If you are a regular visitor to my blog, I apologize for the lack of new posts over the past two weeks. I have been super busy with life and ministry. Last week we took our high school students to camp and this week I am still recovering as well as catching up on seminary work. In a few days I hope to get back to consistent blogging again. Taking some time away from blogging as helped me think of more creative things to write as well as think of some changes I want to do here on my blog. I am excited about some of the new stuff I hope to do as well as the upcoming blogs over the next few weeks. I wanted to share with you just a few of the upcoming blogs that will be on here over the next week or two.
Dealing with Students Who Cut
Guest Post: How to Start an Effective College Ministry in Your Church (Written by my friend David Sheldon)
Dealing with Conflict Between Yourself and a Student
Freebie: Rookie Pastor Manifesto ebook
Guest Post: Engage Who You Have (Written by Josh Tandy from Rookie Pastor)
Building a Leadership Team from Scratch
Camp was Awesome, but What Now?
A Twist on the Popular Camp Fire Service
These are just a few of the blogs I am hoping to post over the next two weeks. Again, I apologize for the lack of consistency on my blog and I hope some of the titles above caught your eye and that you look forward to reading them. To make sure you don’t miss them, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter to get my updates.
My fiancee, Crystal Garofalo, and I have officially set a date for our wedding! We have been engaged for a few months, but have been waiting to set a date until the Lord opens up a youth pastor job for me. God has opened that door recently and I will share more about that in a few weeks.
Crystal and I would like to thank everyone who has invested into our relationship and helped us grow as a couple in Christ. Most of all we are thankful to God for doing so much thus far in our relationship.
Click here or the picture below to check out our wedding website and get all the details on the big day!
During my last few semesters at Piedmont International University, I started to think about seminary. I thought, “Do I even want to spend a few more years in school? Or, if I do attend seminary, do I want to work on a M. Div. or shorter Master’s program?” Eventually, after a lot of thought, prayer, and wise counsel I decided to attend Liberty Baptist Theological Baptist Seminary and decided to work on a Master’s of Arts in Religion with a specialization in Christian Leadership online. I wanted to take a few moments and explain how I decided the seminary track I am on and hopefully help you if your on the fence about seminary. Before I share my thoughts, I want to make one thing clear. I do not believe the way I am doing seminary is the only way to go about doing seminary work. There are many options and ways to go about it, but here is why I chose what I am doing.
Master’s of Arts in Religion. As much as I respect the M. Div. program and the practical, pastoral education it gives you, I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend that many more years in school and if seminary was even going to be a good fit for me. So I decided to start a MAR that is somewhat smaller than the M. Div. If you want a good, professional seminary degree that is not an M. Div., go for the MAR. One of the reasons I chose this route is because at most school’s the MAR can roll into an M. Div. that you can finish in another year or two. The MAR is a great degree because it allows you to continue in seminary if you’re financially and willing to do so.
Christian Leadership. Like the M. Div., when you take the MAR, you get to choose a particular specialization. I decided to specialize in Christian Leadership because I believe leadership is an extremely important part of church ministry that we do not focus on a lot. If you’re planning on being in local church ministry in a pastoral role you need to focus on leadership. Our churches need people who are trained leaders. Even if you’re not going into church ministry, leadership is an important aspect in business and family. I am going into full-time student ministry. Part of having an effective student ministry is building a team of leaders to help you serve students. Studying leadership in seminary is helping me become a better team builder, how to handle conflict in leadership, and how to be the right kind of leader in a local church.
Liberty Theological Baptist Seminary. There are so many good seminaries and graduate schools to choose from these days. I decided to go with Liberty for a few reasons. First, I love the legacy of Jerry Falwell and what he did with Liberty University. I respect the school and what the school has and continues to stand for. Second, they are extremely well-known. I went to a relatively unknown school for my undergrad. I wanted to go somewhere more well-known for seminary. I know we shouldn’t judge people by where they went to seminary, but a lot of churches will look for candidates that are from particular schools or schools that are more popular. Third, I went with Liberty because of their great online education.
Online. If you enjoy the classroom setting and learning in person from a professor, than make sure you attend a seminary on campus. Online education is not for everyone. If you can learn well and stay motivated by online work, than look into doing seminary online. Doing seminary online through Liberty is the most affordable seminary you will find. I went with online for two main reasons. First, it was cheaper and I didn’t want to spend too much on seminary. Second, I wanted to get into full-time ministry. If you want to jump straight into full-time ministry after undergrad, than do seminary online. It allows you to work on your education while doing what you love, ministry!
Seminary is not a walk in the park. I am only a few classes into my seminary degree, but I can already tell it’s not a repeat of your undergrad years. If you’re a first year student in seminary like me, I found this article that includes 10 tips for surviving your first year of seminary. If you can afford it and feel like it’s God’s will, pursue seminary. It’s something that will greatly help your future in ministry.
