I get a lot of questions asked such as,
"What is The Foundry?"
"Why not push students to Bible College?"
"There are a lot of ministry schools, why start another one?"
I would like to share my heart on what our program, The Foundry School of Discipleship, is all about. To do that we will have to start at the beginning.
Many of you know, my family moved to Memphis on June 1st, 2012. We had a great first school year as youth pastors, with an incredible group of seniors graduating. One such senior was wanting to leave town for school, but couldn't get into his college of choice until the second semester. In the meantime, he was struggling a bit spiritually and still unsure of the exact direction he should go in life. I had many conversations with his parents. Together, we decided to begin a program called the Timothy Project. The idea was to mentor students the way Paul did with Timothy. Our program was strictly in-house, and it's purpose was three-fold. Students who weren't ready for college spiritually, weren't sure of God's purpose for their life, or they had a call to ministry. We still strive to help students in these three areas to this day. Our statement is now, discipling you to navigate life, spiritually lead with influence and minister effectively. This student left our program at the end of December 2013, and is now working on his PhD, studying marine biology. He love's the Lord and discovered his purpose in life.
Something in my heart changed in those months. Our church's purpose is to help people navigate life and please God. I didn't quite understand how incredible it was to help young people discover this for themselves. Charles Spurgeon said, "The growth and development of other leaders is the highest calling of leadership." Our program stayed this way for several years until the end of 2017. We averaged 2-4 students each year and saw tremendous growth and success. I had a conversation with my pastor about opening this program up to students outside our church. This had nothing to do with adding students as much as it was seeing results in our program and desiring that same thing for others.
So many programs and schools ask you to see ministry as a set of six boxes and to pick one. Lead pastor, worship, kids, youth, missions or evangelism. We will help lead you in one of these directions as well, but we look at the process a bit differently.
Does ministry have to look this way?
Are students prepared to work a secular job to make ends meet?
What happens if you don't like the ministry position as much as you thought?
There are so many questions to be answered and I feel that no one is answering them. I have watched so many pastors and missionaries quit, perhaps before their time, because of stress, lack of passion, burn-out, and not the right fit. I wonder if the system could be fixed to alleviate some of this? What would it look like to marry ministry to your passion. Inspiration for this idea came to me from Adam Tvedt. We will be joining him on the mission field this coming summer on an AIM (youth missions) trip. Adam was a youth pastor and lead pastor for many years. He now is a missionary to the Dominican sharing the gospel through baseball. His family is passionate about baseball and are called to ministry. They married the two, and I believe they will see incredible results because of it.
I could share story after story of students that I have had conversations with, that feel the same way. For the sake of time I will not share all of them, but know that this idea is exciting to so many. You can do what you love for the sake of His Kingdom. Why would God give you these interests, passions, and talents if He didn't want you to use them? Why not join this together with the Gospel? This is also why we strongly encourage students to get a secular degree along with credentials. From personal experience, a Bible degree does not get you very far in the secular work field. Also, to do ministry outside the box, you may need to pay your own way. I don't want to sugar coat anything for students. We ask them to join a program rather than only studying curriculum because honest, open conversation is important to have. Asking the right questions to pull these ideas and passions out of students, is essential. You can't do this without spending time with them.
All of this costs extra, but we strive to keep our costs affordable so no student has an excuse to not pursue God's call on their life. I hope that you would pray for this program. Share it with friends and family that might have students interested in ministry. Most importantly, I pray that you will pursue the dream that God has placed in your heart. We do not know the day He will call us home, let's live each day until then, to the fullest!
To learn more about our program or how to apply, please visit thefoundrymemphis.com.
I have a 3-year old that still sleeps in bed with us.
I'll give you a moment to let that sink in! I'm sure this brings back memories for some of you. For some of you, the fun is just beginning. There will be some that judge us for this. She's our third, sometimes you just have to survive! I guess with our older two we pushed so hard to get them in their own bed and it went by so fast. Maybe we are unknowingly wanting this "baby-phase" to not end?
A typical night goes as follows. Our 3-year old falls asleep in her bed or our bed as we are getting ready for bed. We then put her in her own bed. By 3am she is back in our bed. The doctor tells us it is like giving an adult a piece of chocolate cake at 3am every morning. It trains our body to wake up each night for something delicious! I can't fault her, who doesn't like chocolate cake?! All that to say again, our 3-year old still sleeps in bed with us.
The other night this was the case. At a certain point in the night my wife woke up and took her to her own bed. When my wife got back in bed she noticed I was still at the edge of the bed as if our daughter was still with us. I even woke up that way the next morning. Sleeping, very uncomfortably I might add, as if someone was there that wasn't. The reality is that we were both free to spread out. Only my wife walked in it.
I see this a lot with followers of Christ. "He whom the Son sets free is free indeed." But do we walk in it. Do we even realize that we are no longer bound and restricted. Just as it is uncomfortable to sleep in an awkward position, it is burdensome to carry around something you don't have to carry anymore. Here are some things you can be free from today!
Free From Sin (Acts 13:38-39)
Not free to sin. Free from sin. Free from having to continue in sin.
