Gordon-Conwell Blog

Being Small | D.Min. Guest Blogger

December 19, 2013

Cory Hartman

Cory Hartman is a Doctor of Ministry student in the Revival and Reform track. Read his previous guest post on renewal and revival here.

Two astounding, must-read books from my D.Min. program have newly illuminated how small I am.

The first is James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. Hunter adroitly demonstrates how quantity and even quality of cultural output does not shape a culture, nor does the size of the consumer base. Rather, the culture is shaped by the few institutions, locations, and social circles that all, including those who resent them, tacitly agree are more prestigious than the rest.

I am small and far from these high points. I am not close to the center of my denomination’s culture. I am unimportant to the evangelical subculture—you won’t see my mug on conference junk mail anytime soon. I live in an ignored part of the country. Almost no one in any of my subcultures has the regard of elites in Hollywood, Harvard Yard, and Midtown Manhattan.

I am small in another direction too, as revealed by Philip Jenkins’ The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. As Christianity drains out of Europe, it is exploding in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, partly because of the fecund demographics of those regions but also through a burgeoning wave of conversions. Christianity in the United States is holding steady because of help from immigration from those continents as the faith resumes its ancient position as one of the great Eastern religions. The awakening and the miraculous seem to be going on almost everywhere but here, and I can’t read Jenkins’ statistics about 10 million of this and a hundred million of that for long before feeling very small again.

I don’t call myself small out of self-pity—well, I hope I don’t—but from a healthy dose of reality for the sake of humility. I need that. But this is not the whole story.

 

No matter whom I am small by comparison to, I am big to someone else. My town, a modestly affluent county seat, gets more undeserved attention than any other in my region. I’m an evangelical nobody, but unlike many I actually know a few somebodies, and they know even better-known somebodies. And wherever I live in the United States, to the Mexican believer peering around our southern wall I’m at the center of it all.

 

More importantly, no matter how small I am in my profession because I see only 50 people on a Sunday, I am huge to those 50 people. My significance is enormous to the sick for whom I pray, the weary to whom I speak the gospel of hope, and the children who call me pastor. And to my own children and to my wife, I’m colossal—to them, whether or not I exist is the whole world.

Finally, and most importantly, I am staggeringly valuable to the infinitely large God. As David observed, his thoughts about me are beyond comprehension—not only their number and their content but his desire to think about me at all.

At the beginning of Matthew 2, men come from a foreign power to find the king of the Jews, whose birth alarms Jerusalem’s elite and triggers a state crisis. At the end of the chapter he is called a Nazarene, a no-name denizen of a backwater town.

The paradox of Jesus’ incarnation is not only metaphysical—the union of complete and unadulterated deity and humanity in one person. It is a cultural paradox too: the one who is the center of all things lives simultaneously at the extreme margin; he really bears the name above every name while he really is a no-name. This both-and image is the one that God is conforming me to—I shrink while I expand, plunging lower, rising higher.

 

Cory Hartman grew up in a suburb of Syracuse, New York, and serves as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hollidaysburg in the Pennsylvania county where his family has lived for generations. (Go Orange. Go Bucs. Go Steelers.) He is an M.Div. alumnus (’03), a current D.Min. student, and the author of On Freedom and Destiny: How God’s Will and Yours Intersect. Cory and his wife, Kelly, notch National Park sites visited with their four children.
 

 

 

 

Tags: D.Min. Guest Post , equipping leaders for the church and society , thoughtfully evangelical

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On Church and Military Hospitals | Seminary Student Blogger

November 05, 2013

Tim Norton

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of the Church lately. What is the Church’s role in society today? What is its primary posture towards culture? I think we all know that there are some hot topics floating around that tend to spark debate in this conversation. As I ponder these types of questions, one image keeps running through my brain: The Church should be like a military hospital.

A hospital is known for caring for sick and wounded people. Now, imagine a hospital located near a battlefield. It will service a lot of sick and wounded people. Now, a solider who is wounded in battle does everything in his power to protect his wound from exposure. The battlefield is no place to be wounded. Soldiers have to cover and hide wounds in order to survive, so they wrap, superglue, cover and patch every wound they incur. Only until a solder comes into the hospital is it acceptable to uncover his wounds. It is the job of the doctors and nurses to gain enough of a soldier’s trust to expose his wounds in complete vulnerability. Then, it is the job of the doctors and nurses heal that solider. And so, doctors and nurses expect to see wounds. They aren’t surprised by them. Imagine a solider coming in with a gunshot to the leg and the ER nurse first lectures the kid for allowing himself to get shot. Is that going to happen? No. Step one is heal the wound, not shame the soldier. Then, after he’s healed, step two is tell the kid not to get shot again.

