Seminary: To go or not to go..that might be your question.

Two years ago I posted my thoughts on the necessity and/or wisdom of attending seminary. Should i go to seminary and what about the one in Dallas?   Yesterday a friend sent me something similar that James Emery White (a pastor AND former seminary president) wrote about the same time.

This is his post from his  Church and Culture blog @ .  Well worth your time if you are considering attending seminary and even more currently leading one!

BTW…in regard to this part of his post (For those wondering whether to go to seminary: Yes, it is fair to wonder out loud whether it’s even necessary. It is even more critical to discern why you want to go in the first place. No one should go to try and find themselves, get fixed, get healed, get spiritual or figure out what they want do when they grow up. Save your money and go to a good Christian counselor.)

I couldn’t agree more that seminary is a lousy place to find yourself, get fixed, get healed (this especially is true for those who want to go into “Christian counseling”) and I couldn’t be bothered more that we automatically assume the best/next/necessary prescription for any of these (or a good way to save money for that matter) is to go see a Christian counselor.  How about just seeking some wise counsel from some Godly Christians.  If we think the whole training/seminary model needs to be reconsidered (AND IT DOES)…it PALES in comparison to the way the church/Christians need to rethink how to “find yourself, get fixed, get healed“.   I can’t wait for the day when the church is so effective at making disciples and bearing one anothers burdens (Gal 6:1-2) that we see blog posts titled, “Why People Aren’t Going to Christian Counselors Anymore”….but I digress.


Why People Aren’t Going to Seminary 

James Emery White Posted: Monday, November 1, 2010

Seminary used to be a given for anyone wanting to pursue a life of vocational ministry.
Not anymore.
It is increasingly common for individuals who are called to plant a church or join the staff of a church to do so without any formal theological education. The 2009-2010 Annual Data Tables from the Association of Theological Schools of FTE (full-time equivalent) students bears this out, barely bottoming out this year after a multi-year several thousand student decline.
I would suggest that there are several reasons for this:
*Many are entering the ministry later in life when uprooting their family and moving to a three-year residential program is at best problematic.
*Increasing numbers of churches are hiring “from within” and have already invested heavily in the discipleship and training of present and future staff. Further, they cannot afford to hire someone, and then send them away for three years.
*Many pastors no longer trust seminaries, and thus do not recommend them to their staff or members. This distrust is usually founded on the fear that seminary professors are more prone to indoctrinate than educate in light of their own theological and methodological biases. I know of one pastor who stopped sending his staff to a well-known seminary, and when asked for the reason by the president, the pastor said, “I sent you three of my very best staff, and you turned every one of them against the way we do church. Why would I send you more?”
*Seminaries are perceived as being out-of-date and out-of-touch with real-world and/or contemporary ministry. Many professors are perceived to have limited pastoral experience (usually a short seminary pastorate and then later interim roles), or to have not led churches of any significant size for any significant length of time. They are often viewed as theoreticians rather than practitioners.
*Many pastors feel they have gained more in post-seminary leadership conferences, such as the WCA Leadership Summit, than they did throughout their entire Masters of Divinity degree program. They learned about the Council of Nicea, but not how to lead a council meeting; they learned about the significance of the aorist verb, but not how to parse the culture to know how best to communicate. This leads many to look back on their seminary education with a devaluing eye.
*Many churches, particularly large ones, have long felt they were better positioned and better qualified to train individuals for the practice of ministry. And now they are offering courses in theology, biblical studies and church history – courses long held to be the domain of the seminary.
*Many seminaries have lost the ear of young leaders due to the frequent and perceived ill-informed critique of the very kind of churches and approaches to ministry they long to pursue.
*The passion of the professors often seems to be for the academy rather than for the church, which then influences the passions of the student. This worries both potential students and the sending church. As one graduating seminarian commented to me, “I’ve seen too many people enter seminary on fire for the church, only to see them three years later bowing before the altar of the academy.”
*Many current church leaders have little or no seminary experience, yet lead large, thriving ministries, preach biblically sound messages, and have members who are grounded and growing in Christ. This makes seminary seem more of a nicety than a necessity.
*Seminary education, outside of certain denominational support networks, is incredibly costly. Students today are already graduating with thousands of dollars of debt from their undergraduate degrees, and adding tens of thousands more – and then attempting to pay it back on a minister’s salary – is daunting at best.
My goal is not to start a war of pro-seminary vs. anti-seminary in the comment section of the blog. And I am certainly not trying to pick a fight. My life has been lived, largely, in two vocational worlds: the church, and the academy. I am the founding and senior pastor of a church; I am a professor and former president of a seminary.
So I would only be picking a fight with myself.
In truth, I just love the church, and want to see her optimally served in light of the culture of our day.
And there are lessons for everyone in this round-up of anti-seminary conviction (or better put, pro-seminary apathy, as few have real axes to grind).
For seminary professors and administrators: wise-up to the reasons increasing numbers are avoiding your hallowed grounds. It does not matter whether the reasons I’ve listed are accurate. It does not matter whether the reasons I’ve listed are even fair. What matters is that they are real in the minds of those choosing not to attend. If you wish to serve the church, and I trust that you do, wake-up and address the concerns that are causing a breach.
For pastors and church leaders: if you are going to downplay seminary in the minds of your staff or members, then develop a plan “B”. And make it a good one. Create a leadership development process that goes beyond sending them to Catalyst and reading books by Jim Collins. They need theology; they need biblical studies; they need to know the flow of Christian history.
For those wondering whether to go to seminary: Yes, it is fair to wonder out loud whether it’s even necessary. It is even more critical to discern why you want to go in the first place. No one should go to try and find themselves, get fixed, get healed, get spiritual or figure out what they want do when they grow up.
Save your money and go to a good Christian counselor.
But it is not to be avoided because you simply want to microwave your life and don’t want to pay the dues necessary to prepare optimally for a life of ministry.
So who should go?
Three types of people should strongly consider it despite the many reasons that exist to bypass the investment:
*If you are going to be a teaching pastor, getting the best of biblical studies, languages, theology and church history is essential. There can be little doubt that most seminaries have this training down to an art, and no matter what anyone says, such training would be hard to duplicate on most local church levels.
*If you feel called to work within a denomination or ecclesiastical structure that requires it.
*If you feel called to academia.
But even if you go, I’ve got some news for you.
It won’t teach you all you need to know. It will play to the theoretical more than the practical, the theological more than the methodological, and the intellectual more than the spiritual.
So if you go, you’ll get one education.
Then you’ll graduate and start on another.
James Emery White
2009-2010 Annual Data Tables from Association of Theological Schools at
We reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read the Comments Policy.


