Over the past five years I’ve been working part-time on my PhD at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill, just outside of Chicago. Just last week, on December 14th, I graduated. I’m grateful for all of the support that so many at NewCity provided me and my family over these years. I’m also immensely grateful to Leah and my girls for supporting me so well over these past years. My goal in this journey was not for a specific occupation on the other side of receiving a piece of paper. I chose this journey because I wanted to be shaped and formed increasingly into the type of person who better asks the questions I naturally ask. So, while this journey was one of my formation as a leader and disciple of Jesus, formation is not merely for the person being formed. We are not the end of our education or privileges. We are stewards of the gifts God has given us and conduits for God’s love through us, in every way, for our neighbors. To that end, I pray I steward my training and gifts for all who are reading this, to the glory of God.
Now, a quick note on what I studied: A PhD is a research degree. In my program there were two years of class work (think college or a masters program with more volume and velocity of reading and writing) followed by comprehensive exams, all of which culminates into a dissertation. My dissertation was in the area of whole-life discipleship, particularly how people are formed in their faith and work journey. It’s not an overstatement to say that I’ve spent the last year researching and writing on the mission of NewCity which is making whole-life disciples for their callings. My hope and prayer is to continue to reflect on all that I’ve learned in my doctoral journey and bring it to bear in our ministry here at NewCity. One of my biggest takeaways from the research is that so many of us followers of Jesus feel like passive spectators in the *real* mission of God. We leave the work of ministry and mission to the professionals or those we think are more gifted than us and we think that meaningful ministry is only tied to church gathered activities. There were times during the research that this reality hit me so hard I would begin to cry in sadness. Why? Because God has called the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. Everywhere you go, God has sent you there to bear witness to him, in every way. I long to see every disciple at NewCity (and beyond!) to increasingly see themselves as active participants of God’s mission, as redemptive agents in all they do. As the Father sent Jesus into the world, so Jesus sends us (Jn 20:21).