The WEST Institute Blog
Church Planting In St. George - ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT
By: Jeff Schaefer, 2013 Graduate
Since Graduating from the WEST Institute of Shepherds Theological Seminary more than 4 years ago I have taken what would probably be considered a non-traditional path for a seminary grad. I was convicted while going to The WEST to actually not pursue vocational ministry, but to pursue contentment and joy in God Himself. There was a subtle, yet significant shift in my mind about how I viewed the church and ministry. I had decided to love and serve the church with the gifts and opportunities available to me, while submitting to the leadership of godly men and trusting that God knows what He is doing with His church.
While working construction in Laramie and helping with youth and college ministry, Molly (my wife) and I decided to move back home to Winfield, Kansas, and be an encouraging volunteer for my Dad at the church he pastors. Fast-forward a couple years - through barber school, long work days, ups and downs in life and ministry - and I get a phone call from Sam Martin asking me to pray about partnering in a barbershop and joining a church plant team in St. George, Utah. My hope for barbering was always to eventually get involved in church planting. Molly and I were expressing this very desire the week leading up to Sam's phone call. Of course, having just bought a house and welcoming our first baby, this was a huge life decision; a decision that would not only set us back financially, but one that would take us away from many people that we love.
Well, we made the leap! We arrived in St. George on June 29th. With all the struggles that come with this transition, we are finding grace for each day as we turn to Him and we are now more resolved than ever to accomplish the purposes for which we are here. Our team is committed to one thing: seeing God's glory. We want God's glorious character and work to be seen and celebrated in St. George. We want to see His kingdom advance and expand. We want to celebrate changed hearts in response to the gospel. We plan to do that through simple evangelism and discipleship. We want to set a foundation at Red Mesa Fellowship in these areas for solid and healthy growth in the years to come. As people get saved and join our church, Lord willing, there will be an expectation in the culture of our church that everyone will be involved in discipleship. Everyone needs to be teaching someone. Everyone needs an outlet to share what they have learned. In these early stages, however, we are learning to feast on God's glory even through slow days and "setbacks". When the gospel is shared but not received, we can see God's glory; when we worship our King together in unity, we see His glory; when we work hard at our respective jobs while resting in God's provision and grace, His glory is also revealed.
One last thing about the WEST. Our team has four grads from Shepherds Seminary through the WEST. We see this as a huge advantage. Because we are all basically on the same page theologically, I expect to be able to make advances as a unified front without typical hangups. I also think this opens up the door to honest and challenging conversations, making sure we are of the same Spirit. As far as preparation for ministry, theological training from the WEST is priceless. I am as thirsty for study now as I was when I entered seminary. Therein is the great truth of seminary: you don't go to learn everything, you go to gain the tools to continue the learning and teaching cycle of a true disciple of Jesus.