11 Questions To Regularly Ask Your Kids

Todd Wagner's Questions to Ask Your Kids

The Wagner Family

(Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for additional parenting resources.)

My wife and I were asked to speak a couple of weeks ago to a large group of parents on the topic of “Leaving a Godly Legacy.” (Click here to listen to that talk.) We were encouraged by the presence of so many parents and especially the passion and leadership modeled by the Mom’s leading the ministry at Watermark Community Church. We spent well over an hour talking about the topic.

At one point we shared how we regularly like to give our kids a chance to give us feedback/ help us measure how we are doing at modeling for them the things we HOPE we are modeling for them. ( Deut 6:4-9) While the specific questions change each time, the general idea is still the same. We give our kids a chance to give us direct feedback on the full spectrum of our parenting/leadership.

Below is the latest set of questions I use for the “Wagner family survey.” I encourage you to use them if it would be helpful with your own kids, and please feel free to add some better questions of your own (be sure to leave them in the comments as well!) My only encouragement to you (in addition to actually doing this) is to keep it short, specific and easy to answer. This isn’t the SAT….though it just might be more important!

Questions to Ask Your Kids

  1. What have been some of the best times you have had with your Dad this past year?
  2. If you had to give me some advice on how to be a better Dad, what would it be and why?
  3. If you and I could sit down and talk about ANYTHING…what would it be?
  4. What are some of the things that are making you anxious, fearful or discouraged right now so I can pray for you.
  5. What is something that you would like to do with me?
  6. How can I help you grow in your love for God and in your ability to serve Him and live faithfully for Him?
  7. What has been the best thing I have done this last year, or that we have done together as a family this past year that has helped you the most in your understanding of God and His love for you?
  8. What would you say has been the biggest area of growth for you in the last year?
  9. What have you learned about God/Christ/faith this last year that has blessed you?
  10. If you could grow in any area in the next 12 months….where would you want it to be?
  11. What do you think your Dad is most passionate about?

