The interview that never happened...
March 5, 2012 by Cody Parman 0 comments
The interview that never happened…
Well, the good news is that I’ve got the job! The unique thing is that we never had an interview. Think of this post as an opportunity for me to answer some questions concerning who I am and what I believe. I think this can also be a useful tool for the people God is beginning to draw to this movement who may not know me that well. So let’s press rewind and take a look at what questions you may have asked and how I would've answered them.
1. Who have been your primary theological teachers, or influences? In other words (apart from the Bible), what authors, theologians (either living or dead), movements, denominations, or schools of thought have most influenced your theology?
In my 10 years I have experienced many influences. Some of these influences I’d like to claim more than others, but I’ll take you through what my journey has looked like to this point.
When I was 20 years old and felt God drawing me into ministry as a career, I really didn’t have much of a ‘theology’ apart from a very basic understanding of the Trinity and Scripture. I felt as though I was called to lead people in worship with the musical gifts God had given me as well as a calling to minister to teenagers. In a pursuit of answering those calls, I stumbled upon a few books by Jim Cymbala called “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire”, “Fresh Power”, and “Fresh Faith”. I was blown away by his experiences of small beginnings and how he witnessed God changing so many people who would be deemed impossible to reach normally. I found myself with a deep desire to serve God in a way that would allow me to witness these types of results in ministry, more specifically student ministry.
In my early 20’s I found myself reading from authors such as John Ortberg, Max Lucado, Rick Warren, and Bruce Wilkinson. With no training or education in student ministry, I knew I needed some type of guidance as I was ministering to a small group of teenage students at such a young age with no leadership or training. I stumbled upon another book, this time by author Doug Fields with “Purpose Driven Youth Ministry”. This book really gave me a sense of strategy and helped me organize my approach to youth ministry. This book led me to many Saddleback resources and also connected me with Youth Specialties and their conference and training events. This led me to many resources and books from many youth ministry veterans that I came to enjoy.
Also, the two church staffs that I have worked with have always been committed to attending conferences and reading books on leadership together. I’ve been to Willow-Creek conferences, several Youth Specialty conferences, a Group workcamp conference, the Drive conference (Nothpoint, Andy Stanley), the Orange conference (Northpoint), and most recently the Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago. Books that we have went through as a staff in the past few years have included “Simple Church” by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger and “7 Practices of Effective Ministry” by Andy Stanely, Reggie Joiner, and Lane Jones.
However, I would say that there has been a shift in influences during the past couple of years in my life. Currently, I love and am probably addicted to the teaching and writings of guys like Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, James McDonald, Tim Keller, and David Platt. I really enjoyed the Elephant Room discussions and have used them to reevaluate how I approach ministry. I’ve enjoyed countless hours listening to Matt Chandler go through books of the bible, and have even enjoyed sermons from other campus pastors with The Village Church. Mark Driscoll’s “Doctrine” has turned into one my most valued resources as it lays out church doctrine in such an effective way. James McDonald has quickly become someone who I really enjoy listening too and has an amazing blog with Vertical Church as well. Recently, I’ve enjoyed books such as “Radical Together”, “The Reason For God”, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything” and “The Trellis and the Vine”.
2. What is the gospel? (i.e. theologically speaking, not how you would explain the gospel message to a non-Christian)
The gospel of Jesus Christ is what changes everything. It is the lens through which we should view all avenues of life and its’ circumstances.
3. Please give your view of the scriptures.
2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
1. Completely authoritative - I believe scripture to be authoritative above all other writings.
2. God breathed – As mentioned in the verse above, I believe that scripture is God’s word gifted to us so that we can know Him and serve Him with our lives.
3. A tool to discern good from evil – I believe that, particularly even in ministry, there are so many things that “sound good” but have no value for us. Much like Paul mentions in Colossians 2:4-10, just because views and circumstances seem “Plausible” they’re not necessarily godly. With that said, scripture is the filter through which we discern what will be done in our lives.
