In line with the three books that have influenced my life over that past three years, my personal and professional goals also line-up with each other. These goals reflect the work that God is perpetuating in my heart and desires me to pursue in life. They reflect each portion of this essay and provide the context in which I sense God leading my ministry both personally and professionally.
My foremost personal goal is always to love God, my wife and son, and others with agape style love. Another personal goal is to be the leader and provider this family needs and deserves. In order to accomplish this, I must obtain a position in ministry where I can fulfill the passion and desires God has ignited in my heart. This position will enable me to continue to meet with individuals to share Christ, disciple, and invest in future generations. Lastly, I desire to graduate with a Doctor of Ministry degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Concerning my professional goals, I desire to minister alongside other passionate believers shaping the future of Christianity. The ministry that God desires me to establish will focus on equipping the people of God for the mission of loving with reckless abandon. Through sincere worship experiences, passionate preaching, missional community, and purposeful outreach the local church will relentlessly pursue the great commission as lived out in the local area, the state, the nation, and the world. With this as my philosophy for ministry, I believe that the church can properly fulfill the Great Commission while living out the Great Commands. I know God has a tremendous plan in store for me as I journey through this program and beyond. I am eager to begin this journey and look forward to the adventure.
Having a deep passion for reading has allowed me to consume exceptional books over that past few years. Ranging from academia, ministry, leadership, and personal growth, these books have all influenced my life through the challenge provided within their pages. Yet, three have transformed the way I live: The Selfless Way of Christ, Crazy Love, and The Millennials.
The first book that I will discuss is The Millennials by Thom and Jess Rainer. This book provides analysis for the millennial generation, individuals born between 1980 and 2000. The reason this book has such an influence on me is because they are the largest generation in US history and are the generation that I will have the privilege to lead into the future as a pastor. This book explored the impact of this generation on everything including family, diversity, work, money, media, and religion. This generation is quickly becoming the least churched generation (85% are outsiders) in US history and we must motivate ourselves (the church) to begin reaching them on their terms and with methodologies that will truly inspire this generation. One of the main methods of inspiring this generation is through social justice. By connecting to the community through demonstrating real concern for others by living with deep, meaningful devotion to Christ, we can begin to inspire this generation to move toward a relationship with Christ and not away from the church as they going.
The second book that I would like to discuss having influenced my life and ministry is Crazy Love by Francis Chan. In seeking a manner to minister to the millennial generation, I found Crazy Love to be exactly what the Millennials are looking for in a deep meaningful devotion to Christ. There are very few individual Christians that are able to live the lifestyle exemplified in the pages of Crazy Love, but if we are able to the millennial generation will be able to observe the life of Christ lived out before them. One of the major areas that Millennials hold against Christians is that we are hypocritical; our lives do not match the way we say we are supposed to live. Therefore, we must radically transform the way we live our lives. In order to accomplish this Francis Chan challenges the reader to face the inconsistencies of their life, examine what they truly believe in and about scripture, and to then surrender everything we are (or hope to be) in obedience to Christ. By accomplishing these, we will begin to live the Christian life before the eyes of the millennial generation.
The third book that has influenced my life is The Selfless Way of Christ by Henri Nouwen. In this book, Nouwen explores the concept of downward mobility and its influence of the Christians life. Downward mobility is the manner in which Christ lived his life and as his disciples, we must continue to live within the realm a servant, dedicated to the ones we serve. As a method of evangelism, downward mobility provides the exact context Millennials are seeking and allows Christians to live out the life of Christ today. Nouwen writes “Yet, when we have carefully looked into the eyes of the poor, the oppressed, and the lowly, when we have paid humble attention to their ways of living, and when we have listened gently to their observations and perceptions, we might have already a glimpse of the truth Jesus spoke about. It is a glimpse of the “grace-healed eyes” of which Tertullian spoke.” Social justice activism is the methodology that the millennial generation desires to take part in and we must use it to reach this lost generation.
- Plastic Jesus, Eric Sandras
- UnChristian, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
- A Public Faith, Miroslav Volf
- Life and Holiness, Thomas Merton
- Growing True Disciples, George Barna
- Everything Must Change, Brian McLaren
- God’s Politics, Jim Wallis
 Two other books that have influenced this area of my life are UnChristian, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, and Revolution, by George Barna
 Rainer, Thom S., and Jess W. Rainer. The Millennials. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2011.
 Chan, Francis. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2008.
 Nouwen, Henri. The Selfless Way of Christ. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2007.34.
My personal philosophy of ministry stems from both my experience and education. Experientially, I have been a part of ministry’s that were pastor led (more of a dictatorship) and those that were committee based. Both of these experiences have exhibited exceptional problems. Educationally, I have learned concept of servant leadership, but have had little exposure to it in practice. The philosophy that I hold to are the leadership principles of servant and team leadership or servant-led leadership (combined).
Through my experience, I have observed that the pastor led model of leadership can limit the growth potential of the staff and the congregation to the limit of the pastor themselves. Now, there is a tremendous amount of mega-churches today that hold to this model of leadership and on the outside appears to be successful on all fronts. I am not saying that this model is ineffective across the board, but rather, in my experience it has eventually led to major leadership issues within the senior pastor and staff or congregation. The other side of the dictatorship style of some pastor led congregations is the committee-based church. These committees are comprised of, usually untrained, volunteers who sacrifice their time to take part in the administration of the church. It would be great if every church had a person who was trained in human resources, a Forbes’s 500 list maker, and well versed handy-man who could all tackle the individual committees that they are trained to work in, but that is not the case. Oftentimes, these untrained individuals are doing their own thing or listening to others who are desperately seeking to have their will done as opposed to the will of the Father. Therefore, I desire to build a team where the individual members are altruistically leading their ministry and understand the strengths/ weaknesses of each other while meeting the needs of the congregation.
