Here's a letter I just wrote to the church I serve:
As some of you know, I was recently accepted into the Doctor of Ministry program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, located in Deerfield, Illinois (www.tiu.edu/divinity). The program is designed for full-time Christian workers, especially pastors, and strives to enhance, not only their lives and ministries, but the overall health and effectiveness of the churches and organizations they serve. My concentration is in preaching, but given the path I have hewn out for myself it will essentially be in Biblical studies.
The program requires students to participate in two or three seminars per year (at the doctoral level courses are called seminars because they expect each student to contribute to the content of the course and not just be passive learners). Seminars are scheduled in March, July, and November, and last four days each. Three months before each seminar, students receive their required reading list as well as pre-course assignments, all of which must be competed before the first day of class. This usually means that students will read approximately 1,500-2,500 pages of material and write a 5-10 page paper before the seminar convenes.
The seminar sessions normally begin on a Monday and end on a Thursday, lasting about 8 hours each day. Then, once the sessions are completed, students have 90 days to complete a more substantial, final project which must apply one's learnings from the seminar to the particular ministry which he or she serves. In this way, each seminar is designed to equip the minister and bless the ministry!
My first course is scheduled to commence Monday, March 8. I have already read about 1,500 pages of material and prepared a five-page paper, comparing and contrasting two commentaries on the book of Hebrews. As you might imagine, then, the course I'm taking is entitled "The Epistle to the Hebrews" and is taught by leading New Testament scholar, Dr. Don Carson.
I wanted to share all of this with you for three reasons. (1) Glory of Christ is a small church but we have big dreams! Our dreams are not so much about buildings and budgets and numbers and such, our dreams are about spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples, through Jesus Christ! One of the ways we hope to do that is by developing a school of ministry based in Elk River that will train lay-persons of various stripes, students of theology, potential pastors and church planters, and potential missionaries. A large part of why I have entered this program is so that I might be equipped to provide visionary leadership for this school in the coming years, that is, if the Lord is willing.
(2) I want to call you to pray for my family and me while I'm gone. I'm not traveling to the Chicago area for four days to suit my own fancies, I'm traveling there for the glory of Jesus and the good of his church. So please pray that the Lord will accomplish his purposes in me that he might later accomplish his purposes thorugh me. And please pray for Kim and Rachel as well. The Lord has purposes in mind for them in my absense and I hope you will join me in praying that God will accomplish every one of them for the glory of his name!
(3) On a more practical level, I want you to know that I will be completely unavailable next week. If you have an emergency and would like to talk or pray with me, just call Pastor Kevin and he will, in turn, get hold of me. Otherwise, Pastor Kevin will be available all week to serve you in any way he can. (By the way, I'm so grateful for him and his family! What a gift they are to the church and to me personally--thank you, Lord!)
Thank you so much, Glory of Christ, for your love and partnership in this ministry. The Lord himself, the victorious King of kings, has seen fit to band us together for the glory of his name and I must say that it is one of the greatest privileges of my life! I am very grateful for you!
If you want to follow my progress through the seminar, just go to my blog as I plan to post at least a little something there every day next week.
For the glory of Jesus,