(Administrator’s note: For posterity’s sake, we thought it was a good idea to add a disclaimer that this is an April Fool’s Day joke. We don’t want future readers who may come across this post to conclude otherwise.)
Southeastern Seminary has been a key part of my life for about fifteen years. With the exception of a two year stint overseas, I have been a student, professor, and administrator at SEBTS for most of my adult life. It has been a good ride. But like all good things, it must come to an end.
Last week I tendered my resignation to President Akin, effective June 30. Though I love teaching, I have long felt that I am neglecting my primary calling. The Lord has given me a gift, and I can no longer hide it under a bushel. Beginning July 1, I am launching a new ministry called Missional Yodeling. My hope and prayer is that this ministry will help impact one of the unreached and underserved people groups in America-yodelers.
I’ve struggled with this calling for years. For a time I thought about leaving SEBTS to become a gospel mime, but the Holy Spirit simply refused to move through my fingers. It’s all the same; when I met with my pastor, J. D. Greear, he advised me not to go the miming route because “mimes are creepy.” Frankly, I think the advice says more about J. D.’s neuroses than the practice of miming itself, but I usually take my pastor’s advice. I also batted around the idea of asking Alvin Reid if I could travel around with him and play the electric organ in his worship band, but figured he’d tell me that would be too much like a comeback of the 1950s SBC for his tastes.
Most of my Between the Times colleagues have taken the news pretty well. Dr. Akin was disappointed, but he confided that he too has the spiritual gift of yodeling and wrestles with the same calling. (I already suspected this-yodelers can sense the gift in others.) Ed Stetzer asked if I’d coauthor a pair of books with him on Missional Yodeling and Comeback Yodeling. David Nelson told me that yodeling was fine for evangelistic purposes, but I shouldn’t do it in a worship service because it would remind some worshipers of being in the Switzerland section at Epcot Center. Ken Keathley warned me that some would mock my gift, but I shouldn’t shrink back because God has sovereignly willed a world where I would freely choose to become a yodeler. Nathan Finn said he really wasn’t that surprised with my decision, though he did make some crack about lederhosen and Ricola. Then he asked if he could have all my books, since “yodelers are like recreation ministers and don’t need any books.”
I covet your prayers as I transition to this strategic, Great Commission ministry. For those of you who, like my wife and parents, are worried that I will not be able to support my family during this transition, please know that I do have a back-up plan. I have a standing offer from Heidi and the Yodelers to join their crime-fighting team if my ministry falls through.
If any of you would like to have me come and talk about Missional Yodeling at your church, small group, or Kiwanis Club, just leave a comment on this post.
Bruce Riley Ashford