Snapshots of Pastors College Graduates: Bruce Chick
Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing with you a series of snapshots—brief glimpses into the lives of men who have attended the Pastors College. It is most encouraging to hear how that experience has shaped them and how it is now serving them in their ministry roles in Sovereign Grace churches. As we look forward to next year, please pray with us that the Lord would only strengthen the impact of the college upon our pastors and churches, for His glory.
The first snapshot is written by Bruce Chick (B.A., University of Georgia; M.Div., Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL). Bruce graduated from the Pastors College in 2002 and has since served as the Senior Pastor of Sovereign Grace Community Church in Roanoke, Virginia. He currently serves on both the Executive and Polity Committees for Sovereign Grace Churches. He has been teaching Old Testament survey courses at the Pastors College for the past decade. Bruce and his wife Hien have seven children. I’m so eager for you to read his story below.—Jeff Purswell
He was surprised. When the Senior Pastor of a Sovereign Grace church learned that I (a member and M.Div. student) wanted to attend the Pastors College immediately after graduating seminary, he was slightly dumbfounded. I cherished both my seminary coursework and theological training, yet it was what I saw firsthand while attending a Sovereign Grace church that fueled my interest and impassioned my desires.
If the Pastors College was somehow partially responsible for the fruit I was experiencing at my local church, I wanted an up close and personal look. I wasn’t disappointed. The theological coursework was robust, sound, and purposeful (think of an intense January term format for an entire year). But it was the intentionality of the structural framework that stood out most. Not only were doctrinal precision and theological advancement shared values but there was also a pronounced emphasis on marriage, parenting, and character development that had been almost entirely absent from my seminary education. The structural arrangement of the Pastors College in a local church setting afforded opportunities for men’s accountability, couples, ladies, and class groupings, as well as pre-class worship gatherings and private interactions with staff and church members that profoundly affected my personal life and marriage. I can still recall watershed moments my wife and I experienced in these intentional settings. This training, care, and oversight stretched, challenged, and strengthened my walk with God and has positively enhanced my ministry today.
Our local staff has also benefited. Graduating from the Pastors College has enriched our staff chemistry, theological development, and overall effectiveness as a team. The shared values, intentional emphasis on piety, exposure to gospel-centered ministry, solid theological foundation, and exceptional care received while attending the Pastors College has strengthened our unity and undergirded our philosophy of ministry as a staff, spilling over to the local church in numerous ways. The benefit of a centralized training institution that provides continuing education opportunities for current pastors to attend select Pastors College courses alongside future pastors who are being trained theologically and invested in pastorally is a model that is very difficult to duplicate on a local level. My personal interaction with other seasoned pastors in the classroom while attending the Pastors College as a student helped me move beyond the theoretical and prepare me for actual ministry. Our lay pastoral intern just returned from a year at the Pastors College benefited from this kind of interaction as well and added that it created “theological categories” that he never would have had if not for his year in Louisville.
Though my Senior Pastor was initially surprised, I no longer am. After more than a decade as a Senior Pastor myself, I have experienced the fruit borne both individually and as a staff after attending the Pastors College. What would be most surprising to me is individuals and churches that would not avail themselves to such an opportunity and privilege.
The Pastors College is now accepting applications for the 2015–16 academic year. For more information regarding the program, please contact us.
As Director of Theology and Training for Sovereign Grace, Jeff Purswell is the Dean of our Pastors College, leads our theological training, and helps develop theological resources. He is also an elder at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. He and his wife, Julie, have two sons.