Reflections of a Church Closing

Reflections of a Church Closing, by Corey Tabor (MML 2016)

Last year, my wife April and I shared with the small group of partners remaining in Full Life Community Church, that we were closing the church. Our youngest daughter Charis was less than one month old and April was still on maternity leave. After nine years of planting Full Life Community Church, collectively reaching over 400 people but never amassing more than 60 people in one season, we discovered that God had a unique purpose for our church and it had been fulfilled. Full Life Community Church became a safe place for people to heal from however they’d been hurt. Some came to the church having been hurt by previous church leaders in their former church. Some came to the church having been hurt by their former spouse or significant other. Some came to the church having been hurt by their parents or extended family. In retrospect, we were the safe place for hurting people.

The reality of being an emergency room, hospital, or rehabilitation center; however you may want to phrase it is, hurting people struggle to invest in others because they are in crisis mode fighting for their lives. We would never expect a person in emergency surgery for a lacerated liver to get off the operating table and assist in a surgery in the next operating room. In retrospect, those who came hurting, struggled to give as much of themselves to assist in ministry as they would had they been healthy.

God in his sovereignty, gave us the gift of hurting people knowing we would know how to love them through hurt. God in his wisdom, allowed us to steward hurting people because he knew when they healed, they would be more impactful in the kingdom. For professional and personal courtesy, I will not mention the names of former members who are doing amazing work in the city, state, and nation. I’ll just say thank you for the gift of your presence, your belief in the vision, and entrusting your spiritual care to us in the season you were there.

Yesterday, I cleared the last of what has been four different storage units since 2009.

The bible says in Malachi 3:10, ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’

Honestly from early on in our church life, we were given items that needed to be stored including high level executive desks and military grade bookshelves. We were constantly looking for ways to give things away because God had kept his promise of pouring blessings we could not completely store.

The final storage unit number was 2020 which happens to be this year but is also the measurement used to validate perfect vision. As I packed up contact cards, offering envelopes, Discover Full Life Partnership Manuals, children’s toys, sound equipment, music stands, HDMI cables, and computer monitors; my mind start flashing back to Sunday morning finishing a sermon (because I was bi-vocationally pastoring), loading equipment in our two family cars, driving to the meeting location, unloading equipment, leading prayer for our leaders, setting up, leading worship, preaching a message, and then breaking it all down, loading it all up and bringing it all home to do it again the next week.

As I cleared storage unit #2020, I treasured the many memories that are now stored in my heart of marriages that were restored, children that accepted Jesus, businesses that were built, and babies that were dedicated. 

On February 21, 2014, Anaia Naomi Tabor was born to us our first child, after having had a miscarriage in 2011 and finding out we were pregnant on June 6, 2013, our 10th wedding anniversary. The next day, February 22, 2014, was the first Sunday we were hosting our services in a newly leased spaced. God used gifted leaders to support us in our time of transitioning into parenthood.

A little over a month later on March 30, 2014, we dedicated the worship space and we dedicated our daughter back to God. I had no idea that this would be one of the last times I would worship with my mother who transitioned to heaven on April 4, 2015 or that it would be the place where I would complete my Master of Ministry Leadership degree in 2016.

I also cherished the challenging seasons of trying to monthly pay rent as it increased and annually. I cherished the seasons of depression and disappointment. I treasured the seasons of movement and transition of those who were there in the beginning, the middle and ultimately the end. As I reflected, all I could say was, “Thank you Jesus for 9 years of meaningful ministry. Thank you for the ways to challenged me to trust you when I could not trace you. Thank you for the ways you taught me to repent when I made mistakes and the ways you challenged me to love my wife as Christ loved the church and laid down his life for her. Thank you for entrusting this flock to me for this season. Thank you that I know you’re pleased and are saying well done good and faithful servant, not because I was a perfect pastor but because I was willing to do what he asked me to do. Obedience was and is my standard of success. In Genesis 6:22, the Bible says, “Noah did everything God commanded him.” 

I did not pastor perfectly, but no one can say I did not pastor passionately, persistently, and purposefully. I know with all my heart, I did my best and God was honored. 

Today, as members of Celebration Central Austin, we will dedicate our youngest daughter Charis Dawn who was our grace baby. She’s the gift that God brought out of losing my mother-in-law and father-in-law to cancer within 6 months in 2017. She’s the gift of my wife completing her second master’s degree in school administration and become an assistant principal. She the gift that reminds me, we cannot nor do we need to earn God’s love.