I originally wrote this post for The Baptist Resource blog. The Baptist Resource is a great website ran by Greg Moore, an adjunct professor of religion and church history and a former college registrar. The Baptist Resource is a great site that provides practical advice and information on college/seminary education.
Yesterday I was able to attend a live streaming of The Elephant Room at Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, OH. If you have never heard of The Elephant Room it is simply where a group of well-known pastors from different backgrounds and church styles come together to talk about the things most church leaders are debating behind closed doors. Elephant Room Round 1 took place last year and I was able to watch the DVD set when it came out. This year I was able to go watch The Elephant Room Round 2 live through a live stream. I cam away from the event yesterday encouraged, convicted, and challenged. It was simple a great event where men who love Jesus and the Gospel came together and put aside their differences to have the conversations we usually have behind closed doors. The amount of unity, love, and respect that was demonstrated by these men was amazing! I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes and points these men made throughout the day. Before I share the quotes and points, here is a quick run down on the pastors that were a part of the event.
Jack Graham-Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church. Has served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Mark Driscoll-Preaching pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.
Steven Furtick-Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC.
Crawford Lorritts-Senior Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA.
Wayne Cordeiro-Founding Pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii.
James MacDonald-Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel and started The Elephant Room.
T.D. Jakes-Senior Pastor of The Potter’s House.
Conversation #1: With a Little Help From My Friend
What is the future of denominations.
“Denominations that do not do missions should go away.” JG
“A denomination is a para church ministry, it should come along side local churches.” JG
“A lot of money is being given, but is work being done?” MD
“Are we going to be kingdom builders or empire builders?” WC
“Don’t take overseas what you are not doing locally.” JG
“We are not trying to be Calvinists, we are trying to be evangelists.” MD
Conversation #2: Can’t Buy Me Love
What essentials should be part of the Gospel presentation.
“Sharing the message creatively is not watering it down.” SF
“God has called me to preach the Gospel, not critique it.” SF
“Preaching is sharing truth through personality.” JM
“If people meet Jesus, is there a wrong way to do that?” MD
“It’s easier to be a critic than a preacher.” MD
Conversation #3: A Hards Day Night
How can a pastor handle the pressures of ministry and burnout.
“Everyone is susceptible to burnout.” WC
“What fuels you on the inside can destroy you on the outside.” WC
“Pastors dont forget their pastors, they forget they are human.” WC
“The Devil cannot steal your ministry so he steals the joy of your ministry.” WC
“The Devil cant push you off the ledge, but he will try to do something that will make you jump.” WC
“You cannot critique what you have not seen.” TJ
“I try and have relationships that complete me not compete with me.” TJ
“Your wife should be your number one accountability person.” JG
“Your identity is not your ministry.” MD
Conversation #4: Ticket to Ride
What are the “majors” of Christian doctrine that we must agree on.
“The nature of God is a mystery.” MD
“None of our books on the Godhead will be on sale in heaven.” TJ
“Stumbling to explain God is worship.” TJ
“If we dont do a better job at communicating we will not survive.” TJ
Conversation #5: Come Together
How do we pursue racial harmony in the church.
“The way to get the walls down is to tear off the roof” JG
“I believe some churches are dead, and should be dead, because they are full of hate.” JG
“When I know you, I can love you.” JG
“You can’t integrate your ministry until you integrate your life.” TJ
“The church is not doing as good as the world is doing with integration.” TJ
“We serve a God who challenges us to be uncomfortable.” TJ
“The lack of moral courage in the church is appalling.” CL
“If you are serious about being used by God, you must understand God is bigger than you.” TJ
Conversation #6: Help
What do we do when a pastor or church leader fails morally?
“I’m a steward of the integrity of the church and the message.” CL
“When we confront others over sin, there should be tears in our soul.” CL
“It’s not only confession that heals, but repentance.” WC
“A mans marriage will go silent before it goes south” JM
“You can tell a lot about a mans marriage from the countenance of his wife.” JM
“Restoration to fellowship is different than restoration to leadership.” JM
“I have never talked to someone who has failed morally that was not consistent in his time with the Lord.” CL
“Ministry is not a right, it is a privilege.” JM
“It’s not about the messenger, its about the message.” JM
Conversation #7: We Can Work on It
What responsibilities do we have to local pastors who exist outside our theological boundaries, but within the body of Christ?
“I’m still fired up about the doctrines, I’m just not angry about it.” JM
“People say they are defending the Gospel, but they really are just being crappy friends.” SF
A few months ago I asked the most amazing girl in the world to marry me and she said yes! It was a blessing to find out my sister would be willing to do our engagement pictures and we are very happy with the way they turned out. I normally don’t blog about this kind of thing, but I wanted to share our pictures as well as show off my sister’s photography. My sis, Amanda, does more than just photography. She also does arts and crafts for people and has done some amazing work! Check out her page on Facebook called Manda’s Creations & Such to see all of her work and contact her if you want something done. Instead of just simply posting all the engagement pictures on here, I used a program called Animoto to make the video below that contains all of our engagement pictures, enjoy!