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Meet Our Spring Intern: Timothy Martin

Meet Our Spring Intern: Timothy Martin

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 spring intern, Timothy Martin. Timothy is involved in a good bit of reading and writing, he’s joining our elders meetings, and he and I are meeting weekly over twelve weeks to discuss what he’s learning. 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 Timothy would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead.

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Before we get to know you a bit, tell us what excited you the most about serving as an intern this spring?

I’ve read a handful of books on what are commonly called “means of grace.” The “means” on the lists that puzzled for the longest time was when authors would mention “fellowship.” I had thought: “I talk and think out loud with fellow believers all the time and I don’t necessarily feel like it has contributed all that much to my growth. Is socializing something God really uses to mature Christians into Christlikeness?” Then I began to get a taste for it at my local church. Likeminded conversations with a single focus: on our Savior and His Word. I knew this internship—which is mostly about watching and listening—would allow me to be the fly on the wall for countless hours of fellowship with good and godly men. Men I could model myself after in every aspect of life. There’s an adage that no one man can ever supplement the work of your father, but the fellowship of many men can. Speaking of the church in Corinth, Paul bemoaned that while there were many teachers there were few fathers. I’m not Paul (I’m Timothy!) but I feel like the same cannot be said of Heritage Bible Church. I have many fathers in the faith here and spending more time with them and “catching” a bit of the grace that God has bestowed upon them has been my favorite part of the internship.

Now, let’s go to the beginning, your new beginning. How did the Lord save you?

That’s an exciting one. Because I’ve learned to view the “ordinary” and “normal” and “boring” process of growing up in a Christian home to be an incredibly exciting blessing. I grew up as a missionary kid. My parents had just concluded 15+ years in the country of Haiti. I was born right before they moved to Ireland. They were directly involved in two different church planting works while I was there. I can never think of a time where I wasn’t aware that there was a God or knew the vocabulary of the gospel as a consequence of that. There are very few Bible stories that I can recall hearing “for the first time” because on any given day of the week my parents were 1) holding family devotions, 2) using the Scripture to share the gospel with a stranger or neighbor, or 3) preaching and teaching in church. What took me a while was to see how this vocabulary of the gospel applied personally to me. I distinctly remember a time when I took the Lord’s name in vain and felt the crushing weight of the law. I didn’t know how to resolve it. I had this sin and this condemnation. And this condemnation had my name on it. Now, at the exact same time, I wanted to be a policeman. A few weeks later when we were on furlough in Florida, a police chaplain was speaking at one of our supporting churches. You better believe I was all ears. He used the judicial system as a metaphor for our condemnation before God and explained the gospel of grace in a way that made perfect sense to me. The Spirit stirred. I was drawn and given new life. I responded in faith.

Now I’m not even sure if I was four at this time. I was definitely younger than five. And this caused a lot of adults to whom I jabbered my testimony to doubt the validity of my faith. So, doubt set in. The church culture that I grew up in put a lot of emphasis on the choice of words and how much you “truly” meant it. And I didn’t really understand if God really accepted me. It got to the point where the doubt and anxiety was all consuming. I prayed for God to save me hundreds of times a day. Assurance came and went. At twelve years old I heard Dr. Steve Pettit—at the time a traveling evangelist—at our local church. He commanded the attention of any young people in the audience who struggled with assurance. He explained how faith was not a work. The work was done on the cross. It was in fact the work of Jesus that accomplished and secured salvation for me and no effort of my own. My salvation had been desired by God in eternity past and purchased at the cross. Faith was the response; God did the work. From that moment forth I felt liberated with confidence before God.

You’re a college student. You’re a member. You’ve made home at Heritage. Encourage our church with the story of how you came here and got involved. We want to be a church that welcomes college students and gives them a taste of heaven on earth, just what church should be.