I think the Church, the Body of Christ, is designed to be a hospital for hurts, wounds, sin, habits, etc. We are designed to administer grace. Too often I send a mixed message because I’ve fallen into the false teaching of moving beyond my own need for grace. Theologically I still believe in it, but I switch my focus from my constant need for grace. I want to improve to the point that I don’t need grace and so I hold others to that standard as well. I’m like a doctor who wants to move beyond the need to use medicine. That’s just not right. To be sure, I don’t think the Church should condone sin any more than a hospital endorses battle-wounds; however, we shouldn’t be surprised when faced with sinners. After all, Scripture presents the overabundance of grace through Christ. God’s grace is poured on us like Niagara Falls would fill a paper cup.

The question is, then, how do we become a place known for grace? How do we become a place that doesn’t endorse sin but also isn’t so repulsed by it that we don’t offer grace through Christ. After all, healing and transformation come after and through grace, not before. A military hospital should expect hurt soldiers to walk through their doors. Churches should expect sinners to do the same. How do we change the current perception of the Church? I don’t know. But I know I want to be in a Church that is like a military hospital. It’s the kind of Church I need. It’s the kind of Church the world needs.

Tim Norton is a born-and-raised, small-town Southerner with the sweet tea addiction to prove it. He comes to Gordon-Conwell as a Kern Pastor-Scholar and plans to pursue pastoral ministry in the U.S. after graduation. Tim is a big personality with a strange affinity for the color orange. Currently, he attends GENESIS Church, an Acts 29 church plant in Woburn, MA.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Tim Norton , biblically-grounded , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 6 | Seminary Student Blogger

November 02, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here; day 5 here.

You Have Always Remembered Us

We remember the childhood trek through the store,
when mommy and daddy faded from sight.
We scurried and scrambled and shook just a bit
and they found us again down the next isle.

We remember the more serious journeys of youth,
the ones that led down dark paths.
We scurried and scrambled and shook a bit more,
and the way out was found after a while.

Now we a grown, big, and mature,
and our seasons of loss are the same.
And we do not see the way out.

But the theme of our past
stings brutally with the truth:
Your eyes have not left us, not once.

In each flight of fear,
In each journey of darkness
In each season of pain,
Your eyes have not left us, not once.

Though we have forgotten,
You never have.

And so we ask,
limply,
humbly,
and undeservingly,
that You might make us among the remembering ones,
even as You have always remembered us.

Would you punctuate the dialogue of our lives
with pause and reflection
that we might, in every season,
recall Your goodness that carried us there. 

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 5 | Seminary Student Blogger

November 01, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here.

That Wonted Place

The mornings roll together in sleepy familiarity.

The routine is consistent, the rhythm the same.

But this morning I heard a bird trill a familiar tune,

and suddenly I was back in that wonted place dear to my heart.

Swept up in the music, I sat on my old back porch with Your Words in hand.

I climbed up the apple tree just to check the nest.

I hid between the berry bushes and listened to a searching sister's voice.

And here, on this big brown couch, I remember -

Your eyes upon me are the same eyes,

Your voice within me the same voice,

Your goodness toward me to same goodness.

Two worlds apart, and many journeys between,

You are my constant custom.

And I am grateful. 

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 4 | Seminary Student Blogger

October 31, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here.

The Fidelity of Dawn

The dark horizon hides itself
in the blackness of the sky.

The world is concealed in night this hour,
and we watch the motionless mass once again.

We have sat awake in many midnights.

Never has this black horizon persistent.
Never has this darkness been eternal.

And in the unintentional expectations of our own minds,
our hearts respond in new awareness:

Never once have You withheld the sun.
Never once have You left us in the dark.

Every morning,
each dawn,
You are faithful.

Every midnight,
every dark hour,
You are faithful.

And in this dark hour of waiting,
we choose again to remember,
and we choose again to believe. 

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 3 | Seminary Student Blogger

October 30, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here.

