Monday, May 24, 2010

Ministerial Formation

Yesterday, I spent the day at Kendalls Baptist Church in New London, NC, teaching the Book of Revelation. Billed as a “Day in Revelation,” I taught the combined Adult Sunday School classes, preached on Revelation at the 11:00 service, taught again at 4:00, broke for a light supper at 5:00, and concluded with a final session from 6:00 to 7:00. It was a long, but very rewarding, day.

It was rewarding, in large part, because it enabled me to reconnect with one of my former students, the Rev. Chris Fox, who is pastor at Kendalls. Chris was a student of mine at a divinity school where I was dean. It was a pleasure to be with him and to catch up on what has been going on in his life in the intervening years…and a lot’s been going on in his life! When I knew Chris as a student, he was not married. Married to Jamie now, they have two beautiful daughters, Madison and Hannah. Chris has settled into marriage and fatherhood very well, I would say. It was a joy to watch him with his daughters. He’s a good husband and a good father; and while I take no credit for that, I nonetheless took considerable joy.

I do, however, take some credit for the polished, mature, poised pastor he has become. Watching him with his people, leading in worship, listening to his vision and dreams for the congregation and community, I beamed with satisfaction. He’s a fine pastor with a deep sense of calling and commitment. I’d like to think I helped in that…at least a little bit. He studied preaching with me while I was his dean. I told his congregation, “If you like his preaching, just remember that I taught him everything he knows. If you don’t, well, what can I say? I did the best I could with what I had to work with!” They laughed, then later told me, “He’s a good preacher. He works hard at it, and it shows.” One said: “He makes it worth the trip here on Sundays.” I like that.

Teaching is, in some ways, like carrying a baby you never get to see delivered. We teach; we nurture; we form; and then they go off to God knows where to do God knows what and we never know how they turned out. That’s why yesterday was so satisfying for me, watching Chris “do his thing” with such poise and passion and presence. “Congratulations! It’s a minister!”

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