone, Some Thoughts

The Barlow Girls are one of my favorite Christian bands.

I have an acquaintance from college who writes a blog.  His name is John, and I’ll give you a link later on in the post.

I wish I could call him a friend, but we never actually hung out enough to develop that kind of relationship.

He’s following the philosophical path we know as Buddhism, and has a post up called, “Alone. Ish.”

Warning!  If you can’t handle any kind of “bad language,” brutal honesty; then please don’t go there.

Otherwise, go there and check it out.

What’s got me thinking is the differences between the idea of “Every living creature on earth dies alone.” – From “Donnie Darko” to the Christian idea that we are “never alone.”

As Christians, we believe that God is omnipresent; ergo we are never alone.

But, we do have something in common with the idea espoused in John’s post.

It is the idea of Solitude.

Solitude is a spiritual discipline that we see the biblical writers using all of the time.  We see Jesus making use of it throughout his ministry on earth.  It is a very valuable discipline with a variety of benefits.

All this to say two things.

First off is an observation. You may have more in common with someone than you realize. Don’t write someone off just because they are different than you.  I’m not saying they are always right. I am saying that we can learn something from  everyone we come into contact with if we are willing to spend the time.

Secondly, I need some solitude.  We’re doing VBS this week at the church. This is a week of high energy and lots of people (KIDS!).  I’m so happy that we have a spot on VBS Director, and some wonderful workers.  My introverted self is getting put through the ringer. I look forward to it being over and getting a day to spiritually detox from all of this professional extroversion.

Be well,

Tim

I’m Running. Will You?

Tags

, , , ,

I’ve been trying to get into shape for a multiplicity of reasons.  One of my little goals was to run the Fort Worth – Mayfest 5K.

Please understand, I am not a runner.

The last time I ran anything that looked like a mile was back in college.

I dislike anything that even hints at cardio!

Mayfest mid_2013-logo

But, the Mayfest 5K became one of my goals.

For some reason I hadn’t signed up for it. I hadn’t put down my $20 entry fee.  I had talked about it with my in-laws a few weeks before, even talked about getting a team together.

Yet, I still hadn’t signed up for it.

Then the Boston Marathon Bombing occurred.

I had just finished working out in the gym, was changing clothes in the locker room when their was breaking news on the wall TV.  Two bombs had been exploded at the Boston Marathon.

I was stunned. Utterly stunned.

I remember going home, and not even wanting to turn on the TV.  I knew that it would be all over the networks, and I was right.  You couldn’t turn to any single channel and not find that one clip being shown over and over again.

I ended up feeling sick, then feeling numb.

After sitting there for an indeterminate amount of time, I knew what I had to do.

I had to sign up for the Mayfest 5K.  I just had to do it.  I couldn’t not do it.

I got online and registered. Put my entry fee on my card. Received my receipt in an email.

That was it. I was signed up. I even made a team!  It’s team “PuG.”  (Pick up Group).

I promptly texted my family members and friends that said they might want to run as well.  I gave them the name of the team; and now I’m hoping that they are able to get off of work and run with me.

My question for you is, will you run too?

Will you run with me (assuming your in Fort Worth)?

Will you run something, somewhere?

Let’s let the bad guys know that they can’t win.  We won’t let them win.

If you happen to be in Fort Worth during Mayfest (May 2-5), please consider running.  Join me in running the 5K.  If you want, join my team : PuG

PuG stands for Pick up Group.  It’s a gaming term, where random individual players are thrown together to accomplish a group goal.

Let us run.

Let us run, not because we are scared; but because we are free.

Let us run, not in spite of; but because of.

I’m running. Will you?

Tim

NAS Pilots Ministry

Tags

, ,

I’ve always wanted to minister to military families.

To be honest, I think I suffer from no small amount of hero worship for those in the military, police, and fire/rescue.  I don’t deny it.  Instead, I try to embrace it.  These people choose to put themselves in harms way to save other people.

They deserve more than just our respect.

They deserve our active concern.

We should take care of them. Period.

Our church is less than a mile from the Naval Air Station and Joint Reserve Base (NAS-JRB).  In the past 10 years, no one from the base has ever entered into our church.  We are separated by a lake, numerous stop lights, high ways, bridges, etc.  If I was stationed there, I would want an easier church to get to as well.

Still, I’ve always wanted to minister to an active military family.  To serve them in this fashion would be a true honor and labor of love.

It just doesn’t happen.

But, one thing does.  You see, our church (and our house which is only a block away) is directly in the landing/take off path of the NAS-JRB runway.  I see planes landing and taking off all of the time!

Air Force Wallpaper 2

This is my Pilots Ministry:  Every time I see or hear a plane flying over head, I pray for those pilotes.  Heck, I even pray for the mechanics that work on those planes!  Mostly though, I pray for those pilots, in those planes, at those times.  It’s gotten to the point, I can tell you if it is a Naval plane or Air Force plane by the sound of their engines!

Still, they need our prayers.

  • We need to pray for them when they are in combat.
  • We need to pray for them when they are training.
  • We need to pray for them.

It is our privilege to pray for them, even if we never meet them.

They are ours, and they deserve our best.

Oh, and if you see someone in a military uniform having lunch, call the waiter over and ask to anonymously pay for their meal.

It would be a blessing for both of you. I know that it was for my family.

Tim

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 256 other followers