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.