Additional Resources:

The “Prophetic Voice of the Preacher”

Yesterday, I talked about the supreme importance of “not being a fool before God by making sure your mouth is full of the Word of God”. See that message here.

I am reminded of an email I recently received from a Watermark member about some verses in Revelation regarding the “Spirit of prophecy” (Rev 12:7; 19:10) and how that relates to the claims of some that they have the ability to speak authoritatively on par with Scripture. What is especially helpful about the answer that my good friend Bobby Crotty put together below is his excellent description (see bolded portion especially) of what I seek to do every time I teach/share God’s word with others. Here’s praying that this entry is useful to you and that every time you speak you are exalting to Christ and therefore useful to others and pleasing to your Savior.


From: Xxxxxxx Xxxxx
Sent: Monday, September 03, 2012 5:49 PM
To: pastoraloffice
Subject: Spirit of Prophecy / Testimony of Jesus


I have a question concerning core doctrine in the 7th Day Adventist denomination surrounding the “spirit of prophecy” and the “testimony of Jesus” noted in Revelation 12:17 and 19:10. Could you shed light on what Watermark’s stance on this topic / scripture is?

I have a few very close friends in that denomination, and I want to know where my church, Watermark, stands in reference to this take on scripture.

I would greatly appreciate any clarity you have to offer.

Thank you,
Xxxxxxx Xxxxx


From: Bobby Crotty
Sent: Friday, September 07, 2012 5:13 PM
To: Xxxxxxx Xxxxx
Cc: pastoraloffice
Subject: Re: Spirit of Prophecy / Testimony of Jesus


Thanks for your email to Todd about beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church concerning Rev 12:17 and 19:10. He has asked me to follow up with you.

Watermark itself has not taken a position on this topic, but I wanted to share some thoughts and resources that may help you as you study this issue further so that you can engage effectively with your friends. A great starting point for any question of this type is the website Its articles and answers to questions are generally very solid and dependable. You can check its article on Seventh-Day Adventist Church at

Now to your specific question. Wikipedia describes one of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church as:

18. The Gift of Prophecy:
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:14-21; Heb 1:1-3; Rev 12:17, 19:10).

Wikipedia continues: “Seventh-day Adventists believe church co-founder Ellen G. White (1827–1915) was inspired by God as a prophet, today understood as a manifestation of the New Testamentgift of prophecy,” as described in the official beliefs of the church.”
I personally would challenge that assertion. One of the marks of prophets in the Bible was the standard of their accuracy. If it was less than 100%, you could trust that they were NOT prophets of God. See Deuteronomy 18:20-22. It is my understanding that she made predictions that did not come true, such as one in 1856 that some then alive would remain alive until the Lord’s return. That obviously did not happen.

The phrases “spirit of prophecy” and “testimony of Jesus” appear together only in Rev 19:10. That verse closes with the following admonition to John when he falls down before the angel speaking to him: “I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Dr. Tom Constable explains:

“To emphasize the centrality of Jesus Christ in our testimony and to encourage worship of God, the angel said that the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. The last clause of the verse (‘for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’) is capable of various interpretations. Some take the genitive ‘of Jesus’ as objective, which yields two possible understandings. Perhaps the angel meant that testimony about Jesus is the common substance of all prophecy, that all prophecy ultimately reveals Him. Alternatively the angel could have meant that the true spirit of prophecy always manifests itself in bearing witness to Jesus; prophecy that does not bear witness to Him is false prophecy. If the genitive is subjective, the angel meant that the testimony that Jesus has given is the essence of prophetic proclamation. This last view seems preferable since it affords the best explanation of why John should not worship the angel: Jesus is the source of revelation, and angels just communicate it. Moreover the phrase ‘of Jesus’ in the preceding clause also seems to be subjective.” at Rev 19:10.
I think what Dr. Constable is saying is that the passage can be understood as proclaiming that either all prophecy is about revealing Jesus or prophecy is explaining the testimony Jesus has given. I agree with Constable’s choice of the latter view. Pastors today are essentially exercising a prophetic role as they explain the testimony that Jesus has given, which is recorded in the words of the Bible. Thus, the pastor under the filling of the Holy Spirit exercises a prophetic gift as both a pastor and teacher to explain the testimony of Jesus as recorded in the Bible, rather than to predict the future as biblical prophets often did. Todd does not predict the future, but he does explain Scripture in a way that is understandable, convicting, and inspiring to those in the audience. In doing so, he is exercising a prophetic role to explain the testimony of Jesus. But he does not say that his teaching on Sunday is authoritative on a par with Scripture. He explains Scripture in his messages, but he makes it clear that it is the Scripture itself that is the authoritative source of truth. Does that help you with the difference between the Adventist view and the view I am sharing?

