Archives For seminary

An abbreviated version of this article was published on the Transforming Center’s website: What does transforming leadership look like for Pastor Noah Filipiak?  Here is the full version:


I love seminary.


I have one seminary degree and look forward to going back for more.


With that said, my experience in a Transforming Community has been the most important ministry leadership training I have ever received.  It’s not that it’s a competition between the type of things you learn in seminary and the type of things learned through the Transforming Community, it’s just very noticeable which ones are more emphasized in the Church today (and in my own ministry leadership life up to this point).  Noticeable due to the amount of pain and personal struggle I and so many other ministry leaders have endured in our untransformed selves.


I’ve seen the same concept true at the gym.  You often see people at the gym, usually fellow men, who are incredibly muscular.  Muscles on top of muscles and they are straining to build even more muscles.  I often wonder if these are NFL players or ditch diggers or some other occupation where this sort of strength would be beneficial.  Obviously the strength isn’t there for pragmatic reasons.  Meanwhile, as a former college track and cross country runner myself, I rarely see these muscle-bound titans hop on the treadmill or exercise bike.  Lots of muscle is great, but if it’s the only thing that’s ever focused on, a person can spend all that time in the gym and still be a very ineffective athlete.  After all, it’s pretty hard to be athletic if you can’t breathe!  There’s nothing wrong with being a bodybuilder or doing a lot of strength training, it’s just caused me to notice an interesting parallel to ministry training.

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Crossroads Church's Youth Director Kyle Lake leading the Summer Lights summer youth outreach

Crossroads Church’s Youth Director Kyle Lake leading the Summer Lights summer youth outreach

Kyle Lake is our Youth Director at Crossroads Church.  He does an awesome job leading our youth group of around 30 teens, most of whom are from the inner city and whose parents don’t attend church with them.  He also leads our summer park ministries.  There are two of these each week, at two different parks, with each park bringing in around 40-70 youth per week (over 350 unique youth over the summer).  (Check out photos here)

Kyle is called to go to seminary.  He’s found an awesome program at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary called the Urban Cohort.  It is a once-a-week program for urban ministers only, with a majority of the tuition coming from a GRTS scholarship.  It takes 3 years, doing one class per semester and you graduate with a master’s degree.  Kyle never finished his bachelor’s degree at Wayne State University, but GRTS/Cornerstone has made arrangements for him to get his bachelor’s equivalency through their adult degree program on the undergrad side so he can be official for his accredited master’s degree!  Kyle can start these classes in October and begin seminary course work in January, but here’s the hang-up:

It will cost $3367.74 to get Kyle’s transcripts from Wayne State.  This is tuition and fee bills from Kyle’s time there.  Did I mention that Kyle took a HUGE pay cut to work as Youth Director at Crossroads?  He was making a great salary with benefits working for Apple and now makes $30,000/year with no benefits at Crossroads.  (We’d pay him more if we could!)

Will you help us raise the $3367.74 needed to get Kyle’s transcripts from Wayne State so he can start seminary???

Blog Nation, we can do this!  Rather than using GoFundMe, which takes a large percentage of your gift, you can give directly to Crossroads Church on our PayPal button below.  Write “Kyle’s seminary” in the “Add special instructions to the seller” line (this will appear after you log in).  We will mail you a year-end tax deductible receipt (PayPal takes a 2.4 – 2.8% fee out of your gift, vs. GoFundMe’s 5% fee).  You can use the PayPal button below OR you can do it the old fashioned way and mail a check to Crossroads Church, 105 W. Allegan St., Lansing MI 48912.  Write your check out to Crossroads Church and write Kyle’s seminary in the memo line.

Update: 100% of the $3367.74 has come in!  Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, here we come!!!  Thank you to everyone who gave!!!!

Thank you to those who have given.  Here’s an important update about the need for this money that I didn’t know before–which is why Kyle has these fees in the first place.  Kyle enrolled for the winter 2014 semester then had a severe fire accident where he was out from work and had a lengthy hospital stay.  When Wayne State was sending him bills to pay for the 4 classes he enrolled in, he appealed it with doctor documentation.  Wayne State took away some of the tuition (around $6000) but kept on the administration fees, kept $1500 of tuition on, and other fees (late payment, fitness center, registration fee, and collection fee).  We still have $2600 more to raise!

Let’s get this Ninja Turtle into seminary!
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Crossroads Church's Kyle Lake teaching the youth group

Crossroads Church’s Kyle Lake teaching the youth group


Crossroads Church Youth Director Kyle Lake thinking he is Brett Favre at the Summer Lights summer youth program

Crossroads Church Youth Director Kyle Lake thinking he is Brett Favre at the Summer Lights summer youth outreach

This is not a blog post to try to help white people understand what white privilege is and/or to persuade them to acknowledge it and do something about it.

I did a blog post a few months ago that did that.  It was helpful for many and received flak from others.  I used the analogy of a basketball game where one team cheated to get a 100-15 lead prior to the rules being made fair at the beginning of the 4th quarter.  The post was an attempt to help us position ourselves to at least have a conversation about white privilege in a constructive way.  You can read that post here.

A few weeks ago, my friend Jeremy Dowsett totally copied me but instead used the analogy of riding a bike on streets made for cars.  His analogy and blog article are great and received several billion (or something like that) more hits than mine.  You should check that out here.

Today’s post is not to convince you that white privilege exists or that American society is slanted unjustly in favor of white people.  If you’d like to argue against the existence of white privilege or call me names, please stop reading here and do so on the above link, not this one.  Better yet, do it on Jeremy’s page.

Today’s post is for those of us whose eyes have already been at least somewhat opened (I say “somewhat” because I know even my eyes need much more opening to be done still) to what white privilege is and we’d like to know what we can do about it.  We have white privilege.  We feel bad about it.  Is there anything we can do about it besides feel bad? Continue Reading…

In churches, we hand out Bibles like candy.  If you are interested in seeking God or you are a brand new Christian, you will be handed a Bible, told to read it, and you will begin to grow in your faith as a result.

So a person, with zero knowledge of what the Bible actually is and how to actually read it, opens it up to a random page to find any number of random verses about slaughtering animals, the Nephilim, stoning people for committing adultery, God commanding his people to exterminate another people group, or the need for women to be silent and to not braid their hair.  Um…this is how a person is supposed to grow in their faith???

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