(Picture of Santa Cruz, CA, where I went to college and met my wife, Cyd.)
I don’t usually talk much about my day to day life on this blog. Usually is it more about what I’m reading or thinking or seeing in the church/culture more broadly.
But I have had some big changes of late.
As you all probably know, I felt a strong call to ministry early in my life. In college I figured I would study philosophy as preparation for studying theology whenever I ended up going to seminary (which turned out to be Trinity in Chicago).
Halfway through seminary my wife and I found a great little church called Life on the Vine, and well, we kind of got stuck there. After seminary I came on staff and I have been co-pastoring there for the last 11 years.
Call Back to School?
But after seminary, and mostly under the influence of David Fitch, I had this growing thought that maybe I should go back to school and receive a Doctorate in Theology.
This was never something I had thought about or planned before or during seminary. I had always thought I would be a local church pastor and that was fine with me. Because of this call to be a pastor I didn’t even try and Ace all my classes or develop relationships with professors (for the purpose of them writing letters of recommendations later).
All that to say, I didn’t necessary have the strongest academic credentials or connections.
On top of that, because I was called to local church ministry, I decided that I was not going to leave my current ministry to pursue a doctorate. And I certainly was not going to go into debt to get a one.
So in 2005, with the conviction that I were not going to move and that I had to receive a full scholarship, I applied to only two programs. And you know what? I received a full scholarship to Marquette University (and the rest is history).
So, “What are you doing with this doctorate?” you might ask.
Well, when I even began thinking about getting a doctorate I always wanted it to be in the service of the church (not just an ivory tower exercise).
In fact, I really wanted to somehow be part of what comes after “seminary” as we know it. For the last 10 years I have been sensing (like many of us) that how we train pastors needs to radically change.
I did not know exactly when, where, or how, but I knew that I did not just want to finish my degree and then begin teaching within an institution that was just working within a dying system of pastoral training.
So, while I have had the privilege to teach Masters and Doctoral classes as Northern Seminary (and I have absolutely loved it), I’m very glad that now I get to be part of an exciting new program at Northern Seminary.
I am now the new Director of the Master of Arts in Theology and Mission (MATM).
This new program is extremely innovative in that it seeks to keep ministers in training in their local contexts, seeks to keep the cost as low as possible to avoid debt, and seeks to foster a community of theologian-practitioners.
The MATM is a strong step in the direction of “what comes after ‘seminary’ as we know it” by being affordable, local, and communal. I won’t describe it more here, but please check it out (and tell your friends!).
Anyway, so I’m now spending about 20 hours a week of my time developing and promoting this new program (I began in September).
I’m still going to teach at Northern, which of course I’m excited about, and I will continue to pastor (my first and primary calling) at Life on the Vine.
That is all for now. Thanks for being part of this journey.