One of the most exciting programs over the last few years at RTS Charlotte is the Institute for Reformed Campus Ministry (IRCM). The IRCM is designed to equip our students for the challenges that are unique to campus ministry–and there are many. The college campus is one of the most critical battle grounds in our world today, and we are please to play a role in sending well-trained men and women to labor there.
The IRCM involves a specialized degree emphasis in campus ministry, as well as the IRCM Fellowship (a community of folks headed to campus ministry), IRCM events and lunches, and more. You can read more about it here.
While the IRCM serves a number of different campus ministries, it is no surprise that Reformed University Fellowship has become one of our biggest constituencies. Many RTS Charlotte alumni have become RUF pastors or staff over the years, and we look forward to that trend continuing in the future.
For that reason, I am pleased that this installment of the Where Are They Now? alumni series is focused on J.R. Foster, class of 1999 and area coordinator for RUF. For other installments in the series, see here.
1. What are you currently doing?
I am an Area Coordinator for Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), specifically serving our campus ministries in SC, GA, and FL.
2. Why did you originally come to RTS Charlotte?
When I began RTS – Charlotte in 1996, the fledgling campus had just graduated its first class. Without many years to form a local reputation, I chose it based on RTS’s national reputation as well as its proximity to where I was living.
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?
I learned so much from so many different professors, but the late Dr Frank Kik used to say to his students ad nauseam: “You’re preaching to people and not pews.” As much as my fellow students and I rolled our eyes at him for the number of times he reminded us of this maxim, I am indebted to him for the principle behind it: ministry is to people. I believe that principle shaped me in the way that I approach pastoral ministry. Being task-orientated by nature, it’s a needed reminder to me that ministry is about caring for people.
4. What do you enjoy most about your current ministry?
I was an RUF campus minister for 11 years, 1999-2010. During that tenure, I served on a campus with an existing RUF as well as a campus where I began the ministry. Those experiences have given me valuable wisdom in campus ministry, a wisdom that I am able to pass on to the 20 campus ministers under my care. I truly love coming alongside these men and providing encouragement and guidance in their ministries.
5. What has been a struggle in your ministry?
In Spiritual Depression, Dr Lloyd-Jones speaks so truthfully that many of our struggles in the Christian life are as a result of listening to ourselves rather than talking to ourselves. My struggle in ministry always has been listening to myself and the inner criticisms I hear from within rather than talking to myself and the outer truths God speaks to me from His Word.
6. If you could give any encouragement to a current student in seminary, what would it be?
Since Dr Kik is not there to say it any longer, I’ll say it now: you’re preaching to people and not pews!