We’re committed to investing in the gospel’s advance by investing in men who aspire to serve as vocational preachers and pastors. Remember Paul’s words to Timothy: “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Tim. 2:2). That’s our biblical strategy for finding and appointing elders here at Heritage, and for propagating the gospel beyond our walls.
With this in mind, meet our fall intern, Jim Knauss. Jim’s internship actually began in the summer but just finished up. Over these months, Jim was busy reading, writing, joining us for elders meetings, and spending time with our pastoral team. You can read about the shape of the internship here.
Our purpose in this internship is to see churches led by pastors who faithfully connect the Bible’s theology of the church to the church’s worship, life, and mission. In other words, to see churches flourish in the gospel and gospel work. Pray that Jim would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead.
To begin, introduce yourself to us: tell us about your family, how the Lord led you to himself in salvation.
My name is Jim Knauss and I married Hannah a little over 14 years ago after graduating college. We have two sons: James (9) and Asher (4). After 13 years of active duty in the Air Force, Hannah and I decided to separate from the Air Force and move back to the south. We chose Greenville because it was close to both our families and, both being Clemson graduates, was close to our beloved Tigers. I am currently serving in the Air Force Reserves and piloting 757s and 767s for FedEx Express.
The Lord saved me at 13 years old when, for the first time in my life, I heard a preacher talk about repentance in our gospel response. Sadly, up to that point, I had believed all that was required for salvation was to believe in Jesus and pray a prayer. His proclamation was different. He told of the truth that if we are truly saved, we will bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Listening to him, I realized that my life did not contain this evangelical grace and there was no fruit of repentance in my life. With this preacher’s message, the Lord convicted me that I had not truly forsaken my sin and followed him. For the first time in my life, I repented of my sin and committed to following the Lord Jesus. Or, to put it differently, the Lord brought me to true and saving faith in Christ.
You’ve been with us for a little over a year and are a new member. How did the Lord lead you to find and join Heritage. Encourage our church with what you saw and have experienced here.
Church membership is something Hannah and I have always taken very seriously. In the Air Force, we had a lot of practice in what joining a church entails. Visiting, fellowshipping, and conversing with people from each congregation could become somewhat of an arduous process. Then there were elder interviews and introductions every 1.5-2 years. For most of our career, we had been stationed out west. In that context, sadly, there were normally only a handful of gospel-centered churches within a 20-minute drive. In Greenville, we ran into the opposite (but good!) problem. What gravitated us towards Heritage was the commitment to the gospel in the liturgy, the intentionality of teaching the gospel to our children, and the fellowship/warmth we experienced amongst those in the congregation. We are so grateful for the families that invested in us during our church search process and look forward to worshipping and serving alongside you for as long as the Lord will allow!
What excited you the most about serving as an intern with us?
Hannah always pokes fun at me because I continue to seek ways to educate myself further at all times. Every year we’ve been married, I’ve either been in an Air Force formal training course or enrolled in an educational degree program. She always asks when I’m going to take a break and I say, “when I’ve learned everything there is to know!” What excited me about this internship was the opportunity to learn under godly men who have been vocationally serving Christ’s church for essentially their entire adult lives. I knew seminary couldn’t teach me everything and I was thrilled for the opportunity to fill in the gaps between a seminary education and real-world practice.
You had to make some special arrangements with work for this internship to work. Hearing about those will be a nice way to learn about your vocational background.
When I separated from the Air Force, the Lord graciously provided the opportunity to fly for FedEx Express. This job gives me upward of 18 days or so a month where I am just at home investing in and discipling my wife and children. The trade-off is I’m usually on the road 8-12 days per month. With the participation requirements of the internship, that would not have met the intent for any prospective intern. Fortunately, there was an Air Force project that my superior officers needed help with and asked if I would commit to 2+ months of military orders working on the project from my house. This was a way I could financially support my family and complete the requirements of the internship. God once again in his gracious providence led me to a sweet time in my life where I could serve my country, invest in my pastoral ministry studies, and spend a large, uninterrupted time at home with my family.
You just finished your internship. You read and wrote essays on twelve books. What’s been the most insightful book you read and why?
My answer to this question would always be, “the last one I just read!” However, looking back on the internship, the most insightful book I read was Jonathan Leeman’s book entitled Church Membership. Having just gone through the membership process at Heritage, I was encouraged to see how our church takes a biblical approach in bringing new members into the congregation. The main illustration of the book compares the church to an embassy in a foreign land. We are citizens of a different kingdom gathered together under our “flag” that represents the whole group of people under Christ’s lordship who will gather at the end of history. Seeing the church member in this light was edifying and encouraging.
You joined us for elders’ meetings over a span of three months. Encourage our church with what you learned and observed in those meetings.
The elder meetings were far and away the most fruitful portion of the internship. I was amazed at the men who have been appointed to shepherd and lead our church. There are several reasons for this but the first is these men take their job of shepherding very seriously. A significant amount of time in each elder meeting is devoted to praying for members of the church by name. Be encouraged that if you asked your elder to pray for you, I am an eyewitness that it is happening in faithful adherence to the word of God. Second, the elders spend a large portion of the meeting teaching one another and expositing the Word of God. One of the elder requirements from Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus is being “able to teach.” I was encouraged to see firsthand that these men are practicing this teaching requirement and sharpening each other with faithful exposition and critical discussion of God’s word. Finally, leading always involves tough situations in which there is never a lack of different views and opinions. I watched our elders embrace each other with kindness and grace as they debated difficult situations, each submitting to the other with biblical wisdom and compassion. I am thankful to our providential and sovereign God that he led Hannah and me to a church where the elders are proactive in their submission to the word of God.
What are your desires vocationally for the future and how can we pray for you?
In the near future, I plan on continuing to enjoy my time with my wife and children as I pour into our church wherever I am called by the elders and led by our God. I enjoy flying airplanes and serving in the armed forces. Nothing short-term will change there. Perhaps someday, if the Lord wills, I will transition into an Air Force Reserve Chaplain billet. I have made some inquiries with the Air Force concerning that path, but for now there seem to be some logistical hurdles in making that happen near-term.
As for prayer, I would ask for wisdom, perseverance, endurance, and strength as Hannah and I raise our two boys. Parenting continues to be the most difficult thing Hannah and I have ever done. . .and with an active-duty career in the rear-view mirror, that’s saying a lot. My prayer is we would have patience and navigate the waters of raising our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Pray for Hannah during the short, but difficult, durations that we are apart. Thank you for your prayers, and once again, we are grateful to be a part of an intentionally prayerful congregation.
Finally, got any favorite teams or hobbies or special skills we should know about?
I enjoy any hobby I get to do with my family. I like running and fishing with my sons and getting to go on lunch dates with Hannah on Tuesdays and Thursday when the boys are at school. We chose a Classical-Christian, University Model school for our sons and I love the days I get to teach math and science at home. I get pretty fanatical about any sport Clemson and the current World-Champion Atlanta Braves. Most recently, I’ve started teaching AP Calculus (and sometimes Greek) at my sons’ school on my “days off”. My passion is teaching, whether in a cockpit, pulpit, classroom, or dining room. I am thankful for the things the Lord has blessed me with, and I look forward to this latest chapter in the life of our family.