This post is part of a series called "Meet the Team" introducing you to our Generation LINK staff. We hope it will help you get to know Generation LINK staff members serving around the country a little better.
Tell us a little about your bio (studies, work experience, family, etc.)
I am originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas. I came to know Christ as a teenager in high school. God began changing my life and giving me new desires for him that I never could have imagined. One of those desires was to serve him in full-time ministry. That desire took me to college at Liberty University. It was in college that I met my wife. I graduated a year before she did and moved to Dallas, TX. In that year, I convinced her to move to Dallas when she graduated. In what was unplanned by us but definitely God’s plan at work, we ended up moving to Wake Forest, NC four months after Emily moved to Dallas. God provided a job at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and shortly after we arrived we connected with Open Door Church. During our time at Open Door, Emily and I grew as a couple, were invested in by other godly couples, and were married on March 5, 2011. Our daughter, Amelia Ruth, was born on October 30, 2013. It has been an incredible journey welcoming her into our lives. We are loving being parents, serving together in ministry, being a part of community at Open Door, and reaching others with goods new of Jesus Christ.
In addition to the serving as the Generation LINK Raleigh Area Director, I serve as the Minister to Students at Open Church. I have the joy of investing in middle and high school students as well as college students. Before coming on staff at Open Door, I worked in the president’s office at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I served in various intern roles throughout college and my first years of seminary at churches in Arkansas and Texas. Outside of ministry my most interesting job was my first job as a door-to-door newspaper salesman for the Northwest Arkansas Morning News. Residents couldn’t resist my charm and good looks.
I completed my undergraduate degree at Liberty University and an M.Div from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am currently working on a PhD in Biblical Studies at Southeastern. I desire to serve the church by helping God's people understand their mission and carry it out in this world. I am excited to be a part of equipping the next generation of disciple makers through the local church.
What does Generation LINK look like at your church/location?
Currently, we are in the beginning stages of developing the full potential of Generation LINK at Open Door. We currently have one GLINK Resident—Paul Whitfield—who is being equipped and serving on our staff at Open Door. Paul functions as a church planting resident and serves primarily under our Lead Pastor, Dwayne Milioni. Paul has and is helping us establish a pattern and plan for training and equipping future missionaries, church planters, church planting team members, and pastors. We are looking to add both male and female GLINK residents in the coming two to three years. Generation LINK functions in two primary ways at Open Door: 1) an initial equipping and service opportunity for seminary and post-undergraduate students who desire to serve the church in some capacity in the future (1-2 years) and 2) a capstone equipping opportunity for church planters and missionaries before they are sent out from the local church.
How have you seen God use Generation LINK in your location?
God has used Generation LINK in a number of ways at Open Door. Three significant ways are: 1) GLINK has strengthened our training and equipping strategy. 2) GLINK has opened up and deepened partnerships with other like-minded churches and church plants. The value of GLINK is measured not only by its impact within our own local church, but in relationship to the other churches we are able to serve through partnering together. 3) GLINK is allowing us to invest in future leaders, pastors, missionaries, and church planters in a strategic way. Open Door has been committed to this vision before GLINK came into the picture, but GLINK has allowed us to do this even more intentionally through the residency.
What excites you most about the future of Generation LINK?
I get most excited about the potential of training men and women for the sake of gospel, some of whom will be faithful church members and reach their communities with the gospel, others who will be pastors of established churches, and others who will be church planters to unreached and underserved cities and communities in North America and around the world. Generation LINK is the tangible vehicle for this actually coming to fruition. It allows us the opportunity to invest in those God has entrusted to us and is an invaluable opportunity for our residents to be equipped and sent.
What 2-3 books have been most formative in your walk with Christ?
This kind of question always makes me a little anxious because I either can’t remember some of the books I’ve read or I start think about all the books I wish I had read. Here are a few that I remember reading and that I am grateful for doing so:
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J. I. Packer. This book grounded by passion for sharing the gospel in the confidence of God’s sovereignty. Knowing God’s sovereignty should not dampen our passion to share the gospel, rather it should make us bold, patient, and prayerful. God taught me through this book that successful evangelism is being faithful to the gospel (both its message and its invitation) and trusting God with the response. In fact, in the process of writing this blog post, I had the opportunity to lead one of our students to Christ. I think I might just need to go back and read this one again!
Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. This book hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it. I probably underlined 80% of the book. I didn’t quite know what God was going to do with my life after I read it, but I knew I didn’t want to be counting seashells—I didn’t want to waste my life but I wanted to spend my life for the sake of the gospel among the nations. I think I read a few mission biographies around this time as well, which contributed to the work God was doing in my heart (John Paton by James Paton, Five Who Changed the World by Danny Akin, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth Tucker). “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Downpour by James MacDonald. I’m not sure who gave me this book, but God used it and the biblical passages it walked through to teach me the true weight and offense of my sin and the nature and joy of repentance. I learned that repentance not only marked the beginning of the Christian life but characterized the entirety of it.
I commend any of these books to you, but know that their contents will not allow you to stay the same!
What are your favorite things to do in your free time?
This is an interesting concept—free time. When I do get a little free time, I love spending time with my wife and our daughter. If I’m not spending time with them, I enjoy reading, a round of golf, hanging out with friends, going to a good coffee shop, and I even enjoy doing a little work around the house.
What is your typical coffee shop order?
If I am not feeling snobby—a grande black coffee from Starbucks with room for cream (but only because they fill the cup up so much that it spills over and burns my hand). If I am feely snobby and have a little extra cash, I go to the hipster coffee shops and usually order a pour over of some coffee that I can’t pronounce (typically, it’s from Africa).