Semper Reformanda

...some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help.

[Thursday, August 26, 2010]

Why pursue a Masters of Divinity?


I was hanging out with some friends last night, and the question got asked why I was pursuing my Masters of Divinity. In the context of the conversation, they were comparing the MDiv to a Masters of Arts in Theology which is a much less intensive (and less expensive) degree. I feel like I answered the question well, but I thought I'd take a few moments to reflect further on my decision.

First of all, I need to define some things:

Master of Arts in Theological Studies:
~60 credit hours
Can be completed as a part-time student (night classes, and increasingly more online classes)
Lots of electives makes for very flexible scheduling
Intended for people not pursuing vocational ministry

Master of Divinity:
~106 credit hours
Requires both Greek and Hebrew language study
Requires being a full-time student, taking day classes (cannot be done at night)
Intended for people pursuing pastoral or other vocational ministry

I started in the MA program because at the time I had no ability to attend full-time, and wasn't even really thinking about vocational ministry. I was a homeowner and had a good job. I didn't really see myself as a pastor, so the MDiv just didn't seem to fit. However, through my studies, interactions with students, and relationships I'd built at church my thoughts began to change. I was speaking with a friend of mine, a student, and it just came to me... I needed to be at school full-time. That set in motion a series of events which led me to where I am now. See, somewhere in those few semesters that I was attending school at night, working, and volunteering at my church, my thoughts on ministry and my role in it changed. I began to outgrow my mold, I began to change and reevaluate who I was and what I should be. I began to question my beliefs and opened myself to change.

I don't think seminary is for everyone. I'm surrounded by great pastors and leaders very few of which have seminary or bible college training, and I am extremely blessed to know them and have learned quite a bit from them. I also don't think the MDiv is for everyone. There are many seminaries offering many great programs for people desiring training and further study.

However, the question is: Why am I pursuing a Masters of Divinity when it would be adequate and more economically beneficial to do a MA or even just doing interships or "on-the-job" training?

Desire -- I've wanted to get a MDiv for a pretty long time (albeit for different reasons, but it's been a desire nonetheless).

I'm an idiot -- Knowledge isn't everything, but it sure is something. I can definitely benefit from the education. I like the depth that the MDiv goes into versus the MA. Instead of focusing on survey work (MA), the MDiv focuses more on scripture exegesis. There is also a larger focus on teaching and public speaking, which I NEED HELP WITH!!!

Personality type -- I like to take things slow and make sure I'm overly prepared for things (that's why I show up 3 hours early to things and am a bit concerned about being on-time). Believe it or not, 106 credits for a masters degree might seem like a lot to you, but to me it sounds just right.

Call -- I've seen enough of God's fingerprints on my story surrounding seminary thus far that I'm comfortable in saying that I'm in the right place for the time being.

Proof Texting -- The seminary itself has been a confirmation that its the right place for me. Through relationships with the students and the professor's hearts and minds, I've honestly been quite amazed and pleased.

Discernment -- Believe it or not, I'm not good at making decisions (about some things). I'm looking forward to these next ~3 years as a way of figuring out where I fit into this big story, and how I can best use my talents and gifts for the kingdom.

Time management -- I was getting pulled in so many directions as a part-time student. I had my professional responsibilities, my church responsibilities, and my school responsibilities... plus a social life! Going full-time actually de-stresses my life and allows me to focus on one thing.

Well, tomorrow is day 1 of the Fall semester for me. I'm really looking forward to it, and excited to see what the future holds. Thank you for joining me on this journey and being an important part of what makes me... me. Who would have thought that I'd be where I am today, considering where I came from?

[Monday, August 23, 2010]

What do you do when the power goes out at church?


This past weekend was one for the books at the Crossing church. We had some crazy storms in Chesterfield Friday night which caused a tree to fall on an electrical pole near the church. Needless to say, when I got to work at noon on Saturday, the place was pitch black. I called my boss, who was already there and that's when things got crazy.

Now, before coming to the Crossing, my initial thought process would have been to cancel church. You can't be indoors because there isn't power (no lights in the bathrooms, no fire alarm system, no AC) and it's pretty steamy outside, and still no power for microphones etc... However, I got to witness something pretty cool happen. As the leaders circled up to talk through everything for the weekend, we started throwing out ideas on how to have a service on the back lawn. We had a generator (big enough for sound equipment, not the whole building) and the ground was pretty dry from the storms the night previous. So, everyone jumped into action.

We still had some issues... like pitch black restrooms. Luckily, we found some battery powered tea-light candles which we used to add a romantic feel (or creepy/cultish depending on who you talked to) to the restrooms for the night. Also, the back lawn has some low parts which were pretty mushy still from the rain. However, when you dump a bunch of sawdust on those parts, the problem just seems to disappear! Also, it was pretty hot. We battled that as best we could by providing water stations and paper towels, which I think helped out quite a bit. By the 6:30 service, the sun had set enough that almost everyone was in the shade.

We made sure to catch people as they were coming in to make them aware of the situation, and everyone had such a great attitude. There was a sense that this was something special... just for those who had chosen to show up on Saturday night. It was a really neat atmosphere.

The stage was rather simple -- some risers, mics and speakers. They stripped worship down to an acoustic set of songs that everyone was pretty familiar with. My heart went out to those guys on the worship team because though it was cloudy, when the sun was out... it was HOT! But they persevered through sound check and two services. Randall was our speaker, and because of the heat he summarized a 30 minute message into about 5 for the sake of everyone who showed up.

To help out with the kids and even the adults, we got an ice cream truck to show up, which I think paid off considering the line I saw of people waiting.

After the second service, Randall headed to our Fenton location to record his full-length message for the services on Sunday. Fenton is our video multi-site, and we normally use a recording from Saturday's services on Sunday in Fenton. However, since the power was out, a Saturday service didn't get recorded and Fenton wouldn't have had any teaching Sunday morning. So a hot, sweaty and tired Randall headed down to Fenton (which did have power) to make sure that didn't happen.

I was hanging with some friends after church, and came back for my car around 11pm. Thankfully, the lights were back on by then. Sunday was packed (I got to be at Fenton) and the rest of the weekend went really well.

I'm just really happy and thankful I get to be a part of a place that is as flexible and inventive as the Crossing is. These crazy moments when things don't happen according to plan are really neat because in those moments when you feel like you're scrambling, you get to see God do some pretty awesome things... things you might have missed had you been in air conditioning.