I always encouraged our members to mark milestones in their lives like weddings and wedding anniversaries, births and birthdays, graduations and home sales. Because as we mark milestones, we build virtual Ebenezer milestones or reminders of who God is, what he has said, and what he has done. He has been faithful in the past to complete what he began and he will do the same in this season.

So, now as I transition into ministering as a primarily speaker, author, and coach to schools, nonprofits and churches, I am looking through the windshield of amazing opportunities while glancing in my rearview mirror to remember that God can do it and he will do it again!  For more about Corey’s journey go to this link.

Church Planting Course Begins, March 3, 2020

How do you start a new church? What is a church? What is a healthy church? What is a church planter? What are the stages of a church plant? The course will investigate the biblical and theological basis for church plants, as well as the practical aspects of starting a new work. This course is designed for students who are interested in church planting or sense a call to plant a church. It is also perfect for those who have recently started a church plant or who are working to help a church become healthy.  This is a great overview of how to lead a healthy church.  The course is taught by Dr. Tom Bartlett and Dr. Lendell Nolan.  Dr. Bartlett is an experienced church planter and has started numerous churches around the world.  Dr. Nolan is currently planting a church in Bixby, OK.  Please share this with a minister who would like to gain new skills.  You still have time to enroll is this great courses.  Contact admissions@rockbridge.edu.

 

Spiritual Formation as Journey – Part 6 of 6

On the journey you become aware of your vulnerability

Some years ago, I hiked the Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai with my wife and young adult children. From previous hikes, we knew a rainstorm on the mountains can cause hypothermia.  Failure to drink plenty of water leads to dehydration.  Each day on the journey you are made aware of just how fragile and vulnerable you are.

On the first day of our journey in Hawaii, before beginning our trek, our daughter caught her foot on a lava rock on the beach.  Her big toenail was completely ripped off.  We questioned whether we should continue on the journey because of the seriousness of her injury.  Unable to get the foot into her boot, she traded the boots in for sandals.  We reduced the load in her pack and supported her commitment to go forward.

The Kalalau Trail was one of the toughest trails I had ever experienced.  While it did not climb to extreme heights, the trail was treacherous, with drops of 800-1000 feet.  On several occasions one of us would have fallen to our death if the person following behind had not grabbed us.

I like to think of myself as a strong athlete.  I work out.  I try to stay in shape.  But in the wilderness, I discover my fear of heights and how vulnerable I am to the natural elements.  Like anyone else, I need the encouragement and ministry of others.

Often spiritual leaders fail to experience the full measure of God’s love, because they are not willing to become vulnerable.  In order to minister effectively, we must allow others to minister to us.

We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life.  We are sinful, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for.  The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.  Therefore, true ministry must be mutual.  When the members of a community of faith cannot truly know and love their shepherd, shepherding quickly becomes a subtle way of exercising power over others and begins to show authoritarian and dictatorial traits . . .  It is servant leadership—to use Robert Greenleaf’s term–in which the leader is a vulnerable servant who needs the people as much as they need him or her. (Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus, pp. 44-45)

At Rockbridge, staff, faculty, and students are encouraged to be transparent and vulnerable.  In our discussion forums and course updates, faculty members are encouraged to not only share their successes in ministry, but also their failures.  We also expect our learning community to be a safe place where what we share is valued and treasured.  Vulnerability takes humility and courage. Who are you allowing to minister to you?

As we minister, we should pray the words of Henri Nouwen, “may the same Lord who binds us together in love also reveal himself to us and others as we walk together on the road.”

Spiritual Formation as Journey – Part 5

The Journey Invites Reflection

What I enjoy most about hiking and camping is the opportunity to reflect upon my life.  The pilgrimage provides quiet moments for introspection. Reflection is an important spiritual practice in theology as Nouwen encourages:

I propose here the discipline of strenuous theological reflection.  Just as prayer keeps us connected with the first love and just as confession and forgiveness keep our ministry communal and mutual, so strenuous theological reflection will allow us to discern critically where we are being led. (Henri Nouwen.  In the Name of Jesus.  p. 65.)