4. Briefly describe your philosophy of ministry and evangelism?
I believe churches carry out ministry and evangelistic efforts best when the members are intentional about discipling others with their lives. That being said, as God awakens the hearts of His people through the proclamation of His word, they won’t be able to resist living a life that desires to glorify Him. Furthermore, with a foundation rooted in scripture, ministry and evangelism unfold in the lives of Christians when people are intentional and determined to invest their lives in other people. This investment is then accomplished through speaking biblical truth into someone’s life as well as displaying a conduct that would point them to Jesus.
5. What is our role in saving the lost, and what is God’s role
Salvation is gifted to us by God alone. Colossians chapter 1 tells us that it is by His might that salvation is accomplished, it is the Father that qualifies us for the inheritance, it is He alone who delivers us from the darkness, and it’s through His son in which we have been redeemed. In other words, we don’t do the saving because He has already done it. Therefore, in light of what God has done for us, our role is to proclaim the gospel message and display a conduct with our lives that would point others to His glory.
6. In your own words, how do you understand the doctrine of predestination and what view do you personally hold on this doctrine? (Please include within your answer: 1) Your understanding of the doctrine of predestination/election, 2) God’s sovereignty vs. man’s responsibility, 3) free will, 4) who are the elect, 5) why is this doctrine important, and 6) your order of salvation “ordo salutis”, etc.)
1- Predestination/election – God chose, before the foundation of the world, who His people were. The ‘elect’ were chosen by God according to His perfect will (Eph 1:3-10) and depends not on the will or efforts of man (Romans 9:16)
2 – God’s sovereignty vs. man’s responsibility – Since it is God who chooses who will receive His mercy, it is not man’s responsibility to “get anyone saved”. But rather, it is the responsibility of man to proclaim the gospel and display a conduct that would draw people to Christ. Man proclaiming and living out the gospel in their lives is God’s predestined will for them and the means by which people hear the gospel and are saved (Romans 10:14-17). Salvation is solely God’s to provide.
3 – Free Will – God regenerates our heart that we may in return choose to live daily for Him. Without God regenerating our heart, we are incapable of living for him. God provided a way for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), and thus creating a way for us to live a holy life. (Jeremiah 24:7)
4 – Who are the elect – The elect are God’s chosen people whom He has chosen to save from eternal condemnation and to fulfill His purposes (John 15:16, Romans 8:29-30, Romans 9:11). The elect are those who have hearts regenerated by God to live for Him (1 Peter 1:3).
5 – Why is this doctrine important – I believe this doctrine to be a crucial understanding of God’s sovereignty and omniscience. Either God is sovereign and all-knowing or He isn’t. An understanding of predestination and election makes these two beliefs absolute. I also believe that this doctrine successfully combats the common temptation to think that God’s love is something to earn or that we can manipulate God in any way with our actions or thoughts. This doctrine says that I live for God’s purposes, not the other way around.
6 – Ordo Salutis – Predestination (Ephesians 1:4-5), Election (Ephesians 1:4-5), Gospel Call (Romans 10:5-21), Regeneration (Titus 3:5), Faith & Repentance (1 John 1:9), Justification (Galatians 3:24, Romans 5:10), Sanctification (John 17, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Galatians 2:20), Glorification (Romans 8:29-30)
7. What is your view of Creation? How do you go about explaining the Imago Dei?
I believe God to be the creator of all things. With that said, we are now left with the task of wrapping our minds around “how” and will certainly not obtain a detailed description since we undoubtedly could not comprehend it. However, I don’t get caught up in trying to define the time frame in which He accomplished creation. After verse 5 of Genesis 1, the Bible says that God was accomplishing creation within the contexts of the sunset and sunrise, insinuating a 24-hour period. While this sounds impossible, it’s supposed to because that’s what a miracle consists of, God conquering impossibilities. So, just like Jesus turned water into wine instantly, He can also create the heavens and earth in any time frame he chooses. The wine came into existence with appearance of age, as wine involves an aging process. So then, the earth and its’ attributes could also come into existence with the appearance of age much like the wine. However, the details of ‘time’ and ‘how’ will remain ultimately a mystery.
