Jeff Iorg Blog


Korean Friends

Mar 02 2015

            In the Bay Area, we have many Korean churches being led by Golden Gate students or graduates.  Every year they host a music festival, bringing many churches together to share an evening of choral and instrumental presentations.  They honor Golden Gate by highlighting our work, asking me to speak for a few minutes, and giving us a significant gift.  We appreciate their support, loyalty, and the outstanding musicianship which makes the evening so special.

            My introduction to the Korean Christian community came through Dr. Chang Moon, a longtime pastor in Tacoma, Washington.  For some reason, he reached out to me as a younger pastor and helped me connect with his church.  Then, while I worked for the Northwest Baptist Convention, he often invited me to teach, preach, or lead training events for him.  He taught me to love Koreans, Korean worship, and Korean food.  His friendship has shaped me profoundly.

            As Golden Gate moves steadily to a new future in new locations, our commitment to multicultural ministry, to the Bay Area, and particularly to the Korean community has not waned.  We will continue to train leaders – both in English and in our bilingual programs – for global ministry in and through the Korean community.  It’s been a great partnership and will only grow stronger as we continue to work together.

 

Best Job Ever

Feb 23 2015

             Last Sunday, I was reminded why being the pastor of a church (of a Baptist church if you are really fortunate!) is the best job ever.  I preached at a healthy church where the pastor has served effectively for more than a decade.  After the second service (of three), a man in his mid-thirties sought me out to talk about the message.  While my message had focused on motivating Christians to meet the needs of people and share the gospel, he told me he was the needy person I had been talking about and he wanted to commit his life to Jesus.

            After talking with him briefly, I introduced him to the pastor so I could move into preaching at the next service.  After that service, the pastor told me our new friend had committed himself to Jesus.  It was only his second time to visit the church, but his desperate situation motivated him to receive the gospel and the hope it offers.  That’s why being a pastor is the best job in the world.  While I moved on down the road that afternoon, the pastor gets to facilitate this man’s baptism, incorporate him into their church family, and help him learn how to follow Jesus.  What could possibly be more rewarding than that?

            Don’t get me wrong.  I like my job, too.  But being a seminary president is like working in wholesale – while pastors work retail.  I work behind the scenes training people and shaping leaders who reach people.  That’s good work, but without the immediate results of seeing people come to faith in Jesus and be transformed by the gospel.

            At the end of the services last Sunday, the church where I was preaching showed a video of all its baptisms from the previous year.  Changed life after changed life flashed on the screen.  What an amazing, gratifying, thrilling montage!  Thank God for faithful pastors who preach, teach, and live the gospel!  And, thank God for a good church that let me share their joy this past Sunday.  It was like a cool breeze on a hot day, refreshing and invigorating, motivating me to keep doing my job so hundreds of future pastors can do theirs.

 

Leading People Through Change

Feb 10 2015

At Golden Gate, we are living through the most significant change in our history – and one of the most dramatic changes in the history of American seminaries.  We are currently relocating one of the ten largest seminaries in North America, building two entirely new campuses, moving our primary campus operations 400 miles – all while remaining fully operational.

The new facilities and geographic shifts are important aspects of the relocation – but this may surprise you – they are not the most important part of the move.  The most important aspect of the move is its impact on people – students, staff, faculty, graduates, donors, and friends – who make up the Golden Gate family.  From the beginning, managing the impact on people has been my most significant priority.

Last week, starting the new semester with President’s Convocation gave me the opportunity to address this issue by speaking on “Leading People through Major Change.”  We are making the message available by video or as an electronic document.  The principles in the message are transferable to anyone leading a major ministry change. 

Click here to access the video

Click here to access the manuscript

 

Not So Funny

Feb 02 2015

Tucked within an otherwise humorous Super Bowl ad by T-Mobile was a supposedly comedic line when a woman handed a newborn to his mother, “Sorry, it’s a boy.” The line sounded like a thunderclap to me when I first heard it. The growing cultural bias against boys – really all traditional aspects of maleness – is pervasive, but usually communicated more subtly. This was a far more blatant statement than I anticipated in a Super Bowl commercial. Even if it was supposed to be a comedic line, it was “hostile humor” making a profound point about our culture’s rejecting of boys, men, and masculinity. If you think I am overreacting, consider what would have happened if the woman would have said, “Sorry, it’s a girl.” Every feminist leader, including every elected official who caters to their lobby, would have been outraged. There would have been boycotts, calls for apologies and resignations, and pledges of sensitivity training for those responsible for the ad. The outcry would have been loud and long! This commercial stood in contrast to another Super Bowl ad about doing things “like a girl” – which of course honored girls for their efforts and sought to build their self-esteem (which is a worthy goal). So, why is it culturally acceptable to ridicule boys but not girls? Why is giving birth to a boy a disappointment? And why do I think this is a big deal? Underlying all this is the opposition to maleness, feminization of boys, and rejection of gender distinctives in our culture. The goal is gender-neutrality – genderless participation policies, unisex public facilities, same-sex marriage, etc. Maleness is something to be fixed, not celebrated and shaped. We might laugh off a silly ad, but the sad result of our cultural determination to redefine manhood is in our future. We won’t be laughing when we get what we are striving for.

 




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