In sum, the Seventh-Day Adventist views seem to ascribe to the writings of Ellen G. White an authority that properly belongs only to the Bible. I would differ with Belief #18 above by saying that only Scripture is the authoritative source of truth, and, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 points out, it is what is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Both Mormonism and Seventh-Day Adventism seem to elevate people and their writings to places of authority that should be reserved alone for the words of Scripture.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions. There are a bunch of other thoughts we could pursue, so I would be happy to get together with you if you would like to visit further.

Praying that God will give you boldness and clarity from His Word to share Truth with your friends.

John 14:6,


Bobby Crotty

Men’s Equipping Director

Watermark Community Church



So You Want To Meet With Me (Re-Visited)

Given the rather public nature of my life, it likely doesn’t surprise many of you that on a regular basis I am privileged to be asked by others if I can “meet” or “give them some time”  so I can “process life” or “share some insight into a tough situation”.  The request isn’t always worded the same but the idea is:  Time alone with me (or any other perceived wise counselor) is going to be the best way to gain insight/understanding.

While I am always encouraged that there is something in my life, leadership, person, or position that makes the prospect of both getting with me and hearing from me seemingly beneficial, I have always been slow to say yes to such requests.  This is not be because I don’t think I have something to offer, nor is it because I don’t genuinely enjoy the opportunity to love and help the person(s) making the request.  Rather, it is because there is something more important that I am called to do than please myself or respond in a way that is pleasing to the person asking.  I am called to make disciples.  I am called to shepherd well the flock of God among me (1 Peter 5:2), and I learned a long time ago that the best way to do both of these, without both exasperating others and exhausting myself, is to make sure that others are involved from the beginning.

We talk a lot about community at Watermark (because the Scriptures talk A LOT about community).  God has given us community to bear each others burdens, speak truth to one another, and care for one another.  There are plenty of times we all feel inadequate when confronted with the breadth and/or depth of the problems, despair, and complex issues presented to us, and in our “expert culture” world we all want to get to the best and brightest ASAP.  But this model can neither be supported with Scripture nor does it lend itself to either the best care or the best way to make disciples.

See the response below that I once sent to someone asking for my insight into a particular passage of Scripture and consider using something similar in your own life.  I think you’ll find more people will be genuinely helped, more time will be wisely stewarded, and more of the saints around you will be powerfully equipped.  Responding this way has always resulted in others seeing how sufficient Christ in community already is OR has always led to my time/counsel being multiplied, effective and useful in the lives of the person originally making the request.  That’s a WIN WIN WIN WIN…


Date: April 18, 2007 10:17:28 AM CDT

To: Xxxxxx Xxxxx
Subject: RE: Hey Todd 

Xxxxxx…I have sent my answer to my assistant Becky and asked her to hold it until you send me an email with the best answers that your community/shepherds/friends/partners in ministry have come up with as you wrestle with your questions with them.  Then, if it is still necessary for me to chime in (because you are all still unsatisfied with what the Lord showed you all as you wrestled with the question/issue/problem together) I will (or whoever can best serve you) meet with all of you and everyone can benefit together.

Wrestling with issues/questions/problems this way is the best because:
1.  It allows you to lead/sharpen/grow those you are in life with as you model humility, a thirst for God’s word, and leading in all things.
2.  It keeps you (or whoever is seeking answers) from being exasperated because you are “waiting in line” for “Moses to speak”. (Exodus 18)
3.  It keeps Moses from being exhausted while trying to answer everyone’s question (Exodus 18).
4.  It creates a natural forum for community/discipleship and corporate growth.

So you owe me your the best response from your community/shepherds/friends/partners in ministry (and all the names of the people in your life/community/ministry) and I will then share with all of them my answer.  It is done and waiting for you.

Thankful for Jethro,

7540 LBJ Frwy
Dallas, TX 75251
Join the Journey at


Who was the woman in Luke 7:37ff and what does that have to do with John 12 AND you.