Free to Forgive (Ephesians 4:32)
Even psychologists will tell you that forgiveness is good for you. In Christ we have the ability now to really let go.
Free to Love (Galatians 5:13-15)
To really love. To love as Christ loved. To love as Jentezen Franklin wrote in his new book, To Love Like You've Never Been Hurt.
Free From Guilt (John 3:17)
Our past no longer has to define us. We are children of God.
Free to Pray/Worship (Ephesians 3:12)
The idea is that we are so thankful to be in a country that gives us this freedom. The fact is, through the cross we were given this freedom. There isn't a country that could take it away...ask Daniel!
We could be here all day sharing about our freedoms in Christ, as we should! So often we are known more for what we can't do rather than what we can. I would encourage you to spread out and walk in your freedom that was bought at such a high price. We have it available here on earth...available today.
“The whole thing smells of the green room and the stage!”
This is a quote that hit me right between the eyes as I was reading Charles Spurgeon’s, Lectures to My Students. I think you get the idea here, but in case you don’t, let me go on.
A place required by most musicians, authors, and speakers. It is a room or space behind closed doors where they can relax and “be themselves.”
A place where the said musician, author, or speaker “performs.”
I’m not a fan of the phrase “be themselves” and “performs” in this context. Please understand that I am not trying to put everyone in a box here. I do have to ask the question though, do our lives in the “green room” look different than our lives on the “stage?”
I went to a youth leaders conference a few years back and remember the speaker saying, there were a lot of green rooms they wished they would not have been in. They would rather be unaware to what they saw and heard. My pastor has said the same thing about places he has been. If I’m honest, it confuses me and terrifies me. Why would these great people be so different in different spaces? Could I end up doing the same thing one day? Maybe we are already doing it without realizing it.
There is a children’s book that we should all be familiar with, maybe even fond of. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. A character is confronted with the petition to eat green eggs and ham. He responds:
I do not like them
In a house.
I do not like them
With a mouse.
I do not like them
Here or there.
I do not like them
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
Eventually he caves. We have all been there before. I will do it if you will finally leave me alone! (I’m going somewhere, hang with me!) He tries them and he likes them. He then responds:
So I will eat them in a box.
And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house.
And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there.
Say! I will eat them anywhere!
He didn’t try them and go on with his life. He essentially said that if they are good enough for here, then why wouldn’t they be good enough for there?! That’s an incredible question for us to consider.
Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Have you been there? You’ve tasted and seen the goodness of God?! If Jesus is good enough for Sunday and Wednesday, why isn’t He good enough for Monday and Thursday?!
Perhaps what we live is not truly the Gospel?
The gospel is good news for everyday! If He is good enough for the stage, then He should definitely be good enough for the green room. Our lives should be a sweet aroma to God. Otherwise, it just smells of the green room and the stage!
I enjoy riddles and had a few I thought I would share with you!
I have to work every day, every second, every hour, every minute, day in and day out. What am I?
My answer was a mother, which I think may be just as appropriate! And all the moms said, "Amen!"
It's a question you can ask all day long and get completely different but correct answers. What is the question?
"What time is is?!"
This question is asked in many different forms and in many different ways.
We are asked this question by our kids. "Are we there yet?!"
We are asked this question by co-workers. "Is it 5 o'clock yet?!"
We are asked this question by our spouse. "Where did all the time go?!"
We are asked this question by ourself. "Why isn't there enough time?!"
I feel the same way! Twenty-four hours in a day may not be enough time. At least not enough if you would like to get in a full 8 hours of sleep at night! Some mornings I wake up more tired than I went to bed! Time is always eluding us and if I'm not mistaken, seems to go by faster the older I get.
In Genesis 6 and 7 we see the story of Noah. He was given a tremendous task of building an ark. This wasn't a simple fishing boat. If you do research, you will find it was 510 ft in length! It was taller than a modern 4-story house and has the storage capacity of about 450 standard semi-trailers. Noah built it without our modern conveniences either. If you have a chance you should check out more information about the ark at Ark Encounter. I know that Noah lived a significantly longer time than we did, but it still took him 55-75 years to build the ark. Can you imagine working on the same project for that long?
We all agree that Noah had plenty to do before the flood. Build the ark, gather food, gather animals, put them all in there respective places on the ark. With all that was going on I love how Genesis 7 starts, "When everything was ready." God gave enough time and enough help for Noah to complete his task. He did not move a minute early. This should mean a lot to anyone who has plenty to do, because God also gives us enough time and help for us to compete our task. So then, how should we live?
1. Free of Worry
In the words of an annoying and overly played Disney song, "Let it go!" In the words of Jesus in Matthew 6, "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" He wasn't telling a riddle that had some phantom answer to it. The answer is and will forever be, "No."
2. Work Diligently
Pray like it is up to God, but work like it is up to you! Let's do our part, as Noah did. Don't be scared to take a time-management class. Be honest with yourself and your weak spots. I say it often because it's true, "we are capable of more than we think we are."
3. Be more God-focused and People-focused than you are Time-focused
We serve a God who can make the sun stand still for a task to get completed. Put your focus where it needs to be. Let's make sure that we are about His business, making disciples and loving people.