The Grace of Decided Impatience

We have heard the whispered promise
that You are still to come.

And we, too, have been those who
preached those promises,
claimed those confessions,
declared those decrees.

But we also confess
that as soon as the creed slipped from our lips,
we left the pews without expectation, viable hope, or any bit of impatience.

He ascended into heaven, seated at the right hand of God, the almighty Father, from where he will come to judge the living and the dead.

And so we ask, dear God, that You
would grant us the grace of
decided impatience.

Press our eyes to the horizon,
our ears to the ground.

Fix our feet in holy restlessness
and quicken them towards that which is our final Rest. 

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 2 | Seminary Student Blogger

October 29, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here.

Grace to Believe

The orations roll off our tongues
with tradition and ease.

We believe, we do.

We believe.

… in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord …

We believe, we do.

But Sundays have a way of hastening to end,
and Monday meets us with terrors irreconcilable.

Doctors call with news that isn’t good,
Kids call with nightmares we cannot ward off,
The bank calls again and more time is not an option.

And we forget
how to believe …

…in the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting …

So would You, God of our profession,
come and foster in us
the faith of remembrance,
and give us the grace
to recite the creed once again.

And to say,
we believe. 

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 1 | Seminary Student Blogger

October 28, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here.

Sunday was Long Ago

Sunday morning has come and gone.
We ate our fill,
and were very proud we had cleaned our spiritual plate.

We heaped our plates with
service,
song
and solitude.

And walked out the stained-glass doors
satisfied,
gratified,
and fulfilled.

And Monday we sat down in passive wontedness,
occupied and busy and
quite unconcerned with eating again.

Like a child who picked his plate clean and refused a return visit,
we have been foolish in our spiritual feeding,
negligent with regard to our need.

And Sunday was long ago.

We cared not for the spiritual deficiency
that slowly crept through our bones
nor did we note the way our hearts
grew languidly cold.

But …

our bellies are beginning to growl.

Slowly, certainly, and somewhat begrudgingly
we are noticing our own dissatisfaction.

We have need, and our selves bear witness that
our need is none other than You.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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Choosing to Remember: An Invitation to Reflection | Seminary Student Blogger

October 27, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. The following is her introduction.

Saturday morning was slow. It was lazy. And comfortable. And familiar.

This morning I felt the prodding of the Lord to go back through old journals, and so I compiled them, gathering them from every corner of my room:

the ones on the book shelf just a bit dusty,

the one on the coffee table all too familiar,

the ones under the bed all but forgotten.

I spent three hours in those pages, remembering and recalling and crying and blushing. I can hardly believe I once thought some of those thoughts, believed some of those beliefs, was concerned about some of those unknowns. But in those pages I also heard my own voice. The dreams are the same; the desires, familiar.

And the God who made it all happen sat back with me and savored the view:

He has been so faithful.

Page after page, with ink spilled on both sides, He has proven Himself to be the constant companion of my soul. The only One who could walk all those paths and heed all those thoughts. He alone has been the common thread in every season.

I don’t know about you, but I am quick to forget. I am slow of remembrance. I do not recall naturally, or remember unaffectedly. I have to want it, to choose it, and to make time for it.

So, I want to invite you to do just that. I want to invite you to join me in a week of reflection on the faithfulness of God. I want to invite you to pull out your journal, your photo albums, your old blog entries, and recall the faithfulness of our God. I want to invite you to pray with me concerning the folly of forgetfulness and the joy of remembrance.

So go on, grab that journal on your shelf and the one under the bed.

Because these books hold our story.

And they cry,

"But I am poor and needy;
Yet the Lord thinks upon me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God"
Psalm 40:17

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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Trusting Jesus With Seminary | Seminary Guest Blogger

October 22, 2013

Josh Kluth

I used to think life transitions were moments that connected the different stages of life. These life stages include the different social statuses that define many: student, single, married, divorced, employee, enlisted, parent, grandparent, retiree, etc. Or life stages could be identified as emotional seasons of difficulty, joy, maturation or loneliness. However we define them, transitions are like bridges that connect the peninsula to the mainland. The point is to get over them and on to “real life.” The older I have gotten, the more difficult it has become to identify a period of transition from the main road. At times, I wonder if we can even identify the main road.

