May 10, 2013

I Graduate From Seminary TODAY!


If it is the Lord’s will – and I feel that it is – then my family and I desire to live in downtown Phoenix and minister there for the next few decades. We believe this will be done by expanding what we are already doing at Roosevelt Community Church. Roosevelt does want to plant churches in the central city core, and we will need to send teams out. I will do what needs to be done – whether it be just to train teams or even go with them temporarily or permanently to help set up the church. Our first target area is an area we already do ministry in, called Grant Park, which is just west of Bank One Ballpark. These are all areas I am already involved in and want to be part of the process which sees them come to pass. I plan to develop the ministries under my supervision at Roosevelt even more – especially our Children’s Church, our First Friday Ministry and our apologetic-related special events (debates, etc.)
I also desire to really push Backpack Radio forward. The feedback we are getting so far tells us that we are filling a unique niche – the urban living but yet theologically minded Christian, usually ages 25-45. We have received some offers to expand our radio ministry but did not believe the timing was good – perhaps after I graduate that could change and we can really thrust the program out there.

On that note, I believe I need to write a book – actually several. I have some smaller, more user-friendly ones in mind as well as a few which would require a heavier treatment. All of the books I want to do are somewhere in the field of practical apologetics – everyday apologetic challenges and such. I believe these would benefit our church but also others. I have even started a few but have a lot left.

Putting all of these together, I do not want any of these to be done at the exclusion of my local church. On the contrary, I desire that they all spring directly out of my context and would speak directly to people in similar environments. These apologetic ideas I have must all be rooted in the soil of the local church and cannot be allowed to serve as distractions. Any of these plans must be centered in my church. For example, perhaps I co-author a work with a guy I am already mentoring at church or I do a team debate at ASU Downtown with one of my fellow elders. These are the kind of things I mean. I do not ever want to just hit the road and say I’ll be join you on Sunday when I can – no way. In short, if any of these apologetic ministry ideas I have cannot be done in a way that is 100% helpful to the local church, then they must be radically altered until they do or I simply will not do them.

As far as education goes, I believe I have been blessed by the training God has given me at Phoenix Seminary. I plan on continuing on that path at Talbot Theological Seminary. There is a very unique Doctor of Ministry program there called Engaging Mind and Culture. It is designed to equip pastors in worldview issues as they work in highly secular contexts – such as downtown Phoenix. Well, that is where I am now and where I plan to stay and so I am excited about signing up for this beginning the Fall. It will run 3 years and then I have 3 more years to complete my thesis. One of the neatest things of all about it is that JP Morleand heads it up and he along with Dr. DeWeese work to mentor and disciple you as you go through what is a pretty rigorous program. My wife is really pushing me to do this and we are both excited, although we know it will have special challenges. Still, I believe it is worth it for the practical training dealing with a context I am in and plan to stay in and as well for the potential doors it could open down the road.


  1. Excited for you in this next phase of life and ministry. Praying the Lord uses you to greatly bless our church, our city, and the world beyond. And if you're going to write a book then that means I best get cracking; I can't let you publish before I do!

  2. Dad of Vocab - Michael Rieser12:43 PM

    John-Mark, your Mother and I wish you the very best in your ministry and family life.

  3. Vermon, thank you. and thank you for some cool gifts =)

    Dad, thank you very much. Tell mom I said the same please.
    I love you guys! I know I would not have been here without you as
    both model and support - for real.



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