Reflection through journaling is often missing in seminary curriculum and yet is so helpful for spiritual growth, both for ourselves and others.  Elisabeth Elliott, in Through Gates of Splendor, writes about five missionaries, including her husband, who were killed while attempting to reach the fierce Auca Indians.  Throughout the story she refers constantly to the journals these men kept.  Sometimes they were writing on tiny scraps of paper, whatever was available to them in their frontier situation, but always they were praying and writing down their thoughts and experiences as a spiritual discipline.  Pages found on their bodies after their deaths told the world part of the story of what happened to them on their last jungle journey.  Their journals lifted the faith of millions of people who were able to read about their reflections and the things God was teaching them in this difficult time.

Because the trail is unpredictable and each turn provides challenges and new opportunities, we must carefully evaluate what God is up to in each situation. Difficult circumstances and tragic events become part of God’s curriculum for our students as they are challenged to reflect theologically while the outside world asked such questions as “Why did this happen?”  Life events are lab experiences we can share with fellow students, church members, and a watching world the reassurance of God’s presence, grace and love.   Nouwen writes,

The Christian leader of the future have to be theologians, persons who know the heart of God and are trained—through prayer, study, and careful analysis—to manifest the divine event of God’s saving work in the midst of the many seemingly random events of their time.

Theological reflection is reflecting on the painful and joyful realities of every day with the mind of Jesus and thereby raising human consciousness to the knowledge of God’s gentle guidance.

To be such a leader it is essential to be able to discern from moment to moment how God acts in human history and how the personal, communal, national and international events that occur during our lives can make us more and more sensitive to the ways in which we are led to the cross and through the cross to the resurrection.

The task of future Christian leaders is not to make a little contribution to the solution of the pains and tribulations of their time, but to identify and announce the ways in which Jesus is leading God’s people out of slavery, through the desert to a new land of freedom. (Nouwen, p. 68.)

What recent event or tragic circumstance caused you to ask, “Why did this happen?”  What did you learn about yourself and God through your reflection?

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Formation as Journey – Part 4

Telling the Story of the Journey

Whether it is told sitting around the campfire, or explained with pictures to friends back home, each hiking experience has a story.  Stories are the means by which we communicate the truths we learned about ourselves and others.  Cole writes, “their story, yours, mine—it’s what we all carry with us on this trip we take, and we owe it to each other to respect our stories and learn from them.” (R. Coles. The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination. p. 30).

People need opportunities to make the connection of their faith story to His story.  “Human beings become faithful by living in a community of faith and by discovering what it means to claim its stories and values as their own.” (Vogel, p. 85.)

Evangelism, sharing the faith story, is a vital element in spiritual formation.  How can we expect believers to share the story of Jesus Christ to a skeptical, hostile world, when they feel uncomfortable in sharing their faith story to the Family of God?  The journey of spiritual formation must include opportunities for participants to share their faith stories and hear the faith stories of others.  This is crucial to our task as theological educators.  Vogel writes,

Those preparing for ministry today . . . may or may not come out of faith communities.  But if they do not embody their faith family’s stories and rituals and lifestyles, how are they to nurture others in the ways of their faith family?  (Vogel, p. 85.)

I am continually reminded of how little we know about one another.  What are the significant spiritual events of my colleagues?  What is God doing in and through those that I worship with?  Spiritual formation groups should encourage the telling of faith stories. These stories not only build up our fellow pilgrims—the telling of our story strengthens our own faith as well.

In every Rockbridge course, students share their faith experiences with one another. They also engage in spiritual practices together.  In their discussion forums, students share their of faith stories. Student evaluations consistently say that “interaction with other students” is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the course.

 

Upcoming Class in 2020-T2:  Theology and Practice of Fellowship

This is a study of God’s purpose for fellowship and the doctrine of the Church.  Students develop a biblical understanding of the church and how the church has expressed the purpose of fellowship throughout history.  In addition, learners will identify select functions and forms of fellowship and examine various organizational systems for promoting the purpose of fellowship. Registration begins February 3.  For more information contact admissions@rockbridge.edu.