Coming to Greenville was very disorienting when it came to church life. I knew that I wanted to have full membership in a church here because I would be here nine months out of the year at the minimum. A bunch of cogs all started moving at once to get me to Heritage. I visited the college group a few times my freshman year but had intentions to join another church at the time and eventually stopped attending. That situation didn’t work out. I came to know the Fraley family and they invited me to visit with them. They extended sincere friendship and hospitality to me, and it stuck with me after I left for the summer to work in Philadelphia. I emailed Dan Cruver to inquire more about the church and started attending in the Fall of 2019. Nicole Steinmetz (a fellow college student at the time) handed me the membership packet and told me to look through it and see if I was on the same page with Heritage. If I was, I should consider joining. Jared Jenkins (now a member of Heritage and a previous intern) challenged me to do the same thing. I was thrilled reading the Heritage Confession of Faith to see clear gospel centrality and the presence of Scripture on every page. The Confession was a breath of fresh air. It became clear to me that Heritage lived up the “Bible” in Bible Church. They wanted to be ambassadors of Scripture and not fill a particular niche or artificially uphold a certain church culture. I quickly became friends with Craig Olsen, the Deangs, Caleb Greene, Steve Hall, and a number of others. Long story short: Word-centered doctrinal standards got me in the door and warm fellowship kept me in the church.

And there have been so many good things since. The rhythm of weekly expository preaching has enriched my life deeply. A church atmosphere that is friendly to both purity of doctrine and expression of emotion has also deepened my love for the church. My teenage cynicism died at Heritage and a love for the church was born there. That love has also matured into loving the church back as best as I can. I have since taught in an adult elective class, worked as a sponsor in SIGMA for the past two years, babysat for members in the church, been a part of the preaching cohort, and irregularly filled in for Dan Cruver for the college class. Most recently I am interning. I’d love to continue deepening this fellowship with the church for years to come.

Now, what is the most influential book on your life and what has been the most influential sermon on your life? Tell us a little about both.

I hate choosing favorites so I’m going to cheat on both of these.

I want to give passing reference to Desiring God and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper because those are the two books that kept me in the Word and on the right path during a time of deep depression and confusion in high school. But the most influential book by far has been Roger Scruton’s The Soul of the World. My deepest questions have always been existential and philosophical in nature. I listened to this book soon after its release. I bicycled miles and walked many more miles listening to the audiobook in early high school. Scruton argues very persuasively for how our sacred communion with God is the fountain from which all other things which are true, good, and beautiful derive their meaning. Nothing else can satisfy. Nothing else can create civilizations that last. Either God is at the center or both individual and communal life devolves into meaninglessness. It was this philosophical treatise that “primed the pump” and allowed me to enjoy the deep devotional writings of Piper.

My friend Armen Thomassian is the pastor of Faith Free Presbyterian Church here in Greenville. I try to drop by and visit him a few times a year when I don’t have any evening obligations at Heritage. A sermon he preached entitled “Christ is All-Together Lovely” lit a flame in my imagination that hasn’t died since. I already knew all the ways that Jesus spoke truth. And I already knew all the ways that Jesus was good. But it helped me to see Jesus as beautiful in Who He is and all He does. That sermon changed the way I think and changed the way I feel. A sermon that changed the way I acted was our very own Dan Cruver’s exposition of Hebrews 4:14-16. It helped me figure out a theology of confession and how to ‘deal with’ sins that were already forgiven on the cross but are committed after salvation. Take them to the throne of grace! We have confident access to Jesus.

You’re in the middle of reading twelve books over this internship. What’s been the most insightful book so far and why?

What is the Mission of the Church? by Greg Gilbert and Kevin DeYoung. Why? Because it’s a homerun on every front. Tremendously clear and thorough exegetical work that proves in scenario after scenario how the church doesn’t need a savior complex but instead should spend its resources proclaiming the message of the Savior.

You’ve been in our elders meetings for a few weeks now. What have you observed and learned so far?

Biggest lesson? What an incredible elder team we have. Each personality and each life experience is knit together through prayer and love for the Word. I’ve had the unique blessing of sitting in on three doctrinal examinations for elder candidates. It was really fun to watch the entire room come together to lovingly challenge the candidates and keep them on their toes while also demonstrating great care and love for them. I’ve also learned that having a system for due process and Robert’s Rules of Order are useful for keeping everyone on the same page.

The laughter is loud, serious matters are handled with absolute delicacy and care, and the prayers are sincere. These men really care for and love every member of the church.

What are your desires vocationally for the future and how can we pray for you?

My long term goal (for the time being) is inner-city/urban church planting and pastoral training. I would love to do this either state side or internationally. Mark Vowels sold me on the importance of self-reproducing churches years ago and it has never left me since. So, long-term, I want to put my hand to the plough at helping work to establish churches that plant churches. My dream would be to spend twelve to fifteen years of my life in one such church in America, twelve to fifteen in Europe, and twelve to fifteen in the Middle East. Pray that God would continue to create in me the character and integrity required to serve as an elder in his church. Pray that God would give me the boldness to live out what I learn and that none of the Word’s indicatives would grow dull to me and that none of the Word’s imperatives would go unobeyed. As a vocation of equal importance, I also would really love to be a husband and father one day! I would love have children of my own and also participate in adoption or foster-to-adopt programs. So, pray that God provides a wife for me and that he would kindly grant me that particular wish of mine.

