QUESTION: What is your biggest regret in ministry? – Samuel in Ann Arbor, MI
ANSWER: Not going to seminary. I had intended to go when I finished college, but by the time I reached my senior year at East Texas Baptist University I was already touring almost every weekend as a Christian comedian. I’d finish class on Friday, head directly to the airport to catch a flight, be on the road through the weekend, catch a red eye back on Monday morning and head directly back to class. When I graduated the touring cycle just exploded…I was rarely home…over 200 dates a year…no time for seminary…or anything else. After several years I walked out of comedy directly into church staff positions that did not allow me the time to go back to seminary. I kept saying I’ll do it tomorrow…as of today…tomorrow has never come.
I don’t believe that you necessarly have to go to seminary in order to be an effective church planter…but I do believe you need to go to seminary if you want to eventually become an effective shepherd. For me…I feel like I’m always playing “catch up” in gaining a deeper understanding of Scripture. As a pastor of young 20-somethings I see the incredible value of seminary training. Unchurched folks 25 and below aren’t really that turned on by “self help” topical messages anymore (at least around Lakeland)…they seem to want meatier stuff…book by book studies of the Bible. They are constantly asking me questions about Scripture that have me scrambling for answers. Consequently, instead of getting to read all of the cool books by Andy Stanley, Mark Batterson, Ed Stetzer or Donald Miller that everyone else gets to read…I’m pouring over MacArthur commentaries from cover to cover.
Right now Compass Point is having to make some structural/leadership changes in order to accommodate recent growth. In the days to come I will not be handling any administraion or day-to-day oversight…strictly preaching, mentoring young leadership and shepherding. This is also being done so in 2008 I can start going part-time to a seminary in Orlando. I can’t wait!!!