In the message we used (on line and watemark media I was not as explicit in my qualification in my speculation that the woman in Luke 7:37-39 was another Mary, specifically Mary Magdalene.  While that remains a possibility, it is at the end of the day at best an argument from silence.  Mary Magdalene is mentioned for the first time immediately following in Luke 8:1-2 as a woman who had seven demons cast out of her by the Lord and thus her devotion and inclusion among the disciples and women who followed Him.  What IS clear is that whoever the woman is in Luke 7, it is not Mary of Bethany and THIS IS a different act of devotion than the one we focused on today in John 12.  So while it makes great fun talking about 2 different Mary’s that fell at his feet…I wouldn’t want to start a new church (or even try to spend any time defending the idea!) over the actual identity of the woman in Luke 7.  What IS clear is that we are dealing with 2 different locations (Galilean region v. Bethany), two different Simons (one the ex-leper and one the Pharisee) and with almost complete certainty two different woman.  Whether the Luke 7 passage was Mary Magdalene is speculative and in them message posted on line I was not as clear on this point.

What is not speculative, and what was obviously my point in mentioning both women, is ALL of our need for Jesus.  Whether we are a prostitute or a “prominent person of distinction and morality”, we should fall at the feet in worship of the One Who ALONE can deliver us from our bodies of sin and death.  If you want to read more about one person’s take on Mary Magdalene (some strong comments/ideas here from Spurgeon on Mary Magdalene and her demonic afflictions and their relevance to potential Luke 7 associations as well as some applications for us today toward those suffering with similar afflictions see )  Read his ideas and enjoy…but as always Acts 17:11 is a great passage for all of us every time we hear someone teach from the Scripture.

Meanwhile may you be a RADICAL servant, lover and steward who derives all your glory only from your association with Jesus.  Here once more is the link to my message on John 12:1-11 for your encouragement.

Treasures Don’t Do the Hunting

I recently read a blog post by my good friends at the porch (which I hope you check out here). As a Dad of three young women, I was prompted to add a few thoughts to JP’s list of “why guys don’t ask girls out”, and I thought I would share my “adds” here.   See bottom of this post for more on the blessing that the porch is and check out the the link above to see his original post that prompted my comments below.

Ladies, and I certainly tell my daughters this, one of the reasons guys don’t pursue women is that they don’t have to.  Some girls make themselves too available.  In other words, they make their three-dimensional selves way too accessible.  Don’t let a guy spend too much time with you (especially once you find yourself starting to wish he would ask you out) without seeking that time out with you intentionally.  In other words, seek the Lord (as opposed to seeking a date/husband), serve passionately, and then skedaddle.  I’m not talking about playing games here…but after the third or fourth time you go out with the same group after serving, being at The Porch, etc., it might be good to not join the group (especially if the guy you hope pursues you is always there).

Why?  Because he has no reason to pursue you privately if he can always enjoy you publicly. I tell my gals that the treasure doesn’t do the hunting.  If there is never any mystery as to what is “down there” most boys will never go through the trouble of digging.  So don’t play games, but also don’t always play with the group.  Go home early and spend some time seeking the Lord, reminding yourself of the MAN you want your man to look like.  This is especially true if the reason you always join the group is because the guy you want to ask you out is always in the group. Going on the group date with him every week is maybe the very reason he never asks you out.

Finally, there is a similar reason why the men who DO date you DON’T marry you, and it just might be because you are making more than your time too available.

Why would a guy date a girl if he can be with her any time he wants without intentional effort?  Even more, why would a guy marry a girl he can sleep with (or get off with) any time he wants to without intentionally declaring before God and family that SHE is the ONE.

Treasures don’t do the hunting and treasure chests have locks on them for a reason.  Don’t give him the code until he makes the covenant.

*JP’s  blog post is yet another example of why the Porch and its leadership are a HUGE gift to 20-somethings and therefore a HUGE gift to both the future and the present of this church and our city.  It is not easy to find leaders who will speak the truth to you these days and it is even harder to find those who will do so creatively, winsomely, and always back it up with ULTIMATE TRUTH.  Way to go JP. Way to go Porch team.  May the Lord multiply your kind, and do so by y’all making and multiplying disciples.