Finally, got any favorite teams or hobbies or special skills we should know about?

I’ve been a loyal F.C. Milan fan for years and years and I am really sad that I miss most of their games at college. I have a forlorn love for Detroit sports.

I’m a soft-sciences/humanities guy through and through. I love linguistics, cartography (I like maps way too much), vexillology (I like flags way too much), literature, sociology, economics philosophy, poetry, and history. I’m the weird dude that finds reading Systematic Theology books and commentaries from cover-to-cover to be compelling reads. I hold a blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do and would like to get back into it after I graduate. Mountain biking and road biking were my two main outlets for exercise in high school.

Welcome Keith and Kristyn Getty, Deep Songwriters for Deep Churches

Welcome Keith and Kristyn Getty, Deep Songwriters for Deep Churches

Deep. Happy. Faithful.

Those are three words that come to mind when I think about Keith and Kristyn Getty. 

I remember where I was when I first heard, “In Christ Alone.” This song takes the deepest truths to the deepest places. There’s something about the combination of text and tune that struck me. Keith and Kristyn are students of song writing. They try their hand at hundreds of melodies before committing an album of a dozen songs. Not me. I was just a Christian with a spiritual longing for Christ’s riches. I was also a youth pastor in St. Louis who was curating the best of old and new songs I could find for our youth group. That required some finesse back in 2003, pulling songs from albums recorded by collegiate song writers, such as Indelible Grace, and updating older hymns slightly since we weren’t piano led.

I wouldn’t have put it this way at the time, but we needed some people who were alive to write some new old songs—deep songs that would stand up for generations. We also needed some song writers who would devote their craft for the church’s singing. Americans mostly listen to music and that had become what we were doing in church. The American church also had an unhappy Hatfield-McCoy problem with “traditional” and “contemporary” music, poisoning some against guitars and drums and others against the piano and strings. The beauty of sung truth was getting lost in all that noise.

Then I went to a recital for one of my students at a neighboring church. Two teenage girls sang solos. One young lady sang a sensual rendition of a Top-40 praise song. It was weird but I think that’s just what she knew to do. Then a twelve year old middle schooler approached the stage. She was unassuming and simple. The piano started in and she sang “In Christ alone, my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song.” This song was old and new, deep and accessible, solid and sweet. I chased down the authors on the recital order. They were indeed alive. The rest is history. Today at Heritage we sing some twenty-five of songs written by this couple, songs for every part of our service that magnify every facet of Christ’s work.

Keith and Kristyn are happy. How else could they so comfortably barge into our feeds with Family Hymn Sings from their living room during the pandemic each week? By God’s grace, they are also faithful to Christ and to his church. Their goal is not a musical career, or notoriety, or institution building. Their goal is to see the church sing her faith. It’s as if the American church needed a couple from Ireland–a singing people—to come help us sing. Singing is trending again, as it has from creation and as it will in the new creation. Churches have also warmed up on the role of music. As it turns out, when we prioritize the congregation’s voice, questions of genre and instrumentation become more fun and fruitful. There are lots of reasons for this, but one reason is the gift of new songs that work in different settings and which prioritize the congregation’s voice. The Gettys have helped us here.

We welcomed the Gettys to Heritage in 2018. The photo above is from the concert that ended a day of investment in area pastors and even our children.

They’ve got a beautiful new album of old songs and new in an artful mingling of Irish folk and American bluegrass. These songs tell our story and the music tells theirs. It’s called, Confessio. They’re with us tonight as part of their St. Patrick’s Tour for this album. Just like old times, we’ll sing “In Christ Alone.”

Join us in welcoming Keith and Kristyn Getty and their faithful team of musicians to Heritage.

