Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service. — Os Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (Nashville, TN: Word, 1998), p. 4.
As I drove from South Central PA to Boston, MA, and the next day sat in my first day of a Doctor of Ministry program (DMin) in Ministry to Emerging Generations at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a number of thoughts of how I arrived at this place at this time in my life journey played through my head. The call of academic knowledge first began to draw me in when I was only in middle school. As a first year at Grove City College I was keenly mentored by several faculty who took an interest in my spiritual direction. Upon graduation I wrestled with whether to pursue graduate studies, but opted instead to dive into ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Ministering alongside undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) led me to pursue a Masters in Higher Education at Geneva College and few years later a Masters in Spiritual Formation at Evangelical Theological Seminary. This training assisted me to more fully engage higher education as a mission, touching students and faculty from across the globe with the call of the Gospel.
With this passion, I grew in responsibilities with InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network (ESN), becoming the Associate Director in summer 2012. Through the providence of God evidenced by significant relationships and situations, this fall I investigated and applied for Gordon-Conwell’s Ministry to Emerging Generations (DMin). By God’s grace and the encouragement of family and colleagues, in January I took the bold step of entering the program.
In class for two weeks with my cohort, we discussed a plethora of topics, which I continued to mull over on my drive home. As in all things, I desire to love God with head, heart, and hands and to love my neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). This leads me to seek to apply what I learn in class in ministry, in my family, in my community, in the very creation as I pursue God’s call as part of the people of God.
It is with great enthusiasm that I explore with you what I am learning. I consider the ESN community a collaborative learning community and desire to share my experience and to engage with your insights as I continue in the program. The two topics on which I plan to focus are:
- The challenges of spiritual formation as families wrestle with extended adolescence and the juvenilization of culture, and
- A Theology of Vocation in the context of higher education.
The first will be developed into a fall adult elective at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (the local assembly of which my family is a part) and serve as the thesis to complete the Masters in Spiritual Formation that I am finishing at Evangelical Theological Seminary as I start the DMin program. The second topic will be the focus of my Doctor of Ministry thesis and a new Fall 2015 project for the ESN blog. I look forward to your insights and feedback on these explorations.
In order to set the stage for these endeavors, my next post will explore the Big Picture of Creation-Fall-Redemption that undergirds my academic work. In the mean time, I encourage you to give some thought to how you define/navigate childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and vocation. If you have particular insights and/or resources to share, please share below. Thank-you.
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!
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