Seminary Update

In December I finally bit the bullet and applied to a seminary for my 2nd try at grad school. I'm about 1/2 way through my Master's of Divinity degree. I missed the deadline to start Jan 1st, but I made it into the 2nd session of 2008. The first class was surprisingly helpful to me. We took a hard look at what the word "calling" means, what that means for us, our roles in ministry, and the roles of mentors in our lives. We also wrestled with some hard questions about our futures in ministry. One of my favorite parts of the class was coming up with a personalized learning plan for the rest of my seminary experience. I'll post it below:

Section One: My Personal Calling Statement

My purpose is to unveil the beauty of God’s love. It is a simple purpose intentionally.

Family First: I am a husband and father before anything else.
Rhythm: I take time each week to remind myself that I’m not God.
Point to beauty: All truth is ours, and its my job to point it out when I see it.
All things: I will seek to live a life of moderation.
Underdog: I will speak for those who have no voice.
God and others: I will respect all things God made.
Poet and prophet: I seek to tell the truth with excellence.
Abide: I reset in God’s finished work.
Weak: Weak is the new strong.

I see myself using my talents to inspire people to grown in their walk with the Lord. I will use my talents to speak, teach, and write in order to celebrate truth and beauty. I will share my story, the messy parts and the good parts. I will sharpen my skills to equip and train others for ministry.

Section Two: My Design, Shape, and Call

I am prepared to do what God wants in the sense that I’m open to whatever he wants to do with my life. I’m not perfectly prepared as far as my abilities and maturity come into play. Overall, I would say that I’m in the process of discovering and doing what God wants me to do, and I’m getting better every time.

In order to get where I need to get, I need to grow the skill of abiding in the vine. When I start to depend on my own skills and talents, things in my life quickly unravel and I make a mess of things.

Where do I need to develop so that I can be obedient to my call?
One skill that I need to develop is producing leaders that produce other leaders. At this point, I’ve been able to reproduce myself in other leaders, but they are not developing other people. These leaders are doing well running services, projects, and whole campuses of our youth ministry, but they are not producing new leaders. As a result they are shouldering too much of the work load and are at risk for burnout. I need to acquire skills that will help me equip them to equip others.

Section Three: My Rockbridge Learning

I’ve been asking the following question of myself a lot lately: “Why am I here?” I’m on this planet and enrolled in Rockbridge to find creative ways to point out the truth and beauty of what God has done. I will do this through creating meaningful worship gatherings, serving junior high students and their families, reproducing other poets, prophets, and preachers, and most importantly being the best husband and father that I can be.

Right now, my competency to lead others in creating worship gatherings is developing. I need to learn how to express my ideas in a compelling way that helps others understand what I have in my head. I need to get better at having a clearer picture in my head of what creative ideas I do have. When I get an idea, I share it too quickly. When this happens, it doesn’t seem like I own it and it is hard to persuade other people to be excited about its execution because I don’t fully grasp what I want to do.

This happens in a few key areas. The first, being my family. I need to get better at sharing my heart with my wife so that she will know the best way to support me. I can’t do this if I don’t know myself, so some soul searching to find the true me is also necessary.

I need to spend more time in prayer and personal reflection. I spend nearly none. I use the argument that my life is a prayer, but the truth is, I rarely take time out for directed spiritual renewal. Stolen moments throughout the day are well and good, but there is something to be said about having an appointment to seek the Lord and listen for His voice. How can I know who I am if I never ask God and never listen?

If I take just a few minutes out of my week to review the creative minutes and sermon titles from Pastor Rob, I can prepare better for our creative meetings. Then my ideas will not be as off the cuff and raw as they usually are.

Taking time to rest in the Father’s love will also give me the confidence and vision I need to reproduce other poets, prophets, and preachers. The hesitation I experience is because I’m not abiding in the vine. The times that I fall short occur because I have the bad habit of relying on my own talents and creativity instead of the Lord’s strength and wisdom.

Section Four: Top 7-10 Ministry Competencies (there are 35 total, but here are the ones I picked to work on)
Here are the competencies where I need further development in light of this calling:

3. Designs creative worship experiences that involve music, media, and the arts.
*5. Communicates Scripture in a way that leads an intended audience to worship and to experience life transformation.

11. Functions effectively with professional staff and church members and works with others in resolving conflict in the body of Christ.
19. Demonstrates a vibrant spiritual life through the implementation of spiritual disciplines including prayer, Bible study, holiness of life and communion with God.
22. Exercises the administrative skills of strategic planning, organizing, leading and evaluating the work of ministry that leads to achievement of defined goals and the mission of the New Testament church.
25. Assesses the needs of the ministry community, designs appropriate actions to meet those needs, and effectively markets the church’s ministry in the community.
29. Communicates biblical truth through preaching, personal witness, teaching, speaking, writing, music, and other ways as may be appropriate to fulfill the Great Commission.
33. Interprets the culture and plans appropriate strategies for sharing the gospel in that culture.
34. Respects persons of different cultural, social and religious backgrounds.
35. Articulates the Christian message and contrasts that message with other worldviews and major world religions.

I'm not really sure where this will all end up, but I think it is a decent start. I'm taking some time now to save up money to pay for another class and to transfer some credits in from my old seminary. Looking forward...

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