Trent, for the elders

Welcome Three Faithful Brothers: David Mathis, Andy Naselli, Joe Rigney

Welcome Three Faithful Brothers: David Mathis, Andy Naselli, Joe Rigney

This past Sunday we closed up our series through 1 Peter with a sermon on Peter’s closing greeting. It could not have come at a better time. Here was our passage:

By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. —1 Peter 5:12–14

Peter commends Silvanus, a partner who will likely deliver the letter. He connects churches with one another. He affirms one brother whom he has been discipling. In all this he is setting an example for us of the kind of warm and wide-hearted love that should mark the church in exile.

In the coming weeks we have an opportunity to work out this spirit as a church by welcoming several “faithful brothers.” I’m eager for you to meet them and to greet them in Christ.

So, let me make some introductions for us. I’ll make these remarks personal where I can, taking my cue from Peter who commended Silvanus to his own readers. I also asked each of these brothers for recommendations of things the other brothers have written lately, since they are all friends.

Receive David Mathis, a Man of Faithful Words

I don’t know where our relationship began exactly, but we really hit it off once I wrote an article for Desiring God on marijuana. Just like every good friendship. In return, David heard of our executive pastor search and pointed us to Jason Read, his brother-in-law. We are ever-grateful! David is the speaker for this year’s men’s retreat, from February 18–19. He grew up in the Upstate, he’s a graduate of Furman, and his parents live in Spartanburg. He’s also a husband and a father of four.

David is a man of words.

David is executive editor for desiringGod.org, a ministry that we’ve been helped by over the years in many ways. Desiring God is a ministry that grew out of John Piper’s preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. I remember coming into Pastor John’s book, Desiring God, as a college student. I remember that memorable line, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” And I remember the internet in its earlier days when Desiring God was a little site that had Piper’s sermons available for free, a novel idea back then. And an idea made possible by generous donors who believed in its spreading mission. I remember when the iPod was released. Among my aspiring pastor friends, that device might well have been called an iPiper. It carried all those sermons and lectures we devoured. In any case, there’s a lot to thank the Lord for here. Read up on the history of this ministry and note the tie to Greenville. David is a steward of the mission of this ministry. Pray for his editorial clarity and courage.

David is also a writer. One book we’ve recommended for years around here is, Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines. But more than an editor and writer of words, David is a preacher, a local church pastor at Cities Church, in St. Paul, MN. So much of his writing flows from the loves and labor of any pastor. You’ll sense that in some of his recent writing:

Read more from David, pick up some of his books, and follow him on Twitter.

Greet Andy Naselli, a Faithful Guardian

Andy Naselli will preach both Sundays, February 20 and 27, to bookend GO Week on this year’s theme, Spreading a Passion for God’s Glory. When we learned that he was in the region on sabbatical to write a book, we extended this invitation.

Andy Naselli is a long-time friend of our church. When he worked as research assistant to D.A. Carson, Andy was responsible for editing the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible, which he could do from anywhere. So, Andy and his family moved to the Upstate, where his wife, Jenni, is from. They were members for years at one of our church plants, Grace Bible Church, in Moore. You may know him as a co-author of that helpful book we point you to, Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ.

On a personal note, Andy and I have been friends since we shared a burger in Louisville back in 2011. Five years later Heritage reached out to Andy for contacts in our search for a preaching pastor. In a momentary lapse of judgment, Andy thought of me and put us in touch. Blame him. 

Andy is a guardian.

Pastors are called to instruct in and defend sound doctrine (Tit. 1:9). Andy is a busy instructor. He is associate professor of systematic theology and New Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary and one of the pastors at Bethlehem Baptist Church. He’s got a whole bunch of PhDs, including one from Bob Jones University here in town. If you’re the kind who teaches the Bible here at Heritage, pick up a copy of, 40 Questions about Biblical Theology. If you’re a kid, you should get your parents to buy you a copy of a book Andy wrote with another brother connected to Heritage, Champ Thornton, The Serpent Slayer and the Scroll of Riddles: The Kambur Chronicles.

Or, for all of us, read these articles on eternal things:

He is an instructor in the faith but also a defender of the faith. One of Andy’s unique contributions is his ability to discern precisely where and how Christ’s bride is vulnerable to doctrinal subversion. For example, his book, No Quick Fix: Where Higher Life Theology Came From, What It Is, and Why It’s Harmful. Or his book review, “Does Anyone Need to Recover from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood?.” Or this article for all of us: “Seven Reasons You Should Not Indulge in Pornography.” Andy has been of helpful counsel to our pastoral team concerning some of the doctrinal challenges in our day.

Read more from Andy, pick up some of his books, and follow him on Twitter.