#1 Mistake I See Most Parents Make

If you were with us at Watermark this past Sunday, you heard me talk about what I believe to be the biggest mistake I see parents making.

Check out this condensed clip from Sunday here, or the whole thing here and be spurred on as you love and challenge your children.

Also, stay tuned in the days ahead for more on parenting on this blog.  We hope to post a “Parenting’s Dirty Dozen” soon!

What It Means to be God’s Man/Woman


Last weekend I was privileged to speak up in the Washington, D.C. area to a group of men at McLean Bible Church.  While spending time with these guys, I got to share some bullet points with them that I had written down in the past on what it looks like to be God’s man and what it looks like to be God’s woman.  While reading through the following email exchange I recently had with one of my new friends at McLean, I thought it would be a helpful resource to all to have these available on the blog.  Links to the PDFs are below at the end of this post; feel free to use them in your lives and when discipling your children as well.

Also, join with me in praying for the men of McLean Bible Church. You can see what the men of this church have been up to in becoming spritual leaders, as well as view the talks from each of the sessions there last week here.

From: Xxxxx Xxxxxxx

Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2012 8:20 PM

To: pastoraloffice

Subject: mens conference: 5 things to share with your kids 


Thank you so much for coming to speak at McLean Bible Church this weekend for the men’s retreat. I really appreciate that you were frank about the real struggles that we face as men and giving practical tips on what to do. 

I spoke with you at the conclusion of the conference and asked you about the five things that you share with your own girls to lead them into being women of God.

This was the flip side of the 5 things you mentioned in your message for sharing with your boys (step up, speak out, stand firm, stay humble, serve the King). 

You told me to send you an email and you would send me a link to this information.

I really appreciate it. 

Thank you in advance.

Keep up the good work!


From: pastoraloffice
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2012 1:55 PM
To: Xxxxx Xxxxxxx                                                                                                                                                                                                   Subject: RE: mens conference: 5 things to share with your kids

Xxxxx…it was great being with you guys last weekend!  I’ve attached some PDFs that should be helpful for you…one for men and one for women. Hope you get the chance to use these and be blessed by what God’s Word says about biblical manhood and biblical womanhood.

Praying for all of you out there at McLean!

1 Corinthians 16:13-14,



What It Means to be God’s Man What It Means to be God’s Woman

Manifest: A Confession and a Profession for Men

Last Sunday we had the chance to talk about how blessed we are at Watermark to have so many women who passionately follow Christ and provide us with an example of what it means to live your life well.  Check the message out here if you weren’t with us.  In the midst of sharing about the essential role of women in the body of Christ, I read a “manifest” that I pray is adopted by all men who love our Savior.   God designed humanity to thrive and experience blessing when it operates in relationship to Him and in mutual subjection to one another.

Since many have asked, I am providing the statement so it can be re-read and prayerfully lived out amongst the men of our body and of the church world-wide.  It is both a form of confession and profession: Confession that we have not always led the way our Lord has called us to, and a profession in that it declares how we should live in light of our Savior’s example and calling in our lives.

Read it, share it, and live it out with me, men.

We, as men who love God and who by faith have been redeemed by the grace offered to us in Jesus Christ, desire to honor our Lord and Savior by following Him in giving our lives away for others as He gave His life away for us.  We want to love as Christ has loved us.  We want to follow His example of servant leadership.  We reject passivity and seek forgiveness for the ways we have abandoned our roles as servant leaders.  We repent of every expression of self-serving, self-exalting, self-loving, abusive, or authoritarian leadership.  We reject the ways of this world, the desires of our flesh, and the lies of the enemy that have resulted in us abandoning our post, living passively, leading in weakness and/or not pursuing God’s intentions for us as men with passion.  Women, we have hurt you by treating you as either objects that exist for our pleasure or servants who exist for our ease.  We have failed to consistently lead you spiritually by studying and applying God’s word to our lives, seeking God’s will,  following God’s way over man’s way, and praying with our wives.  We have allowed pornography to infect our hearts and poison our relationships.  We have not consistently forsaken our own understanding, sought first the Kingdom of Christ and His righteousness, or trusted in God’s way as the right way.  Our lack of Christ-like leadership has hurt you and made it difficult for you to follow us and respect us.  We have made it difficult for you to honor Christ your King because we have lived as if He is not ours.  We need you to forgive us, and we need you to fight with us as God intended.  We need you to live as our partners and God’s provision to spur us on to be passionate about eternal things until that great day when He will bring us home and we shall know Him as we are now known. We need you to pray for us.  We need you to continue to partner with us as we seek to model to a watching world the oneness that God intends for us to enjoy as His redeemed people.  