 

Spiritual Journey as Formation, Part 3

The Journey is an Experience, Not a Spectator Sport

Part 3 of a 6-Part Series

Some years ago I hiked the Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai with my wife and young adult children.  We did not learn to hike the Na Pali Coast by attending a class at our nearest mountain equipment store, nor by reading books on hiking.  We learned to hike by walking the Kalalau Trail.  We did read books on Hawaii and pored over maps.  On the trail, however, we learned that some of the streams drawn on the maps were dried up and discovered that some markers were no longer visible.  The terrain changes constantly, and the weather can become violent at a moment’s notice.  So it is with spiritual formation.  The best classes on spiritual formation are no substitute for experiencing spiritual formation.   Students need to learn about techniques on prayer, but they learn best by praying with one another.

Along the Kalalau Trail we experienced new sensations.  We smelled sweet ocean breezes, swam underneath cold waterfalls, ate passion fruit picked fresh off trees, and slept underneath bright stars undimmed by city lights.  On the trail we had no cable television, pizza delivery, hot showers, or Internet.  When we arrived at our halfway point, my tired wife tried to use her cell phone to call a helicopter to take us back to civilization.  The cell phone was useless along the Na Pali cliffs.  It was just another item to weigh us down.  For a few days we experienced a different way of life.  This is the call to spiritual formation.  Linda Vogel writes,

Abraham and Sarah embarked in faith on a long journey to a far away and unknown place (Gen. 12-25:11).  Their journey was not only to new surroundings and a new way of life; it was to a different way of understanding who they were and who God intended them to be; it was a journey that involved letting go of old ways of thinking and acting and of trusting untried ways of relating to God and others.  (Linda Vogel.  Teaching and Learning in Communities of Faith.  San Francisco:  Josey-Bass Publishers, 1991, p. 4.)

Twenty years from now I want to look back and say I’m not the same person I was.  I want to be able to say I have changed, evolved, grown.  I pray I will let go of my older way of thinking, acting, and trusting, so much so that I won’t recognize my former self.  Things I clung to will no longer be important.  My love for God and others will have deepened. No matter how far I’ve come, there are still new opportunities to experience change.  Paul expressed it this way:

Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ. (Phil 3:12-14, Phillips)

The reward for spiritual formation is not information or orthodoxy.  The reward of spiritual formation is an intimate experience with our Creator.  My prayer for our seminarians is to be on a lifelong spiritual quest and not merely satisfied spectators of spiritual things.

 

Spiritual Formation as Journey, Part 2

A Journey Requires a Guide

A walk in the park doesn’t require a guide. However, a trek in the wilderness, especially when you are going to a destination you have never been, requires a guide. In the Southwest, cowboys refer to the guide as the “front rider.” Guides come in many forms. On the trails in Hawaii, we came upon a grungy fellow dressed in old army fatigues, a pith helmet, and duct-taped scuba shoes, eating berries he had just picked. While we had a map, a compass, and the trail was well marked, we discovered we needed important information that he possessed, because he had traveled these trails over 300 times. This strange-looking individual saved our lives. He informed us that a storm was moving in and we did not want to get caught attempting to ford the streams in this valley. Even with a small rain, the rivers swell and it is impossible to cross the swiftly moving waters. He encouraged us to quickly leave the valley. We also learned about the fruit that he was eating and the remarkable plants we had previously failed to notice.

We all need guides for our journey, whether we are hiking across the Appalachian Mountains or maneuvering through our Christian life. Peter Lord writes,

Both at the beginning of our walk as Christians and all along the way, we need other people to help keep us on course—to fellowship with us, minister to and love us, and ease our trip. At various times in life we will need one or more spiritual directors.

Professors in theological schools report the lack of spiritual depth of entering students. While most students come to seminary with evidence of a call and a zeal for ministry, they are not spiritually prepared for the task before them. Few practice the disciplines of the Christian life. While they may have grown up in Sunday School, few incoming seminarians have received the nurturing of a discipleship group and a mentor. Theological students, especially Generation Xers, are hungry for what Peter Lord calls a spiritual director—“a tour guide, a spiritual companion, soul friend, shepherd, discipler. What is important is not the title, but the function.” At Rockbridge students are required to enlist a mentor/spiritual guide to assist them each term.  Faculty also serve as spiritual guides to provide tips and wisdoms about how to practice the spiritual disciplines.