Welcome Joe Rigney, a Faithful Shepherd of Shepherds

Joe Rigney will preach for us on Sunday, March 6. When Andy learned that Joe would be in the area on a family vacation, he put us in touch and we invited him to preach. One faithful brother commends another. That’s how it often happens.

I first came to know of Joe Rigney through his writing on the goodness of creation and how exactly we’re supposed to go about enjoying it. For example, The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts. For a good place to start, try his more recent and shorter volume, Strangely Bright: Can You Love God and Enjoy His World?. Related to our enjoyment of God’s gifts, he recently published, More Than a Battle: How to Experience Victory, Freedom, and Healing from Lust.

Joe also helps the church benefit from the life and writings of C.S. Lewis with, Lewis on the Christian Life: Becoming Truly Human in the Presence of God, and, Live Like A Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles. There’s a lot we could learn from Lewis when it comes to persuasion. Joe helps us out here with his piece, “The Cracks in Our Debates: Lessons from Lewis on Disagreement.” Narnia fans, check out his seven interactive talks on The Chronicles of Narnia.

Joe Rigney is a shepherd of shepherds.

He’s a shepherd in the church as a pastor at Cities Church along with David Mathis. He’s a shepherd in his home as a husband and father of three. But he’s also a shepherd of shepherds as a professor and newly appointed president of Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Joe shepherds pastors not only as an institutional leader but as a theological leader. A pastor’s job is to teach, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14). Deceitful schemes are deceitful because they come off as true and obvious. One of the problems we’re dealing with in our day is the subtle manipulation of biblical compassion in service of false visions of justice. In this way, goofy theories about just about everything play on the best parts of us as Westerners and as Christians in particular. We’re a people with a high view of humanity. That’s good. But we’re having trouble, and that’s because we’re untethered from the Word in our understanding both of justice and of compassion. 

In this vein, read two pieces by Joe: “Do You Feel My Pain? Empathy, Sympathy, and Dangerous Virtues,” and “Dangerous Compassion: How To Make Any Love a Demon.” This is not the first topic I would have turned over for help in navigating the times, but you’ll be surprised at how important this insight is. In a conversation with Doug Wilson, “The Sin of Empathy,” (yes, provocatively titled, but read it in context), Joe and Doug tease out the implications of these reflections for the times. In this way, Joe helps us pastors read the winds so that we may speak the truth even as we do it in love.

True compassion will often require courage. Empathy can often become a disguise for anxiety or cowardice. In fact, it’s for a failure of true compassion that we often fail to act in love. Sharpened by this discussion, Joe spurs us on to true biblical courage.  

No surprise, in both pieces, Joe draws from the life and teaching of another pastor of pastors, Apostle Peter, a pastor who learned courage through some of his own failures of courage. 

On March 6, Joe will shepherd our church to sing with a sermon from Colossians 3:16. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” That will be a timely message ahead of our evening with the Gettys on March 11.

Read more from Joe, pick up one of his books, and follow him on Twitter.

A lot of good material came out of Rome. Paul was from there. Peter wrote from there. Minneapolis has been a hot-spot for faithful Word workers, as have been other cities in their own way, including ours. Join me in greeting these faithful brothers from Minneapolis.  

Recap of Greenville’s Second Annual Simeon Trust Preaching Workshop

Recap of Greenville’s Second Annual Simeon Trust Preaching Workshop

Every preacher thanks God for these encouraging words:

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. —1 Timothy 4:13–16

Not perfection, but progress. That’s what every preacher wants and that’s what every church needs in her preacher. To this end, from January 26–28 we hosted a preaching workshop for area preachers through a partnership with the Charles Simeon Trust. We were joined by 50 teachers and preachers from 28 churches, including 23 lead pastors. 

Eric Vander Ploeg is one of the area pastors that joined us. I’ve asked him to share about himself, his church, and the workshop we just hosted.

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1. Eric, thanks for joining us at the workshop this year. Tell us a little about your church and your role.

Twenty-eight years ago, Heritage planted Grace Bible Church as an outreach to the city of Spartanburg. The location was strategic—a church once surrounded by farmland now finds itself in one of the fastest growth corridors of the city. Excavators are everywhere, and developers are fast turning the red dirt into apartments and condos and neighborhoods and businesses. Hundreds of spiritually hungry people now live five minutes from our campus. It’s a tremendous opportunity, and one that only exists because of the prayer and the giving and the sacrifice of the people of Heritage. We are so grateful!

