Over the last number of years, God has really used RTS Charlotte to help train folks headed into two strategic areas: campus ministry and church planting.
In fact, we have an entire institute designed for the former, the Institute for Reformed Campus Ministry (IRCM), and we just announced the Center for Church Planting to help prepare folks for the latter.
The next installment in our Where Are They Now? alumni series highlights a person who has done both of these. Tyler Dirks (class of 2007) was the RUF pastor at Johnson and Wales University and now is the church planting pastor for East Charlotte Presbyterian Church.
Here is his interview:
1. What are you currently doing?
I am the Senior Pastor at East Charlotte Presbyterian Church, and was formerly the RUF Pastor at Johnson and Wales University here in Charlotte.
2. Why did you originally come to RTS Charlotte?
I had heard good things about RTS from my campus minister at Kansas State University (the campus ministry is called Ichthus, and the minister’s name is John Schwartz), and my father’n law (Dr. Glenn Zaepfel who had taught for a time at the RTS Orlando campus). I married into the East Coast and I wanted to train for full-time Gospel ministry somewhere in, or near, the Carolinas. So… we scheduled a visit to RTS CLT. As I recall, we sat-in on Dr. Cara’s class (Acts-Romans if I’m not mistaken). Honestly, I don’t remember my impression of the content/material being taught, I simply didn’t want Dr. Cara to ask me a question to which I most likely would not have an answer to (Dr. Cara had cordially & candidly greeted us when our tour guide [Chad Grindstaff] dropped us off, and this uninhibited gesture of welcome made me rather nervous because Dr. Cara struck me as the kind of professor who wouldn’t be bashful about classroom interaction with an intimidated visitor 🙂
I think the most positive impression we had that day we first visited was being introduced to Dr. Kelly and Dr. Kruger. Chad marched us into both professor’s offices, and they immediately paused in the middle of whatever they were working on in order to greet us and chat for a bit. I thought, “These guys are probably in the middle of writing books, or saving the church from heresy …and here they are shooting the breeze with a lowly potential seminarian like me!?”
3. Is there one thing that you learned at RTS that has come back to you as you have ministered to others? A phrase, encouragement or advice?
Presuppositions (neutrality is a myth). What is the chief end of man? …to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Robust friendships were forged in seminary with my classmates. Reading is something every human being should be doing A LOT.
4. What do you enjoy most about your current ministry?
Bible Study with fellow disciples …feeding on the Word of God together as a family of those who strive and fight to live by faith in the unseen riches that are ours in Christ.
5. What has been a struggle in your ministry?
Sincerely loving selves besides myself. Selfishness is HARD to destroy. Conquering insecurities is a task that only the Holy Spirit is able to accomplish. John 3:30.
6. If you could give any encouragement to a current student in seminary, what would it be?
Risks are not bad. Don’t be afraid to fail. Fix your eyes on Jesus, get out of the boat, keep your eyes on Jesus, don’t allow the worries of the world, or your reputation steal your attention – keep your eyes on Jesus. Be deliberate about moving toward people who you don’t naturally like. Get their story.