I am the definition of the small town guy. Growing up in small rural Minnesota, an hour from the nearest Walmart, we were on our own. Not to say that we didn’t like it that way. In a small town you have to make your own fun. I had the opportunity to work in a few different ministries in our area. My wife and I worked as the youth leaders in a small (100 member) Baptist church. We pastored a small country church, and directed their summer camp. They were all great in their own way. We shepherded people that we knew, or at least we knew of their situation and circumstances.
It was great, and right up our alley, and absolutely, completely, too comfortable.
These past few years have been good, and formative. But not much was asked of me, my time was demanded, but my intellect wasn’t challenged. We didn’t need to trust in God, or step out in faith as often as we, frankly, needed to.
Seminary has met that need. It is DIFFERENT. I can’t stress that enough. There is diversity, ethnically and culturally in our seminary experience. One of the greatest treats for us has honestly been that, well, I don’t know all of the answers. Professors have left me wondering. How wonderful is that?
Challenge is exactly what my heart needed. When I think about how Jesus brought along the disciples to spiritual maturity, it was through challenge. He asked them things that they didn’t know, really didn’t have a clue about. They were left floundering at times. But Christ was fascinating. He spoke about the very kinds of things that kept them coming back for more, even when they were unsure, even afraid.
And, each in their very own way, had their failures. I am learning that for my maturity in Christ, I need to run into some walls. Peter, brave as he was, denied Christ 3 times. They all ran away, they were ashamed of the this man that they had followed for three years. Thomas doubted Christ until he could physically touch Christ’s hands.
I think that Seminary can do that same kind of this for me. I have doubts, like Thomas, that demand evidence. Seminary is introducing me to the men and women that have written to books that I’ve read. The experience is opening my eyes, and places my hands nearer to the truth.
Years of ministry (8 years as a youth leader, and 5 years pastoring the country church) were wonderful, they taught me much of what I know. They eased me into a life of ministry. But I am finding more and more, that an On-campus (Note: that is a hugely important element here) experience has been the plunge into the cold water that I needed all along. It has given me the challenging experience that I very much needed, and I would encourage anyone else that knows the safety and relative comfort of a small town, to step out in faith and see what God has for you in His global plans.
By Nate Roschen, Small Town Pastor / Denver Seminary Student / Blog: overproportionate.blogspot.com