I joined Grace a little under four years ago serving as Lead Pastor and following a line of faithful men committed to the careful exposition of the Word. We try to live up to our name—passionate about giving and living God’s grace, standing on the unchanging foundation of the Bible, and seeking to build a healthy, life-giving, Christ-exalting church.

2. It’s no small commitment to set aside the better part of a week to join us for a workshop. All of your other pastoral responsibilities remain. Why did you prioritize this?

I had heard great things about the Simeon Trust and its unique approach to training preachers. When Heritage brought the workshop to my own backyard, I had to give it a try.

It’s not easy to get better at preaching. Kind church members give us (usually) well-meaning feedback, but it takes a preacher to really train a preacher. It takes someone who knows the craft, who knows the tools, who has spent a hundred Sundays in the pulpit doing his best, and a hundred Mondays wishing he’d done better. That’s the kind of man who has an ear for what needs to happen in the pulpit and who knows at the same time how to give feedback.

And that’s feedback we preachers rarely get. So to gather with sixty like-minded men and to present our work and receive well-informed, field-tested, life-giving feedback is so valuable. It’s well worth the investment. No conference I’ve ever encountered does the job as well as the Simeon Trust workshop.

3. A preaching workshop includes instructional sessions, expositions, but also about six hours of small group time where we share and push one another in our sermon preparation work. You just gave us some insight into the benefit of that small group time. Share with us about the format those small group sessions take.

There are books and trainings and conferences where you hear about preaching, but a workshop gets your hands dirty in the task of doing preaching. And you really only learn to preach by doing.

Each year the workshop focuses on a genre of Scripture and on a book of the Bible. This year it was narrative preaching from Judges. Each preacher prepares a few texts ahead of time—basically, all the work you do to write a sermon without actually writing it. Simeon has created a template for preparation, a worksheet that slows us down and takes us back to basics as we study the text. We have to wrestle with how the text is structured, with the context that is relevant for understanding the passage, with the argument the author is making, with how the passage fits into the whole Bible’s story of salvation in Christ, and how the text touches down in life—all in that order, which is crucial. We have to get our conclusions on these things down to crisp sentences.

During each small group a preacher gets five minutes to present the fruit of their studies. Then a teammate responds with that precious feedback—with encouragement and challenge. Then the rest of the group chimes in, and then the leader focuses in on the areas most helpful for growth.

I won’t lie—it’s intimidating. It’s humbling. Even exhausting. But it’s so valuable, and the men are so desiring for you to succeed and to grow. It’s a kind of sweet sharpening that makes every one of us better, and makes every one of our churches better served.

4. Our goal at these workshops isn’t perfection but progress. How did this year’s workshop help you make progress in your Word work?

When you preach for a while you can start to get bad habits in your prep. I feel like this year surfaced a few of those for me. The speed of pastoral ministry can sometimes lead to exegetical shortcuts with the text. The workshop slows you down and makes you walk through each and every step. No shortcuts. And that’s when bad habits become all too clear.

There’s also something inspiring about rubbing shoulders with fellow preachers. Watching another man stare at the text and see insights I totally missed makes me want to stare at that text a little longer. Watching a preacher handle the word with skill and art and passion, where the story comes alive and the truth behind the story comes home, makes me want to preach better. I left tired and grateful and aspiring to “practice these things, to immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress” (1 Tim. 4:15). I have a list of things I want to do better this year. By God’s grace, that’s progress!

5. How can we pray for you and your church?

I’d always heard of preachers wondering if they were old enough and wise enough to tackle Romans. This past year I concluded I might be. Time will tell, but we embarked on our journey with Chapter 1, Verse 1. Pray that God would illuminate his Word as I hold it in uncertain hands and seek to proclaim it in all of its brilliant detail. Pray that the text would first move me before it moves my people.

I also lead a team of preachers. Each brings his own voice and experience to the text and makes for a rich diversity of preaching. Pray that I might help each of them make progress in their craft.

And, of course, Grace sits before a wide open door of opportunity. The world is moving into the neighborhood! Pray that we might make the most of every day, of every ministry initiative, and of every conversation.

Meet Our Fall Intern: Jared Jenkins

Meet Our Fall Intern: Jared Jenkins

This is such a cool photo of Jared, one of our college students whose pastoral internship is wrapping up. Jared’s internship began this past fall and is finishing up this week.

