Just recently I became an official employee of our seminary in and so also of the University of Matej Bel in Banská Bystrica. On the surface, this doesn’t change my ministry priorities or day to day activities, but it does increases my long term ability to influence the viability and direction of the seminary and it changes our financial situation.
A Part of the Team
From January, 2003 until April 2017 I was a volunteer for the Department of Theology in the College of Education at the University of Matej Bel in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. That changed on April 12 when I signed an employment agreement with the University.
In terms of my personal calling, ministry goals and every day activities, this won’t have much of an impact on my ministry. I believe God has called me to help the church better understand and live out his word. Still, this new status does change two things that we need you to pray for.
Why the Change?
I have to admit it was kind of nice maintaining some independence from the university system. I was usually passed over when administrative duties were assigned and it also gave me a little independence when I didn’t agree with some of the burdens set on us by “higher ups.” But all of that cuts both ways. I wasn’t as vested in the future of the seminary and that certainly decreased my potential for long term influence. Also, none of my research activity contributed to accreditation.
That last point has become more of an issue lately. Last year I was involved in the Creation Project at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. If I had been officially employed by the university then the school would have gotten some major points that could have contributed toward increased funding for the University and, of course, more of those all-important accreditation points.
So there you have it. The University started becoming interested in my research output and I see this as an opportunity to increase my long term influence on the direction of the seminary. That’s why we decided it’s in our mutual best interest for me to become officially employed as an associate professor at the University.
So Do I Still Work for ReachGlobal?
Yes! I am still first and foremost a missionary. In fact, the university system in Slovakia is in a bit of a crisis. Over the last couple of years they’ve had to let people go and there was no way they could fund my new position. In order to come on staff here, some of the money we raise for support has gone from the mission as a grant to the university. These funds are designated specifically to cover my salary in a standard process that ReachGlobal uses for other missionaries who teach at seminaries abroad. Also, even though I now have two employers, my job and salary remain the same and I am ultimately accountable to ReachGlobal for my activities here.
So What Has Changed?
As I mentioned, I hope that by being more vested in the seminary, I will be able to have a greater long term impact on the direction of the school. There are some specific things I would like to see change over time. First, I’d like to see a closer relationship between the seminary and the denominations that our seminary serves. Second, I’d like to see us get better at spiritual formation and finally, I’d like to see a shift toward Biblical Studies as the foundation for everything the seminary does. All of these things are happening right now without me, but hopefully I can help pull some of the load.
And finally, this change also has an impact on our finances. Even though my salary remains the same, there are increased taxes and administrative costs that come to about $500 per month. Since we were already underfunded–the funds in our ministry account have been slowly decreasing every year for the past six years, we need to put more effort in to fundraising. In fact, if we don’t raise additional funds by next year I won’t be able to renew my contract with the seminary and we may need to extend our next home assignment until we have raised the funds we need. So we would appreciate your prayers. Specifically, we are hoping for two new churches to come on as major supporters and it would be great if they were close to our home base in Northern Illinois.