What are the functions of a spiritual guide? Peter Lord identifies seven functions of those who choose to serve as a spiritual companion for this journey:

Developing Christ-Consciousness
Interpreting Life’s Events and Experiences
Hearing Confession/Granting God’s Forgiveness
Recognizing Danger
Encouraging
Instructing/Facilitating Change
Providing Friendship

We also discovered on our wilderness trek that each person at one time or another became a guide. At times our daughter led the group, at other times, our son. Unfortunately, there is a misconception in western evangelicalism that the pastor or a theologically-trained staff member are the only ones capable of interpreting the spiritual significance of life’s events.

What is needed in the 21st century is a new reformation that enables and empowers laity to minister alongside the clergy. Perhaps we can embrace a more Hebrew/Eastern concept that discipleship is a tribal or communal experience in which there are many mentors. I may learn to pray from an elderly woman in the church and learn to love God with all of my heart from a young adult who just a short time ago was on cocaine.

Spiritual Formation as Journey, Part 1

A few years ago, our family went backpacking on the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, Hawaii.  I was pumped at the prospect of seeing beautiful waterfalls, sunsets in the ocean, and breathtaking views from the cliffs of Na Pali Coast.  However, I did not expect that in the course of those six days on the eleven mile trail I would come to discover similarities between that experience and spiritual formation.  For 2,000 years, “the journey” has been used as a metaphor for the Christian experience.  This is a six-part series on what I learned from our trek.

Part 1:  The spiritual journey is not a solo event. Yes, there are a few who choose to backpack by themselves.  But the really breathtaking views, such as Mount Everest or the Grand Canyon, require a team.  God’s grace, while experienced personally, can never be fully grasped alone.  The Apostle Paul writes,

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all of the saints to grasp how wide, and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of the knowledge of Him.  (Eph. 3:18)

This passage always stumped me.  How can you know that which you cannot know?  How can you know the full extent of a love that is beyond comprehension?  The answer is found in the phrase, “together with all of the saints.” I began to realize the breadth of God’s love as I heard about the spilling out of His grace upon fellow pilgrims.  I cannot personally experience every conceivable act of God’s love, but the Body of Christ collectively does.  I may not have experienced God’s presence through the death of a child, or the loss of a spouse, or His calm assurance through financial difficulties, but there are those in the Body of Christ who have.  And as I hear those stories of faith, I begin to realize our God is an awesome God.

Spiritual growth is more than personal, it is communal.  God conveys Himself to each of us not only through our personal relations with Him and our practice of the spiritual disciplines, but also through other believers as we fellowship with them.[1]

On one camping trip, one of our inner-city kids was alone by a campfire.  When I sat down by Aaron, I noticed he was crying.  I had never seen Aaron cry.  He was one of the toughest kids I had ever taught, but there he was, sobbing.  I said, “What’s the matter, Aaron?”  Aaron didn’t reply with words but took a stick and raked a piece of wood from the fire and we watched the embers turn from orange to white ash.  After several minutes, Aaron said, “I’m like that piece of wood.  When I’m in the youth group, I burn bright for Jesus.  But when I’m away from the group, I’m as cold as ash.”  What a perfect picture of the Church.  We need each other in this journey.  We cannot go it alone.

In our trek along the Na Pali Coast, our family learned that each person in our family contributed to the enjoyment of the journey.  The men carried more weight than the women.  Some cooked, some fetched firewood, others filled water bottles, but all were important to the safety and survival of the group.

Theological schools are struggling to find the best way to offer spiritual formation.  While students can learn the disciplines of the Christian faith by reading books and practicing personal Bible Study, prayer, fasting, etc., Christian educators know that spiritual growth occurs best in small groups.  Across the theological landscape, spiritual formation is being revived through small group ministries.  Professors are finding that Christian formation groups, covenant groups, discipleship groups, ministry teams, or whatever you may call them, provide students with the support, encouragement, and accountability needed to grow in their intimacy with God and with His Church.  At Rockbridge, students in small classes of 9-15 engage in spiritual practices together.  They journey together.

[1] Neil T. Anderson & Robert L. Saucy, The Common Made Holy.  Eugene, Oregon:  Harvest House Publishers, 1997, p. 300.