Jared has been reading and writing, he has joined our elders meetings, and he has met with me weekly over twelve weeks. 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 Jared would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead. You can read about the shape of the internship here.

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Before we get to know you a bit, tell us what excited you the most about serving as an intern this fall?

As an intern, I get to witness a lot of the ins and outs of church life at Heritage. Honestly, my biggest excitement about this internship was the connection and mentorship that I would receive from the elders. Trent and I meet most weeks to discuss a book that centers on church life. My hope has been to grow in my understanding of church life, specifically at Heritage Bible Church, and then to take what I have learned and apply it to the way that I pastor in the future.

Now, let’s go to the beginning, your new beginning. How did the Lord save you?

My testimony is not unlike many people’s. I have grown up in a Christian family, both parents are believers. The Lord saved me when I was seven years old. At Northland Bible Camp, Evangelist Jeremy Frazor gave a very clear gospel message. I remember understanding my state in my sin and my need for someone to redeem me. Even at age seven, I had a clear understanding of what Christ did to save me from my sins, in dying on the cross and rising from the grave. Over the years, there have been moments in which I’ve doubted my salvation, many times due to ongoing sin in my life. But, ultimately, at the end of the day, I understand that my salvation and my assurance are not rooted in myself or in the countless times I have failed but in the reality that God has saved me and calls me his child.

You’re a college student. You’re a member. You’ve made home at Heritage. Encourage our church with the story of how you came here and got involved. We want to be a church that welcomes college students and gives them a taste of heaven on earth, just what church should be.

I became aware of Heritage Bible Church prior to attending college at Bob Jones University. I met Danny Brooks, the former teaching pastor of Heritage, out in Utah while my teen group was on a ministry trip. Danny had just moved out there. When I came to college, I knew that Danny pastored a church in Greenville. So, I visited. And immediately, I was hooked by the preaching, the fulness of the music in worship, and the charitability of people around me. My sophomore year, I joined Heritage as a member, because I knew the importance of being a part of a local church. Over the years, I have developed relationships with several people in the congregation. Pastor Trent and Dan Cruver have been an enormous help in shepherding my heart and giving me opportunities to use my gifts over the last couple of years.

Now, what is the most influential book on your life and what has been the most influential sermon on your life? Tell us a little about both.

The most influential book and most influential sermon on my life both go hand in hand as they are both by the same person—John Piper—and have the same title—“Don’t Waste Your Life.” In both, Piper talks about the way in which every Christian should live—sold out for Christ, his glory, and the proclamation of his gospel.

You’re in the middle of reading twelve books over this internship. What’s been the most insightful book so far and why?

To me, the most insightful book during my internship has been Worship Matters, by Bob Kauflin. He expounds how a worship leader and those participating in worship should think about it. Worship is standing in awe of, giving adoration to, and submitting to God. Therefore, as Kauflin writes, those leading and participating in worship should be known as “awe-filled” people.” The gathered worship should be conducted in such a way that fills the congregation with awe.

You’ve been in our elders meetings for a few months now. What have you observed and learned so far?

As I’ve sat in the elders meetings, I’ve witnessed the great care that goes into shepherding God’s sheep. Every meeting, the elders open their time with thirty minutes in prayer over the church and specific members, sometimes as a whole group and sometimes in small groups. No elder rules over another. Each has a voice and a part in the conversation. There is a very present respect and love that is felt as the gospel is evident within the room. The meetings get me excited about the joys, sorrows, and fulfillment of pastoring my own church in the future.

What are your desires vocationally for the future and how can we pray for you?

As I transition away from college, my hope for the next two years is to move out to Salt Lake City, Utah to partner with Gospel Grace Church in a full-time residency. Simultaneously, I hope to finish my Master of Divinity with Bob Jones remotely. At the end of the residency, I could move into elder candidacy or into church planting in Utah. Of course, with such a transition (I’m from Michigan), there’s a lot of wisdom needed in how I am going to move out there. Could you pray for me in that respect?

Finally, got any favorite teams or hobbies or special skills we should know about?

I love to read (especially when it’s what I want). Every now and then, I’ll sit down and write a piece for my blog. Over the last couple of months, because of my friend, Will Galkin, I’ve developed a real love for Liverpool Football Club. Right now, they are the second team in Premier League and are on the way to face off against Chelsea in Wembley Stadium for Carabao Cup Championship.