We need you to complete us with constant grace, steadfast encouragement, appropriate admonition, daily help, life-long perseverance, and God-given strength as we seek to love you as Christ loved the church.  

By God’s grace and by the power of His Spirit which mightily works within us, we purpose to nourish you with truth from His word until we present you in all of God’s intended glory, holy and blameless before Him. We will celebrate your dignity and eternal worth as our co-heirs in Christ and cherish you as is befitting your beauty as God’s gift to us.  We will fight for your honor, celebrate your giftedness, protect you from evil, provide for you needs, care for you with tenderness, and love you as we love our own bodies.  We will thank God for you.  We will live to bless you and serve you.  May God help us as we fulfill our God-given role as servant leaders of the church and family, so that we can love you and give our lives up for you as Christ did His church.   

Wagner Email Bag: Homosexuality Debate


Many of you heard our president’s recent remarks on homosexuality, and some of you may have been at Watermark yesterday when I shared how we should respond as believers.  You can also check out my comments here.

In addition, I received an email this week with some very helpful resources.  Give this a read and be equipped!


From: Xxxxx Xxxxxx

Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2012 8:32 PM

To: pastoraloffice
Subject: Fw: TGC: How I Wish the Homosexuality Debate Would Go


I’ve debated for several weeks whether or not to seek your guidance on a matter that is creating  a lot of division in my family.  I was raised in what I considered to be a strong Christian family.  Approximately 15 years ago my little brother shocked the whole family when he revealed that he was gay.  He had kept the secret for several years and had sought “Christian” counseling for a few years prior to his declaration.  At the time, he told us all that he was ashamed of his sin and had done everything possible to try to fight it.  He recognized homosexuality as a sin and told us that he was trying to figure out a way to abstain from ever acting on these feelings (we later found out that he had already been in previous hidden relationships).

Sadly, after many years of counseling and soul searching, he has reconciled his sin as acceptable to God has recently joined a church (one of the growing many) that has twisted the Gospel into convincing homosexuals that God has somehow “changed” and believes they can continue in their lifestyles as long as they are married or in “committed” relationships in states where gay marriage is banned.  Sadly, two of my three siblings have also Biblically reconciled this lifestyle as acceptable to God and are now encouraging him to pursue this lifestyle in an effort to find a partner he can spend his life with.

We have been exchanging emails back and forth for several weeks, but the conversations always end in the same result below.  I believe that the commentary that my little brother’s best friend (a strong believer) posted below was perfectly stated.  I’m convinced that the rebuttal from my brother is coming from his pastor and other gay Christian friends.

I would love to get your thoughts on the statement below where he makes the assumption that God has “evolved”, as evidence of his grieving over creating mankind in Genesis.  My other brother has echoed this same sentiment and questions Xxxxx’s multiple references to sexual deviance as being out of touch with today’s homosexuals.  Most of my siblings believe that I am not sensitive to my brother’s natural, “God given” tendencies and just want him to be lonely his whole life.  This couldn’t be further from the truth as I deeply love my brother and just want God’s best for his life.

Thank you for your prayers and your wisdom!



Email chain between Xxxxx, his brother, and another friend.

 From: Friend of Xxxxx and Xxxxx’s brother

Subject: TGC: How I Wish the Homosexuality Debate Would Go

This is a great article on how the writer wishes a conversation would go between a talk show host and evangelical pastor on gay marriage.

By the way, I highly recommend — tons of consistently great content there, articles, short blog posts, video and audio.

From: Xxxxx’s Brother
Subject: Re: TGC: How I Wish the Homosexuality Debate Would Go

There’s another aspect of this argument that goes undiscussed…  Actions are not sins merely for the sake of being sins… When we sin, we hurt ourselves and those around us.. They are self-destructive and lead to estrangement between God and the sinner…  We can see explicitly what it does to the adulterer, to the thief, to the murderer, to the liar, to the prostitute.. To a lesser degree, we see what it does to those who fornicate… Obviously, there are many who have had sex before marriage, whose marriages have ended up working out and being “fruitful.”