2020 Vision

As we begin a new year, my 2020 vision for our students is threefold:

1. Students will know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. Through our curriculum, students gain a great deal of information about the Bible, theology, and practical ministry skills. We are proud of the academic accomplishments of our students. But we also believe that knowing God is more than cognition. The apostle Paul prayed that his disciples would know a love that surpasses knowledge, that his disciples would be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:19)

I pray that in 2020 our students will seek intimate relationships with the Spirit.  Henri Nouwen wrote, “For the future of Christian leadership it is of vital importance to reclaim the mystical aspect of theology so that every word spoken, every advice given, and every strategy developed can come from a heart that knows God intimately.” I pray that our students will be people with an ardent desire to sit in the presence of God and listen to his voice.

2. Students will receive grace. All of our students hold ministry positions in their churches and ministry organizations. These leaders are great at dispensing grace. They give others a break, but they are often too critical of their own shortcomings. When they get an “A,” they are disappointed they didn’t get an “A+”. They give, and give, and give, but they have a hard time receiving grace. I pray that God will provide every student with grace to receive grace from mentors, colleagues, and professors.

3. Students will persevere. Graduate school is demanding enough, but when you add the exhaustion of ministry, seminary can seem overwhelming at times. Our students will face church and family crises. They will experience health issues. Some students will experience financial challenges that will affect their continuation in school.

Difficult circumstances are the soil for growth. As James wrote, “Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.” (James 1:204 TLB)  I pray that our students will know the power of Christ’s resurrection and find strength and perseverance in his sufferings.

Would you join me in praying that this 2020 vision will be realized? One of my key verses for this year is, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Eph. 6:18)

So be it.

Joy

Do you know people who are joy challenged?  I do and one of them is me.  I’m still on step 5 of my 12-step joy program.  I grew up in the Midwest and joyous expressions were verboten.  We were taught to not draw attention to ourselves. In our tribe, Christianity required a serious demeanor.  Remember Michal who despised David dancing in front of the Ark of the Covenant? (2 Sam 6:16)  I’m convinced she was from the Midwest, probably a Baptist cousin.

So, what is joy anyway?  Joy is best defined from the Greek adjective, entheos or “having the God within.”  It means one acts as if he is “possessed by God,” “crazy excitement,” or “un-regulated religious fervor.” What a great definition for joy, “infused unregulated excitement for God.”  You just can’t control it. Full throttled joy!

The third Sunday of Advent is the week of proclamation. The heavenly message heard by the shepherds concerned “good news of great joy.”  Joy characterizes the Christmas season.  After the shepherds saw Jesus, they immediately departed to share that joy.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  So they hurried off and found Mary, Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.  (Luke 2:15-17)

Dear Father, our hearts are filled with joy because of the good news of Jesus.  Like the shepherds, help us to tell others about his amazing presence in our lives.

Please Remember Us

We are grateful for those who support Rockbridge through their prayers, recommendations of students, and their financial gifts.  Thanks for trusting us.  As we close out another year, please consider donating to our mission of developing servant leaders for Christian ministry.  You can give online at this link.

In the Flesh

You’ve heard the phrase “in the flesh.”  If a person should ask if you are so-and-so, you might reply, “in the flesh.”  “If you meet or see others in the flesh, you are physically present with them, rather than seeing them on television or reading about them in a book.  Christmas is about God showing up “in the flesh.”  In the incarnation, God took on skin and bones.  He pitched his tent among us.

Since the first Christmas, believers have struggled to grasp the significance of God becoming man.  God didn’t send us another prophet or another book to put in our collection of sacred writings, nor deliver another set of rules.  God wanted us to experience him up close and personal, in the flesh.  If that doesn’t cause you to be filled with wonder and amazement, your sense of wonder needs an adjustment.

Oh, and there is more.  The incarnation continues today.  Jesus said, “When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:20, NLT).  In other words, we are one with the Father and the Son.  God is not only with us, he is in us.  Wherever we go, we embody the love and grace of God.

As we celebrate the blessed event of Christmas, remember that God is in you.  The only Jesus others may see this season is the Jesus in you.  Demonstrate his glorious presence in every encounter.

New Term Begins January 7, 2020

It’s not too late for new students to enroll in the January term.  Please share the word with those you know who could benefit from our successful ministry leadership training.  Admissions coaches are available at admissions@rockbridge.edu.

Thank You

Thank you for the tremendous outpouring of support on #GivingTuesday.  We received over $6,000.  As we close out another year, please consider donating to our mission of developing servant leaders for Christian ministry.  Your can send your check to Rockbridge Seminary, 3111 E. Battlefield, Springfield, MO 65804, or  give online at this link.