For some, life seems to be a never-ending connection of transitions that we trust are heading somewhere. However, I’m not so convinced there is a point of arrival at having “made it” this side of the New Heavens and New Earth. After all, what does “making it” look like? Retirement? House paid off? White picket fence and the 2.5 healthy (and perfectly polite) kids? Which of these are the main road and which are the isolated transition points? My wife and my journey to Gordon-Conwell has illustrated this for us.

I first heard of Gordon-Conwell as a junior in college from a mentor of mine who was an alumnus. Curious as to what seminary was all about, I sent off an inquiry and received a packet in the mail describing the different programs. Sheer curiosity. That was 10 years ago. I got a job after college, served in ministry, got married, tried to find better jobs, switched careers, etc. In fact, my wife remembers me telling her that I was determined not to pursue a life in full-time ministry. Seminary wasn’t a consideration. And yet, through a long process of being led by the Lord, encouraged by friends, miraculous provisions in finances, scholarship opportunities and Semlink distance classes, we came to Gordon-Conwell. We left our home in the Pacific Northwest and arrived in the dead of winter in January 2013 just in time to be greeted by Hurricane Nemo. And to be honest, the transition hasn’t been all that easy. Moreover, it hasn’t been altogether clear where God is taking us in the future. However, we feel confident that God’s orchestration has led us to this moment.

We aren’t confident of how to distinguish between a life transition and a life stage. But we are confident that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. As pilgrims in this world, we are confident that life itself may continue to produce transitions. As people being conformed constantly to the image of Christ, we are determined to transition well until the day he takes us home to glory. But for the time being, we are here at Gordon-Conwell determined to lean on Jesus. He is the gate, but he is the way. He is not just the beginning point. He is not a life stage and he is not a transition. There is just no getting over him.

Josh and his wife, Tara, are from Washington State. Josh is pursuing an MAR and MATH while Tara works as a hairdresser in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Together, they are most captivated by the story in which God has placed them in this fascinatingly bizarre world that spins across this universe. In the midst of it all, they are stabilized by what Sally Lloyd-Jones describes as “God’s 'Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love' in Jesus" (Jesus Storybook Bible).

Tags: Author: Josh Kluth , current students , equipping leaders for the church and society , future students , guest post

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Brokenness & Leadership: Not “In Spite,” But “Because” | Seminary Student Blogger

October 15, 2013

Joelinda Coichy

Lately, I have been recognizing the profound link between brokenness and leadership and it has been blowing me up—in a completely good, leadership-style-transforming way. But before this idea was good-blowing-me-up, something else was wrecking me—in a completely heart-breaking and shake-your-fists-at-God way.

God repeatedly, intentionally, aggressively closed some doors in my life that I REALLY wanted open. And I was wrecked. I spent the better part of a couple weeks crying to God from the deep disappointment and despair lodged in my heart.

Ever noticed how even when you hurt, life marches on? Well, in addition to being a full-time seminarian, I'm a Student Ministries Director at a brand new church campus plant, and there was no time to stop and wallow in my hurt. So I bumbled and cried as I worked.

In the midst of all this, my boss asked me to pray before a team meeting. That day, the Holy Spirit was powerfully present through my prayer in a way that surprised and moved me, and then I realized that He was there not in spite of my brokenness but because of it. And that was when this idea sprouted in my heart: personal brokenness is essential for effective leadership.

I am not talking about brokenness for X,Y,Z injustice in the world (though having one of these is important). Neither am I talking about brokenness in the form of a deep unconfessed, festering sin or a long-standing addiction (though one of these things can be the root cause of the brokenness I am talking about).

When I say “personal brokenness,” I mean a vibrant and sincere awareness of the heart-wounds nearest and dearest to us that no matter how hard we stuff, ignore and deny, just reappear in the form of fresh lacerations for which there is no balm except the breath of God.

I am learning that for effective (read: compassionate, sincere, powerful) leadership, there has to be something personal that you are on your face in prayer and pleading with God about. You may not feel the hurt of that brokenness forever—but that is certainly where effective ministry must start.

Because when you are on your face before God, not only praying but also crying because it hurts and you don't have enough, grace prevails in your life. And when you are on your face limp from hurting before God, and yet there are people entrusted to your care, the Holy Spirit moves…in spite of your brokenness!

