1. Give us your definition of unity. Do you feel that you are able to bring groups of diverse people together in unity? Please describe how you have done this in the past.
While unity is simply “a state of being united or joined as a whole,” unity is only good or bad as it is defined by God… its source is the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:3; 1 Cor 12:13), its truth is in Christ (Eph 4:13; Phil 2:2; 4:2; Rom 15:5), its love is for the body of Christ (Gal 6:10; Rom 12:10; 1 Pet 1:22; 3:8) and it is a witness that gives glory to God (John 13:34-35; 17:6, 21). In one sense, all of what I do in church ministry involves a constant stewardship of God’s Word and leadership responsibility to encourage and support the unity of the church. Biblical unity is expressed and revealed in team building, communication, problem solving, & effective systems. The Bible extensively describes the propensity of sinful people to seek their own way rather than God’s. Preaching focusses on God’s priorities—from salvation to spiritual growth and service for Christ’s mission. Among believers, unity for the mission is also the overarching goal of church ministry—in worship, prayer, small groups, classes or in one-on-one meetings. Individually gifted Christians and ministries need to see themselves as a part of the whole rather than comparing their contribution with others or competing for resources or attention. When the mission is the highest priority, and the vision and strategy are clearly communicated often, the church family is most likely to follow leadership and put aside personal preferences. Unity is supported by “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). My experience is that lacking in any one of these areas creates opportunities for disunity to grow, and the solution often involves the prayerful consideration and discernment upon which of these is needed. The results of bringing diverse people together in unity is always a miracle of God, since we are known by our love for one another in Christ. Unfortunately, faithfully proclaiming truth and applying it in our leadership may expose division; but regardless of the outcome, being faithful in grace and truth (“speaking the truth in love”) is better than a lack of conflict that amounts to pleasing people rather than God.
2. Describe the importance of evangelism and the role it should play within the church.
I regularly look for opportunities to care for people spiritually and engage in a conversation including a personal testimony or question about spiritual life or needs. Having received or lead training in several “methods” of sharing faith (Evangelism Explosion, One-Verse Method, Sharing Jesus Without Fear, Walk Across the Room). I had an opportunity to share with a young man who visited our church this week, in a follow up over the phone. I don’t share the gospel with an unbeliever every week, but with a goal to do so, I have found I am more likely to pray and look for ways to have spiritual conversations, show love in needs expressed, and share how the truth about Jesus satisfies these and all other needs.
3. What is your view on the role of women in positions of leadership within the church?
I believe the complementarian view of men and women best expresses both biblical equality and headship. It limits elders/senior leadership, where a leadership role of women could conflict with complementary leadership roles within the home. This does not deny the leadership gifts of women, but also defines its place, since as Paul argues back to Genesis, in 1 Timothy 2:9-15 and 1 Corinthians 11:3-10, as support for his statements about headship.
4. Describe the importance and function of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
The Holy Spirit is the agent of God's work in the world, directly empowering believers, giving wisdom and revealing all truth. Without him, no one would believe nor could believers serve in Christ's name. Robert McQuilkin has helpfully categorized the work or activities of the Holy Spirit (Life in the Spirit, 2000), to ten activities, seven of which focus inward (creating, revealing, redeeming, indwelling, transforming, filling, overcoming) and three of which are focus outward (gifting, sending, glorifying). “The inward activities of the Holy Spirit, transform fallen humanity, allowing them to go forward and accomplish the outward activities of the Spirit in a fallen world.” While looking forward to the day of our redemption, the Holy Spirit is a guarantee of all that is promised for those in Christ (Eph 1:14), working in and through those who trust in Christ.
5. What steps do you take in seeking specific direction from the Lord?
I pray (James 1:5-6). I consider the truth of God's Word... how does it inform my decision or what study is still needed to seek truth. I consider what God has done and is doing in my life... what resources has he already provided or guidance or he has already given insight about how my own gifts or abilities bear on the situation. I seek counsel of those inside and outside the situation, keeping biblical authority and responsibility in mind as I seek the assistance and prayers of others.
6. How do you deal with conflict? Describe the process that you go through to attempt to bring resolution.
Speak in person whenever possible, confessing and asking forgiveness for my faults, and resolving any misunderstandings—looking first to my own faults and seeking forgiveness and reconciliation quickly (Pr 28:13; 1Jn 1:9; Ja 5:16; 2Ti 2:25; Pr 19:11). Give the “judgment of charity,” speaking truth in love, and giving grace as we have all been given (Eph 4:1,15; Rom 12:10; Gal 5:13; 6:1; Col 3:13; Mt 5:23-24; 1Pet 4:8). Involve others appropriately depending on the context (ref. Mt 18:1-35), and conflict resolution and reconciliation may also involve reporting or written documentation (e.g. authority involving employment, an Elder Board, or civil laws (ref. Rom 13:1-14).
7. Describe the importance of God’s Word in your selection of curriculum, teaching and leading.
I believe that proper exposition and application will result in both a central message and outline that comes from the Bible—understood in its context. Growing up in church, we asked “where stands it written;” and in seminary, I often heard “context is king” to stress the importance of context to properly teach and apply the Bible (also for evaluating curriculum). I want to know that the message is from God and not from sources outside with verses inserted after a different message is formed. Good theological teaching requires understanding of how a text fits within the overarching message of the Bible (what God has said and done), but most often, a single text in its context can be effectively used to communicate God’s Word.
8. Describe how you relate and work with those that God has placed in a position of authority over you?
I believe God has called and placed all authority in its place (Romans 13), and that obeying God’s authority is the only reason for not submitting to legitimate human authority—regardless of how godly or able the individual in authority may be. In my experience as a pastor and elder, equal in authority with other elders, I believe that our decision becomes my own (submit to one another out of reverence to Christ) unless it would cause me to disobey or dishonor God. If I believed the latter were true, it is my responsibility to separate my responsibility from authority God has established and do everything possible to obey God without harming the Bride of Christ. I can give many examples in both secular and church roles, but I cannot stress enough the importance of understanding and appropriately submitting to authority—to honor Christ in ministry and in life generally. My experience is that a biblical response to authority most often reveals the spiritual and emotional maturity in myself and others.