The last nine months have been long and eventful.
Early September 2019 a conversation with the missus sparked an old desire. A desire to study. To devote a season to studying and to being discipled so that we would be able to better serve God. This spark led to two conversations with pastor friends who were very supportive of the desire. Over the next two weeks I increasingly sought counsel from other pastor friends. The affirmation kept increasing. Only one friend was uncertain. But on the whole every of my qualm was addressed by godly counsel and affirmation.
The one affirmation that really spoke to me came from two different persons whom I spoke with independently. But it was nearly verbatim. They said ‘If God gave you 20 years of ministry, it would be an investment to spend 5 of those in preparation.’ I knew this was wise.
What were my qualms? I was concerned firstly that I was older now. I am no twenty something. I do not have the same energies and I have been out of school for over a dozen years. One pastor reminded me that this was all the more reason I need to go. I was not going to go to school as someone who hopes to get out of school and come out of school only to be surprised by what the job really demands. To have seen life in part, to have served the church for over a dozen years was not a weakness in my life, but was an asset and I should not be afraid of learning. This does not mean that I will be good at learning. I will struggle no doubt. And that is why I am using this time to better myself. Each day I try to incorporate more of what I expect to be doing if I go to seminary. It is not easy. And ultimately the only way to learn to swim is to jump in the water.
My second concern was that I had no idea where to apply and what school was good. I was more concerned that I wanted to go to a good church over a good school. I wanted to grow in the context of a church and then grow in knowledge and theology. A week later a pastor recommended that I consider going to Bethlehem College and Seminary. I knew and trusted this brother. So, I went through their website a little bit and compared the course with other seminaries and decided to go ahead and apply. At this stage, all I knew was that this seminary was attached to a church. But in the months to come the more I learned about this seminary, it’s model and method, the more I have fallen in love with it. It is church based. I cannot stress this enough. It is not a seminary in isolation. It has a commitment to robust theology in a very Christ centered, God glorifying, Spirit empowered, Christian hedonistic way. I love that a student is an apprentice. And the years spent there is spent also in apprenticeship with the church pastors. I love that they will sit and learn from the preaching pastor in the sermon critique and discussion time each week. I love that they have table talks with the chancellor. I love that the program is not designed to be short but is four-five years long. There are no short cuts to learning especially the learning that happens outside the classroom. I love that the apprentices are selected as a cohort and we learn as a band of brothers. What joy will there be when you pass out along with 15-17 other brothers who have labored with you in prayer and encouragement, through tests, and classes, and births, and illnesses and possibly loss. When we step out we have friends who will probably spread around the globe for the cause of the Gospel. I loved how God led us to apply to this school.
My third concern was that I have no money nor do I know anyone who can fund my education. I was reminded that God is the one who opens doors. Of course I know that. All my life I have walked through doors that God opened for me to go through. My plans have not worked. This time as well I had no plan. God moved people and they have all helped me through various stages.
Where are we now in the process? It is 9 months since September. It is finally the time when the school begins selecting the cohort of apprentices. I hope to hear from them when they are ready. I have no idea what God’s plans are. I am not anxious. But I do hope that God will make a way for me to be trained and equipped to serve Him as best as I can. Do look out for future posts for news on what happens.
Featured Image by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash