Thank you for taking the time to get to know me better. I've created this page to introduce myself and my family, and to give you a better sense of the things that have shaped my philosophy of ministry.
I hope it is helpful for you as you consider the Lord's direction for your church.
Grace and Peace, .
I was blessed to be raised by godly parents who faithfully serve the Lord in vocational ministry. By the time I moved out of the house, my dad had served in churches in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Hawaii, Ohio, and Alabama, with congregations ranging from less than 50 to more than 3,000. Though I wasn't always thankful for it at the time, the variety of experiences I had in and around the church prepared me for ministry in profound ways:
- I have seen the good and bad of church life — I have witnessed God's mighty power to save the lost through churches of all sizes and in all locations. I am convinced that every church can have an incredible impact on its city and the world. On the other hand, I know that churches are not perfect. I am confident that when imperfect people trust a perfect God, He can use them for His glory.
- I have a deep love for the church's people — My experience growing up in the church allowed me to have significant spiritual relationships with all sorts of men and women. My memories are filled with choir members, Sunday school teachers, youth workers, and friendly deacons. I know churches are filled with saints like these, and I consider it the greatest privilege to serve them in the way I was served.
My Wife and Kids
My wife and I began dating while we were juniors in high school, before I had even considered that God might be calling me to ministry. While she never signed up to be a pastor's wife, she has happily become a true partner in ministry to me. She is my best friend and the first person I ask to pray for me. Her love for Jesus inspires me, and the kindness she shows to everyone she meets spurs me to be more loving and open.
In 2014 we were blessed with our first child, Knox Shepherd. He is the typical boy, fascinated by every kind of truck and a bundle of energy. Two years later, God gave us our Mari Jo, the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen.
Over the past 6 years God has used the experience of being a husband and father to teach me the importance of a Christ-centered home. In my most recent ministry assignment, I have made it my goal to equip parents to develop their children to be disciples of Jesus through consistent Bible reading, prayer, and worship at church and at home. I will bring this emphasis to any church I am blessed to serve by pursuing strong children and student ministries and equipping parents to fulfill their responsibility to "bring [their children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).
My ministry philosophy begins with a recognition of the unique role the church plays in the world. She possesses privileges, responsibilities, and power that no other group or organization can claim. The church is the family of God, the company of the redeemed, who carry the gospel to the lost and exist to praise Jesus Christ. I believe a church is at its healthiest when it structures its organization, orders its worship, and fulfills its mission in accordance with the instructions and methods laid down by God in Scripture.
The Role of a Pastor
I recognize that there are many competing visions of pastoral ministry expressing valuable insights on what it means to be a shepherd. When I look to Scripture (particularly 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus), I see the role of pastor as a mix of these responsibilities:
- Caring for the Sheep — I believe that all of pastoral ministry is shepherding ministry. It is day-in and day-out care and concern for people. I believe I am called to lovingly encourage, counsel, and correct the people God has called me to serve, and to be encouraged, counseled, and corrected by them as we pursue faithfulness together.
- Preaching the Scriptures — I believe that care and concern for the sheep is often expressed through careful and practical preaching of the Scriptures. Furthermore, I believe that Jesus leads His church through the faithful ministry of the Word. Therefore, I believe I am called to be a student of the Word and to explain and exhort from it. You can read some of my thoughts on preaching here or listen to examples of my preaching.
- Leading as a Servant — I believe the leadership of a shepherd is never coercive or domineering, but is characterized by the sacrificial servant leadership modeled by the Good Shepherd (John 10:11–13). I believe I am called to lead God's people by sacrificially serving them.
- Equipping the Saints — I believe a pastor should recognize his calling to "equip the saints for work of ministry, to the building up of the body" (Ephesians 4:12). Pastors should equip and release church members to use their God-given talents and gifts to serve one another. I believe I am called to equip God's people to serve Him with their whole hearts.
- Reaching the City — I believe a pastor is called to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). This includes both public evangelism through the regular preaching of the Word, as well as living a lifestyle of personal evangelism to the community he is called to. I believe I am called to share the gospel of Jesus with the people I meet.
Small Town, USA
I became burdened for churches in small towns during seminary. While many of my classmates were looking to ministry in bigger cities, I began thinking about the immense opportunity for reaching small communities with the gospel of Jesus. The everyday people of "Small Town, USA" are valuable in God's eyes, and I have committed myself to a vision of pastoral ministry that recognizes the importance of the normal and ordinary and believes "that the great truths of salvation are workable in the 'ordinary universe.'"
While circumstances do not always allow extended pastorates, I do believe the normal practice of pastors should be to commit themselves to a people and community, and stick with them through thick and thin. This long-term pastor-church relationship allows for mutual love and respect to grow, and the stability enables the church to focus on faithfully ministering in its community. My desire is to pursue this stable tenure by committing myself to a ministry that measures success, not in weeks or months, but in years and decades. It's been said that we often overestimate what we can accomplish in 1 year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in 10. With God's help, I hope to pursue an extended ministry among His people that looks to what He can accomplish through us.
Suggested Sermons and Teaching
Once again, I want to thank you for visiting this page. I know that our great God is leading you to the man He is preparing to be your pastor. If I'm not that man and we never speak, know that I have prayed for your church's pastor search and for your continued witness to the grace and glory of Jesus Christ in your community.