"More Tools for the Toolbox"
A couple months before I started Seminary in 2007, I read an article from Dr. Andrew Bartlett, the Vice President of the Seminary, about preparing men to serve as Pastors in the Church. The image that was used throughout the article was one of a toolbox and the tools in it. The message, as I remember it, is simply this: The Seminary will teach you a tremendous amount about historical theology, systematic theology (the teachings of the church), interpreting the Bible, and practical theology (how to put it all 'together'). The Seminary would give us the tools for our 'toolbox' to serve as Pastors. Dr. Bartlett said that the Seminary program would not give us the answers to any and every question or situation we will encounter. Rather, the Seminary will prepare us so that we could handle a plethora of potential 'events'. He was right; five years ago I graduated from Seminary and I feel like I was quipped to serve as a Pastor. Five years later, I have a desire to add to my ministry toolbox, to become a better Pastor.
A couple months ago I brought to Council my desire to go back to school so I can have more 'tools' for my ministry toolbox. Council gave me their support. I have been accepted into the University of the Cumberlands (it is a Baptist University), specifically into their Masters of Arts in Professional Counseling program. I have counseled people before, but I don't do it for a prolonged period of time because I am not fully trained for it. I once had a former pastor tell me that I should have come to him when I was dealing with my anxiety disorder. I remember thinking, "You aren't trained to help someone with anxiety." My belief that a person should be trained, and not muddle their way through attempting to help someone, is one of the reasons that I want to be trained to counsel people. I have a great desire to see people whole and healthy. The Church cares about the spiritual state and life of a person, but we also care for the entire person (their physical, emotional, intellectual, vocational, relational, societal, and spiritual well-being). As your Pastor, I want to have more tools, to be better equipped, to serve you and future people (and / or churches) and I believe that this program will help me gain additional tools to do it.
The MAPC program is an excellent one. It is online and it is one of five Universities in the nation that does a synchronous online program - it means that I will have weekly, scheduled class times (the classes are in the evenings) rather than a one week or two week yearly residential session(s). They break the semester into two sections, into two eight-week terms. They have Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. I will start this July in their Summer 2 program. I want to be very clear on this: I am going back to school so I can be better equipped to serve the congregation and people from, in the community. I am not doing this so I can quit being a Pastor. I want to serve as a Pastor who is also equipped to offer professional counseling.
I would greatly appreciate your prayers throughout the time of my program, for God to bless my work and study. If you have any questions concerning my going back to school, you are welcome to speak to me.
God bless you this month!