For the homosexual, however, there has never been an opportunity to marry, so they are always trapped in a perpetual state of sin, only when they “act out” of course.  Because of this, they wrap their identities around their sexuality which leads to all sorts of debauchery and wickedness— the worst of which is a complete abandonment of spirituality-  belief in or closeness with God.  

 This brings us to the question as to whether homosexuality is innate or developmental.  Everyone knows my struggle in this regard.  My views have changed.  Some might say my views  evolved.  Some might say they’ve devolved.  Honestly though, I really don’t care anymore what people think.  I know where I stand at this moment in my life, and I feel closer to God then ever before.  I may have a completely different view 10 years from now, I may not.  I just ask God to guide me however He can 

I believe God changes in relationship to us.  The core of God never changes— pure and unconditional love.  We see proof of this when God grieved that he had made man in the Old Testament.  I’m being borderline heretical right now, and digging into this question is for another time… But… 

I believe gay people, particularly Christian gay people, have matured— and I believe God’s relationship toward the homosexual condition has perhaps changed.   

I have a friend named Xxxx— he happens to be engaged to a man.  I know that sounds strange and probably very uncomfortable to hear, but he is one of the most loving, well rounded individuals I’ve ever met.  Unlike most gays, he never grew up with this stigma that homosexuality is wrong or unnatural.  In fact, his parents told him he was gay before he told them.  And they made it very clear that they had no problem with it and they loved him as much as their other children.  As a result, he never went through a period of self hatred… Unlike the vast majority of gays I know.

He can’t relate to his partner’s or my struggle with being gay.  It’s completely foreign to him…  

People like to believe that all of the debauchery and sadness and hyper-sexuality and promiscuity is a result of being gay.  But I believe it’s a result of self-hatred.  I’ve seen it in too many people.  

I know most Christians will never believe that sexual union between two people of the same gender is condoned by God — married or unmarried.  The scriptures are clear that the homosexual behavior at the time of Paul was deviant and evil.  But homosexuality at that time  was often combined in Pagan ritual.  It was often an older man and a submissive boy.  It was prostitutes… And so on…

 But homosexual people today are much different then they were back then.  

God is complex— we will never understand His mind while we are here on this earth.  Only He can see what lies at the core of all human behavior.  

What I’m trying to get across is…

Why not grant homosexuals the right to marry so that they don’t have to live in sin?  Homosexuality will never go away.  More and more people know someone or have a family member who is gay.  Don’t you want them to have the same rights to be as happy as you are?  

 Don’t you believe God is loving and that perhaps He approves of certain homosexual relationships?

The friends referenced above are two of the most wonderful people I know.  And their relationship is pure.  One of them became a Christian recently.   

Instead of intellectualizing everything and making Biblical views black or white, let’s take a look at the face of these relationships that are so condemned.  God might bring ease to your minds.

From: pastoraloffice
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 8:33 AM
To: Xxxxx Xxxxxx
Cc: Johnny Hawkins
Subject: RE: TGC: How I Wish the Homosexuality Debate Would Go

Xxxxx…glad you are asking and thanks for reaching out.  Though I understand that your question is primarily about the innate nature of God and how He or His character doesn’t change, I’d also love to offer you a resource that I think would be most helpful to you.  Below is the link to a message I did on homosexuality in 2004.  If you’ve never listened, this may be helpful to you as you continue to speak truth to your family.

I would agree with you that God’s convictions don’t change…in fact, Numbers 23:19 is clear in saying this.  Look it up and be encouraged! I am as saddened as you are by man’s attempts to define God based on their own finite understanding.  Does God deeply love your brother and others in his lifestyle?  Absolutely.  Is He surprised by his choices? No, and He is absolutely grieved by the self-inflicting pain that can be caused.

Also…to continue to dive into whether these tendencies are “God-given”, I’d encourage you to check out Ricky Chellette’s ministry at  You can also see some of what he has taught at Watermark here:

One last suggestion, and that is to continue to bring these sorts of issues to your consistent community around you so that they can be a source of encouragement for you, help you research these questions, and pray for your family.  I’m looping in Johnny Hawkins here, who is the director over your community group, as I know he would love to jump into the conversation.

For the record, I thought the hypothetical interview in the link was great.  Praying for you and your family, and grateful with you for Hebrews 13:8!