The servant-led organization is often viewed as successful when the leader focus’ on the followers, as opposed to the organization. This perspective can often lead to a highly positive work environment, which will then develop into followers that who invest in their positions and have the drive to succeed on part of the organization. In order to develop this form of work environment the leader must have a grasp of key principles such as (a) agapao love, (b) humility, (c) altruism, (d) vision, (e) trust, (f) empowerment, and (g) service. I believe that one of the strongest principles identified by Dr. Patterson is that of altruism. If a servant- leader is not concerned for the welfare of others then the leadership is truly missing the point of their position. It is the role of the servant-led leader to know their strengths, but also the strengths of their followers. It is the role of a servant leader to be willing to meet other’s needs, fill-in where needed, and pick-up the slack often created in a workplace atmosphere. This leader will also guide their employee’s into the proper projects, work aspirations, and even assist in their development into future leadership positions all because of the altruism principle living within them.
I or we (the team) will equip the people of God for the mission of loving with reckless abandon. This radical type of love is relentless. Through sincere worship experiences, passionate preaching, missional community, and purposeful outreach the local church will relentlessly pursue the great commission as lived out in the local area, the state, the nation, and the world. With this as my philosophy for ministry, I believe that the church can properly fulfill the Great Commission while living out the Great Commands.
Since graduating from Liberty University in 1998, I have had the privilege of working in various forms of ministry. From being a middle and high school Bible teacher to being, a youth pastor and even combining the two positions. These roles provided me with the opportunity to develop the spiritual formation of today’s youth. Throughout this time, I knew that there was more in store for me as I continued throughout my spiritual journey.
The first ministry position I was in at Atlantic Shores Christian School was that of middle school Bible teacher. Here I had the privilege of teaching seventh and eighth grade Old and New Testament Survey. The depth of knowledge that I was able to gain expanded my understanding and provided me with the resources to develop true application principles for the students. I would definitely evaluate this period as one of growth for the students and myself as we journeyed through Scripture together.
The second ministry position I held was at Atlantic Shores Baptist Church, as the Assistant Youth Pastor. During this period, the church was going through a staffing change and the current Youth Pastor was moving to the Executive position. For six months, I was able to shepherd the student ministry through the Lord’s leading and the ministry grew tremendously, not only in numbers, but also in depth of surrender. After this time, the church brought in a new Youth Pastor that had a different perspective of ministry and I was let go. Overall, I would evaluate this period as a success, but also identify the amount of growth that was needed on my part to continue in ministry.
The third ministry position I was at Greenbrier Christian Academy as the Director of Middle School Discipleship and Activities (and High School Bible teacher). In this position, I was able to develop the discipleship program for the Middle School as well as oversee the chapel program. During this time, the students experienced various challenges that guided them into deeper surrender of their life to Christ. These challenges came through the chapel services, but also during the various small groups that developed over the years in this position. In addition, I was personally discipling a group of guys that were not the first choice of the High School Discipleship Director. The guys became an important aspect of my ministry and are still active in my life today. Overall, this time of ministry is probably my most fruitful experience thus far, but I know the Lord has tremendous plan ahead for me.
The forth ministry position I held was at Norfolk Christian School where I was the Middle School Chapel Coordinator (and Middle School Bible teacher). Like at Greenbrier, I oversaw that chapel services and revolutionized the school’s previous perspective of this weekly event. Taking the service from a joke filled one verse read time to a worshipful experience with meaningful preaching the students grew in leaps and bounds over the course of my tenure. This time of ministry is one I look back on as a success, but also felt the burden for more adult minded ministry opportunities.
The current area of ministry that I am in at Bayside Baptist Church is as the Volunteer Director of Small Groups. Although this is a volunteer position, I have the opportunity to influence the spiritual formation of the congregants. Through the semester based small groups system the congregants are able to pursue spiritual formation in various areas of their life. The development and implementation of the small groups has provided me with the opportunity to minister to the congregation through investing in their individual lives by developing their desire for personal spiritual renewal. Overall, this period has been challenging for me as the adults are not as easily motivated in their spiritual formation as their student counterparts. Yet, I know that through consistent offerings I am hopeful that they will grab ahold of their own spiritual formation.
I was a local standout athlete, who had opportunities to experience things that someone in middle school should not. Through these experiences, I participated in many activities that I should not have. Then one Sunday after taking part the night before in a local party, we were at church and it was as if the pastor knew exactly what I had done the night before. He continued to share how the negative things we do in this life are sin and how that sin separates us from God for all eternity. I regularly felt bad for the things that I was participating in, so I knew what the pastor meant by being separated from God. I did not want to experience this separation for all eternity, so on June 28, 1988 I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. Once again, we know that things were not perfect from there, but with the forgiveness of God and the knowledge that I can spend eternity with Him, I now had a freedom to choose what is right.
I wanted to be experience something called discipleship, but there was no one who knew of or felt able to assist me in my desire. Through my years in high school, I still sought after this discipleship, but still could not find someone to share his or her life with me. Yet, throughout this time, I knew that God had set ministry in my heart and for that reason each summer I would work at a Christian camp in Maryland. Here I first felt the call into full-time ministry. It was then that I decided to attend Word of Life Bible Institute in Schroon Lake, NY. At Word of Life, I was able to grow and comprehend the urgency in my faith to work in full-time ministry. After Word of Life, I graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion and began my career as a middle and high school Bible teacher. This form of ministry allowed me to collaborate with area churches for the spiritual formation of our joint students. Yet, I knew my passion was for a future ministry in the church. Today I understand that my role will be one of executive pastor with the potential for a future pulpit ministry.