As far as Imago Dei goes, I believe that humans alone are image bearers of God in that we are above creation and below God. Humanity was created in the image of God, therefore man has significant worth. God alone makes it possible for his image bearers to turn towards him and better reflect His glory.
8. Now, how has Adam’s sin affected our nature and our ability to choose in regard to good and evil?
It is through the curse of Adam that sin entered the world and our inherent sinful nature that keeps it here (Romans 5:12). Just as Adam chose sin, we also choose sin (Romans 3:23, James 3:2). It is only through a gospel-regenerated heart that we are to choose God’s ways in our life.
9. What is the church and its role? Support the role of the church scripturally as well as define how the church is different from an organization?
The church is the body of Christ uniting to glorify God, as the different parts of Christ’s body are uniquely gifted to do its’ part (Romans 12:3-8). The church that understands this then becomes much more than a club or institution. But rather, the church is to actively work together and invest their lives in others through genuine discipleship, which flows from hearts regenerated by Christ.
a. What is your view and practice on baptism, Lord’s Supper, church discipline, and spiritual gifts?
Baptism – Baptism is the outward expression of an inward decision as described in Romans 6. And, in following the example of Jesus, immersion is the preferred method by which this should take place. Also, a ‘believer’s baptism’ is the type of baptism I believe to be most biblically accurate. I also have strong convictions towards a believer’s baptism because this is a moment that should be owned by the one being baptized rather than a parent or guardian.
With that said, I’m in a church that does not accept any believers baptism that was done by sprinkling. While a sprinkled believer’s baptism isn’t the preferred method, its’ symbolism and message can certainly have the same meaning in one’s life. Therefore, this form of a believer’s baptism in a membership transfer would be accepted, though an opportunity for an immersion style baptism for the sake of proclaiming the gospel would be offered.
Lord’s Supper – The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament to be handled with the upmost care and respect (1 Corinthians 11:27). Taking communion proclaims the Lord’s ultimate act of grace through Christ on the cross until he comes back (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). I believe that this is a sacrament that is to be practiced both inside and outside the walls of the church. Therefore, communion should be something that is done amongst a church family, with your small group, and certainly with your own family.
Church Discipline – I strongly desire to lead a church that practices church discipline. When dealing with any difficult circumstance, pursuing forgiveness, repentance, reconciliation, and restoration are always the goal that is in mind. With that said, in cases that members of the church choose to openly sin or teach a false gospel with none of these biblical principles mentioned being pursued, then the member must be removed from the church (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). I would presume that there is nothing enjoyable about an experience such as removing someone from the church. However, it would be much worse to allow a member of a congregation to openly practice debauchery with no action being taken.
Spiritual Gifts – God has uniquely designed all of his people (Psalm 139). He also has called us to work together as his body as the church (Romans 12). God’s design calls for each of the different parts of the body to use their gifts to collectively bring glory to Him. So in the body of Christ, some are inclined to teach, some to serve, some to lead, some to care, some to finance, etc…
10. Describe your view of local church government, including the offices (elder/pastor, deacon, etc…), who can/should hold them, who has final authority for decision making, and what involvement and responsibility does the church body (congregation) have in the decision making and final authority within your church?
Elder/Pastor – The Elder positions of the church are the core of the church government. The biblical standards and expectations of the male elders are something that should be intentionally pursued by each elder and kept by the church (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 5:2-3). These extreme biblical standards allow for all final authority for decision-making to rest in the lap of this board of elders.
