After our grandson’s “graduation” from preschool, I stayed in Richmond overnight for a couple of reasons. First, of course, the opportunity to spend a few extra hours with my awesome daughter, Naomi, her wonderful husband, Craig, and their two – how did I put it yesterday? – exuberant vessels of promise and light (aka David and Beks). Then, I hung around an extra day so I could meet my friend Bruce, and catch up over a relaxed lunch.
Bruce has just completed his second year at Union Presbyterian Seminary, working toward his masters in divinity and his calling to serve as an ordained pastor.
Bruce “Gets it” –
The reason I’m posting about this is the rich content of our lunch conversation. I’ll see if I can write this as succinctly as possible, but if I achieve nothing else over the next few paragraphs I want to be clear that Bruce “gets it” in a way that gives me hope for the future of the church over the next few decades.
Of course, I need to explain what “gets it” means for me. Essentially, and critically important for any church interested in being vibrant and relevant going forward (Presbyterian or otherwise), this means living the Good News of Jesus in such a way that our faith, our worship, our witness, and our life together as believers, is both authentic and invitational.
Everything – all that we are and all that we do – pivots on our understanding of the The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40), and The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Love God completely; love our neighbor in the same way; make disciples.
In other words, the church is about celebrating Jesus, about living the redemption story out loud, and about inviting more people into that story.
As I talked with Bruce – listening to the litany of joys, challenges, insights, frustrations, epiphanies, celebrations, beat your head against the wall moments, and experiences filled with grace that define seminary life – I began to see the outline of his vision for ministry.
Simply put, my friend is called to help regular people respond to God’s call on their lives, to inspire and encourage them along the way, to provide a framework where they can grow as disciples of Jesus, and to help the Body of Christ – the church – tell the truth about the power and the beauty of the gospel, with passion and with joy.
Bruce – who just turned forty-one – is a “second career” ministry student; he is bringing both corporate credentials and several years experience as an elder to this call to ministry. When we lived in Florida, Bruce served as an elder at FPCBrandon, so he knows first-hand what is possible when a church grabs hold of a vision and moves forward.
We do not serve a God who is even vaguely interested in half-measures. There is no such thing as a part-time disciple of Jesus, and there is certainly no point in part-time or partially engaged ministry. If we’re not all-in with Jesus as leaders then – in my opinion – there’s really no reason for anyone else to be.
That’s what I mean when I say that Bruce gets it. That’s why I’m excited to see how, and where, God plans on finding a place for him when he graduates, this time next year.
Peace, grace, hope, and promise – DEREK
faith kingdom of God Live Like You Mean It message The Church Uncategorized Jesus Matthew minister of word and sacrament ministry teaching elder The Church the great commandment The great Commission Union Presbyterian Seminary
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.