As many of you Jesus Creed blog readers know, this blog focuses on Jesus, Bible, churches and ministry. I embrace the breadth of God’s church and I don’t believe any one church has it all locked up … so I work at getting other voices to this little table of mine. Now a revelation: I get to speak to the Restoration churches often and I can’t tell you how much of a blessing they have been to me. I have so many friends now amongst the Churches of Christ — like Jim Martin and Josh Graves and Mike Cope and Randy Harris and Sara Barton and Jonathan Storment.
The Churches of Christ people are Bible people. If you can show it from the Bible, they are flat-out interested and will always give you an ear — and some feedback if they think you need it. The also love to preach, and that is why I asked Jonathan Storment — a Bible guy and a wonderful young preacher in Abilene TX — to help this blog with some posts about pastoring (as a younger pastor), and this is his first (introductory) post. Give Jonathan some prayers today. (And listen to his sermons here.)
Hi there. My name is Jonathan Storment, and it is a huge honor to write a weekly column here. Scot’s work has blessed me in lots of ways, because I’m a preacher.
That means I care about the things that preachers tend to care about. I am youngish (33, which is not a good year in my profession) and Scot asked me to start writing about what it is like being a young preacher, to talk about what I’m reading, and to give some examples on how I see theology working out in a local context.
So, first about my context:
We are in Abilene, Texas, a mid-size city that is in the GunBuckle of the Bible Belt, with three different Christian universities. We also have a steak house that President Bush (43) asked to cater at the White House…twice.
I am a preacher of a church of around 2,000 members. The definition of a mega-church is over 2,000 people, so I am at a church that is not too big, and not too small. It’s just right.
I am basically the Goldilocks of preachers.I am young enough to still make lots of stupid mistakes, but I’m getting to be old enough to know I should be skeptical of anyone who talks too much of “changing the world”, for they may not understand the full depth of SIN.
I’m a BUICK, a “brought up in church kid” who grew up in a rural church, made up of ten people. I am aware that most people would call that a “small group”, but for me it was church. One day I will tell you about that beautiful community of faith and why it inspired me to go into ministry.
I believe in the local and catholic (universal) church, in all her forms. I believe in the community of faith, and the way God works through His people of reconciliation.
Scot asked me to start writing this column, at about the same time that N.T. Wright’s recent 5-volume manifesto on Paul came out. If you have read it, you know that Wright starts his epic 2,000 page book in a surprising place. He starts in the book of Philemon.
Because, Wright says that, if Theology matters, then it has to be local. It must not be abstract. So he starts talking about this man who has changed the world, by talking about how he changed two specific peoples’ worlds, a slave, and a slave owner.
I think that is kind of what I am supposed to do here.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a front row seat to the ways God is reconciling people who are very different from one another in beautiful healing ways. And I also have a front row seat to the human condition and how we ignore it, baptize it, and on our better days, confess it. I see everyday how these ideas that we engage on blogs and in classrooms or books are making a difference (or are not) in real human lives.
Some days I wake up and think that the Kingdom of God has come, and other days I think it might not be coming at all. What theologians call “Already/Not Yet”, most weeks I just call “Monday and Tuesday”.
Another thing, this column will not just be me writing. From time to time, some of my other friends from a variety of ministry settings will be weighing in about what they are reading or experiencing in their local context. From chaplains to missionaries to pastors to bi-vocational church planters, God has blessed me with some friends who are doing amazing work and I would like to introduce you to them as well.
So thanks for the opportunity, Scot, and thanks to everyone for reading.
I look forward to the conversation.