Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve grown up and lived in the Twin Cities my whole life. I hold four degrees: Associate of Arts, (A.A. Phi Theta Kappa Honors), Bachelor of Arts (B.A. Magna Cum Laude), Master of Arts in Theological Studies (M.A.T.S.), and a Doctor of Ministry degree (D. Min.). I worked 15 years for U.S. Bank on Lake St. in Minneapolis in the most diverse neighborhood in America: The Phillips Neighborhood with over 100 languages spoken there (I even got robbed when working at the bank). In 1995, I founded a non-profit ministry called City Vision. At City Vision I have multiple roles as a Visionary, Global Strategist, Catalyst, Consultant, Thought Leader, Researcher, Missiologist, Professor, and Author.City Vision has worked with over 1,500 churches/ministries from 72 denominations conducting research, consulting, and strategy in the areas of churches, church planting, world religions, movements, cities, countries, diaspora peoples, and unreached people groups throughout the U.S. and globally. We have organized a number of citywide and city reaching events and partnerships both locally and nationally. I have personally taken over 26,000 people on a Discover Your City Tour in several different U.S. cities. I have also taught 26 different college and graduate courses for several colleges and universities over the last 20 years. I have authored the CityView Report book which has been updated and expanded into 17 Editions since 1996 in addition to several other published papers and articles.
Why are you passionate about teaching the Word?
The Bible has so inspired me and grounded me and given me the tools I needed to grow as a Christian and I want that for others.
Who or what inspired your career path?
Besides reading and studying the Bible, other authors such as C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer have really helped me grow. I have a saying, “Learners are earners (God’s affection and man’s money). Readers are leaders. And Writers are fighters.” I think it is very important to read, learn, and write about what you are learning. I had trouble learning growing up and I had to go to special classes for my first six years because I had such trouble learning. So, I learned to learn. Asking many questions is the key to learning. They asked Jesus 183 questions in the Bible and He only answered three of them directly. He would ask questions back and so dialogue was the way He taught and I teach like this as well.
How did you get involved with VSB?
I think I heard of it for many years as they would teach at my church when I was also teaching other classes. Later, Pastor Warren Coe contacted me to ask me some questions about how to help grow Village Schools, then he asked me to substitute teach his class a few times and eventually I started teaching the Cover to Cover classes about 6 years ago, I think. I enjoy interacting with Warwick and Trish also as I knew them when I taught at their church over the last 20 years. And now Laurie is another great leader to work with since she took over as Executive Director last year.
What inspired you to choose Genesis to teach this summer?
I’ve taught a Genesis class once before in college to adults and they just loved it. Genesis has everything in it. It sets the core and tone for all of Scripture. There is so much to learn and study in Genesis. Genesis starts macro and then goes to the micro family level and then it ends with the formation of the Jewish people as God’s chosen nation. We’ll be able to go really deep and learn about just one key biblical book.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of teaching Cover to Cover?
Cover to Cover is great as you get to go through the whole Old Testament and the whole New Testament in 9 months. Students see how all the pieces fit together. They learn about all the covenants God made with us over time and His promise of the coming Messiah Jesus is seen all the way through. People who take the class finally understand how the whole Bible is really one book and fits together.
The hard part is getting it all in as it is still a lot to cover in 9 months. So, as much as we all want to go deeper, we usually just have an overview.
What challenges do you see in current culture that can be addressed through knowing God’s Word?
There is nothing new under the sun as Ecclesiastes says. So, every week when we have class, today’s news is all over the pages of what we are studying. We learn that the same issues our culture struggles with were things people have always struggled with. It’s great to see how God wants us to focus and gives us guidance in how to live under any circumstance.
How have you seen your teaching impact students?
People are not just learning from the Bible but are applying it and they are using their spiritual gifts and talents in the class and in their lives. They are always deconstructing and reconstructing their theology, throwing out the non-biblical ideas and putting in what God wants for our lives. The class becomes a small group and a learning community and they see it as life changing.
What would you say is the most important thing for Christians to know about the Bible?
Christians need to read the whole thing. 80% of Christians don’t read the whole Bible. Real growth and change cannot come without reading and studying it. They have to see how it all fits together, each book to the other and understand the major themes of the Messiah Jesus and other things God wants us to live by.