In celebration of pastoring at Cornerstone for 10 years this October, I am preparing several posts about the last 10 years of my ministry in Forest City, PA. I want to list 10 people who impacted my ministry; several of whom are local, and several are national scholars and theologians I’ve never personally met. I’ve not listed anybody in my church because that list would be much longer than 10.
Ken Davis: While there is really no order to this list, Ken has definitely been one of the most influential people in my life over the last 10 years. Ken is the director of Project Jerusalem, the church-planting organization in Northeast Pennsylvania, which has actually spread to other states. Ken is a wise sage. He has been in the trenches of church planting for years. At an age when most people retire Ken’s office is where I often find him starting something new or writing something fresh. He has had my back when I needed it and sharpened me into the pastor that I am today.
Andy Giesmann: At one point Andy was a Project Jerusalem pastor. Now he leads “Addison’s Walk Institute for Christian Studies” and is a professor. He specifically deals with theology in the area of thinking, or what we would often call apologetics. If I’m looking for a great philosophical deep conversation or bouncing ideas off of someone it’s usually with Andy. I’ve had many conversations with him. I wonder how many times at Scranton southside McDonald’s or the café on Adams Avenue that someone has listened into our conversations and thought, “What a bunch of nerds. How did they get here?”
Matt Wolfe: If there somebody I could share an inside joke with it is Matt Wolfe. We have a long history together. Matt was my youth pastor, then my pastor I interned under. He was also the best man in my wedding, and later, ironically, I became his pastor. Matt currently pastors in New York near Lake Erie. Matt has a great wit, a good work ethic, and a great theological mind. I have benefited greatly from his example and friendship.
Project Jerusalem Pastors: I mentioned Ken as the director but I cannot leave out my brothers who share the same trenches. We reconnect at an annual retreat where we learn, study and enjoy each other’s company. I came into the group as the first guy to not graduate from the college connected with Project Jerusalem. These guys welcomed me with open arms, have challenged me, encouraged me, and spurred me on sometimes directly and other times by setting an example in steadfastness.
John Banks: John is the pastor of the Tabernacle Bible Church in Honesdale, PA. He became pastor there shortly after I started at Cornerstone. He has been a great mentor and friend over the years. He is another individual that I can bounce things off of. The Tabernacle Bible Church helped start Cornerstone which would not exist today without years of generosity. So when I mention John personally I wouldn’t like to collectively add to that many people of that church, leadership, and former pastor Paul Williamson who also made time to help me.
Steve Shumaker: Steve ran the the program where I earned my second master’s degree. This was my degree in philosophy, specifically, worldview studies. A couple months before earning the degree I walked into three program leaders’ offices and told them I was looking for another degree. I had some scholarship help at the time, and wanted to fill holes I felt I was lacking. Somehow Steve sold me on a master’s degree in an area I knew little about, philosophy, and taking it through something I knew less about – literature. I saw this area as a weakness to strengthen. Little did I know that it changed my understanding of philosophy, but also how I studied theology, taught my children academically, my politics, and how I viewed people. Much of what you read on this blog weekly is a direct byproduct of that degree program. It was definitely life-changing. When he moved to Colorado Christian College there was no one to take over the program. My wife was halfway through the degree and we were afraid that she would not be able to finish. Steve took time out of his personal life to continue the program, allowing her and a couple others to finish; I am eternally grateful to him concerning this.
The Four Horsemen: There are four guys who have made my ministry better who are not Christians. These four guys are atheists or agnostics . As a joke I call them The Four Horsemen. I think I’ve told a couple of them that. Anyway these are guys who always push me to the next level. Too often Christians are happy with easy answers to life’s questions. These guys show no mercy and don’t let me get away with any kind of sloppy arguments or thinking. They’ve actually made me a better speaker, theologian, pastor, and blogger as they push me to seek God and His Word more.
Now to those who are well-known but not by me personally.
Mark Driscoll: I understand that there is some controversy surrounding Mark over the years. However, nothing controversial about him has directly affected me. Mark has been a great teacher, and because of him many churches were planted across the country and around the globe. His teaching has improved my teaching, pastoring and marriage.
John MacArthur: Anytime I’m doing a book study I make sure I get one of John’s commentaries in my hand. This guy meticulously studies and reads Scripture, and helps explain it to the masses of pastors who in turn bless hundreds of thousands of Christians. Not only has he taught me Scripture but he’s taught me how to understand Scripture and for that I appreciate him.
John Piper: At this point I believe I’ve heard John speak at five different conferences. I’ve listened to dozens of short YouTube clips of him, read his books, and listened to many of his services on Podcasts. He’s been a huge advocate of how to glorify God. John is a great thinker and helps others learn to enjoy the Christian life. He is like another grandfather in my life without knowing it, and will be sadly missed when God takes him home one day.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.