I’ve been through College as a Bible major (1968) and then finished seminary (1972), but I’ve never really been “the pastor” quite the way many have been. My transition wasn’t black and white – going from traditional pastor to simple church. It was more gradual as the Lord brought people and books into my life as the years passed. I hope the abbreviated highlights of my journey will encourage you!
I was not raised in a Christian home. The Lord called me out of darkness in 1964 and my first church experience was in a Fundamentalist Baptist church in southern California. I was encouraged by the pastor to transfer from Cal State at Northridge as an Art major and become a “preacher boy” at Bob Jones University.
While a student at BJU I found a copy of Alexander Hays’ New Testament Order for Church & Missionary (1947) in a used book store. I read it and it was hard for me to connect the dots to all the points the author made, but I learned some basic perspectives from that book that the Lord used to restrain me from going whole hog “into the ministry.”
In 1968 I married Dotty, and after completing studies at Covenant College, we moved to Philadelphia. Our goal then was for me to attend one year at Westminster Seminary, and then leave to spend the rest of our lives in missionary work in India. Our visa was turned down, so I ended up continuing at WTS.
We attended a church that was part of a small denomination while I went to seminary. The pastor felt called elsewhere and a group of us decided to leave this church and start a new one. In the new body we were not interested in having a pastor, so for the time being we formed a steering committee of three brothers. However, we ended up bringing in an older man who had “pastoral” experience to join the steering committee. He ended up wanting to be “the pastor,” and the church split, half staying with him, and half mostly moving on to another church.
When Dotty became pregnant, I worked full-time (third shift) at Standard Pressed Technology from 1969 – 1975 in several departments while a student at seminary.