And when the Spirit moves, all (you included) meet God, you are surprised, and then you remember and relive the vital truth you forgot in the midst of all your reading, preparing and duck-aligning: the heart of the gospel is hope because of a broken (and resurrected) Body.

So, don't run from that persistent hurt—it is likely the very location of God's greatest work in and through you!

Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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So true - thank you Joelinda. I recently read Sally Lloyd-Jones' children's Bible story about Naaman. In it she says "Naaman wanted to be healed and all he needed was nothing - the one thing he didn't have." Why is it so hard for us to accept our brokenness? Thank you for this reminder that it is the heart of the Gospel and the place where we meet, and are empowered by, Him!
Deedee Morton 11:11AM 10/25/13

Revival History and Hope | D.Min. Guest Blogger

September 26, 2013

Cory Hartman

Cory Hartman is a Doctor of Ministry student in the Revival and Reform track. His contributes the following guest post on renewal and revival.

Students in the Revival and Reform: Renewing Congregational Life D.Min. track study the twin histories of spiritual revival and social reform in the United States and its colonial antecedents. We want to discover patterns of God’s renewing work in the past so that we can better dispose our ministries to renewal in the present.

Pursuing this aim is full of pitfalls. We must constantly remind ourselves that we cannot combine ingredients to re-create what God has done in the past because (a) we’re not God and (b) we cannot re-create the past: the settings of past revivals were complex, and we will never live in them again. Nevertheless, history can expand our view of present problems, which yields better solutions or at least better hope.

For example, in his monumental biography of Jonathan Edwards, George Marsden describes the dismal social and spiritual condition of young adults in Northampton, Massachusetts (where the 31-year-old Edwards was pastor) in 1734. In part because their parents were reacting against the strictness of their parents, the prevalence of premarital sex had risen dramatically, even to the point that pregnancy out of wedlock lost much of its stigma so long as the couple married following conception. This was aided and abetted by a land shortage that prevented young people from starting families on new farms and forced them to live with their parents with no immediate economic prospects. The average marriage age rose considerably. Youth were aimless, and youth culture revolved around taking advantage of days off working for their parents to hit the party scene at local taverns instead of attending scheduled church activities.

Then in April 1734 one of the young men in a hamlet a few miles away from the town center died of a sudden illness. Edwards, who himself had nearly died of illness twice, preached a gripping funeral sermon about the precariousness of life and the pointlessness of the young people’s lives in light of death and the next life. The young adults were deeply affected. Edwards returned and called a service for that age group soon after, and these young adults quickly began showing evidence of conversion: changed lives.

Soon this wave of conversion spread to young adults all over Northampton and from them to all generations, from children to the aged and everyone in between, men and women, high and low, rich and poor, free and slave. Almost the whole town appeared to be converted. People of all kinds were meeting in homes to pray and encourage each other through Scripture. During the 14 months of the revival, sickness virtually disappeared from Northampton. The revival spread to other towns along the Connecticut River, and similar phenomena appeared in New York and New Jersey. This was an intense local precursor to the Great Awakening that swept all the colonies about six years later.

Though so much of the social, cultural, economic, and technological setting of 1734 Northampton is alien to us, certain contours of young adulthood then—promiscuity, carousing, career stultification, delayed marriage, “failure to launch,” abandonment of religious institutions—are jarringly familiar to us today. Yet it would be a mistake to conclude that contemporary American young adults are like them in all important respects. For example, one asset that Edwards possessed that we lack is sound theological knowledge shared by his hearers. (See Kenda Creasy Dean’s must-read Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church for the modern contrast.)

Nevertheless, the 1734 revival does demonstrate the crucial, encouraging lesson that God can awaken young adults with the daunting troubles they have today, that he has, and that he may yet again—that that may spark transformation in a community and beyond—and that he may use a God-soaked, yearningly loving pastor to birth it.

Cory Hartman grew up in a suburb of Syracuse, New York, and serves as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hollidaysburg in the Pennsylvania county where his family has lived for generations. (Go Orange. Go Bucs. Go Steelers.) He is an M.Div. alumnus (’03), a current D.Min. student, and the author of On Freedom and Destiny: How God’s Will and Yours Intersect. Cory and his wife, Kelly, notch National Park sites visited with their four children.
 

 

 

 

Tags: D.Min. Guest Post , equipping leaders for the church and society , thoughtfully evangelical

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