Deacon – The deacons of the church should be servants who are dedicated to the ministries of the church (John 2:5; Romans 15:8; Matthew 20:26; Luke 10:40; Acts 11:29; 12:25) More specifically, this life of service should help meet the basic needs of those who could use their help (Matthew 4:11; 8:15; 27:55; Luke 10:40; Romans 15;25). The task of the deacon is to lead the church in meeting local and global needs, as well as showing hospitality and caring for all.
Treasurer/Trustees – The treasurer and/or trustees should work together with the elders and deacons of the church to take care of all the budgetary needs as well as the church building maintenance. These are people who help us organize our finances.
Congregation – The Journey Church will always welcome input and ideas from the congregation. Information and references from the congregation will also be welcomed in regard to who the elders and deacons of the church should be. However, with no biblical model of congregationalism to go by, this system of church government isn’t necessary.
11. What is your eschatological position?
Though these positions are worthy of discussion and certainly up for debate, I tend to lean towards Amillennialism.
12. What are some core convictions which you (as lead planter) will never give in, nor even bend on, as you plant your church.
1. The Bible alone is the authoritative, inerrant, infallible word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 4:12, 2 Peter 1:19-20)
2. God is a trinitarian God. (Matthew 28:19, Genesis 1:26-27, John 17:22)
3. The deity of Christ. (John 1, John 10:30-33, Philippians 2:5-6)
4. The physical death and resurrection of Christ. (Matthew 27:32 – 28:8, Acts 2:22-24, Romans 5:6-8)
5. Salvation through Christ alone. (John 14:6, Matthew 7:12-27, John 3:16, Ephesians 2:1-5)
6. Salvation by grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:20-28, 1 Corinthians 15:10, Galatians 2:16)
1) How would you respond to a couple at your church that just miscarried 9 weeks into pregnancy? What scriptures would you take them to?
It’s incredibly hard to know what to do or say in such a difficult circumstance such as this one. In 2 Samuel 12:23, we learn of the death of David’s son through Uriah’s wife. At the end of this story David says, “…I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” This passage would insinuate that the infant went straight to heaven and David was speaking of how he would reunite with him there. An additional story could be taken from Luke 1:15 in which it speaks of God the Holy Spirit existing in John while still in the womb. These passages let us rest in the sovereignty of God and that He cherishes and takes care of His people at any and every stage of life.
Although, I was involved in a situation similar to this in which there was simply nothing you could say because nothing ever feels fully adequate in the moment. Some friends of ours lost their 3 year old daughter in a tragic drowning in the pool at their home. These were such wonderful God-fearing people in our church. My wife and I were left speechless, so we just served them the best we could. We just compelled to show them love and serve them. We mowed their yard, cleaned their pool, spent time with their son, fixed them dinner, etc… We developed a strong bond with that family that still remains today.
2) Some college kid comes into your office wanting to know who God is and has a vague idea of this thing called the “Trinity.” Please explain how you would pastorally go about talking to this confused person about God and the Trinity.
I would start by describing God as the creator of all things. Next, I would talk about how God intended for a paradise, which would lead us into a discussion about the fall of man. With this foundation, I would be in a great position to discuss how man needed to be redeemed but lacked the ability to accomplish this feat because man incessantly falls short of perfection. The conversation would then naturally steer towards what God graciously accomplished through Jesus’ death and resurrection as our means of justification. Finally, a description of how, in light of the gospel, the Holy Spirit draws, convicts, and refines us into God’s perfect will.
By presenting each of the 3 persons that is God, I would then have the ingredients to present the hefty term, which is the Trinity. I would conclude that the term trinity is a simple term that presents a vast understanding of who God is and what He has done for us.
3) In a follow up the college kid brings in a couple of friends and to talk more in depth about who Jesus is, as this can be confused at the local university, and wants the biblical answer of who Jesus is and what He did. Again how would you talk with these seekers of truth about Jesus Christ and His works?
