One of the unique features of seminary is that, unlike undergraduate programs, it attracts students from a wide range of life stages. Some of our students are right out of college, others are second career folks, and still others have already been in ministry for many years.
The next installment in our Where Are They Now? focuses on a graduate in this last category. Bernie Lawrence (class of 2010) did not acquire his seminary degree before entering into ministry, but after he had already been in ministry for a long time. Thus, his degree functioned a little differently. It honed, shaped, and improved a skill set that was already there.
I am grateful for Bernie’s ministry and for the entire pastoral staff of Christ Covenant Church. Christ Covenant is a key supporter of RTS Charlotte and a great partner in the ministry of the gospel.
1. What are you currently doing?
I serve as Senior Associate Pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, NC. In that role, I am responsible for all shepherding and discipleship ministries of our church including the staff and volunteers who oversee them. This includes such diverse things as pastoral counseling, small groups, men’s and women’s ministry, and leadership training. I also support the efforts of our Senior Pastor, Mike Ross.
2. Why did you originally come to RTS Charlotte?
I joined the pastoral staff of Christ Covenant twenty-three years ago as a ruling elder. At some point it became clear to me and to our Session that I needed a theological education to most effectively serve our congregation. And so, over a number of years, I pursued my studies at RTS, while at the same time continuing my full time duties at Christ Covenant and raising a large family.
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?
While there are probably several things that were reinforced in my education at RTS, perhaps the most profound is that I am a great sinner, but Christ is a great Savior. That truth continues to shape my ministry and my interpretation of events in our fallen world.
4. What do you enjoy most about your current ministry?
I remain humbled at the privilege I have to serve in gospel ministry. I consider myself something of a “utility player.” And so, I find satisfaction in most of my duties. But certainly, witnessing a marriage and family spared divorce and all its distressing consequences, or seeing one genuinely repent of sin are things that bring me great pleasure.
5. What has been a struggle in your ministry?
Our church went through a distressing time a decade or so ago that lasted for several years. That was perhaps the most difficult time of my ministry. While I learned a great deal about myself and the people of God, I would not welcome that again!
6. If you could give any encouragement to a current student in seminary, what would it be?
Seek out an older minister to mentor you, one who will hold you accountable, listen to you, laugh with you and cry with you. A great book on the topic is titled Connecting by Paul Stanley and Robert Clinton.
To learn more about the place Bernie ministers, check out this video highlighting the story of Christ Covenant Church: