Ministry Inside.135

mansion-old-523x220 (1)In January of this year (2014), I began working as Vice President of Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tn. This was quite a change after 36 years of congregational ministry. For most of those years I worked with churches in Florence, Ala., Kansas City, Mo., and most recently in Waco, Tx. The change in ministry has been both invigorating and exhausting.  Transition is difficult no matter how good the transition is.  However, it can also be a time of renewed energy. You might be interested in the following: After all these years, why did you transition from congregational ministry to serving in this school?  I received the invitation to serve in this role at Harding School of Theology.  What excited me most about this opportunity was the possibility of making a real difference in churches as well as cities/towns where graduates would serve.  Men and women who study at HST can really make a significant kingdom difference regardless of their vocation.  These people are not at HST for academic study alone but are also being shaped and formed as Christ-followers.  What exactly do you do? I work with a group of wonderful people, most of whom have served on that campus for many years. I oversee advancement, admissions, finances, and the day to day operation of the school.  I am also the formal link between Harding University in Searcy, Ark. and Harding School of Theology.  At the same time, I am able to spend time with students and faculty.  In Spring 2015, I will be co-teaching a preaching class.  I continue to teach and preach by invitation at various congregations.  So as you can see my work has a lot of variety. What has been most difficult in the transition? Perhaps what has been most difficult is establishing a rhythm of life.  Before moving to Memphis, I served in the Waco, Tx. community for 20 years.  I served with Crestview Church of Christ.  I preached each week and so had some rhythms built in due to that particular kind of ministry.  The first three or four months in Memphis, I really felt like I wasn’t myself.  I didn’t feel “settled.”  I later realized that I needed to incorporate some of the same habits/disciplines that made me feel most alive when I was preaching each week. What do you miss most?  I miss our friends.  I miss a church that loved me for so many years.  I often miss preaching to people who I know.  Of course, I also miss Tex-Mex, BBQ beef (though I really love pork now) and the familiarity of so many people and places. At the same time, it has been very energizing to experience a new kind of ministry at this point in life.  I am grateful for the people with whom I work and the many, many people who have been so helpful in the transition. What concerns do you have at this point? More than anything, I ask people to pray for us.  Pray for the new students who begin their work this fall.  Pray that God will send more students.  Pray for funding.  This is a wonderful place to invest your dollars in order to make a kingdom difference.  Finally, please pray that those of us who serve in this school will model before these students what it means to follow Jesus.

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4 thoughts on “Ministry Inside.135

  1. Dear Jim,

    Thank you for sharing this.
    Now it is more clear to me why you made that move and I see God’s hand in it.

    Also, thank you for your postings as they encourage and challenge my day to day walk with the Lord.

    In Christ,
    d@mir

  2. Jim,
    All of us at HST are so glad you made the decision to transition to Memphis. You have already been a great blessing to our work of developing Christlike ministers and church leaders.