I think it’s always important to keep in mind that you are never going to “debate” anyone into a relationship with Jesus. With that said, in conversations such as this in the past, students are leaning towards the argument that Jesus was just a really good teacher but not God. I would weigh in with the approach that that argument contradicts itself on the grounds that Jesus taught that He was God, which would make him a terrible teacher. I would follow this up with examples in scripture where Jesus and others made the claim of Christ’s deity. Then, I would reference the many miracles of Christ and how they proved He was God.
4) You are counseling a couple, who claim to be Christian, that are fornicating and believe they are “married in their hearts”. They would like to become members of your church. Describe how would you handle this couple, including how you would address the issue of being “married in their hearts”?
I would very lovingly explain how being “married in your heart” offers zero accountability for each other and ultimately describes a lack of commitment on their part. With that said, a gentle but bold word study on the Greek word “porneia” would define where God falls on the issue. With that foundation laid, they would not be allowed into membership while openly sinning in their current circumstance. On the other hand, these people are obviously more than welcome to join us in fellowship and would be a target for our love and affection.
5) You are praying with folks up front after a Sunday Service and get a young man that would like you to pray for him in regards to an addiction to pornography. What would you do and how would you on the spot counsel this man?
First and foremost, I would want the individual to understand that they cannot beat this or any addiction alone. Secondly, I would lead them in a prayer asking God for guidance and the ability to put this sin to death. Thirdly, I would ask them to meet with a counselor of the church or myself to implement a strategic plan of accountability in their life. Follow up is such a huge asset and help to the individual in situations such as these. Gaining assistance from a gender appropriate deacon and/or elder would be a major benefit in caring and providing encouragement through this addiction.
6) A group of people are talking and invite you to answer a question they have been trying to figure out. The question they are trying to answer is what role does prayer have in the Christian life if you preach the sovereignty of God? What would be your answer for them?
I would tell them that God commands us to pray in Scripture (1 Timothy 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Obedience to the command of prayer strengthens our relationship with God much like it did David in various Psalms. Prayer demonstrates our dependency upon Him. Prayer and sanctification are the means by which our relationship with Him reaches an intense and intimate level. Yet at the same time I believe it’s ok to admit that there is a certain mystery to prayer that we can’t fully wrap our minds around. Ultimately though, prayer is about God’s will, not our will.
7) After church one day you are approached by a crying woman that truly has a broken heart from being convicted of her sin. She simply asks you to tell her the gospel so that she may believe like others in your church. How would you explain the gospel to her?
Being a female, I would definitely make sure that my wife or another person was present during this time of counseling. With that said, I would tell her that she is God’s creation and that she is responding to God who has changed her heart. I would go on to tell her that God has given her a heart to have faith and feel conviction. Then I would tell her that her faith will result in the repentance of sins and through that process God will sanctify her and change her for the rest of her life. I would tell her that the reason that God’s grace feels so irresistible to her is that He has already claimed her as His. I would tell her that it is because of Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross this was all possible.
8) As a follow up with the previous question, how would you then explain to this person how the role of the gospel is involved in the process of sanctification?
I would tell her that the gospel is the means by which we approach everything in life. I would explain that a gospel-centered life is an approach to life that can and should radically change everything about her. Also, I would explain that as we grow deeper into the gospel, God will continuously change, shape, and craft our lives according to His will. It’s all about Jesus!
1998-2000, Vincennes University
Associate in Arts & Humanities
2000-2002, Indiana University
Bachelor of General Studies
2005-2008, Indiana Wesleyan University
Master of Arts in Ministry
Amanda is my beautiful wife of almost 10 years who is faithfully committed to Jesus, our family, and the church. We have 3 amazing boys who keep our lives full of joy and excitement. Nolan is our 5 year old sweet, sensitive, and caring son who loves everyone. Emmett is our 2 year old wild man, intense cuddler, and sword fighter. Reese is our laid back 9 month old who's just happy to be with you.
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